Michaelmas – 29 September 2016

Canon Roy Arnold

When the Protestant Reformation swept into Britain from Germany in the time of King Henry VIII and his short-lived son Edward, the more radical of the Protestants had it in mind to clear out anything that smacked of the old Catholic ways such as altars, vestments, candles and devotion to saints. And also the keeping of Saint’s Days, but with Saint’s Days they ran into a major snag because some of these were part and parcel of the legal and educational setup.

Not least Michaelmas (which we are celebrating today) because Michaelmas marked the start of the new Legal Year and also the start of University Terms. And it was (like Lady Day in March) a Quarter Day connected with the payment of rents and debts, and with the hiring of new servants and labourers. After much thought they decided that it was best to stick to the status quo and leave Saint’s Day alone because they were too interwoven with legal issues and education and practical life to tamper with.

mikharkhangel1Another of the customs of Michaelmas was to ordain new clergy – deacons and priests – because of the obvious connection between the role of the clergy and the ministry of angels. For both angels and clergy have been given the task of being God’s Messengers, informing and teaching people about the love of God. But here I dip back into Reformation history because one of the main teachings of the Reformation was that it was not just the clergy who were servants and messengers for God; this work has been given to all who call themselves Christians. And God doesn’t have favourites, nor does He have First and Second Class messengers and servants. This forms the Reformation Teaching which we call THE PRIESTHOOD OF ALL BELIEVERS

Maybe you might recall that it was at Michaelmas in 1963 that I was ordained as a Deacon and the following year as a Priest. But through all these years of Ministry I have always kept in mind that important thought of THE PRIESTHOOD OF ALL BELIEVERS; that it is together – clergy and lay people together – being about our Father’s business, as Jesus was. So we must help the Angels out (or be helped by them) in the work of carrying the message of the love of God to a world which so badly needs it. God’s love for us, and our returning love for him, and ideally for everyone we meet as we live our daily lives.

Heavenly Father,

We pray to you this day that we (like the angels) may truly be messengers telling of your love, spreading this great good news.

And being like Jesus, we ask that
your love may shine through our eyes,
your spirit inspire our words,
your wisdom fill our minds,
your mercy control our hands,
your will capture our hearts,
your joy pervade our being
until we are changed into his likeness from glory to glory.

We pray for peace in our warring world, and for that same peace in our own lives; whether we are happy and in good health or if are worried or ill or sad. May the peace of God which passes all understanding may settle in us all and we pray for our loved ones and our friends, for us here at St Oswald’s and throughout the wide boundaries of the Christian Church and today we remember especially Mary Houghton who died this week.

All this we pray through Jesus Christ Our Lord.

Amen

The first interments in the Rose Garden

The Columbarium at St John’s was opened in 1958 and fifty-odd years later, space for further interments was becoming limited. Many of you have been kind enough to contribute to the cost of creating more space within the Columbarium to try to meets the present and future needs of our community. We now have an area for interring cremated remains loosely into a Garden of Remembrance, which has as a central focus a variety of rose appropriately called “Peace”.

(In this new grassed section, ashes will simply be placed not in caskets but directly into the soil, and the names and dates of the deceased will be engraved on stone plaques fixed to the new Rose Garden wall. Under the agreed regulations, there won’t be any markers on the lawned area itself – as happens also at Macclesfield Cemetery Garden of Remembrance – so that this special area for interments will be able to accommodate far more interments in future than would be possible otherwise.)

William and Joan Mary Green were the first to have their cremated remains interred into the Rose Garden on 25 September 2015. The pictures show stonemason William Warrington fixing the first memorial to the adjacent Memorial Wall.

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Read more about the project to extend to the Columbarium here

Vicar’s Letter -October 2016

vicars letter003After two years here in training with us since his ordination, we have just said farewell to our Assistant Curate, Michael Fox. A few days later we saw him welcomed into his new role, being licensed on 31 August as part-time Priest-in-Charge at the Parish of St Paul’s Macclesfield. The following Sunday afternoon, I was invited to be present for another Welcome Service, this time for the newly appointed Superintendent Minister of the Macclesfield Methodist Circuit, Reverend Graham Edwards. All ministers who serve in the Methodist Church expect to move on to new posts after a fixed period of years in one place, and for them the “transfer window” opens each year at the end of August, around the same time as for footballers, I gather!? I suspect that no church minister, of whatever denomination, can command anything like the remuneration of even the lowliest celebrity football player! However, all parishes and congregations are asked to contribute a considerable sum annually to cover the costs of having a minister or priest working alongside them, as sadly for the past thirty or more years there has no longer been any central funding available to pay for this from the National Church. In our case, here in Bollington, the cost of having a full-time priest is levied in the form of a Parish Share by the Diocese of Chester, currently to the tune of over £60,000 a year. Nearly two-thirds of that figure goes towards the wider Diocesan costs of clergy housing, pensions, ministry support and advisory services, including the educational, finance, safeguarding, vocational and social responsibility departments, whilst a figure just over the remaining third pays my stipend.

As regular worshippers will see from a letter shortly arriving through their letterbox, our present level of regular income each year does just about cover our Parish Share, but leaves very little with which to pay all the other “household bills” which we need to meet simply so as to keep open our doors, to maintain and improve the facilities of our building, and to support all the activities and services that we would like to continue to offer for the benefit of our local community. We are therefore appealing to everyone who values having St Oswald’s Church at the heart of our community life, to consider making a regular commitment, however small, preferably by Standing Order and Gift-Aided if possible, so that we can be certain to still be available to serve at least one or two more generations of Bollingtonians! Please see our website Giving page for the relevant downloadable forms, or contact our PCC Treasurer in confidence if you would like to know more. Thank you for your support.

Christian-AidOur Harvest Charity this year is Christian Aid, which works alongside the poorest of people in different communities across the world, many of whom can only dream of the comparative luxury afforded by a Vicar’s annual stipend. As probably your grandparents said to you too as a child, “There’s always someone worse off than yourself!” This was marginally more helpful than that other admonition to “Eat your greens! There’s a starving child somewhere who’d be grateful to have the chance!” As responsible and caring adults, we are all called to re-examine our priorities in life and always to seek to serve the needs of others before looking to meet our own. However St Oswald’s, our local Parish Church, has a responsibility to carry on the legacy handed down to us from past worshippers and parishioners, humbly offering a place of sanctuary, compassion, truth-seeking, neighbourliness, challenge, consolation and care, being available for all in our community, whether or not they consider themselves to be religious. We recognise our now urgent need for the financial support of friends around us locally in order to continue to be a beacon of light and hope in dark times, in the same way as we ourselves reach out to support other charities like Christian Aid whose partners are involved in critical and life-affirming projects across the world.

May God bless us as together we work, in so many varied and complementary ways, to make this world a fairer, more compassionate and more hopeful place to be, where all God’s children may thrive and grow. May God bless our going out and our coming in, from this time forth and for evermore.

Veronica

Georgina Davies RIP

Gene was born in Shildon, County Durham in 1921, a mining community. As a result of the great depression, Gene’s father, who worked underground, was out of work for 7 years. In desperation the family moved south to a village Near Harlow in Essex to work on a large family estate. In this totally rural environment Gene, now 7 years old, had the freedom of running around in over 100 acres.

The local children did not understand her Geordie accent and use to ask her to say something, finding this amusing – needless to say Gene soon acquired an Essex accent!

When Gene left school at 14, her parents moved to North London as domestic service was expected of her by the “big house” and her parents did not want this for their daughter. Following the move, Gene trained as a cashier at Sainsbury’s headquarters in High Holborn London.

Come the war she became a radar operator with various anti-aircraft batteries serving in South Wales, Northern Ireland and lastly Coventry, where she met Peter. They married a year later and went on to have two daughters Lesley and Linda.

Gene became an “army wife” living in various parts of the UK, and for long periods of time found herself alone with two small children to care for and love.

When Peter retired from the army, they eventually settled down in Bollington the “Happy Valley”. She enjoyed her time as town Mayoress and later that of being Mayoress of Macclesfield borough. Gene joined the Women’s Institute and was an active member, eventually attaining the position of group chairman.

Gene has met many members of the Royal Family, and has dined in the Mansion House, the Guildhall and St. James Palace.

As a guest of the army, she stood along with Peter on the parade ground of Wellington Barracks in London where, prior to marching off to change the guard at Buckingham Palace, to her surprise the band of the Irish Guards played the Anniversary Waltz (it was her wedding anniversary that day)!

On one occasion, Gene sat at the same table and conversed with the Queen Mother and her Private Secretary, who were on a visit to Cheshire. So much so that she hardly ate any of her meal. Eventually when the queen mother was leaving she said goodbye to the Lord Lieutenant as protocol demands. She then half got into the car, stopped, got out and came back to Gene, shook her hand and said “It’s been a pleasure to meet you”. This was the only time Gene was stuck for words!

Though she has departed this mortal coil, she will always be remembered for her love of the garden which she designed, dug and planted for many years, creating a stunning display.

She had a long and interesting life and was a much-loved, caring, loyal wife, mother, grandma and great grandma.

May she rest in peace.

Farewell to Revd Michael Fox

MichaelFarewellMichael Fox has been our Assistant Curate since 2014 and the time has now come for him to move on. He was installed as Priest-in-Charge of St Paul’s Macclesfield on 31 August.

He preached for the last time as our Curate on Sunday 28 August at our 10.30 Parish Communion. After the service we enjoyed a “Bring and Share” lunch together in church. A number of items of what could loosely be described as poetry were performed. The following one was written by Maggie O’Donnell and recited by Ken Bennett…

Taking the Michael…

He came from farthest Rainow,
a smile upon his face,
for the Bishop sent him over
to learn to minister with grace.
But Grace had knocked off early,
whatever would he do?
He was rescued by a super lass –
Veronica – that’s who!

His tiny hands were shaking
as he tied his Deacon’s sash.
It wouldn’t stay in place,
Oh alack and alas!
The washing-up took ages
‘cos his hands were shaking more.
The choir kept on singing
encore and encore!

“Don’t worry, lad,” his mentor said,
“We’re all slow at the start.
I’m sure the congregation
will take you to its heart.”
A shaky start I must admit,
but in confidence he grew,
for he had the best of mentors –
Veronica – that’s who!

For two long years he’s laboured;
now his washing-up is slick.
His sermons are compelling,
he can give a bit of stick!
He’s inspired lots of people
with all that he can do.
And we’re really going to miss him –
Reverend Michael Fox – that’s who!