Lent Lunch Talks 2018 – 2

Roy Arnold

Here we are in the season of Lent – and, from her fabulous collection of stoles, Veronica will be wearing purple for the next few weeks at Holy Communion. Purple for “saying sorry to God” for our sins and to receive his forgiveness.

Sins:
– the things we have thought (about other people – and even about ourselves) which has saddened God
– or the words we have spoken. – unkindly or carelessly – and which maybe have been contrary to God’s ways
– or our  deeds which have been wrong in God’s eyes.

To sum up, our sins of thought, word or deed.

Note the order of our sins. Sins begin with thoughts – the things which we harbour in our minds, or which other people have planted in our minds. Things which we keep in our “craws” and which, as sure as eggs are eggs, thoughts will become words. And from being hidden they will become public – out in the open – for all to hear. And from words they can soon become deeds.

How much better our own lives and our world would be, and happier too, if we could think good thoughts, and speak good words, and do good deeds. But often maybe we don’t, which means we must own up to God our sins of thought, word or deed, and trust in the love of God – who surprisingly knows the thoughts of our hearts, and our words before they leave our mouths and our deeds before we do them.

But before he can forgive us, we must own up, come clean. Then God in His everlasting love can truly forgive us, and we can make another new start. We must be born again – maybe many times!

2nd Sunday of Lent 2018

Brian Reader

Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16; Romans 4:13-25; Ps 22:23-31; Mark 8:31-38

Good Morning to you all. Today is the second Sunday of Lent and Lent is a time of reflection. Our Bible readings for today direct our thoughts to consider what it meant for Jesus to be the Christ and what it means for us to be a Christian.

The passage from Genesis talks about Abraham. Now he had believed in God and had been doing God’s will for some time, so when God spoke to him again “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless”, he was not surprised, as this is the fifth time that God had made promises to Abraham, so it is nothing new.

However, many years had now gone by since God had first promised Abraham that his descendants would become so numerous that they could be compared to the dust of the earth and the stars of the sky. But so far, Abraham and his wife had not had any children. They were both getting older, and it was looking like they would not have any children. So God took this occasion to remind Abraham that He would multiply him “exceedingly”.

At this time God also changed Abram’s name to Abraham, meaning he would become a “father of many nations”, and changed the name of his wife from Sarai to Sarah. Even though it didn’t look like Abraham and Sarah would ever have a child, God continued to repeat and add details to the original promise He had made to Abraham.

And Paul in his letter to the Romans makes reference to this promise. He reminds us that Abraham wasn’t righteous or doing the will of God because of the Law because the Ten Commandments had yet to be written, No, Abraham was judged righteous because he had faith, he believed, he did what God wanted.

In the same way, we can’t buy our way into heaven by doing good works or by just following the Ten Commandments. Which is just as well, as we will never be able to fully keep the first commandment, let alone the rest.

So how do we respond to God’s infinite love and Grace?

Well Jesus fulfilled the Law; firstly by showing that love is the fulfilling of the Law. In fact, Jesus gave us the double command to ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your Soul, with all your mind’, and ‘to love your neighbour as you love yourself’, and said that this was the perfect summary of all the Commandments, in the world the entire Law.

And secondly Jesus showed, by his whole life of obedience to the Father, from start to finish, that this was how the genuinely human life should be lived. His death on the cross ushered in God’s new promise for all mankind, so the way to salvation now, is not by keeping laws but by receiving God’s forgiveness through Christ. He and not the Law opens the way between the Father and us.

Earlier in this service we used the Ten Commandments as a confession. Some may ask is the Law relevant for us today? The Law may be fulfilled in Jesus Christ but this does not mean we can ignore it. Its inadequacies are clear enough, and it was for this reason we were reminded about the positive sayings of Jesus as well as the negative parts of the Old Testament Law.

Rules cannot lead a person to God. Nevertheless they remain ‘holy, just and good’. The Ten Commandments are the essence of the moral law of the world, as we understand it. We are not made Christian by keeping them, but we heed them because we are Christians and we try to live as God has decreed. The church and Christians fail when they neglect God’s standards of holiness, justice and love.

Also, an understanding of the Law helps us to understand the Jewish culture of the day, and this in turn helps us to better understand the good news of the Gospel.

Let us now consider the reading from Mark. Just before the passage set for today, Jesus asks the question “Who do people say I am?”  And Peter answered, “You are the Christ.” But it is quite clear that Peter did not understand that God’s promised ‘Christ’ or ‘Messiah’, would have to be the Suffering Servant promised in Isaiah.

Now, Jesus’ friends and followers were used to danger. It was a perilous time. Anyone growing up in Galilee just then knew all about revolutions, about holy people hoping God would act and deliver them, and instead, ending up getting crucified for their trouble. Any new leader, any prophet, any teacher with something fresh to say, might go that way. They must have known that by following Jesus they were taking risks. The death of John the Baptist, will simply have confirmed that.

But this was different. This was something new. Mark says Jesus ‘began to teach them’ this, implying that it was quite a new point that could only be begun, once they’d declared that he was the Messiah – like a schoolteacher who can only begin the next stage of mathematics when the pupils have learnt to add and subtract.

And the new lesson wasn’t just that there might be danger ahead; the new lesson was that Jesus had to walk straight into it. Nor would it simply be a risky gamble that might just pay off. No, it would be certain death. This was what he had to do.

You might as well have had a football captain tell the team to stand still and let the opposition score all the goals they wanted. This wasn’t what Peter and the rest had in mind. They may not have thought of Jesus as a military leader, but they certainly didn’t think of him going straight to his death.

As Charlie Brown once said, “winning isn’t everything but losing isn’t anything”; and Jesus seemed to be saying he was going to lose. Worse, he was inviting them to come and lose alongside him. This is the heart of what’s going on here, and it explains both the tricky language Jesus uses; it was tricky for them to puzzle out at first hearing, which explains the strong negative reaction of Peter, so soon after telling Jesus that he and the rest thought he was the Messiah. Messiahs don’t get killed by the authorities. A Messiah who did that would be shown up immediately as a false Messiah.

So why did Jesus say that’s what had to happen? St Mark explains this in the later chapters of his Gospel, but already there is a hint, an allusion. ‘The son of man’ must have all this happen to him, declares Jesus; only thus ‘the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him’: It is the only way for the kingdom of God to come. Jesus is half quoting, half hinting at, themes from the prophetic books of Daniel and Zechariah. He will eventually be vindicated, after his suffering, as God sets up the kingdom at last.

Jesus is both warning his followers that this is how he understands his vocation and destiny as Israel’s Messiah, and that they must be prepared to follow in his steps. So important is this message that opposition to the plan, wherever it comes from, must be seen as satanic. Even Peter, Jesus’ right-hand man, is capable of thinking like a mere mortal, not looking at things from God’s point of view.

This is a challenge to all of us, as the church in every generation struggles not only to think, but to live from God’s point of view in a world where such a thing is madness. This is the point at which God’s kingdom, coming ‘on earth as it is in heaven’ will challenge and overturn all normal human assumptions about power and glory, about what is really important in life and in the world. The coming of God’s kingdom with power has a lot more to do with the radical defeat of deep-rooted evil, than with the destruction of the good world that God made and loves.

Jesus understands that evil will be defeated, and the kingdom will come, precisely through his own suffering and death. But despite this, the passage makes it clear that following him is the only way to go. Following Jesus is, more or less, what being a Christian means; and Jesus is not leading us on a pleasant afternoon hike, but on a walk into possible risk and danger. Or did we suppose that the kingdom of God would mean merely a few minor adjustments in our ordinary lives? Yes, suffering is also part of being a follower of Jesus – it may be as simple, yet as difficult as saying ‘No!’ to oneself, or bearing hardships or being at risk to life and limb.

We should remember Abraham and be like him. He had faith, he believed, he did what God wanted. God made promises to Abraham and these were kept. In a similar way, God, through Christ, has made promises to us, which he will keep. Our Lenten reflections should show us that a true understanding of what it takes to follow Jesus, will involve hardship, and, sacrifice
but the rewards will be everlasting!

AMEN

Lent Lunch Talks 2018 – 1

Roy Arnold

Just by way of interest, how many of you take the “Macclesfield Express”?

Well, if you do, you will know the item called “Before the Bench” – a weekly list of people had up for drunkenness, driving too fast, stealing, beating up their wives or girl-friends, drug offences – selling them or taking them. It all makes depressing reading.

But there is nothing new under the sun. Back in the early days of the church, St Paul, in his epistle to the Galatians, gives us a similar list of offences like “quarrels and strife, unfaithfulness in marriage, anger, drunkenness, jealousy, etc”.

By way of contrast, St Paul lists what’s on the opposite side of the coin – what he calls the Fruits of the Spirit. In other words, how God wants us to live a better way – a more happy way. Here is his list: “love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

I think you would agree God’s way is by far the better way. You would think that coming to church regularly might be a guarantee of us leaving a life full of the Fruits – the harvest of the Spirit. Yet in my time as a vicar I have had an alcoholic churchwarden, an organist who regularly “borrowed” money from vulnerable pensioners, a young server who embezzled funds from his employer (a funeral director) and a regular communicant who was totally obnoxious. Meanwhile (I guess) others might be sinners in a more hidden way – behind closed curtains.

It may well be that as a church we are always banging on about sins. So I make no excuse – as a sinner myself – that in these next few weeks of Lent, I am going to talk about sin. “We knew nothing about sin until our new Vicar arrived” – an old joke. But I have come to a new understanding of how God works. For instance, in the Lord’s Prayer two things are closely linked together and joined together by a very significant conjunction – by an “and”: “Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses.” This is God’s provision: Bread and forgiveness.

Appropriate, then, that with our bread and soup, that we dip into some thoughts about sins – and God’s wish for us to be rid of them. We can all be tempted. But being tempted is not sinning, to quote: “Temptations are like birds flying over our heads. It is only when we let them make nests in our hair that they become sins.”

Jesus said: “Be ye perfect as I am perfect.” Maybe like an archer aiming for a bull’s-eye, not quite hitting it, but having to keep trying.

St Paul said: “The good that I want to do, I don’t do; and the evil I don’t want to do, that I do!”

When we think about God we might be inclined to think of some stern headmaster – always on duty to spot naughty children. But Jesus tells us that his likeness is to:
a housewife searching for a lost coin,
or a shepherd looking for a lost sheep
or a father welcoming home his tearaway son.
At this mention of God in relation to our sins, think of the three descriptions – the housewife, the shepherd and the overjoyed father.

Deanery Synod – Open Meeting

Monday 5th March at St. Oswald’s  7.oopm for 7.30 pm.

Guest speakers from Church House, Debbie Dalby (Committee for Social Responsibility) and Emily Allen (Buildings for Mission) will outline their roles.

This will be an Open meeting for anyone from the parishes who would be interested in hearing about the work of these two relatively new members of the Church House staff team in their developing initiatives to help resource the ministry and mission of our parishes and deanery.

Everyone is welcome to join us for refreshments from 7.00pm, with a formal Welcome and Opening Prayer at 7.30pm, followed by interactive presentations from our two speakers, ending at 9.00pm, when we will conduct any Synod business and make any publicity announcements, ending with the Grace at 9.30pm.

Sunday Next Before Lent 2018

Ann Coomes

This coming week brings us something unusual which has not happened since 1945. Can you guess what it is? It is that this year, both Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day share the same day ! This is the first time in 73 years that that has happened.

At first glance, it may seem an odd mix, the combination of a day which begins a period of prayer, fasting and penance with a day dedicated to romance, but when you think about it, there is a very obvious link between the two days – and that is – love!

For Lent is about far more than giving up chocolate or something else that we really like, and therefore spending the next five weeks feeling both a bit miserable and a bit virtuous at the same time. Lent is really all about setting aside time to learn how to love God more, as we give Him more space in our lives.

Lent was first observed by the very Early Church, and has its roots in the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness in prayer and fasting before God. His reactions to the temptations that Satan laid before him all demonstrated his perfect, divine love.

Consider the first one – the temptation to turn stones into bread. In other words – the desire to satisfy immediate physical desires. Later on, Jesus would indeed feed people – thousands of them, with bread when they were hungry, but He went so much further than that – he became the Bread of Life itself for us, providing us with spiritual nourishment forever. His love went beyond satisfying just human stomachs, to satisfying human hearts as well.

Then there was the second temptation, to jump off the top of the temple and trust God to send angels to catch him. Satan was tempting Jesus to act out of pride in who he was, and to use his privileged position to impress others. But of course, to do so would have been to act in arrogance and self-assertion. And so, Jesus chose instead to continue his humble, loving, dependence on his father, which is how we should also walk before God.

The final temptation, when Jesus is offered the kingdoms of the world in return for his worship of the devil, sparked a furious response from Jesus: ‘Away from me, Satan!’ For to put something or someone else before God is to turn your back on God, whose very nature is love. Jesus knew that to worship God lies at the very heart of our participation in the divine love. And when we share in God’s love, we can go on to share in sacrificial service to meet the needs of others, as Jesus did.

And so, during his time in the wilderness, Jesus was living out the love of God in practice, and for us, Lent can become a time to learn from him.

And of course, it all begins this coming Wednesday, Ash Wednesday. Many thousands of churches around the world will mark it with a service that includes ashes being smeared on people’s foreheads. Have you ever wondered where that practice has come from?

The tradition of using ashes goes back far earlier than Jesus in the wilderness. It goes right back to the Old Testament, when the Israelites had sinned, and, then finally come to their senses. When they saw their evil ways as God saw them, they could do nothing but repent in sorrow, and mourn for the damage and evil they had done.

As a visual sign of their change of heart, they humbled themselves before God by covering their heads with ashes. It was an outward sign of their heart-felt repentance and acknowledgement of sin.

Centuries later, when the early Christian church was observing Easter each year, it became the custom for both new believers and older ones to demonstrate their repentance before God by having ashes sprinkled over them at the beginning of Lent.

The Bible certainly has some wonderful verses concerning God’s call to us to come near to him: Here are just a couple from the Old Testament:

‘Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.’ (Joel 2:12-13)

And from Luke: ‘I have not come to call the virtuous but sinners to repentance’ (said Jesus).  I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.’

God loves us, and rejoices over us when we come near to Him.

But – what about Valentine’s day? Where can that fit into all this?

Well, of course, Valentine was a follower of Christ, who spent his life sharing God’s love with others. We know very little about him, except that he was a priest who lived in Rome in the late 3rd century .

It was a time when the Emperor Claudius had decided that soldiers in the Roman Army were distracted from their duty by their wives, and so he attempted to outlaw marriage.

It is believed that Valentine disregarded the emperor’s command, and married many couples in secret. He also helped Christians in Rome during times of persecution there.

Eventually Valentine was caught, arrested, and condemned to death. While he was in prison awaiting execution, Valentine showed love and compassion to everyone around him, including even his jailer. The jailer had a young daughter who was blind, but through Valentine’s prayers for her, she was healed and could see again. Just before his death in Rome on 14th February, he wrote her a farewell message that he signed ‘From your Valentine.’

So the very first Valentine card was not between lovers, but between a priest about to die, and a little girl, who had been healed through his prayers.

Valentine’s life demonstrated the importance of showing God’s love in action.

And so we have it – the very unusual but very fitting combination of Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day. A day of our coming to God in repentance because of his great love for us, and a day of us celebrating and sharing our love for others because God’s love shines in our lives.

Revd David Wightman RIP

Starting on St Cuthbert’s Way Walk in October 2016

Many of us here in Macclesfield Deanery were deeply shocked and saddened by the sudden death on New Year’s Day of Revd David Wightman, Macclesfield Town Centre Minister, based at St Michael’s Church on the Marketplace. Here are some of the words given by David’s former colleague, Revd Dr Graham Turner, the previous Rector of Macclesfield, at David’s funeral on 26 January. We continue to pray for David’s wife Chris and all the family and for all who mourn the passing of a dedicated priest, who prompted us to care for those on the margins of society in so many practical ways, through such HOPE initiatives as Street Angels, Winter Hope Night Shelter Accommodation, and Refugees Welcome.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord for ever. Therefore, encourage one another with these words.

I am sure that David has not preached on every single passage of the Bible during the many years of being a Reader and then as a ‘vicar’, but I am fairly confident that David would have spoken about this passage on numerous occasions. Why? Because it crops up regularly in the list of Sunday readings in the Church of England, and because David firmly and clearly believed in the resurrection. He did not simply believe we come back to life to live happily ever after with Jesus in a heaven somewhere ‘way beyond the blue’. His was the Biblical view that one day all creation will be transformed (to become what it was always meant to be) and that the patterns of violence, injustice and disease will one day be finally overrun. More than that, he believed that he himself would be transformed from the patterns of violence, injustice and disease to something far beyond his/our wildest imaginings. He believed that he would become what he has always meant to be, but had only made it part of the way in his almost 74 years with us.

Our Bible reading starts with the encouragement: “not to grieve as others do who have no hope”. But note, it does not say that we must not grieve – oh yes, we must grieve. We will (and do) suffer those intense feelings of: sorrow, sadness and anguish; loneliness, heartache and heartbreak; desolation, dejection and despair. This (as I am sure you all well know) is now the backdrop to the journey we must travel in order to discover our healing – a journey that must be travelled.

You have suffered a terrible disruption to your lives. When did you realise? When did you hear? When did you get the phone call? When did you read the Facebook postings? None of us saw this coming. To mourn and to grieve is to be human and to live in this (our full humanity) is what God wants for us. However, we must “not grieve as others do, who have no hope”. For them, the future is annihilation. For them, their loved ones no longer exist. For them, the future makes little or no sense. For them, “It is all over!” No, when you grieve, weep and struggle and feel all these intense emotions, do it “as people who have hope.’”

David and I spoke about hope on numerous occasions as we chatted about many things. Some people think hope means to be generally optimistic about the future, which may be okay if you are usually in control of your life – which David wasn’t when he collapsed on that path in the Lakes on New Year’s Day. Some think it means ‘having faith’, and I wonder if they mean ‘hoping for the best’. Bible hope is much more than having a sunny disposition and an optimistic outlook on life. Bible hope is the belief that God has still got something to do. God has still got something to do with David: a job of recreation, restoration, and transformation which we call resurrection. So, because of this hope, we travel with, into and through our grief, but without despair or fear. David, I think, would point out that Jesus says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted”.

When Jesus died, he did not know for certain that he would rise, but he hoped he would – as he believed that God had still got something to do. As David has died, we also have the same belief, that God will do something. As Jesus was resurrected, so David will be resurrected. The passage ends with the phrase: “Therefore encourage one another with these words.” Because of this hope we have together today to grieve. We have come to let go and we have come to ‘give each other courage’ (note: encourage literally means ‘to give courage’) and to stand alongside all David’s family at this time.

This is not the end for David, this is not the end for you who grieve (even though sometimes grief does feel like the end) and this is not the end for David’s ministry either. David knew that he was ‘a chip off the old block’ (a rather large sized chip though!). The language of the book of Genesis puts this way: ‘made in the image of God’ (Gen. 1:27). The Apostle John says that all people are enlightened by the presence of the light of Christ (John. 1:9) and St Paul affirms that Christ “is in all”, even “is all” (Col. 3:11). David was (and still is) made of the stuff of God. His deepest “DNA” is the love that is God. David was most ‘David’ when he lived from this inner core. As he deepened his faith he did not become super-spiritual, aloof or pretentious, he simply became more human, more David. (We think to be human is to be fallible, but to be truly human is to be like Christ.) The more this happened to him, the more he enjoyed it – it made him smile. It motivated him to do what he did. David was not driven in his ministry, he was called.

What made David ‘David’ (what made him so wonderfully human) cannot be broken or contaminated or destroyed, because love is eternal and impregnable. This is why David is eternal and will one day be resurrected. Thankfully David is not sat on a cloud in a bed sheet playing a harp – a terrifying image to have in one’s head! David has simply returned to the Great Love that conceived the idea of him in the first place, we call that Great Love “God”. As Jesus puts it: “I in you, and you in me” – this is our destiny. David is now more ‘David’ than he has ever been!

And for those of you whose lives have been turned upside down by his death, it is not the end for you either, even though your grief may sometimes overwhelm you. Because you are made of the same stuff; at your core is nothing but the love of God, and this should give you hope. David is no longer here, but he lives on in us and with us: physically in the family likenesses (Simon, Jenny, Joseph, Thomas, Jenny & Sam’s baby); in the legacy of his work that goes on – it is “David shaped”; and in the ties and bonds of friendship where his spirit touched our spirits. And now he is part of the ‘great cloud of witnesses’ with all the saints who have gone on before us. Today is not the end of David, so beware!

Finally, I believe David would have us say, that our journey through life must to be laced with: gratitude; and thanksgiving; and celebration; and joy; and wonder; and laughter, as our ultimate destination will be populated with all these things. We have lost David: Chris has lost her soul-mate, friend and partner; Simon and Jenny have lost their father (together with Sukfan and Sam); Joseph, Thomas (and the child yet to be born) have lost their grandfather; Tim has lost his brother; you have lost a friend and a colleague; and I have lost my companion on the road of the journey of life.

BUT WE DID KNOW HIM! And for this we are thankful. Your lives and my life are all the better for having known him. David enhanced our lives. We are not, of course, to worship him as a hero, but he has been a thoroughly decent human being who we should honour; because he sought to do his best in life for God and for others. Our lives, and the world, are all the better for his almost 74 years among us, and for this we must be most thankful and celebrate this gift of life who we have known and loved.

So, if we are sad, let us be proud that we will miss him; if we are grateful, let us ensure that we continue the works he has started; and if we saw the light of Christ in David, let us also live that others may see the light of Christ in us. Let us then walk on from today, with hope.

Amen

A Springtime Prayer…

… written by a young member of our congregation

Tyler before the Pet Blessing Service summer 2017

I love the nature as much as you do, God. The river flows as Jesus goes. God, please protect nature. All the poor and all the endangered animals, protect them. God, I wish that one day I will see you. I wish that all the bad people become good and all the litter is cleared one day. Dear God, all the poor – give them more – as you can.

Amen.

Tyler (a Year One pupil at St John’s School)

Jilly Marsh RIP

At Martinmere 3 December 2017

Extracts from the Tribute paid by Fr Simon Marsh at a Thanksgiving Service for his late wife Jilly (23 February 1960 – 13 January 2018).

…Our humanly spoken, or heard, or read, or written words may not speak of all that there is to be said – of any human soul that ever dwelt upon the face of the earth. What is needed that we might reflect inwardly upon any life is some personal experience – even second-hand experience – of what St John, writing about Jesus, spoke of as Logos in Him, and in anyone. Not words, but The Word; the life of God shining at the centre of the being of every incarnate – in-the-flesh – person. St Irenaeus is reputed to have said that ‘the glory of God is in a person fully alive.’ I saw the glory of God in the full and vibrant aliveness of Jilly Mary Tovey. And so, I think, in many different ways and times and places, did many of you. I saw Logos, I saw The Word, in Jilly. She made sense, for me, of the notion of the Body of Christ alive and at work in the world now…

Jilly was never much given to drawing attention to herself. She lived joyfully, simply, thankfully, quietly, and unobtrusively. When asked her profession, from time to time, I can recall no occasion when she replied with more than a smiling ‘oh, just office work’ – but as many letters and cards have testified in these past weeks – and I have been so profoundly comforted by them – she also lived luminously. I’ve been fascinated by the number of family members, colleagues, friends and acquaintances who have spoken or written of a light that shone in and through Jilly.

From the happy days when she read Engineering at Cambridge, revelling in a spell as Captain of the Boat Club and in the hard grind of the discipline and training required of a Cambridge Boat Crew, and on through training to become a Chartered Accountant, and the years of happy labours for ICI, Zeneca and latterly Astra Zeneca – in all of these years the people who lived and worked with Jilly remember her with the deepest admiration and affection.

Jilly never expected in a million years to become a Vicar’s wife! – though she’d have made a fine pastor. Indeed, in countless ways that many of you here recall, Jilly was a fine pastor. I’ve known of few people who would get out of bed at 6am in order to prepare cooked breakfasts that she would deliver around 7am to elderly parishioners en route for her office at Alderley Park. Jilly did not wear her considerable Christian faith on her sleeve; she believed herself called to more practical ‘incarnate’ or in-the-flesh expressions of the Love of God. Time and again, in my presence, I have been privileged to witness people unashamedly tell my wife ‘I love you Jilly!’…. There was a sense of urgency in our house before Christmas this year as, already very poorly, Jilly set her face to ensuring Christmas presents were made ready – some of them knitted by her – and Christmas cakes and puddings were made and distributed – personally, wherever and whenever that was possible, sometimes involving our driving round trips of a couple of hundred miles a time.

Accomplished and delighted walker of Lakeland fells, dearly loved by many, Jilly Mary Tovey whispers to me now: ‘Enough, my love. You’ve said enough. They’ll all be freezing cold!’ …I know that I will never have said enough about her, but I must draw this little tribute to a close, leaving you with your own treasured memories and with this poem, entitled “Roads” by Ruth Bidgood:

No need to wonder what heron-haunted lake
lay in the other valley,
or regret the songs in the forest
I chose not to traverse.
No need to ask where other roads might have led,
since they led elsewhere;
for nowhere but this here and now
is my true destination.
The river is gentle in the soft evening,
and all the steps of my life have brought me home.

New – Parish Prayers at Home

Third Friday of the month – 2.30-3.30pm

At our last GAP meeting it was decided to start an informal monthly prayer meeting. Its purpose will be to pray for the needs of the parish. Meetings will be held in someone’s house as arranged each time.

If you would like to come along, or if you have anything that you would like to pray for specifically, please contact Maggie O’Donnell 01625 572711 or Anne Coombes 01625 571144.

The first meeting is on Friday 16 February.

What’s on in Macclesfield

Cre8 Youth and Community Programme – Opportunities for volunteers

Youth Clubs on Tuesday and Wednesday Evenings.

Skills and/or interest in art, craft, cooking and games/sports would be particularly helpful.

more.


Macclesfield Fairtrade Fortnight – Monday 26th February – Sunday 11th March (see website)

Fairtrade Breakfast – Anytime 9.30am to 3.00pm on Saturday 24th February at the Hope Centre, Park Green.  poster

Fairtrade Coffee Morning – 9.30am to 12.15pm on Saturday 3rd March at Macclesfield Library.  poster