Forgiveness: Becoming a Community of Forgiveness
led by Revd Wes Sutton Thursday 3rd May 2018.
This day examines how the church can become a community of forgiveness and what that looks like in real life. It looks at the theological and ethical issues surrounding forgiveness and how Jesus’ teaching ran contrary to the norms of his day – as it does ours. We will also consider what the impact of forgiveness is on us and others and how the church can model the forgiving heart of God to the world.
These are stand-alone days held in partnership with Acorn – all are welcome to attend. Each day begins with tea and coffee at 9.30am and finishes at 4pm. Booking forms are available from email@example.com or tel: 01928 733777
£27.50pp – Includes lunch and refreshments
Ascension Quiet Day with Trevor Dennis 10th May 2018
9.30am – 4pm
Let’s celebrate God to the skies this Ascension Day… But what kind of God will we celebrate?
So much of the language we use of God is drawn from the world of men of power – but after Jesus of Nazareth, how appropriate is it?
The Bible has some surprises up its sleeve, and has other ways of talking to suggest, other ways of experiencing and praying. link to website
£27.50pp inc. lunch and refreshments.
Thy Kingdom Come – Bringing out the God colours in the world!
with Revd Lynn Weston 14th May 2018
We shall use prayer and reflection to seek God’s discernment as we pray ‘Thy Kingdom Come’. How might God be asking us to bring his colours into the world? What might God be asking of us individually and corporately as we play our part in making change in the world? How can we reach those who don’t yet know Christ, considering that we just might be the answer to our prayers?
These mini retreats are a chance to step back from your busyness, and listen to what God is saying to you.
Each day starts with coffee at 9.30am and ends with tea at 3.30pm. Booking forms available from: Foxhill@chester.anglican.org or call 01928 733777
£22 including refreshments and a light lunch
Celtic Treasures – Light from the past to inspire and illumine our lives today led by Revd Roy Searle – A leader of the Northumbria Community
21st – 23rd September
Celtic Christian spirituality was forged on the anvil of a changing world. Roy will explore treasures from the stories and traditions of the past that can bring hope, inspiration and light to our life and faith journeys in our changing contemporary church and world. link to event calendar
£165pp incl. en-suite accommodation, meals and refreshments.
Foxhill House and Woodlands is set within 70 acres of beautiful Cheshire countryside. We can accommodate up to 28 guests overnight, and cater for up to 80 people. We have rooms suitable for meetings of between 2 and 80 people. Our life is centred around our chapel, where we pray daily and offer a regular pattern of worship. The chapel may also be available for groups to use as part of their visit. Telephone: 01928 733 777 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Foxhill House and Woodlands
Canon Roy Arnold
In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you’.
Bollington, we believe, came into being in Anglo-Saxon times, as did the small word “if” – a word that can convey many meanings, not least to do with doubt. As in “If it’s nice next Sunday we will go for a picnic” or “If I pick the winner of the Grand National I will take you out for a meal”.
But if we add the word “only” – as in “If only” – it changes from doubt to regret. So if only I hadn’t fallen down nine stone steps at the Bull’s Head in March 2017, I wouldn’t still be on crutches, and Hylda and I wouldn’t have experienced one of the worst years of our lives.
But accidents apart, the words “If only” can express other types of regret, as in “If only I hadn’t quarrelled with my brother” or “If only I had written that letter”. If you think about it, we might count those “If only” moments as sins – things done wrong or things not done right; things that can spoil our personal lives, or the life of the whole world.
Which is where Easter, and Jesus the Son of God enters through our locked doors, comes in and says “Peace be with you” as he said to the Apostles – Well, all but two of them – Judas and Thomas, the Thomas whose day we keep today. He had not been there when Jesus spoke those words of peace. Perhaps he had been experiencing one of those “If only” moments. If only it could be true about Jesus being raised from the dead. if only.
But then, so we are told, it really was true. Jesus had risen from the dead – as Thomas found out when he touched the wounds in the hands of Jesus. Then the doubts of Thomas disappeared – as they can for me and you if we can believe that Jesus does take away all our regretful “Ifs” and know ourselves to be forgiven through the love of God. And find ourselves in the middle of a Special Offer for Easter – two for one – not only our sins forgiven, but (as well) the hope of heaven, in the closer presence of God, and of those whom we have loved and lost a while.
Thomas was given the proof for which he craved when he met the risen Jesus. But for the time being, we must walk by the light of faith and with all our “Ifs” and “Buts” through our nights and days of doubt or joy. Onwards let us go, singing songs of expectation, marching to the promised land;
letting the love of Jesus fill us,
the joy of Jesus surprise us,
the peace of Jesus flood us,
the light of Jesus transform us,
the touch of Jesus warm us.
O Saviour Jesus, forgive us,
and in your wounds, heal us.
and in your risen life, take us with you,
to stay with us, and us with You.
It was with much sadness that we learnt of the recent death of Edith Mary Oldfield (nee Nolan), a lifelong member of Bollington Parish who was a regular worshipper with friends and family here, principally at Holy Trinity Church, Kerridge.
Mary was born on 9 February 1917 at Wellington Road in Bollington. Following her wedding at St Oswald’s Church on 22 July 1940, her early married life was spent at Redway in Kerridge before moving 33 years ago to South West Avenue. Thanks to the dedicated care of her daughter Hilary, Mary was able to remain living independently at home until her death on 10 March 2018, having reached the great age of 101 years old. It seemed that seven was a lucky number for Mary: both she and her late husband Jack (from Jackson Lane, Kerridge) coincidentally grew up as one of seven children in each of their families, and just before WW2 their romance began to blossom when with a group of young friends they used to walk down Seven Sisters (now Flash Lane) to socialise in Prestbury.
Mary was a person of great faith, willing to serve others in the most humble and practical ways – she regularly baked delicious scones and almond slices for church fetes and took pride in scrubbing the stonework at the entrance of Holy Trinity Church, which consequently had the cleanest doorsteps in the whole parish! She took part in the final celebration service in September 2009 at Holy Trinity when balloons were let go of, symbolising our positive faith for the future. Mary admired the subsequent conversion of Kerridge Church into a splendid dwelling and along with over 800 other local people in 2014 here at St Oswald’s she placed a tile in the community mosaic which adorns the much needed new extension that was funded by the proceeds from the sale of Holy Trinity.
Mary was one of the kindest people you could meet, who was always genuinely interested in others rather than dwelling on any of the increasing infirmities that came upon her in later years. Her family was very important to her and she was a delight to visit, invariably having a twinkle in her eye and a whispered blessing for every welcome guest. May she rest in peace and rise in glory.
I don’t know about you, but some of us found the dramatic reading of the Passion Story from St. Mark’s Gospel last Sunday, not only moving but also quite harrowing. We have been through six weeks of Lent and it may have left some of us feeling a bit scarred or traumatised by it all. Recently I read a reflection by Gerard W. Hughes from his book ‘Oh God, Why?’ on the subject of the Pasion and suffering which I think puts it into a wider perspective. I would like to read that passage to you.
“Frequently we hear ‘The Cross lies at the heart of Christian life’ and ‘Unless we enter into the Passion and death of Christ, we cannot share in his resurrection.’ The phrases are true, but in what sense is this Good News to any except masochists?
Some writers of saints’ lives can leave the reader with the impression that the Christian journey is a kind of ‘sufferathon’, the person who suffers most winning the Olympic gold. We are still afflicted with this false belief, so that we can feel bad about feeling good, for we are told that suffering is a sign of God’s favour.
Some theologies of the Cross do not help, suggesting a God who can only be appeased by the shedding of blood, but who is ready to accept the blood of his Son in place of the blood of us all. This can leave us very grateful to Jesus, but less keen on his heavenly Father!
According to these beliefs, the most effective service of God would consist in our imposing the maximum suffering on ourselves and on others. Suffering, in itself is an evil and to be avoided. While it is true that some people are ennobled by suffering, the majority are diminished or destroyed by it. God’s will for us, as Scripture frequently says, is life, not destruction and death.
Jesus did not will suffering, he prayed to escape from it. ‘Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by’. He declared himself to be the fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophesy. ‘The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me. He has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind sight, to set the downtrodden free.’
It was because Jesus lived out this prophecy that he suffered, for he threatened those whose power, prosperity and security depended on keeping the poor in their poverty and the downtrodden in oppression. If we let Christ be Christ in us, oppose injustice and speak the truth in love, we shall also suffer at the hands of those whose power we threaten, whether in Church or State.
This is to share in the Passion of Christ. To keep quiet in the face of injustice and oppression, doing nothing to oppose it, may be painful but it is also a refusal to enter into the Passion of Christ. Much of our suffering has nothing to do with the Cross of Christ, for it is not pain incurred through following him, but the pain of our own bruised ego when our own kingdom is threatened by criticism, loss of status, or financial loss. But if we can let God into this pain, show it to him, acknowledge its origin in our own egoism, pray to be delivered from our own false securities then the pain can become curative, leading us to freedom, from our false attachments and to the knowledge that he really is our rock, our refuge and our strength, and that we have no other.
Perhaps instead of trying to enter into the Passion of Christ, we should ask Christ to enter into our suffering, whether it is the suffering we endure through trying to follow him, or the pain we feel when our own kingdom is threatened. It is in our own pain that we can find him present and beckoning.”
There is an ancient prayer on the Passion, called Anima Christi, meaning “Soul of Christ”. Here is a translation of it from the Latin:
May thy mind and heart be mine,
Thy body and blood heal mine,
Thy blood act on me like wine.
May the water from thy side cleanse me.
In thy goodness hear me.
Let thy wounds enfold me,
So that I become inseparable from thee.
From all that is evil protect me,
In my life may I always hear thee;
In death may I see thee invite me
To be one with all creation
In praise of thee and adoration.
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:8
A thought to hold in mind and we may illustrate it by something that happened to Jesus: two men stood before him, one was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
The Pharisee said to himself “How glad I am that I am not as other men are. I fulfil all the laws of our Jewish faith from the old testament. I have never touched a pork pie. I wash everything that is unclean according to the Bible. I go to synagogue every day and I am very pleased with myself. And I am certainly better than this tax collector.”
And the tax collector said “God have mercy upon me – a sinner.”
You might have thought that Jesus, the Son of God, would have commended and congratulated the Pharisee for his exemplary religious life. but instead, Jesus commended the tax collector for his absolute honesty.
Sometimes we can get bored by the same old words in our services week by week in our church worship. But I think the repetition of the words is good for us, and the words “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves…” remind us of the need for honesty before God. And as we hear these words often, we can (and must) take them to heart, as they remind us that what God wants is not self-righteousness but honesty – and certainly never to think of ourselves as better than any other, because we have all sinned and come short of what God – and Jesus – wants of us.
When we come to church to worship God, our services often start with a confession, and I think that we often just gabble through it, maybe without much thought. Yet I believe God wants us to come to Him with our sins of thought word and deed, of commission and omission, to be forgiven, and to improve our lives and be happy. We cannot afford to wallow in our sins – we need to get rid of them. Things like bad temper or peevishness, or money grabbing – maybe things we may not think of as sins at all – just part of who we are.
Envy is counted as the number one of seven deadly sins, which can destroy our relationships in marriages or in family life. And confessing our sins to God is a start towards a better way. I think we could all do with preparing a list (as we do when shopping) and being specific about the sins we want to be rid of. Only make the list in your head (in case you accidentally leave it around). Although in the early church people did confess their sins openly as a way of healing, which is a thought alien to us – to think that our sins might be making us ill, and confession a way to get better. So as the way to end these Lenten talks…
Christ himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die
to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds we are healed. Let us
confess our sins. 1 Peter 2.24
Let us admit to God the sin which always confronts us.
we have sinned against you;
we have done evil in your sight.
We are sorry and repent.
Have mercy on us according to your love.
Wash away our wrongdoing and cleanse us from our sin.
Renew a right spirit within us and restore us to the joy of your salvation,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
who in Jesus Christ has given us a kingdom that cannot be destroyed,
forgive us our sins,
open our eyes to God’s truth,
strengthen us to do God’s will
and give us the joy of his kingdom,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
We are now halfway through Lent. The word Lent comes from Old English lencten, the lengthening of the day as this year of 2018 spins along. And this Lengthening of the Days is another way of describing Spring. And at one time, Spring was synonymous with giving the house a good clean through – a Spring Clean. Not so much practised nowadays, because with a good Hoover and washing machine you can Spring Clean every week. Yet, I believe, we can still Spring Clean our lives – our souls- and our life-style.
At one time if you asked about THREE sinful things to do people might have said SMOKING, DRINKING and SWEARING. Well I would say yes to SMOKING as a wrong thing, as it is self-harming. But actually up to you if you want to die of lung cancer. As to drinking, well of course it can be harmful and lead to alcoholism (another way of self-harming), but is probably OK in moderation. Although I would say that it is difficult to moderate, and that an awful lot of harm is caused by DRINK – violence is often a result of drinking. But in moderation some people say it is a good thing. As to SWEARING, I suppose it depends on the context – and whether or not it is meant, or is a habit.
But there are (I think) many other things – every day things – which become sinful. ENVY comes top of the Seven Deadly Sins – and it can spoil relationships and family life. And there are other everyday things that can become sinful and destroy people’s happiness. I would say BAD TEMPER would come top in this. old men (and I speak as one) can be particularly good at Bad Temper – which is related to peevishness and changeability – never knowing whether you are going to upset someone – someone you never know how they are going to take things. Self-righteousness is another thing which can destroy happiness.
I could go on about everyday sins because they can ruin family life and marriage. Maybe – if we would like to Spring Clean our life – this is where we could start in this season of Lent, which as it happens, coincides with Spring. And Spring coincides with fresh life and new growth.
God doesn’t want us to confess our sin to him in order to condemn us, but to give us a Good Life. A life like Springtime after Winter. To give us LIFE and have it more abundantly.