Vicar’s Letter – December 2016

O holy Child of Bethlehem…Be born in us today!”

vicars letter003Christmas is not just for children! As adults we may tend to get overwhelmed with all the expectations of buying appropriate presents, writing cheery messages in hundreds of well-chosen charity cards, juggling seasonally over-stretched finances, having to entertain crotchety relatives, eating and drinking more than is good for us, listening to yet more carols or tinny festive music whilst out shopping, and eventually losing track of the number of other things we feel we have to do, before we can safely put our feet up and watch HRH the Queen give what is probably her 65th message on Christmas Day!
Contrary to what those tantalising Advent calendars (with or without chocolate) may imply, the main purpose of the Advent season is not simply to count down the days before we finally get to open all those other more satisfying presents on 25 December. It is instead about recognising the constant need to develop a more sustainable and generous attitude in ourselves, essentially the Christian mindset of fostering goodwill towards all people the whole year round. Just as we may take a few extra moments each day to open up the little doors of our Advent calendar this December, so might we also open the windows of our souls and catch a glimpse of the Light of the World dawning slowly onto our frosty hearts, encouraging a fresh habit of mindfulness that will gradually enable us to celebrate the glory and the challenge of Emmanuel, “God with us”, every single day for the rest of our lives.


“The bells of waiting Advent ring…”
Those of you who have mourned the loss of Bollington’s peal of church bells, since the closure of St John’s Church in 2003, may be cheered to know that you will have the opportunity to hear them ringing out again, now refurbished and re-hung in the tower of St Thomas’ Church, Stockton Heath – where by happy coincidence an erst-while Assistant Curate of Bollington, Revd Michael Ridley, is now the Vicar! Here is the open invitation recently sent to us by Dr Peter Banyard, one of the Churchwardens there:

Hello! You may be aware that the extensive tower refurbishment project at St Thomas’ Church is nearing completion. The project, of course, has included the installation of the bells that were generously gifted by St John the Baptist Church, Bollington, as well as two new bells that were funded separately by another generous benefactor. Without the generosity of your church, the installation of this impressive peal of bells would not have been possible. A dedication service will take place at St Thomas’ Church at 3.00pm on Sunday 8 January 2017. Bishop Peter will be officiating. We would like to extend an invitation to any interested members of your church to save the date!

Please do make a note in your new diary to come along to Stockton Heath this Epiphany to share in this special service. Just in case, unlike the Three Wise Men, you do not usually use the stars to guide your journeys, but instead rely on satnav, the postcode of St Thomas’ Church is WA4 6HJ!

Meanwhile it seems appropriate to offer as food for thought during this last month of 2016 the following poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson, stirringly set to music more recently by Karl Jenkins in his choral work, The Armed Man:

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
    the flying cloud, the frosty light:
    the year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
    ring, happy bells, across the snow:
    the year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
    for those that here we see no more;
    ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
    and ancient forms of party strife;
    ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
    the faithless coldness of the times;
    ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
    the civic slander and the spite;
    ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
    ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
    ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
    the larger heart, the kindlier hand;
    ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

Every blessing this Advent, Christmas and always,
Veronica

Beep Beep!

beepbeepdayYou certainly couldn’t miss seeing our toddlers today dressed in bright colours for National Road Safety Week! At Praise & Play we focussed on keeping safe, on the road as well as in the car, at our Beep Beep Event, with Zak the Zebra and his special car seat. The children practised crossing our (pretend) road safely, by always holding their parent’s or carer’s hand and by learning the song: “Use your eyes and your ears before you use your feet!” Then they made big and small handprints with red, orange and green paints on our special poster! Everyone had great fun: playing, snacking on traffic light biscuits and supporting Brake, the road safety charity! Thanks to Bev, Nichola and Alison, for all your good ideas and for making it happen, safely!

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Congratulations Beverley!

Beverley Nixon is awarded her Church Colleges Certificate in Children’s Ministry 19 Nov 2016

Veronica writes…

It was a pleasure to be at Manchester Cathedral yesterday to celebrate Bev Nixon receiving her Church Colleges Certificate in Children’s Ministry! Participants on the year-long course came from both Chester and Manchester Dioceses, alongside several Youth Work Course awards which also included students from Blackburn Diocese. The Right Reverend Mark Davies, Bishop of Middleton and Chair of Manchester Diocesan Board of Education, gave a very moving and engaging address, speaking from his early vocational as well as his current personal experience. The unusual choice of a reading from the Bible was a passage from Job 32 vv 1-10, where a previously reticent young person, prompted by God’s wisdom, finally dares to speak out.

The whole service was very inspiring! It gave fresh impetus to all of us wishing to offer “Christian love and time” to children and young people and their families, and importantly to listen to and hear their voices in our midst as an inclusive Christian community. Thank you Bev for all you do to enable this to happen here!

…and after the service in Manchester Cathedral yesterday, we were delighted to witness the consecration of a new Bishop  … God bless you,  Helen! You’re a star too!

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St. John’s School Christmas Fair: 3rd December

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The PTA would like to thank our families for the amazing amount of tombola prizes received – you are all very generous! The tombola is just one of the many exciting activities on offer at our Christmas Fair, which takes place on 3rd December from 1-4pm. We hope that you can all join us for this fantastic event. As always, thank you for your support.

Community Carols – 7.00pm Wednesday 14th December

mtfc You, your friends and families are invited to join Macclesfield Town Football Club at their Community Carols at 7pm to 8pm on Wednesday 14th December in the McIlroy Stand. The evening will be led by members of the staff and the music will be provided by Macclesfield Youth Brass Band which is being sponsored for this occasion by Hope in NE Cheshire. The Club is very generously providing tea, coffee and mince pies afterwards in the McIlroy Suite. There will be no charge for the evening!!

The story of Zaccheus (Luke 19: 1-10)

Canon Roy Arnold

The Gospel tells us the story of Zacchaeus, who was a very, very rich man – the chief tax-collector in the prosperous city of Jericho – but not a popular man because tax collectors were collaborators with the hated Roman occupiers, and noted for making a bit of cash on the side for themselves. But one day – going about his business in town – he heard a stir and wanted to know it was all about. Actually it was Jesus just passing through Jericho, but Zacchaeus couldn’t see him because of the crowd and also because he wasn’t very tall. So he started to run up the road and scrambled up a sycamore tree. It was a surprise – up among the branches – when he heard his name being called.

Church of the Good Shepherd, Jericho (photo by Tango7174)
Church of the Good Shepherd, Jericho (photo by Tango7174)

“Zacchaeus, come on down”. It was Jesus who was calling and much to the surprise of Zacchaeus, Jesus was saying that he wanted to stay at his house, despite the muttering of the crowd about Jesus mingling with tax collectors and sinners. Actually, I believe that Jesus could see into the heart of this man called Zacchaeus – that he wanted something more in his life, he wanted forgiveness maybe; he wanted to feel loved; no longer to be an outcast. And this is what he heard Jesus saying directly to him (and the men muttering in the crowd) “Today salvation has come to this house, because this too is a son of Abraham. For the son of man came to seek and to save the lost”, using the word lost in the sense of getting lost as in a strange city or place.

I guess that most can feel lost at times. People can get lost in their search for riches, as I think Zacchaeus had done; for the love of money is the root of evil and a frequent way of getting on the wrong track. Or people can get lost when they take to the bottle, or drugs. And also we can get lost when the experience of our lives change. I must admit that I am not particularly enjoying getting old, despite having a bus pass. But then I could be old or a child in war-torn Syria.

There are all sorts of ways in which we can feel lost, some our own fault and or by actions of others; or by illness or loss, but lost is lost (as Mrs May might have said). But Zacchaeus was found – up a tree – by Jesus, the same Jesus who can show me and you the right way to go. By that light of God which Jesus brings to us when we are lost, as the old hymn has it:

Lead kindly light amid the encircling gloom; lead thou me on. The night is dark and I am far from home, lead thou me on. Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see the distant scene. One step enough for me.

One step out of our lostness, or one step towards the life which is to come. One step; a step to follow Jesus. Just one step is probably all it takes. So we pray that Jesus, the Light of the World, will be with us this day, that we may ever live and walk as children of the light, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen

St Oswald’s Organ Appeal

Appeal for funds for the restoration of the organ in St Oswald’s Church

The pipe organ in St Oswald’s Church is about 100 years old, although it has only been in this church for about half of that time, having been transferred from a previous church. It was selected only after careful searching for a good instrument. It was well-built, which is amply demonstrated by its longevity, having performed over this long period with mostly routine maintenance. Some minor changes were made when it was installed in St Oswald’s by the Manchester organ builder Charles Smethurst in 1967.

In construction, the organ consists of an electrical blower providing air from outside the building to a set of bellows. The sounding of each individual pipe is controlled mechanically from the keyboards and pedals by a series of levers, wires and leathered valves.

The organ is now in need of some fairly modest restoration which could easily prolong its use for another 50 years. The main concern is the bellows which have been patched up in recent years when leaks have appeared due to the ageing of the leather. To avoid repeated patching and even possible failure of the bellows it is now necessary to remove, refurbish and re-install them. The bellows are large enough to provide a steady air supply even when many pipes are sounding simultaneously.

The organ is an ideal instrument to accompany choral singing and is regularly used, mainly for church services and occasionally for concerts. Since the loss of the lovely Renn organ from the former parish church of St John (which was transferred to Nailsworth) the St Oswald’s organ is now one of the only two remaining church pipe organs in Bollington.
The current estimate for the repair of the organ is about £7200, which although a considerable sum, is comparatively little in the lifetime of the instrument. Quite a small donation from enough people would be sufficient to meet this cost.

If you would like to be convinced of the beauty of the organ and the worthiness of it’s restoration and would like to see or even to play it, this can be arranged.

It is intended that this appeal will also be used to comemmorate Sue Bennett and her contribution to the music of the church, alas, cut short by her untimely death.

There is a donation box in the church if you wish to help. Please mark your envelope “for the Organ Fund”. Donations can also be addressed to “The Anglican Parish of Bollington PCC – for the Organ Fund”