Remembrance Sunday 2014

Brian Reader

I would like to thank Veronica for letting me speak to you today on this Remembrance Sunday; it also gives me an opportunity to thank all of you for making me feel so welcome since I moved to Bollington. My dear wife Jean has told some of her friends that I “will bore the pants off you”! Perhaps that is better than being told that “I will bore you all to death”! So I will be brief.

Now Remembrance Day awakens different memories and feelings in all of us. As a school boy some 75 years ago I had no idea what war entailed, and as no family members had been killed in the First World War I couldn’t think of anyone to remember. On looking at some notes I made in 1995, I could say then that no one under the age of fifty would have remembered the country at total war. At that time some believed that with the end of the cold war, all threats of war had been removed and that a day for Remembrance no longer served any useful purpose; saying that it glorified war and anyway, it was all too long ago.

People would not say that today. Not only has television brought home the horrors of all the recent wars, but there has also been much publicity about the centenary of the start of the First World War in all the media.

Now Remembrance Day is a time set aside when we remember the dead of the 1914 and all subsequent wars, but, as I will explain later, I believe it should be much more than just that.

What does remembrance mean to us?
The dictionary says that remembrance is “the power or the process, of reproducing or recalling what we have learnt.”

What have we learnt?
That war is wrong, that war is bloody, that war is wasteful and that war should be avoided, not at all costs, but certainly whenever possible. As I believe Churchill once said Jaw, Jaw, is always better than War, War.

Did you know that since the end of the 2nd world war in 1945, there has only been one year when no British soldier has been killed on active service?

Recently our troops have been withdrawn from Afghanistan. When asked about their service out there, they did not glorify war; they had a simple pride in what they had done and they remembered their colleagues who did not come back, as well as those who had returned with appalling injuries.

I don’t believe in jingoistic nationalism which says that we must die for our country right or wrong, but I do believe that we have a duty to protect ourselves and our country from evil, both from within and from without.

Peace is not something that just happens; we must strive and work for peace, just as much today, as our forefathers have always had to in the past. We must remember that we too have a duty to oppose evil and that it may be necessary for us, either individually, or as a nation, to stand and fight against the evil we see all around us.

I am old enough to remember the last war, and I am also proud to have served in the Royal Air Force and seen active service around the world. It was round about Remembrance day in 1966, when I was tasked to fly my helicopter to a forward hill fort in Borneo to pick up a casualty, a young Royal Marine Lieutenant. Only he died just before we got there, nothing could have saved him, he bled to death, he just bled to death! What a waste. A few weeks later, confrontation was over, and the border of Borneo was intact.

Christ opposes all evil. He was always talking about the evil he saw about him, not to condemn those who were doing evil, but to get them to change their ways.

Yes, as well as remembering those who gave their lives, on the land or sea or in the air, we also have to remember the sacrifice made by their loved ones, the children without fathers, the widows, perhaps denied children, the mothers and sisters, and the fiancées and girlfriends who never married. Today we also have to remember the families of the service women who have recently died.

And so as we remember all those who made sacrifices for us, we have to ask ourselves “What would they have require of us?”. To ensure that all those who were injured were well looked after? Yes, but more than that. I think that they would want us to live in peace and protect the rights of all to freedom and justice, and I believe that only by obeying Christ’s command to love God and love our neighbour as ourselves can we achieve that.

We also have to bring Christian hope to a materialistic world which has lost its purpose and direction. In our reading from Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, he gives hope to those who are grieving, and you may have recognized the reading as it is sometimes used in funeral services. Paul did not know, as we still don’t know, exactly what happens to us when we die, but he did know that Christ was crucified for all of us and that he rose from the dead. Paul therefore has a sure belief and faith that Christians too will be raised from the dead at the end of time.

So let us reflect on our own lives to ensure that not only are we striving to defeat evil in the world, but that we also spread the good Christian message of love, hope, forgiveness and peace, so that our children, and our children’s children, will be able to share those freedoms which we, through the sacrifice of many, and God’s abundant mercy have all enjoyed.

Amen


remembrance2

1 Thess. 4: 13-18

But 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.

Michael’s first Sunday as Deacon

Canon Roy Arnold

Charlotte Bronte (who wrote “Jane Eyre”) in the opening words of her novel “Shirley” observes: “Of late years, an abundant shower of curates has fallen upon the North of England: they lie very thick on the hills. Every parish has one or more of them.” But, as it happens, it now seems quite a few years since Bollington shared in this bounty, which makes you, Michael, all the more welcome. This very time last week you were getting ready for the Ordination Service, and this very time 51 years ago I was getting ready to go to St John’s Church in Bollington to get married to Hylda Mary Brogden, spinster of this parish.

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It is not a new thought that Ordination and Marriage are quite similar, not least because they both – ideally – entail commitment and love. Of course, being married (or not married) or being ordained (or not ordained) does not make us any different from what we were or are, for better or for worse, but St Paul (in our Epistle for today) says: because we are all too human we can still get things wrong and fall into sin. And sin (as I see it) is like missing the target, God’s target, and there are thousands of ways of missing the bulls-eye, but only one of hitting it. But, week by week, it is the privilege of all Christians to hear, and for clergy to announce: “This is the target to aim for” in the teachings of Jesus, like his word to us today, that we must aim to be, somehow, “like little children again”. Note, not childish – but childlike. “Like infants,” he says, “seeing the world and other people afresh.” And how I wish that we all could (more often) experience the world like that – New Every Morning…

But sad to say we very soon start waiting for the next hospital appointment. or worrying about the children, or the car failing its MOT, or the church roof falling IN, or the Parochial Church Council falling OUT.

St Francis de Sales says “Have patience with all things but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about mending them, and everyday begin this task anew.” I think that we might start by remembering those words Jesus gave to us this morning:

“Come to Me, all of you that are weary and carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me. For I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”


Matthew 11.16-19 and 25-end

“To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:

‘We played the pipe for you,
and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
and you did not mourn.’

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”

At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.

“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

St John’s church organ

After our former parish church closed in 2003, the Diocese of Chester had to look for appropriate new homes for various artefacts, including the organ and the bells. Finally in 2011 St George’s Church in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire showed interest in acquiring the 1836 Samuel Renn organ. Thanks to various bequests and a substantial grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, St George’s PCC were able to raise the necessary amount (of over £100,000) to cover the costs of dismantling, transportation, renovation and installation of this historic instrument in their church.
On Sunday 15 June 2014 a small group from our parish travelled down for the Dedication Service held at St George’s, conducted by the Bishop of Tewkesbury, the Rt Revd Martyn Shaw.
Here are some photos taken in Spring 2011 as the organ was being dismantled and taken away from St John’s Church. These are followed by photos taken at the Dedication Service at Nailsworth, during which the Interim Vicar of Nailsworth acknowledged the gift of the organ from Bollington and thanked both the organ builder and the representative of the Lottery Fund who have enabled the organ to be welcomed into a new home. After the service St George’s delighted organist was pleased to allow Paul Broadhurst to give an impromptu recital (Paul is the Chester DAC Secretary who helped arrange the re-homing of the organ) encouraged by one present and one former Churchwarden of Bollington!

Easter 2014

The Easter story was told in instalments this year across two of our family services on 6 April and 4 May
We first explored the story of Jesus arriving in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and the children made palm branches to carry in procession following Jesus riding on a donkey. Then we heard about Jesus’ Last Supper with his friends and enthusiastically shared in a meal of bread dipped in grape juice.
During the next service we successfully guessed the names of Jesus’ close friends and then the young people acted out the story of them all going to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane (mainly falling asleep after a good meal instead of staying awake to pray with their friend Jesus).
Then we saw Jesus being arrested, tried and taken away to die. His body was placed in the tomb, but on Easter morning the angel rolled away the stone and the tomb was empty. Jesus’s friend Mary Magdalene turned around and was amazed to see Jesus there in the garden, risen from the dead.
We all celebrated with another Easter Egg hunt!
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Some (rather blurry!) pictures capturing the action from the family service on 4 May.

20 years of Women Priests!

1994-2014: 20 years of women’s ordained ministry as Priests in the Church of England

There was a very good turnout on Saturday 3 May 2014 for the Procession of Witness that started at Church House (next to Westminster Abbey) and walked past the Houses of Parliament, alongside the Thames and then up to St Paul’s Cathedral.

At the start of the special service in the Cathedral, there was a procession of over 700 from amongst the 1000 or so women who had all been ordained across the C of E in the year 1994. Amongst the congregation who stood and applauded as the procession made its way up the aisle were large numbers of women (young and old) who have also been ordained priest since that first historic year. Also present among the many supporters both male and female, were several women from the Roman Catholic Church who still wait in hope for recognition of women’s priestly calling within the wider Church.

Revd Canon Philippa Boardman, Canon Treasurer of St Paul’s, presided at the service and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby acted as deacon. For a bishop (let alone an archbishop) to take this role at a Eucharist was a very significant break with tradition. One other striking aspect of the service was the delightful effect of hearing an overwhelming majority of female voices resounding joyfully around the Cathedral as soon as the first hymn began!

Veronica, our Vicar, was one of the 1994 ordinands invited to take part in the ceremony. For many, it was a joyful reunion. But also a time to remember those women priests who had died since 1994, having waited so long for the ordination of women to be possible.

The slide show starts with pictures from 17 April 1994 and continues with photos from 3 May 2014.

Veronica is made an Honorary Canon of Chester Cathedral

There was a good turnout of about ninety supporters for Veronica at Chester Cathedral on Tuesday 18 March. We enjoyed the singing of Choral Evensong, during which our Vicar was installed as an Honorary Canon of Chester Cathedral by Bishop Peter. It was appropriate that the Girls’ Choir was on duty for this service.

In his introduction, Bishop Peter alluded to Veronica’s previous career as one of the first women to be admitted as a marine cargo insurance broker at Lloyd’s of London in 1975 and also to the fact that she also was one of the first women to be ordained priest in the Church of England in 1994 at St Paul’s Cathedral.

In the pictures Veronica is wearing a preaching scarf which belonged to the late Revd. Martin Leigh, a staunch supporter of the ordination of women who helped to push the legislation through the Synod. (You may notice that she is also wearing a cross with a rainbow cord as she was (then) the Spiritual Director of Chester Cursillo.)

Revd Michael Fox

A profile of our future Assistant Curate…

I am thrilled, delighted and otherwise over the moon to be joining St. Oswald’s next July as Assistant Curate and to be working with Veronica and the congregation in ministering to the people of Bollington. Having been to a couple of services, I can see what a vibrant place St. Oswald’s is, with a rich and varied style of worship and an energy and a joy in seeking to build Christ’s kingdom.
I know the town well, having lived in Rainow and Kerridge since 1983, when I came up from the south to be the first Literary Manager at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester. Having spent five years there developing and directing new plays I moved to the BBC as a drama producer and director, broadcasting plays and readings on Radio 4 and Radio 3 – though I was never responsible for The Archers! I also managed to fit in some freelance theatre and opera directing, and worked at Paris Opera for several months. I was responsible for directing the BBC Philharmonic’s community opera, Remembering Eden, involving over 200 people from all over Manchester. I still have a glint in my eye about doing some community drama again – so watch out! I left the BBC to become an independent producer, continuing to produce radio plays for broadcast and expanding into video and software. I also co-founded the Commonwealth Film Festival in Manchester, which ran from 2002 – 2006.
In 2007, after a period of reflection about where my priorities lay, I began to feel a strong sense of God calling me to live a different kind of life – though I had no idea at that stage it would end in ordination! As a churchwarden in Rainow I undertook the diocese’s Foundations for Ministry course and then one thing led to another and I found myself in front of a selection panel for ordained ministry. At the same time I began a PhD as a way of weaving together and reflecting on some of the different strands of my experience. I am now researching into the relationship between drama and theology, which I hope will enrich my ministry as I seek to enable others to perform the Good News of Jesus Christ in our community.
I am married to Virginia, a musician and teacher, and we have two children, Alice, 24, a maths teacher who lives in Bath and William, 15, a talented pianist. We share our house up on the Cat & Fiddle with two cats, Henry and Lily. There are also sundry chickens, named after various characters in The Archers!

GOD WITH US

Canon Roy Arnold

Now let me see; is it to be socks or handkerchiefs for Uncle Tom this Christmas, like last Christmas (and the one before). Obviously, biscuits and talcum powder for Granny. Christmas is a time for list-making isn’t it? A list of presents to buy; a list for shopping; when to get the turkey; and the running order for cooking the dinner (don’t forget to make the trifle). Even fitting in Church at Christmas. Yes I know – they have even started getting get religion into Christmas now, whatever next?

Actually (as we know) it’s the reason for this season; mixing in some pagan midwinter celebration with the joyous story of the Birth of Jesus – of which birth we heard in our Gospel for today. But did you hear in the Gospel that other title (from the prophet Isaiah), that other sort of name for Jesus?
The name Emmanuel. “Jesus our Emmanuel.”

It means GOD WITH US, or GOD IS WITH US. That’s a particular reason for saying “Happy Christmas”; that God (in Jesus, or the Spirit of Jesus) is with us. Not WAS with us, “long time ago in Bethlehem” – but God is with us NOW.

Which thought set me off making another Christmas list – a list of how Jesus IS with us now. First on the list is that we can hear – in the here and now – Jesus speaking to us. We have his recorded words, telling us what to do and how we are to behave. And then I suppose another obvious one is that we can actually talk to Jesus – and to God through Jesus – which we do whenever we say our prayers. Then he is us with us in this very service, the Holy Communion. When we actually receive him. Going up to the altar for Holy Communion, we are going up to meet Jesus – God with us.

All of these are sort of churchy things, but I believe we can experience Jesus in our everyday lives outside church. So Jesus can be with when we are sad, when someone has died, or when we (or someone else) is ill. And Jesus is certainly with us when we are happy and full of the Joys of Easter. He can be there – if we let him – when we are depressed, or lonely, or tempted to go down the wrong road.

And do remember this: he doesn’t drop down to us from heaven. He comes to us mainly through our loved ones, or friends, our neighbours, other people. Or in something we hear on the radio, or read in a book, or a sudden memory of some good thing long ago… or even in a sermon.

And here is a really important thought: that other people might just find Jesus (Jesus with us NOW – OUR EMMANUEL) in you or in me; in our friendly words or actions. Yes, yours or mine. A smile, or a kind word (but not always easy and be real about it).

Talking of being real about this business of GOD BEING WITH US, there do seem to be lots of Gods around. The men who murdered the soldier in Woolwich thought that God was with them. And history is full of people following the wrong God – two World Wars are examples where Christian nations fought with one another.

So that when we say that GOD IS WITH US, we must be as sure as we can be that it is Jesus we are truly following. It is Jesus who is our EMMANUEL; Jesus who is truly GOD WITH US. Maybe then – another item for our Christmas List – remember to welcome Jesus into our lives.

GOD WITH US through all the changing scenes of life, in trouble and in joy. JESUS OUR EMMANUEL – God’s Son as our friend and our brother.


Matthew 1.18-end

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

 

Congratulations to Roy and Hylda – 50th Wedding Anniversary!

“But God knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I shall come out like gold. My foot has held fast to his steps; I have kept his way and have not turned aside.” (Job 23 vv 10,11)

This happy family photograph taken on 6 July 1963 at the Church of St John the Baptist marks the beginning of 50 years of married life for two native Bollingtonians, Hylda Brogden and Roy Arnold! This Michaelmas Roy will also be celebrating the 50th Anniversary of his ordination as deacon in the Church of England. We give thanks for his years of faithful service to the Church, ably supported by his wife Hylda, in many and varied settings. A glance at his entry in Crockford’s, the Clerical Directory, tells us only a fraction of their life story. Roy served as Assistant Curate in two parishes, St Luke, Brislington in Bristol Diocese and St Mary, Chester, then as Vicar in the parishes of St Luke, Brinnington with Portwood; St Paul,Sale; St Mary, Dodleston with All Saints, Higher Kinnerton; and finally St Oswald, Sheffield, during which time he also worked as Diocesan Communications Officer. He was then appointed Chaplain with the Deaf and was made an Honorary Canon of Sheffield Cathedral in 1995, particularly pleased to have been given the stall there which was dedicated to St Barnabas.

Since his retirement in 1997, Roy and Hylda have returned to Bollington to delight us with their presence, and many people of our Deanery (including the present Vicar and her husband) have been greatly blessed by both Roy and Hylda’s continuing ministry of encouragement and support, their historical knowledge and wisdom, their sense of humour and fun, not to mention Hylda’s delicious cakes and Roy’s thoroughly engaging and expertly crafted sermons.

We wish them both well on their Golden Wedding Anniversary and we join with their family in praying that they may be blessed with many more years of companionship here within our congregation and in the wider community of Bollington.

Veronica