Bishop Libby and Archdeacon Ian are in the process of visiting all the Deaneries in their care as part of “Thy Kingdom Come”. On Wednesday 9 May they led a Prayer Walk through Macclesfield Deanery. They started at Rainow Church and ended at the Hope Centre café at Park Green, Macclesfield. The route was organised by Taffy Davies.
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.
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.
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
At 7.00pm – URC Park Green Macclesfield
One of the young people in the URC, Julia, has been selected to travel to South Africa in June, and work for three months on Tearfund Projects. She has to raise £800 towards the projects (not her travel or subsistence, that is coming from other funds) where she will be making a difference. Julia has worked very hard to pull this fundraising concert together. Please support her. Download a poster here
Confirmed Line Up:
The Lyndsay Woodrow Trio – A fantastic acoustic trio featuring a singer, acoustic guitar and bass.
Catherine Stoker – A singer and piano player who promises to impress.
Stephan Andrusyschyn – A phenomenal accordion player to add a welcome twist to the night.
Sian Jones – A musical theatre vocalist who is a very deserving headlining act.
Summoned by the bells of Sutton Saint James to the Macclesfield Deanery Choral Evensong on Saturday afternoon… Evensong was led by Veronica (as Rural Dean) and a combined choir (from various churches in the Deanery, led by Sandra Moss) performed the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in C by Charles Villiers Stanford and the anthem “O Thou the Central Orb” by Charles Wood (words H R Bramley).
Winter Hope Assistance in Macclesfield (WHAM)
Last year, during the period from 16–19 December 2016 to 17–20 March 2017, 21 different male guests were given at least one night’s shelter with 104 nights’ accommodation provided in total. Guests, on average, stayed for 2¼ nights over a weekend; an increase on last year. Volunteers from over 15 churches have helped staff the Shelter. There have also been volunteers from individuals without known church connections.
This year it is intended to operate the Shelter from 15 December 2017 to 19 March 2018.
There will be two training sessions for volunteers for this coming winter:
Saturday 25 November from 1000 to 1230 – Volunteer Training
Obligatory session for all new volunteers and optional for previous volunteers. This will comprise an update on procedures followed by a Q&A session
Saturday 2 December from 1000 to 1230 – Shift Leader Training
Obligatory session for all shift leaders. Will generally be an interactive session
Both sessions will take place in the Bollington Room, United Reformed Church, Park Green, Macclesfield. Please make every effort to attend these sessions and it would be helpful to have an idea of numbers. If you would like to help in this work please talk to Veronica who will provide contact details. If you would like training but cannot attend the above dates, alternative sessions can be arranged.
This year, HOPE is looking for an Equipment Manager as an additional member of the core WHAM team. The main responsibilities are:
- Maintain the inventory of equipment
- Arrange replacement of any damaged or worn out equipment
- Supervise a review of equipment at the start of the WHAM season
- Organise (with Cre8) the transfer of equipment from church to church each week
- Check that the WHAM food stock is maintained
If anyone is interested in taking responsibility for all or part of this please contact Veronica.
more details here
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!!
For a whole week this March we had the privilege of leading about 350 children from our local community through another “Easter Experience” here in St Oswald’s. The difficult and moving story lived out by Jesus and his friends, from the hosannas of Palm Sunday through to the alleluias of Easter Day, was portrayed by three trustworthy women witnesses, Beverley Nixon, Sue Berry and Jo Belfield, accompanied by reflections from the Vicar. It was a pleasure to listen and respond to the children and staff of our schools and to explore with them the very human experiences of celebration, companionship, betrayal, courage, cruelty, sorrow, solidarity, kindness, grief, loss, and finally, delight in life and hope restored. Then on Good Friday morning, Beverley offered a captivating Craft Trail around the church, in which parents and their young children together discovered the Way of the Cross, assisted by Helen Nixon and three members of our RiCH After-School Group who graciously served refreshments and willingly moved furniture (these same lads had helped out the previous weekend at our grand Church Spring Clean too!). Witnessing some of our younger children trying to make sense of what happened to “Baby Jesus” when he grew up was a humbling and literally “wonder-full” experience. Anyone who thinks of children as disruptive in church would have done well instead to have dared to share that special Holy Week and Good Friday journey alongside these thoughtful and insightful young members of our community.
It seems to me that sometimes children demonstrate a sharper sense of spiritual hearing than we adults do, an apparent ability to hear the voice of God which perhaps we have become deaf to over the years, maybe thinking we already know what God wants and not listening out keenly enough for the fresh challenges God might be calling us to? One of those challenges for future consideration here at St Oswald’s is the idea of literally keeping our doors open more often. Last autumn we tried it very successfully after Teddy, one of our Year One children, asked his parents what it meant to be a refugee, picking up on all the coverage on the news. On having their desperate plight explained to him, Teddy’s immediate and straightforward reaction was, “We should help them!” At our next Growth Action Planning Meeting later that week, we woke up to the childlike simplicity of this call for us to show practical kindness. We organised an emergency Appeal whereby St Oswald’s became a temporary drop-off point for much-needed supplies, which were then transported on to the charity Refugees Aid in North West England, based at Warrington. The wider community of Bollington too responded readily to this Appeal to help people displaced from their homes, calling into our church throughout the day for six weeks from Monday 21 September until Friday 23 October. They brought along life-saving items of clothing, shoes, tents, toiletries and foodstuffs for onward distribution, and some also took the chance to spend a moment or two praying for a peaceful solution to the terrible conflicts and wars that cause people to flee their homes in the first place. During Lent, Tobias, another of our young church members, sent me a heartfelt letter urging us to pray for the children of Syria, again having seen coverage of their plight on the news. Thank you to Teddy and Tobias for spurring us all into action, and to all the willing volunteers who opened and closed the church last autumn and helped to sort the huge piles of donated goods, and especially to Hannah, Dave and Beverley who acted as unpaid hauliers to take the much-needed supplies to the central distribution point. Apart from helping those in need, opening our church doors must give us food for thought about the benefits of unlocking our doors more often…Why not come along to our next Growth Action Planning meeting here in church between 10am and 11am on Saturday 4 June, and share your thoughts and ideas about this or any other venture you may feel we as a local church could embark upon.
Last summer we celebrated with our part-time Assistant Curate, Michael Fox, when he was ordained priest at Chester Cathedral. Michael has continued to develop his ministry among us, including taking a full part preaching and presiding now in our Communion services on Sundays and Thursday mornings, leading Creative Writing Groups, offering a series of homilies based on the elements of the Eucharistic liturgy, working with myself and Beverley in leading our evolving family-friendly services, now on both the First and the Third Sundays of each month, contributing to our discussions at PCC meetings and also convening our Marketing and Communications Group which is looking to find new ways of encouraging financial sustainability, initiating for instance our recent “Easy Peasy” fundraising venture. I am grateful that Michael’s presence on our staff team has enabled me to take advantage of an overdue period of sabbatical leave for three months (April, May and June). Although, during my absence on sabbatical, the Churchwardens are primarily in charge of Bollington Church and Michael is still only available for 12 hours a week of parish ministry, I’m hoping this experience will stand him in good stead for when he subsequently takes up his new part-time post as Priest-in-charge of St Paul’s Macclesfield, as from 31 August 2016! We shall be sorry to see him go, but nevertheless in my other capacity as the Rural Dean, I am also pleased Michael will be filling one of the four current clergy vacancies in parishes in our Macclesfield Deanery!
At our recent Vestry Meeting on 21 March, Christine Osbaldiston and Liz Thomas were elected as our two Churchwardens for the coming year. It seems that (like our out-going Churchwarden Jackie Pengelly) both their fathers have served as Churchwardens in the past, so they both have a head start in understanding the role! They will be sworn in officially at the Archdeacon’s Visitation service on Monday 16 May at 7.30pm at St George’s Stockport. Do go along to this service, especially if you are a sidesperson or a member of the PCC, and please offer them both your prayers and your support now and over the coming year, as they seek to serve our church and wider community in this important role. During our subsequent Annual Parochial Church Meeting on that first day of Spring, we elected six new members onto the PCC, including Rachel Lake and Julie Brunt, so please also pray for this new Council whose task it is to listen to members of our congregation and our local community and to help discern the best way forward for our church in mission and ministry.
May God bless us all as we work together, young and old, to serve God to the best of our ability and to grow in faith and holiness as we follow the Christian way of truth, kindness and peace, empowered not by old prejudices or preconceptions from the past but by the ever-living, ever-challenging and ever-loving Holy Spirit celebrated afresh at Pentecost!
Upcoming exhibition at Charles Roe House, Chestergate