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.
– 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!
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.
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.
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.
As we begin another New Year, we look forward to the exciting prospect of seeking faculty permission from the Chancellor of the Diocese for the continuance of our plans to enhance the hospitality of St Oswald’s Church building, which outline plans have now been given the blessing of the PCC. With the expert guidance of our volunteer project manager, Richard Raymond (known to many of you as our Deanery Lay Chair and joint organiser of the award-winning East Cheshire Hospice Christmas Tree Collection) we are looking to create an improved kitchen facility within the porch of the former main entrance to St Oswald’s, adding a new part-glazed fire escape door into what is currently the window immediately adjacent to the old porch (for which we have already been granted planning permission by Cheshire East), and building some new wall-hugging storage cupboards at the west end of the nave in place of the now outgrown servery kitchen and former loo space.
Approximately one third of the cost of this mission project will be met by the funds we can claim back from the net proceeds which the Diocese obtained following the sale of the old vicarage on Shrigley Road and the subsequent purchase of a new house on Waterwheel Way (which will become the home of future Vicars of Bollington after I retire!). At our last PCC meeting in November, there was broad agreement that this project is much needed since our present facilities for hospitality are now inadequate for our evolving ministry and mission, but some anxieties were properly expressed about where to find the remainder of the money for these necessary works. We will be able to apply for grant funding from a whole variety of charities aimed at supporting community development, but we will also need to tap into the goodwill of the wider Bollington community through imaginative fundraising efforts and events, in order to achieve our goal. As we heard at this same PCC meeting, in the late 1990’s when it seemed that St Oswald’s dream then of installing a loo and an ancillary tea/coffee making facility was running into difficulty due to lack of funds, the Assistant Curate challenged the Committee to nevertheless take “a leap of faith” and continue on with their proposed plans, which they did – and amazingly the full amount of money needed to complete those works did indeed materialise! The resulting construction has served the church well until more recent years. However, progressively since 2003 and 2009, St Oswald’s has taken on the responsibility of having become the sole focus of worship, witness and service for Anglicans here in Bollington. This has required us find a new way to maximise our floor space once again, to find more efficient and effective ways to offer hospitality, and to increase our ability to meet the needs of the many established groups and future missionary activities that we now aspire to support as part of our church life within the local and wider community.
So please do look out for the imminent launch of our new Kitchen Development Fund! Coincidentally, during the season of Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday 14 February, we will be taking time to reflect together, not just on what is the nature and quality of the hospitality we can offer to others, but also on what it really means for God to welcome us all to feast at his table. We will be using a little book by Kenneth Stevenson (a former Bishop of Portsmouth) called “Take, Eat – Reflections on the Eucharist” and I hope you will be able to find time to join us in exploring the implications of daring to accept God’s invitation to grow, to adapt and to change not just the external features of the buildings of which we are jointly stewards, but also the internal attitudes of the everyday lives we have likewise been entrusted to attend to.
The cover of the book says: “Jesus welcomes sinners and eats with them!” This intended insult to Jesus recorded in the Gospels captures the wildly extravagant idea at the very heart of the Christian faith: God, in Christ, invites us – deserving and undeserving alike – to be his friends, to sit at his table and to share the feast of eternal life. Nowhere is this more clearly expressed than in the Eucharist. Of all the ways in which Jesus might have asked his followers to remember him, it is in the sharing of bread and wine that we are drawn together as a community and made one with Christ. Such a simple and powerful ritual, yet it is easy for our appreciation of it to become dulled by formality or by repetition. ‘Take, Eat’ is a biblical and practical guide to the central act of Christian worship. It opens our understanding to see how it feeds and nurtures us, and sends us back into the world with the life-giving message: ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good!’
May we take up this renewed challenge to our church community during 2018 to literally enhance our capacity for hospitality and service towards others and to spiritually enrich our understanding about how God desires to wait on us and nourish us as his beloved children around his table, here and now on earth as it is for eternity in heaven.
Every blessing for this new project and this New Year!
[Roy wasn’t able to make it to church, so Veronica read the sermon]
I had thought I might be with you this morning, but thought better of it. Maybe next Christmas, or better still, Easter. Anyway, here we are again on Christmas Eve. Another year drawing to a close. A year for me of lessons learned – like the wisdom of those who wrote our Wedding Service and the words “in sickness and in health” as part of our relationships whether we are married or not.
I know how much Hylda’s care (and that of our daughters) has meant to me since my disastrous fall in March, and I know also the comfort of your prayers from this congregation, and of the work of caring for the sick by doctors and nurses and district nurses, and of the benefits of our National Health Service. All lessons learned by me this year.
And the simple lessons of walking in someone else’s shoes. The shoes of my mother who suffered from arthritis for many years, or the suffering of soldiers wounded in battle. Or the simple annoyances of being reliant on someone else to fetch and carry.
I could go on about this, but it doesn’t sound very Christmassy, perhaps? Or perhaps it is? Because (if you think about it) walking in someone else’s shoes is actually what Christmas is all about. About how God sent His Son to be with us, and to experience life as we live it, the good bits and the bad, in sickness and in health, the rain and the sunshine. The darkest time of the year when Christmas comes to give us some light – if we are willing or able to accept the life and the light and the love of Christmas.
Christina Rosetti, who wrote the well-known carol “In the bleak midwinter”, also wrote another carol called “Love came down at Christmas”. Perhaps Veronica might sing it for us (if she has any voice left and is not suffering from carol fatigue). But before she does I would like to thank her – and Dave – for her love and care for us all:
Love came down at Christmas, Love all lovely, Love Divine, Love was born at Christmas, Star and Angels gave the sign.
Worship we the Godhead, Love Incarnate, Love Divine, Worship we our Jesus, But wherewith for sacred sign?
Love shall be our token, Love be yours and love be mine, Love to God and all men, Love for plea and gift and sign.
Bollington Cross C.E Primary School recently had its Church of England inspection (for Anglican and Methodist schools) and is proud to share the news that it was rated once again as OUTSTANDING across all areas inspected!
We would like to thank Canon Veronica and other Foundation Governors at St Oswald’s who supported the school throughout the inspection and continue to work closely with us. We are thankful for our close relationship with St Oswald’s as it greatly enhances the Christian values and ethos at our school.