Remembrance Sunday 2019

Job said to his companions: “O that my words were written down! O that they were inscribed in a book! O that with an iron pen and with lead they were engraved on a rock for ever! For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints with me!”

Job 19:23-27a

Job – a man put to the test by God at the behest of the devil, who is trying to prove that Job’s faithfulness is wafer-thin. Job’s fath is tested by disasters to his reputation, to his health, and by disasters to his family. But after this testing, Job’s faith is upheld – “I know that my Redeemer liveth…”

On this Remembrance Sunday it is appropriate to compare Job’ suffering to that of men, women and children in the midst of war – witnessing death and disaster, facing death or disability. Compared with Job, I think it is fair to say that in wartime many people lost their faith in God, while a few did persevere in believing…

…including one of Bollington’s most favourite vicars, Canon Reginald Norton Betts, who had been awarded the Military Cross in that terrible conflict of the First World War.

Another result of that war was that people lost their faith not only in God, but in all those in Authority – “the powers that be” – who led them into war in the first place. Our Collect for today echoes this:

Almighty Father, whose will is to restore all things in your beloved Son, the king of all: govern the hearts and minds of those in authority, and bring the families of the nations, divided and torn apart by the ravages of sin, to be subject to his just and gentle rule; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

I rather think that at our present time, too, most people are not exactly inclined to trust those in authority, not only in our country but world-wide. And this year we celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the rising up of the churches and the “little people” in peacefully breaking down the Berlin Wall. But this fundamental mistrust can escalate into fearfulness and even despair about the future of our planet.

Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus, and asked him a question, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; then the second and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.” Jesus said to them, “Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. Indeed they cannot die any more, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.”

Luke 20:27-38

Our Gospel for today is about another battle of beliefs as Jesus confronts the Saducees – a Jewish religious group who did not believe in life after death. Obviously, Jesus spoke up for the belief in eternal life – and could do no other he was consciously on his chose pathway through life, to crucifixion and gloriously to resurrection. A path that led from utter despair to overwhelming hope, opening the way for all of us to eternal life: a central plank of our Christian faith.

On this Remembrance Sunday, I wonder how many of us remember that – as Christians and as many other faiths – we do believe in life after death. And (for instance) that those rows and rows of graves in foreign fields marked with crosses, or with Jewish Stars of David or the crescents of Islam, not only represent the tragic toll of death as a result of war, but also the ranks and ranks of those same souls now in heaven who “at the going down of the sun and in the morning” we do remember. Souls now at rest, with the battle done, but nevertheless poignantly reminding us of the immense sadness and tragedy of wars still raging today.

So at our parish war memorial this morning and later at war memorials right across the country and the world, we do well to remember not only the deaths of so many, but also like Job we may dare to believe that in truth Our Redeemer liveth, and that in God’s good time all things will be made new in Him. Our post-communion prayer for this remembrance Sunday has much to commend it:

God of peace, whose Son Jesus Christ proclaimed the kingdom and restored the broken to wholeness of life: look with compassion on the anguish of the world, and by your healing power make whole both people and nations; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Amen

Vicar’s Letter November 2019

At our recent Autumn Fair we were truly blessed by the generosity of our local community which helped us raise an amazing sum of £1,800 towards the upkeep and continuing work of your Parish Church!

Included in that total was an incredible £200 as a result of the enterprise and talents of those members of our RiCH After School Group who took up Bev’s innovative challenge of “RiCH does The Apprentice!” We must also give thanks for the long list of supporters from local businesses and individuals who willingly gave us raffle prizes or items to sell or who offered their services free-of-charge on the day (see the full list here)

We are so grateful for all your support in helping us to meet the everyday expenses of keeping your Parish Church open, flourishing and able to offer a high standard of care to all those, young and old, who call upon our resources from within the local community and beyond.

As we now move from Autumn to Winter, at our Light Party on All Hallows’ Eve, 31 October, we will celebrate once more all those Saints of God, well-known or obscure, in whose lives we have glimpsed the compassion and challenge of Christ. It may not be exactly time for Spring-cleaning but if you are of an active and energetic disposition, please come and help us clean and polish up the church building on Saturday 2 November between 10.00am and 12noon! On the evening of that same day, All Souls’ Day, we will gather at 7.00pm for our Annual Service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving, bringing to mind those closest of our friends and family whose passing we mourn, entrusting their souls once again to God’s infinite care as we light a candle in their memory. A few days later, we may hear fireworks in our neighbourhood, celebrating the joyful life we can share with friends around us. Perhaps we will write our own names with sparklers in the light of a bonfire, as we focus our attention on our own roles and identities within the complexities of world politics, historically and in the present day. On Remembrance Day, 10 November, we will parade solemnly with poignantly resilient poppies on our lapels and hold respectfully before God, in the two minutes’ silence, the lives of those who died or who returned maimed in body, mind or spirit, praying that we do not squander their hard-won peace. As we continue to teach all our children St Oswald’s motto, urging them to “be strong and of good courage” and to follow paths of gentleness and peace, so let us pray for strength and resourcefulness for ourselves and our community as we look for ways to enhance the well-being of all those around us and across the wider world, mindful of so many people still living in poverty or in dire need as a result of violence, relationship breakdown, cruelty, greed or selfishness.

There is the opportunity to lighten this solemn November mood by joining in either one of the two Christingle Services we now offer on Advent Sunday afternoon, 1 December, at 2.00pm or 4.00pm.

At these services we are invited to take carefully into our hands those familiar bright orange candle-holders, studded with delicious symbols of the fruits of the earth, anticipating Christ’s light dawning into the world and blessed by the music and song of so many children and families from our local schools. During the following four weeks leading up to Christmas, we may begin to look inwards at our own lives and perhaps examine our consciences in response to new awareness of world-wide climate change (highlighted by the Transition Bollington group), challenged as we must be by the younger generation’s persistent awkward questions about our collective choice of lifestyle. We might decide to volunteer again with HOPE in NE Cheshire as a Street Angel or at our Winter Night Shelter project for the homeless, staffed by members of the churches and other people of goodwill in and around Macclesfield. We may be encouraged over the next few months to consider what part we could take in a new local initiative of helping Bollington to become a Dementia Friendly Community. All these and other good causes provide us with opportunities to serve others, but we should also be careful not to neglect our personal need for spiritual nurture and reflective space: so please do also join us here on Saturday 14 December between 10.00am and 4.00pm, when we are offering the hospitality of an Advent Quiet Day, open to all, to prepare our inner selves spiritually for Christmas. In these various ways we aim to clear the clutter, to make enough room to greet the birth of the Christ Child and to discover afresh some practical ways of welcoming God’s Spirit of kindness and justice into our hearts and homes.

Every blessing this Advent and Christmas and always,

Veronica

Rural Dean of Macclesfield 2014-2019

Canon Veronica has completed her five-year stint as Rural Dean of Macclesfield. A number of well-wishers from around the Deanery showed their appreciation…

Gifts of a mainly liquid variety

Revd Dr John Harries, Vicar of the Peak Parishes (Bosley, Sutton, Wildboarclough and Wincle ) was Commissioned as the next Rural Dean of Macclesfield at St James, Sutton on Tuesday 10 September, one of Bishop Peter’s last services before he retires at the end of September.

Garden Party at Lambeth Palace

By the invitation of Archbishop Justin Welby, Veronica attended the event on Tuesday 23 July 2019 to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Ordination of Women to the Priesthood.

After the Garden Party, Veronica took a trip down Memory Lane – or to be more accurate, a boat trip on the Thames…

Vicar’s Letter July & August 2019

Bollington Festival [more here]

…was a really busy but enjoyable fortnight for St Oswald’s, starting off with our Camel Train in the Parade then hosting the mesmerising Model Railway Exhibition, both made possible by the creative talents of Bev and Steve. This was followed a few days later by a whole variety of our brilliant and dedicated Arts & Crafts Group’s train-themed handicrafts which were out on display for the remainder of the Festival, alongside some colourful contributions from Praise & Play and RiCH children, plus the beautiful winged creatures captured in our local embroiderers’ butterfly nets. Then there was a fabulous Print-making Day Workshop run by the lovely and very talented Debbie Tracey-Carney, a former member of our congregation now based in the Isle of Man. Later that first week, thanks to Lorraine and Dave and their willing kitchen staff, we hosted another hugely successful Big Brekkie fundraiser for Christian Aid Week, with bacon butties enjoyed by several groups of children from Bollington Cross School. We welcomed baby Elsa at her Christening on Saturday 18th before the William Byrd Singers presented an excellent acapella concert to round off our first week of Festival events.

In the second week we were pleased to host the Diocese of Chester’s roving exhibition “Journey into Light” which included many very moving canvases of original therapeutic artwork created by prisoners from HMP Styal and Thorn Cross. During this week, our RiCH Group children also met as usual on the Thursday afternoon and many of them were inspired to create their own personal art canvases depicting what belonging to this Group means to them. Our three exhibitions attracted a good cross-section of visitors over a broad age range from our local community (plus people travelling from further afield). The “Journey into Light” provided a stunning backdrop for a vibrant Gospel Train led by Maggie and our church choir and musicians, augmented by an enthusiastic choir of children from Bollington St John’s School and applauded by appreciative visitors from Mount Hall Nursing Home. It was fitting that on the Thursday we could offer space, even amidst the artwork on display in church, for the late Jean Ransley’s funeral, safe in the knowledge that she had over many years been a stalwart supporter of Bollington Festival and an encourager throughout her life of art and music appreciation.  The next day there was an opportunity to share in a meditative Stations of the Cross based on the emotive canvases around us, and on Saturday we enjoyed an incredible variety of music performed by the amazing young composer and musician, Joe Riley. That second week ended with a calming evening of Taize worship, led by Elaine and Chris and members of our choir and Music Group (including Peter Spooner who kindly stepped in at the last minute for us). This closing service was in contrast to the rather louder Big Top Worship Service which had been held on the first Sunday of the Festival, but proved equally ecumenical!

Throughout the Festival fortnight, a stalwart and faithful few from our congregation maintained a cheerful and friendly presence within St Oswald’s, opening our doors and welcoming visitors from far and wide, supplying them with copious amounts of coffee and tea, delicious home-made cake and the occasional glass of Prosecco! Thanks to those people who were so generous with their time and skills (including especially our two dedicated Churchwardens and Julie our PCC Secretary), we were able to offer warm hospitality to all who ventured in, many for the first time even though perhaps they had lived in the village for years!  

And finally, a huge thank you to our friend Audrey Downes, who not only skilfully created, but also daily maintained, the beautiful floral garland which greeted everyone who stepped into our entrance porch, providing a glorious reminder to one particular couple who were recalling their wedding service held here during the very first Bollington Festival!  

It was hard work but a pleasure to take part in such a fantastic community event over those hectic two weeks in May! We must thank the Festival events Co-ordinator, Jose Spinks, for all her organisational skills, and her unbounded encouragement and enthusiasm! We look forward to the next Bollington Festival (in four or five years’ time perhaps?) when once again (thankfully bolstered by our growing group of “Friends”) St Oswald’s may offer a truly welcoming performance and worship space, opportunities to build friendships and share refreshments, the encouragement of local creative talent and the gift of time for deep reflection on the meaning of life – but also a chance to enjoy ourselves and have fun together here in our unique place at the heart of our parish community!

Every blessing,

Veronica

Vicar’s Letter March 2019

Stop Press! We are very pleased to announce that the Chancellor of the Diocese has now granted us necessary faculty permission, authorising the go-ahead for our proposed Kitchen Development, installing an enhanced refreshment facility within the former main entrance porch, according to our Church Architect’s published scheme.

The plans also incorporate the building of some storage cupboards along the side walls at the west end of the church, the creation of a new fire exit door, and the opening up of increased useable floor space around the area of the baptistry. If you’re interested, the sketch plans are still available to view at the back of the church.

Our Kitchen Appeal Fund has already benefited from several generous individual donations, plus a designated gift of £20,000 from the Diocese, being part of the proceeds of the sale of the former Vicarage. The fund has now had another great boost, thanks to the generosity of parents, grandparents and friends of pupils at Bollington Cross School. They recently presented us with a cheque for an amazing £450.00, kindly collected after their School Christmas Plays, in appreciation of the care and support offered by St Oswald’s especially in response to the sudden loss of Mrs Royle, a much-loved Teaching Assistant, at the end of last year.

We will now proceed with seeking national grant funding to raise the total amount required to carry out the development works to the best possible standard. We also hope to involve local contractors in completing the works. Meanwhile we are grateful for all the promises of support from our local community in helping us meet our regular outgoing expenses, especially inviting people to join our newly launched Friends of St Oswald’s Scheme. Our aim is to sustain and adapt our building in the best way possible so as to continue to serve people locally, as well as in the wider world, for the forseeable future and to the best of our ability. As one kind donor has written: “The last couple of weeks have been such a sad, shocking and unsettling time…You opened the doors and welcomed us all in with warmth, compassion and understanding… and brought comfort to so many… We are very blessed to be able to build our community around St Oswald’s.”

Any donations large or small will be gratefully received and may be made to the “Anglican Parish of Bollington PCC”. (If you wish to indicate on the reverse of your cheque that this is intended for the Kitchen Appeal, please do so.) Thank you for all your support! Watch this space!

Every blessing,                                                                                Veronica

Post-Christmas Break


Veronica and Dave had a few days away in Lille and Brussels in January 2019. We visited a few churches, including Lille Cathedral – dedicated to Notre Dame de la Treille. The Cathedral takes its name from a 12th-century figure of the Virgin that has been long revered in the city. The cathedral was built by wealthy inhabitants of the city, starting in the late 19th century; building didn’t finish until the 1990s! Sadly, the Virgin is no longer inhabiting the cathedral – she was stolen in 1959, and her church now gets by with a replica. [Treille means trellis – presumably the item the statue is sitting behind!]

Altar screen at Lille cathedral

We arrived just before Epiphany, so the Shepherds were still present…

By Sunday morning the Kings had arrived. (The figures are near life-size.)

At St Nicholas’s church in Brussels, the alignment of the chancel does not match that of the nave. This is not because of an incompetent architect, but is intended to represent Christ’s head leaning to one side on the Cross.

Church of St Nicholas, Brussels

The Cathedral at Brussels is dedicated to St Michael the Archangel and St Gudula of Brabant. Wikipedia tells us that “Gudula was educated in the abbey of Nivelles by her godmother, Gertrude of Nivelles. When Gertrude died, she moved back to her home at Moorsel, spending her time in good works and religious devotion. She frequently visited the church of Moorsel, situated about two miles from her parents’ house.”

The organ in Brussels Cathedral is quite spectacular.

It sounds good too – we attended a concert on a previous visit.

The organ console is on the balcony of the central section.

There is an ornithological theme in the side chapel, with “pious pelicans” supporting the glass altar table.


In between visiting churches and museums, attending concerts and riding the trams we found time to eat and drink.

We found a suitable wine to have with our lunch one day…

As we were arriving back at St Pancras we found that our Eurostar driver was about to retire after 38 years’ service…

Vicar’s Letter – November/December 2018

As the clocks change and the nights are drawing in, we can be forgiven for turning inwards on ourselves. We think of building up provisions in the freezer or store-cupboard in anticipation of winter snows, or shopping early to beat the Christmas rush. We delve into the wardrobe for a familiar warm coat to wrap up in again, or maybe go off to the splendid Bridgend Centre to find a replacement! We dig out that well-worn Christmas card list which brings to mind good times we’ve shared with old friends and acquaintances.

The Church’s own calendar of festivals marks the passing of another year. With bright-eyed children at our Light Party on All Hallows’ Eve, 31 October, we celebrate all the Saints of God, well-known or obscure, in whose lives we have glimpsed the compassion and challenge of Christ. On the evening of All Souls’ Day, 2 November, we bring to mind those closest of our friends and family whose passing we mourn, entrusting their souls once again to God’s infinite care as we light a candle in their memory. A few days later, we hear fireworks in our neighbourhood, celebrating the joyful life we can share with friends around us. Perhaps we write our own names with sparklers in the light of a bonfire, as we focus our attention on the complexities of world politics, historically and in the present day. On Armistice Day, 11 November, we will parade solemnly with those poignantly resilient poppies on our lapels, and hold respectfully before God, in the three minutes’ silence, the lives of those who died or who returned maimed in body, mind or spirit, praying that we do not squander their hard-won peace. As we continue to teach our children St Oswald’s motto urging them to be strong and of good courage and to follow paths of gentleness and peace, so let us pray for strength and resourcefulness for ourselves and our community as we look for ways to enhance the well-being of all those around us and across the wider world, who are still living in poverty or dire need as a result of violent conflict or war, human cruelty, greed or selfishness.

Our solemn mood will be lightened by joining in one of the two Christingle services now offered on Advent Sunday afternoon, 2 December, taking carefully into our hands those familiar bright orange candle-holders, studded with delicious symbols of the fruits of the earth, anticipating Christ’s light dawning into the world and blessed by the music and song of so many children and families from our local schools. During the next four weeks leading up to Christmas, we may begin to look inwards at our own lives and perhaps examine our consciences in response to new awareness of climate change (highlighted by the Transition Bollington group), challenged as we must be by our children’s persistent awkward questions about our collective choice of lifestyle. We might decide to volunteer as a Street Angel or at our Winter Night Shelter project for homeless men run by members of the churches in and around Macclesfield. Before we are tempted to close the door to keep out any more chilling thoughts about the imbalance and inequality of our world, we may yet dare to hold it ajar a little longer, by venturing into one of our local churches once in a while to sit quietly and pray (remembering that St Oswald’s is open for just that purpose during the day on most Wednesdays). We may be pleasantly surprised to come across others alongside us there, each one trying to make enough room in our busy lives, to be more ready to greet the birth of the Christ Child and to find practical ways of welcoming God’s Spirit of kindness and justice into our hearts and homes again this year.

For 110 years now, St Oswald’s Church, built to the glory of God, has stood beside the main road into and out of Bollington, as a place of witness and welcome, especially for members of the local community wishing to embark on a marriage covenant relationship, or to celebrate the birth of a new baby, or to give thanks for a life now ended that has been well-lived. We share the joy of adults and children finding faith and recognising their essential worth before God. Equally we are here to support and care for those who feel wounded and bruised by their life’s experience. We offer prayers reflecting real anguish as well as hope, and we continue to reach out in all humility with empathy, comfort, friendliness and a listening ear to young and old alike. May God prosper our visionary plans to continue to improve the welcome we can offer within our church building, and may we always be mindful to look up and keep good company with one another as we follow the star which leads us to Christ, who is the same source of love, light and truth, yesterday, today and forever.

Every blessing,
Veronica

Foxhill- Weekend led by Veronica

7th-9th September 2018
The Harvest of our Lives Led by Canon Veronica Hydon

A creative weekend using a variety of art and craft materials to explore and celebrate different skills each of us have discovered, practised and developed during our lifetimes in a range of work and leisure contexts, and sharing how God has blessed and encouraged us along the way.

This weekend will be contemplative as well as companionable. A time for greater appreciation of our own achievements as labourers in God’s Harvest.

£165pp including all meals & en-suite accommodation

Foxhill House and Woodlands, Tarvin Road, Frodsham WA6 6XB
The Diocese of Chester centre for prayer, study & mission