5th & 12th August 2012 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene †      St Bartholomew †    St Alban †


Sunday’s 5th & 12th August 2012


“..in a race all the runners compete but only one receives the prize?” (I cor 9 v 24)

The Olympic Games are on, in case you hadn’t noticed, and I, for one, have been thoroughly enjoying them. The Opening Ceremony was stunning and the rendition of “Jerusalem” both deeply moving and, in its own way, a Christian witness in an event that supposedly celebrates the human, not the Divine.

Interestingly though, there are several metaphors to athletics in the New Testament, presumably because the listeners were familiar with sports and games. One of the best known is in I Corinthians “..in race all the runners compete but only one receives the prize” (I Cor. 9 v24ff). Paul sets himself the highest standard – Gold - and encourages us to do the same in our lives. No “prizes for all” here!

But, we all have our own races to run, or jump, or row or swim and it will be a different challenge for each of us, depending on our gifts, abilities and circumstances. As Christians we are called to be faithful, not necessarily successful. But we are called to take part: to use what God has given us.

And, for those of us who wouldn’t ever “podium” in anything, we can take heart from an informal Olympic motto, introduced by Baron De Coubertin (who founded the modern Olympic Games): "The most important thing in the Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well." Apparently he got this motto from a sermon during the 1908 London Games!


29th July 2012 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene †      St Bartholomew †    St Alban †


Sunday 29th July 2012


Mary, Martha and Lazarus – Jesus’s friends.

Although it is thought that Jesus had brothers and sisters, or perhaps half-brothers and sisters, we don’t hear anything about them in the Gospels but we do hear about Jesus’s friends, especially today about Mary, Martha and Lazarus who lived at Bethany, outside Jerusalem. It seems that Jesus stayed with them sometimes, perhaps when he wanted a break, and the Bible tells us that Jesus loved them. One day, they gave a dinner for him and Lazarus sat at the table and ate and talked with Jesus while Mary sat at Jesus’s feet and listened to his teaching but Martha busied herself with serving the food - each of them was being a friend in a different way.

It’s said that friends are God’s way of looking after us and sometimes we need care and attention from our friends, a bit of cossetting and spoiling, a hug or a smile when we are struggling.

At other times, we want someone to hear our concerns, to be on our side, to affirm our feelings and make us feel valued; it’s then I want my friends to agree with me and share my indignation or my conviction.

But there are times when I know I need a strong dose of honesty and it’s then that good friends will gently but directly challenge me, forcing me to examine myself and encouraging me to grow even if it hurts. Sometimes I really need to hear how big my bum looks in this outfit – and I know who to ask!

I like to think that, in a world which must often have felt hard and brutal to him, Jesus had some friends to lighten the load.


22nd July 2012 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene †      St Bartholomew †    St Alban †


Sunday 22nd July 2012


Parish Patronal Feast – St Mary’s

We congratulate all at St Mary’s, The Ancient Parish of Mary Magdalene, East Ham, on this occasion of its patronal solemnity, the feast of Saint Mary of Magdalene.

For the Parish of East Ham 2012 has proved to be one of the most tumultuous and yet exciting years in decades: The Royal Diamond Jubilee Celebrations, The London 2012 Olympics, changes in the Parish Team - farewells to Jane, farewells to Frances, great expectations of the new Vicar of St Bartholomew’s or Rector of East Ham Parish Team – enlarged or shrunk. And yesterday we welcomed the Olympic Torch into Newham.

As Quintin reminded us last week in his homily the Olympic flame was the symbol which ushered in an impasse and announced a period of rare peace in a warring ancient Greece to celebrate the Olympic Games. In the Olympics the eternal values of Friendship, Respect, Excellence, and Paralympic values of Equality, Courage, Determination, and Inspiration are celebrated.

Today’s feast is about Mary Magdalene: The Woman Who Believed Jesus, The Woman Who Acted upon all she had heard Jesus speak. The Woman Who Anointed Jesus's feet in preparation for His burial. The woman who was not ashamed to stand with Mary at the foot of the Cross of Jesus, covered in His Blood. The first recorded person to see and to announce the Risen Jesus. In Mary Magdalene, Jesus’ preferential option for rejected, the poor, the unnoticed, the ostracised, the underestimated and under-trodden is evident. God’s confirmation of a woman despised many, of her role and ministry becomes indisputable.

Dare I say: Go ye and do the same.

For Mary Magdalene, the "calming of the storm" was no theoretical concept.  Daily she lived in an all-consuming soul destroying tempest.  And Jesus calmed it with one substantial and efficacious word: "Peace!"

Today, far more than at the time of the ancient Greeks we need Jesus PEACE in Newham, in London, in the world during the London Olympics and beyond.

Like Mary Magdalene, let us turn to Jesus.

Fr Fred

15th July 2012 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene †      St Bartholomew †    St Alban †


Sunday 15th July 2012


‘Another fine mess you have got me into Stanley..’

This week, Laurel and Hardy would have been proud of the Church of England. This week the York meeting of the General Synod has descended into chaos and confusion. Slapstick comedy was the more appropriate description of the behaviour of the Synod if the subject matter wasn’t quite so serious. The General Synod has been trying to pass the measure allowing the Ordination of Women to the Episcopate.

 Now you would think this would be a simple matter. After all, years ago, the difficult debates had already taken place. Last year there were a resounding series of votes in favour of women becoming Bishops in forty two of the forty four dioceses of the Church of England.There had been previous debates and votes in General Synod in favour of the measure and many years of deliberation. Not to mention it was over thirty years ago when the Synod decided there were no theological objection to women becoming Bishops.

So now you would think the final vote would be a formality. Not so fast!! After all those deliberations at York this week there was still an impasse. The Synod decided there were a few more things to be discussed and so no action was the best course to take. The debate rolls on. I feel the delay just makes the Synod look silly in the eyes of the Church and the world. But I suppose if reforming the House of Lords has been debated for over a hundred years, thirty years of talk and no action by the Church puts us in a good light.

Yet if I can’t offer a small piece of advice to the Synod and I am sure they will be listening. For once a little less talk and little more action might be the better path.


8th July 2012 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene †      St Bartholomew †    St Alban †


Sunday 8th July 2012


Litany of The Reverend Mother Frances

My ordination name was Mary Magdalene, served my title post in a team with a church named after Mary Magdalene,

for that I will say

Deo Gratias – Thanks be to God

For Quintin, Jane, Ann, Fr. Fred, The parish wardens, and district wardens and all at Bart’s whipping me into shape.

For that I will say

Deo Gratias – Thanks be to God

For all that I have learnt and experienced in the parish

and beyond, I will say

Deo Gratias – Thanks be to God

For all your love, support and critique I will say

Deo Gratias – Thanks be to God

For the experience I am taking with me to Gloucester

and the community at Matson, I will say

Deo Gratias – Thanks be to God

All I am trying to say is; I will miss you all very much, should you need a change of scenery make your way to the ‘bucolic’ country.

My new address is: The Rectory, Matson Lane, Matson, Gloucester, GL4 6DX.

 Till we meet again – Deo Gratias