23rd & 30th December 2012 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene †    St Bartholomew †    St Alban †


Sunday’s 23rd & 30th December 2012


Choices, so many choices. This newsletter covers a number of different celebrations all the way from the last week of our Advent season, Christmas through to the New Year. So which theme to take when I have so many to chose from?

As I write this article the thought that jumps out at me is not the joyful expectation of Advent, the glorious incarnation or the celebration of the beginning of the New Year. Instead it is a feast day too often forgotten jammed as it is between our Christmas and New Year. The feast day of Holy Innocents is celebrated on the 28th December. In the Gospel of Matthew (2:16-18) we hear about the dreadful events that this feast day ‘celebrates’:

‘16 When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men,* he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men.* 17Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:

 ‘A voice was heard in Ramah,
wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.’

Two thousand years later as parents are still tragically mourning the loss of their children. The shooting of twenty children in Newtown, Connecticut through to children killed in Pakistan and Afghanistan as ‘collateral damage’ in drone strikes or the children who die through starvation day by day.

The slaughter of the innocents continues just as much today as it did two thousand years ago. Violence visited upon the innocent should be challenged wherever it is found. The value of the feast day that bears its name is to remind us of this fact. Sadly, it is too often forgotten amidst the excitement of our Christmas celebrations.                                                                


16th December 2012 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene †      St Bartholomew †    St Alban †


Sunday 16th December 2012

Maranatha, O Come Lord Jesus!

As we get closer and closer to Christmas our joyous expectation heightens. These are intense spiritual times rich in theological and liturgical symbolisms rooted in the INCARATION OF GOD in the historical event of an infant's birth in Bethlehem.

Angels informed both Mary and Joseph (and US!) that the child she would bear should be named "Jesus" (Matt. 1:21; Lk. 1:31), which means "Jehovah saves," This informs our faith and nourishes the spirituality of the Season. Some of the Theological and Spiritual themes we might consider at this time of reflection could include: The salvific intervention of the Creator God in time, The Pre-existence of the Son, The Father's gratuitous sending of the Son, The self-emptying of the Son, The Conjoining of God and Man in the Person of Jesus Christ and  The Theological Purpose of the Incarnation.

The four weeks of advent represent the time that creations groans and yearn in waiting for this apogee of God’s vivifying intervention of the new Adam to redeem the impaired relationship between God and with humans and indeed all of creation. The story of this waiting is told in the meaning of the The Advent Wreath. Each candle represents an aspect of the spiritual preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ.

The first purple candle typically called the "Prophecy Candle" in remembrance of the prophets, primarily Isaiah, who foretold the birth of Christ. It represents Hope or expectation in anticipation of the coming Messiah.

The second purple candle represents Love. Some traditions call this the "Bethlehem Candle," symbolizing Christ's manger. On the third Sunday of Advent the pink, or rose-colored candle is lit. This candle is customarily called "Shepherds Candle" and it represents Joy.

The fourth purple candle, is lit on the fourth Sunday of Advent. It is called the "Angels Candle," represents Peace. On Christmas Eve, the white centre candle is traditionally lit. This candle is called the "Christ Candle" and represents the life of Christ that has come into the world.

May these values which weds heaven to earth take root in our hearts, homes and families

and communities as we welcome our Messiah this Christmas 2012.                   

                                          Fr Fred

9th December 2012 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene †      St Bartholomew †    St Alban †


Sunday 9th December 2012

The paradox of the season

We are now in Advent and Christmas is only two weeks away (sorry about that!). This can be a strange time of year. The shops are full of Christmas goodies, the kids are getting excited, the lights burn brightly and the Christmas party season has started. The Chancellor notwithstanding, we are all encouraged to feel festive and yet….

When I commuted to work this could be a very busy time for many. The trains were always at their fullest – no-one was on holiday, no-one was away at meetings and the end of the year often meant closing out the accounts and trying to meet end-of-year targets.

For the Christian Advent is a penitential season, like Lent, and not a time for partying. Parties really should come after Christmas. We are to look and prepare ourselves for the First Coming and also to consider the Second Coming and the end of things. All in all sobering prospects. So the Christmas season is an emotional time for all and, for many, a time of mixed emotion: for the sick, the lonely, the bereaved and the poor who cannot celebrate the way the world expects us to.

As Christians we have a great advantage – we are commemorating something that is real to us: not artificial and something that that will stay with us even after Boxing day when the world forgets about the day before and goes to the sales to spend even more money. Our responsibility is to show and share that reality.


2nd December 2012 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene †      St Bartholomew †    St Alban †


Sunday 2nd December 2012


Just what are they afraid of………?

I was made a Deaconess in 1980 – just after leaving school, obviously! , made Deacon in 1987 and I was ordained priest in 1994.

Over the years, my ability as a minister has occasionally been questioned; there was the person who told the undertaker that she was worried that, as a woman, I might cry while conducting the funeral service - I sometimes come close to it but have never actually wept.

Then there was the person who said she was afraid that they wouldn’t be able to hear my voice – these people clearly don’t live next door to us! – and the person who asked whether, if I conducted her mother’s funeral service, it would be any cheaper – Cheek! I guess you can’t please all of the people all of the time!

We have a fine record of women ministers in this parish and in Newham; there are countless other women minsters serving God and the church in this country who do so with distinction – so why should they not serve God as Bishops? What’s the problem??

So, here’s the text of a petition which you’ll find at the back of the church. If you sign it, I’ll send it.


Many people in our congregations and communities are confused and disappointed at the Church of England National Synod’s rejection of the draft measure which would have allowed women to become bishops. Support from bishops and clergy was overwhelming, but the vote was lost by a few votes among the House of Laity - the people in the pews. If you feel that the House of Laity did not represent your own views in this matter, this is your opportunity to say so, and also to ask Synod to bring back legislation for further consideration within 12 months. This petition is to be sent to the Chair and Vice Chair of the House of Laity, to its Presidents (our Archbishops) and the General Secretary of Synod.

25th November 2012 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene †      St Bartholomew †    St Alban †


Sunday 25th November 2012

What a farce!

It is difficult to know where to begin on the events of the past week. I would like to think it was a farce but sadly I feel it is becoming a tragedy. The Church of England has many wonderful elements to it. In particular, I love the fact that we are called to a place, this little piece of England that we call the Parish of East Ham. We are called to be witnesses to the gospel in this geographical area. Friend or foe we should minister to all who are within our parish boundaries. I believe this calling gives us an open and inclusive outlook. We are never ministering only to the congregation that gathers on a Sunday but to the wider community with all its diverse views and concerns.

That wider community now looks on with barely disguised exasperation or even incredulity after the vote on Tuesday. I share those sentiments. For me, it seems incredible that our Church with all our experience of many excellent women leading parishes up and down the land. How can that church turn its back on some of those women becoming bishops in the next few years? After all, our Church that has been debating this issue for over 20 years and has now arrived at a remarkable degree of consensus. 42 of the 44 Dioceses have voted to ordain women to the episcopate. General Synod   backed the measure by over 75%. Now at the very last minute Synod rejects the measure to ordain women bishops.

For many of us this vote makes the Church look stupid. But perhaps more importantly,

                                                    the recent vote is a tragedy for our wider mission in the parish of East Ham.                                                                                                                                                                                 Quintin