17th March 2013 Newsletter

Posted in Parish

St Mary Magdalene †     St Bartholomew †      St Alban †


Sunday17th March 2013


A good laugh!


I always enjoy Comic Relief and Red Nose day – I like to see newsreaders telling jokes and comedians dancing! I think that the idea of raising money by having fun and making people laugh is great – it’s a win-win situation that we all benefit from.

I love to make people laugh, even in church - which is a surprise to some people who expect us to be very serious! And it’s more than just a nice thing to do. Scientists tell us that laughing has a direct beneficial effect on our immune systems, it boosts our energy and it can even diminish pain - and laughing helps us to cope with stress. So the more we do it the better!

It’s a great day when the baby smiles at us; at 16 months, my grand daughter Eve has learnt to take a swig from her mug then go ‘ Aaaaaaaah’ and she does it over and over again because it makes us laugh.

There’s a long history of the role of jester, or fool; in days gone by, men were employed by the King to make the people of the court laugh, entertaining them with stories, riddles, acrobatics and so on – but, while making them laugh, the jester had also a responsibility to draw attention to the things that were wrong; wrapped up in the stories and jokes were some serious points and important issues.

I think that Jesus had a brilliant sense of humour and I’m sure it was part of His attraction; I’ll bet people laughed when he talked about rich men and the eye of the needle! And of course, what we find amusing, we remember.

So let’s enjoy what makes us laugh – and if we can collect a few pounds to help those who need it most,

that makes the joke even better!                                              


10th March 2013 Newsletter

Posted in Parish

St Mary Magdalene †      St Bartholomew †    St Alban †


Sunday 10th March 2013


Transforming Lives

Bishop Stephen's theme on Wednesday evening was light. The light that we can see and the light that is hidden.

Our task as God's church in this wonderful part of London is to make sure that what we know and who we are shines out so that others might believe.

It's not easy. There are lots of barriers to overcome. Our culture is set against thinking about spiritual things.

But at the heart of what we believe is a God who has transformed suffering and brought about eternal glory. The changing of darkness into light is just one aspect of that.

Our theme from this Lent until Easter 2014 - and this theme has indeed been given to us - if "change". Transforming change. Change which brings about a real difference so that darkness is no more.

Our theme "Transforming Lives" is all about making sure that we look outwards at the task to which God has called us. The ability to make a difference because we are His disciples.

Thank you for your welcome. Let us approach the rest of Lent, Passiontide and Holy Week with a strong discipline of knowing that we can bring about the kind of change in our own lives and in the lives of others which God has ordained for us.

As Bishop Stephen reminded us: God loves East Ham!

Let us share that love with others.


3rd March 2013 Newsletter

Posted in Parish

St Mary Magdalene †      St Bartholomew †    St Alban †


Sunday 3rd March 2013

And in the Church of God…………

On Thursday 28th February 2013 at 20:00 the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI took effect and the seat of Saint Peter becomes vacant. Pope Benedict XVI, the 265th pope become "emeritus pope" in his retirement. He will continue to wear a white cassock.

A conclave will soon be called where the qualified Cardinals will appoint a new pope, hopefully in time for the Holy Week and Easter. A new pope! Vicar of Christ, Bishop of Rome, Sovereign Head of the Vatican City State, worldwide Leader of the 1.6 Billion Roman Catholics, a new Pope whose most preferred title is Servus Servorum Dei (Servant of the servants of God)

It would be absurd to entertain the idea that we as individual Christians, as a parish, as the Church of England or indeed the worldwide Anglican Communion could stand by and watch with neutral or even cynical passivity as before our very eyes events of these seismic proportions shake the Church of God.

These are momentous days in the History of the Church of God: the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, the first to do so in 600 years, a conclave to appoint a new pope whilst the old one is still alive, times of clerical sexual scandals, mounting heaps of other scandalous behaviour from the various echelons of the hierarchy, ethical decadence in the Church, an ever growing secularism, emptying churches, diminishing vocations to ordained ministry, polarized groups on pertinent issues like celibacy, women ordinations, single sex relationships, lack of priests to preach, teach and lead the church. And surely not the least, the recent popegate as leaked by the Pope’s butler revealing a fragile and fragmented Curia and Church and a general weakened sense of purpose and ethical compass. All the above play before our us like slides of a horror film.

Before his election on 19th April 2005 Pope Benedict XVI was known as Cardinal Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger. He was a renowned Post Vatican II theologian and one of the most prolific writers, avidly read by many Christians, priests and seminarians in 80s. Then, Cardinal Ratz was known to be a radical thinker, unlike today when his bitter critiques, most of whom are secularists and moral nihilists prefer to describe Pope Benedict XVI as “caged in a cave of theological conservatism”. How unfortunate! Thankfully many objective thinkers know that nothing can be further from the truth than such a view.

At the end of the 2013 conclave when the “white smoke” comes out, and the joyous declaration from the Cardinal Protodeacon: “Habemus Papam”! (We have a Pope!) sounds, who will emerge from those famous window of St Peters and the 266 successor of St Peter. And most importantly where does the Church of God go from here? Let us pray!    

                                                                                                                                                     Fr Fred               

24th February 2013 Newsletter

Posted in Parish

St Mary Magdalene †      St Bartholomew †    St Alban †


Sunday 24th February 2013


This week, the Daily Mail got very indignant and condemned the author Hilary Mantel for what they describe as a venomous attack on the Duchess of Cambridge.

There was no doubt some florid language used by Mantel yet for the Daily Mail it is an attack by an embittered author against a perfect princess.

I am afraid not for the first time I feel the Daily Mail has misunderstood things. Mantel’s speech is actually a warning against putting the Duchess on a pedestal, for trying to make her into a secular saint.

The perfect princess. Now I am not a close personal friend of Royalty and therefore you will be unsurprised to hear that I have no idea on the Duchess’ views on anything.

Yet I am sure she has strong opinions on a whole variety of subjects. Mantel is surely right to point out that the Duchess has been advised to keep these views to herself.

Our Lenten journey is a journey into the realities of human existence the good and the bad.

We called by God just the way we are. Not as perfect people never putting a foot wrong. We come to God with ideas, passions and our full humanity.

I, like Mantel, have a concern that there is something deeply degrading about reducing the Duchess to less than she is, never allowing her to express her own thoughts.

For by putting her on that particular pedestal there is only one way to go.


17th February 2013 Newsletter

Posted in Parish

St Mary Magdalene †      St Bartholomew †    St Alban †


Sunday 17th February 2013


Letting Go


I was quite surprised to hear that His Holiness Pope Benedict has decided to stand down and retire – the last time a Pope did that was 600 years ago! Pope Benedict has not enjoyed good health for a while and it seems to me eminently sensible that he should be able to make the most of the rest of his life. How sensible to take the decision before it’s taken out of his hands.

It takes courage to let go, to see that something – a job, a relationship, a group – has run its course and that it’s time to wind up and move on. So often, we hang on to these things, reluctant to give up our comfort blanket, even when it’s clearly threadbare and smelly!

And of course, the Church is the supreme expert at this!

Considering that the central motif of our faith is life coming out of death, we are so often very bad at ending things. I have sometimes been invited to speak at very small meetings, held in vast, freezing churches by people who are sure that, if they put out more chairs, one day, people will rush to attend, just like they did in the old days……… Do you recognise the picture??

So, this Lent, let’s look at what we can let go, especially given that some of the things we claim to need do us no good at all. Time for a springclean of your wardrobe? A pruning of your bookshelves? An edit of your prayer list?

Let go - and see God sends.

PS Since the Pope will soon be free, maybe he’d like to help us out one Sunday……!