7th April 2013 Newsletter

Posted in Parish

St Mary Magdalene †     St Bartholomew †     St Alban †


Sunday7th April 2013

This week, the Government’s benefit reforms have started to take effect. The government was elected to take forward these measures so they will go ahead. Yet I do have an argument with the language used by some newspapers and Government ministers when setting up the debate around Benefit reform.

The language of ‘strivers and shirkers’ or saying that the dreadful recent court of case of Philpotts are somehow a case for reform is unhelpful. The Philpotts are no more a case for Benefit reform than Harold Shipman was a case for reform of Doctor’s terms and conditions. Both cases were despicably acts of evil and should be laid clearly at the feet of individuals who carried out those crimes.

Many of you know that I do a surgery every Saturday morning as a local councillor. Most of the complaints are to do with   housing but more recently I have seen a large number of people come to the surgery clutching their letters from Government about the reduction in one benefit or another. Most are very worried about what the future holds. There are a small percentage of the people who when I hear their stories for whom I can summon up very little sympathy. It seems to me they been abusing the welfare system for years. Yet the vast majority of people have got themselves into a pickle and don’t know how to get out their situation. Very few I would describe a ‘shirkers’.

The government is getting lots of advice from the Churches on this matter at the moment. As I am sure they will be reading this article so I thought I would add my words of wisdom! My advice is, bring in the welfare reforms that is your absolute right but cut out the language of demonization of the poorest within our communities.                  


31st March 2013 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene † St Bartholomew † St Alban †


Sunday31st March 2013



On the night before he died, Jesus shared a meal with his friends and as he broke and shared the bread and poured out the wine, he told them it was his body and blood, and that whenever they ate or drank they should remember him.  That meal was probably a Passover meal, a solemn and joyful remembrance of liberation.

Sitting with him that night the disciples must have wondered what on earth Jesus was on about.  Broken bread his body? Wine his blood?  How could they understand what he meant?  But when he was stretched and broken on the cross the next day, his blood poured out, they would have made a connection.  And when two of them invited a stranger to supper on the following evening, and when that stranger blessed bread and broke it and shared it, they recognised him as Jesus, risen from the dead.

The resurrection of Jesus is the heart and foundation of the Christian faith.  It is in the light of the resurrection that everything else about Jesus, and everything else about human life and human history, makes sense.  Without the resurrection Christianity is a flimsy thing.

But the resurrection of Jesus is not just an event in human history;  it is a way of making sense of life today.  Jesus wants us to know and receive his risen life now.  He wants us to understand that his death on the cross is not just a sharing in the suffering of the world – though it is! – but the sign of God’s passionate involvement in the world and of God’s longing to reconcile the whole of creation to himself.

On the cross Jesus freely offers his life for the sake of the world God loves. in the resurrection God shows us our destiny, a new and transformed life that begins today and lasts for eternity.

It is in the breaking of the bread and the sharing of the wine that we begin to understand all this. It healps us understand the meaning of the cross. It points towards the great banquet of heaven. This is why when Christians gather together Sunday by Sunday we break bread. We remember Jesus and Jesus remembers us.

Happy Easter!

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