13th January 2013 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene †      St Bartholomew †    St Alban †


Sunday 13th January 2013

Keeping in Shape?

Everywhere I look in magazines and newspapers there are articles on dieting! And, of course, I love to read them – though I’m not sure that reading them is enough……. But I’m certain that all those chocolates and cakes will just drop off as soon as I get back to walking the dog!

And I need to keep my spiritual self in shape too. After the wonderfully rich festivals of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany, most people will find it hard not to feel a bit down in these dark, wintry days.

So we need to plan some things that will enrich the soul – a good film or concert, a laugh with friends or maybe some time just being quiet; prayer and meditation are helpful – maybe try a new prayer book or pray at different times in the day.

And, whatever it is we’re doing, we’ll have to keep practising, til it becomes part of our routine*

And my experience is that these spiritual things are generally better done with other people; certainly, I know I’m more likely to stick to my plan if I have companions to share the journey.

I believe it’s worth trying, because, if we’re in good spiritual shape, we’re better at coping with all the other stuff life throws at us.!


*But please, if it really doesn’t work for you, try something else!


6th January 2013 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene †      St Bartholomew †    St Alban †


Sunday 6th January 2013

Happy New Year!

But, for Christians, at least those in England rather than Scotland, Christmas is much the more important holiday. New Year tends to be regarded as a little suspect: a bit pagan, a bit full of superstition, a bit frivolous, even decadent or worse, and without any real meaning. But it is the start of a new year and, if at Christmas we often get sentimental and look back, - back to the Birth, back to our childhood and Christmases past, and back over the fading year, at New Year we can, and should, look forwards to what is to come.

For us, 2013 promises to be an exciting and eventful year with high expectations. Rob Marshall is very busy planning and arranging for his, and our, new roles and we will (very) soon all be involved. The licensing is in 8 weeks and the preparations are well underway; not just for the Service itself, but for what comes after. We will have an expanded Parish, with the inclusion of St. John’s, North Woolwich, and an expanded Team, with the added probability of a new curate, and an expanded vision.

There will be opportunities and challenges: we will have to integrate our churches, to build on our strengths, to seek new areas of ministry and mission, while retaining and developing our existing links with our neighbouring churches . Some, but only some of this, will be for our Ministers and Church Councils but the rest will be up to all of us. Our challenge for 2013 will be to live up to the expectations that have been placed on us, as faithful servants of Him who sent us. Happy New Year!


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.