2nd September 2012 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene †      St Bartholomew †    St Alban †


Sunday 2nd September 2012


Games of Wonder

On Wednesday, the Paralympics was opened by the Queen. This is the biggest event for disabled athletes in the world. Watching the opening ceremony my mind was taken back to the summer holidays that I worked as a student at Stoke Mandeville Hospital. I was in the famous ward where all the people who had damaged their spinal cords where being treated.


Only 50 years ago patients with spinal injuries had only a two-year life expectancy. But by the time I was there in the early 1980’s their prospects were much better with Stoke Mandeville blazing a revolution of care for spinal injury patients.


Part of that new treatment was re-integrating paralysed patients back into society through sport. One afternoon, I remember watching with absolute fear a game of wheelchair basketball. The speed that these people would throw themselves around the court I naively thought was all a bit violent for someone recovering from being paralysed. Yet, of course, basketball and other sports gave people hope. Stoke Mandeville is a place not just where horrific injuries are treated but also where restoring faith and self belief in people with these injuries also happens.


I know as a naïve student my time spent at Stoke Mandeville was an extraordinary experience. So prepare to be amazed over the next couple of weeks by the feats of the athletes of the Paralympics Games.


19th & 26th August 2012 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene †      St Bartholomew †    St Alban †


Sunday’s 19th & 26th August 2012



Faith ends where worry begins, and worry ends where faith begins.

“Death is not extinguishing the light from the Christian;

it is putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.”

Prepare for it by reading the handbook.......

THE BIBLE IS.....Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth

The Bible is More up-to-date than tomorrow's newspaper!

The Bible is the best of all books, for it is the word of God and teaches us the way to be happy in this world and in the next. Continue therefore to read it and to regulate your life by its precepts.

By the way you live You are writing a Gospel, a chapter a day,By deeds that you do, by words that you say.
Men read what you write, whether faithless or true;
Say, what is the Gospel according to you?

Be careful what you do,

Your life may be the only Bible some people may ever read.

Collated By Fr Fred

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