24th March 2013 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene † St Bartholomew †  St Alban †


Sunday 24th March 2013 

"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” Matthew 19 v14.

Familiar words. This week, appropriately in the lead-up to Easter, both churches have been hosting visits from local primary school children and what a privilege it has been!

The children, of all shapes and sizes, were all very well-behaved, attentive, surprisingly knowledgeable and they were accompanied by teachers and parents who were very appreciative and supportive of the visit. It was a very positive experience and, through some very gifted and able teaching (not by me!), it was possible to show them a little of what we are about as a Church and to simply explain the Gospel to them.

I see a contrast between the simplicity of what is happening here, at the “coal-face” so to speak, and the national and international events of the last weeks – the inauguration of Pope Francis and the enthronement of Justin Welby as our new Archbishop. Much is being said of the issues and challenges facing them and the wider Church: issues that we, as individuals, can seemingly do little about.

Perhaps this can be a thought for Holy Week and Easter – to find the bits that we can do, both within the existing framework of the parish and the new opportunities for service offered by Rob’s arrival, and to go ahead and do them.


20th January 2013 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene †      St Bartholomew †    St Alban †


Sunday 20th January 2013

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

This week we start ‘the week of prayer for Christian Unity’. I am always a bit sceptical of weeks of this and that. They often feel to me like token nods to a particular subject, usually a very worthy subject, where few of us could have any objections. So we pray for prisoners in the Week for Prisoners and sailors when we have their week. You get the picture. Each week of prayer might make us feel a little bit better and yet I often feel far removed from the subject, neither being a sailor and yet to find myself a prisoner!

Yet I feel very differently about this particular week of prayer. We have been working hard with Nicola, our Methodist colleague, to bring our various churches in East Ham Area into a closer relationship. I do feel we are making progress. The Bishop and Methodist Superintendant have now given their permission for Nicola and myself to celebrate the Eucharist at each other’s churches. We will also be joining together for our Lenten Course. I am also hopefully there will be a significant part for the Methodists when the new team is commissioned with Rob on the 6th March. I am excited by the possibilities that could lie ahead of us as we seek to learn from each other in the East Ham Area.

So we can pray this week:

God, we pray we are broken

Broken open to our fractured and fragmented world and Church;

Broken open to the hope of renewal;

That healing to wholeness and unity becomes us. Amen.


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.