17th July 2011 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 17th July 2011

Let Anyone with Ears Listen


In today’s gospel we hear that recognisable quote ‘let anyone with ears listen’ again.  To fully and deeply listen to another human being is a powerful gift.  I bet we have all suffered from the ‘hearing but not listening syndrome’ at one time or another, especially during sermons.  On some occasions when one has received a compliment; ‘that was a good sermon’, said thanks, but asked ‘what did you like about it? ‘Ummm…..yeah it was a nice sermon’. Selective listening happens to us all, you may read few pages of a book and have no idea of what you’ve just read.  Below is a saying from L. Launio pointing out how we miss listening to God, when God speaks about blessings;

A man whispered "God, speak to me"
And a meadowlark sang.
But the man did not hear.

So the man yelled "God speak to me!"
And the thunder rolled across the sky.
But the man did not listen.

The man looked around and said "God let me see you." And a star shone brightly.
But the man did not notice.

And the man shouted "God show me a miracle"
And a life was born.
But the man did not know.

So, the man cried out in despair. "Touch me God and let me know that you are here!" Whereupon God reached down and touched the man. But the man brushed the butterfly away and walked on.


Jesus always teaches his listeners how to listen by speaking in parables I hope we will hear Him loud

and clear today and not find ourselves drifting off.        


10th July 2011 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 10th July 2011

Stop the Front Page!

I have rewritten this article a number of times. Each time  I thought I had written the final version, another shocking piece of news appeared about the conduct of some journalists and executives at News of the World. Now, we hear today’s edition will be the last under that name. Although, I suspect, a new Sunday newspaper will reappear in the not too distant future.

The fact that someone at the paper thought it appropriate to listen to the desperate messages of a family to the murdered girl, Milly Dowler. and also to remove some of those messages from the family, so offering them false hope at their most dreadful of times. Or any other the other horrendous allegations we have heard this week has been shocking.

The freedom of the press is central to any democracy. Thank goodness we have a vibrant and free press in our country. That freedom often allows them unique access into other people’s lives. Yet that freedom has to impose on the press the responsibility to act in an appropriate fashion. For some parts of our press the great responsibility to cover the news accurately and fairly has been lost.  To get a story, by whatever means necessary, seems to have been their only motive.

As a nation we deserve better but equally we deserve better from the Police. They seem to have never really investigated this crime a few years ago and plainly did not or would not examine all the evidence that was available. Their first investigation was a shambles. We deserve better from the Police. All institutions make mistakes. We have seen over the past few years, mistakes made by Parliament, the Banks and the Church. The question for me is how those human institutions react to their mistakes.

Do they sweep them under the carpet or face those mistakes head on?  How do they change their behaviour? 

For some parts of the Press and some in the Police this will be a time to do some deep soul searching as how they can change to fulfil the vital and important responsibilities that society places upon them.                                                 



3rd July 2011 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 3rd July 2011

Dreams can come true……

A little more than 40 years ago, three Christian ministers – one Anglican, one Congregationalist and one Methodist got together to see if they could do anything about the crimes that were then known by the horrible term ‘Paki-bashing’.

They decided that it would be a good idea to have a deliberately multi-cultural youth club – quite a novelty in those days – and they invited young people to come together and meet each other as individuals rather than strangers.

And from that dream, shared with others and brought into being with help from the local authority, The Renewal Programme has grown and flourished and is delighted to be celebrating 40 years of service to people in Newham and surrounding boroughs this year.

Nowadays, we employ about 85 people, most of whom live in Newham, and we are helped and supported by hundreds of volunteers who do a wide variety of tasks – everything from being on one of our committees, to teaching homeless people to grow things in the garden, to giving out the dried foods and Harvest and Christmas gifts given to us by St Bart’s and St Mary Magdalene’s churches, to people who are refugees.

Those who started the Renewal Programme could not have known how their idea would grow and develop but, with God’s good grace, it did. They couldn’t have imagined that, earlier this year, young people from the Hartley Centre, which is a Renewal Programme project, travelled to Northern Ireland to work with a culturally mixed group of youngsters there, to show them how to live together in peace. Amazing how the dream became an idea which became reality.

Have you been dreaming lately…….?


26th June Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 26th June 2011


A message from Jane

Last Sunday was a very special day for me, and I was overwhelmed

by the kind words, the many gifts and cards, and the warmth

with which you marked my farewell.


They were far too many for me to offer individual thanks,

but I shall carry treasures with me to Wickford,

not least wonderful memories and words of encouragement.


I know I shall miss my colleagues, our congregations and so many friends: but I am deeply grateful for seven extraordinary years

in East Ham, and will keep the place, the parish, and the people in my prayers.


Thank you all.


19th June 2011 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 19th June 2011

A Fond Farewell

On Wednesday morning in our Diocesan cycle of prayer we prayed for the Wickford and Runwell Team Ministry. The description was Team Rector. Position Vacant. As we all know that is about to change as we say goodbye to Jane.  Their gain is our loss. A valued colleague and friend for  over seven years. All of us, in our differing ways, will have to adjust to Jane’s departure. We wish her well. I leave her with a poem.

 R.S Thomas, the famous Welsh poet, wrote this poem about his vocation as a priest. As you would expect from Thomas it is not altogether uplifting and yet it contains a wonderful line , ‘I was there, I felt , to blow on ashes that were too often cold.’ Blowing on ashes is a priest’s vocation as we hope to see those ashes spark and light with the Holy Spirit.

I was vicar of large things in a small parish.

Small-minded I will not say, there were depths

in some of them I shrank back from,

wells that the word “God” fell into and died away,

and for all I know is still falling.

Who goes for water to such must prepare for a long wait.

Their eyes looked at me and were the remains of flowers

on an old grave. I was there, I felt, to blow on ashes

that were too long cold. Often,when I thought they were about

to unbar to me, the draught out of their empty places

came whistling so that I wrapped

myself in the heavier clothing of my calling,

speaking of light and love

in the thickening shadows of their kitchens