30th October 2011 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 30th October 2011

October 31st, All Hallows’ Eve - or Halloween, as it’s known!

Opinion seems divided about the practice of keeping Halloween; some people feel that it’s harmless fun while others feel that the idea of poking fun at evil and being frightened should not be encouraged, especially by Christians.

All Hallows’ Eve, that is, the night before All Saints’ (or Hallows’) day, as we see it these days, is no doubt a mixture which has evolved over the years; it may have its origins in an ancient celebration marking the end of summer and some of the features come from cultures which are rather less squeamish about death than the English!

The strange ghoulish faces that we carve in pumpkins and the contorted masks worn by pranksters are said to represent the tormented souls in Hell and the tradition of telling scary stories about witches a reminder of the evil that exists in our world. When children dress up and knock at neighbours homes, the ‘trick’ of their ‘trick or treat’ will be a song or a poem if they’re in Scotland but a mild threat of mischief in London.

Certainly, however it began, the idea has been enthusiastically embraced by party shops and many see it as an opportunity to get dressed up and have fun with no thought of its many layered meanings.

In the modern European experience, we have contrived to make death something that usually takes place in hospital and many would say that evil is what film makers depend on to get good box-office returns; however, Hallowe’en reminds us that, actually, death and evil are all around us and that all our modern gadgets and technologies don’t change that……….but do not be afraid!

Remember how we sang ‘The strife is o’er, the battle won!’ and rejoice and have fun, knowing that our beds are already made up in Heaven and no amount of apple-bobbing can change that!!


23rd October 2011 Newslletter

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St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 23rd October 2011


Ducks in a row

                  We spend a lot of our time and energy trying to organise ourselves and our lives so that all is well and everything is in order

and we have prepared for every eventuality – trying to get all our ducks in a row. Then something comes along,  knocks us for six,

and it all goes to pot. All our plans fall apart and we have to start all over again.

It is unlikely to be quite as dramatic as Galilean fishermen being called by an apparent stranger to put down their nets and  “come, follow me” but it can be disruptive and causes us to have a re-think. Sometimes, as Christians, we feel this shouldn’t happen: not to us anyway – we do everything right and try to live responsibly and soberly. But it does and we shouldn’t be surprised when it does. Doesn’t the Bible say something about God causing the rain to shine on the good and the bad? Yes, it does (well, more-or-less, anyway, Matthew 5.45.)

 I am saying all of this because, of course, I had one of these “course-correction”  experiences last week. Not a major calamity

and certainly no personal trauma, but it is an irritation and enough to remind me that ours is a walk of faith and not of sight.

We are not promised immunity from the ups-and-downs of everyday life but we are told that we will be given the strength (and wisdom?) to deal with it. So, the next few weeks should be interesting.


16th October 2011 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 16th October 2011


Stewardship Sunday

People tend to think Stewardship Sunday is just about money. Certainly today raising money for the church is a part of our focus.

Hopefully our ideas around stewardship are wider than just the financial. 

We communicate our faith with every gift we have been given. Stewardship is how we use all the talents of our congregation.

I found this rather good poem which explores those ideas:

If you wish to weep
we give you space
until you wish to share the tears

If you are burdened
tell us of your troubles

If you have sins to confess
find here forgiveness

If you need silence
peace is offered

If you seek truth
there are ways

If love
we are united in the Lover

If you want to sing
we will accompany you

If you are laughing
we would like to hear the joke

If you are celebrating
please tell us your good news

Join us
We have stories also

God is within
                     and all around                     


9th October 2011 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 9th October 2011

It's Free, This is Heaven

A couple both aged 85 years old, having been married almost 60 years, sadly died in a car crash. They had been in good health especially during their last ten years, mainly due to the wife’s interest in healthy food, and exercise.

When they reached the pearly gates, St. Peter took them to their mansion which was decked out with a beautiful kitchen and master bath suite and Jacuzzi. As they "oohed and aahed" the old man asked Peter how much all this was going to cost. "It's free," Peter replied, "this is Heaven."

Next they went outside from their mansion to survey the championship golf course surrounding their new home. They would have golfing privileges everyday, if they wanted to play, and each week, the course changed to a new one representing the greatest golf courses on earth. The old man asked, "What are the green fees?" Peter's replied, "This is heaven, you play for free."

Next they went to the club house and saw the lavish buffet lunch with the best cuisines of the world laid out. "Oh how much will it cost to eat?" asked the old man. "Don't you understand yet? This is heaven, it is free!" Peter replied with some exasperation.

"Well, where are the low fat and low cholesterol tables?" the old man asked timidly. Peter said, "That's the best part...you can eat as much as you like of whatever you like and you never get fat and you never get sick. This is Heaven."

After hearing that,the old man went into a fit of rage and anger, throwing down his hat and stomping on it, and shrieking wildly.

Peter and his wife both tried to calm him down, asking him what was wrong. The old man looked at his wife and said, "This is your fault. If it weren't for your blasted bran muffins, dry vegetables and all that tasteless healthy whats-it..…. I could have been here ten years ago!"


2nd October 2011 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 2nd October 2011


God’s Call to Faith


“Out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery”

Calling out of Egypt has become figurative in Biblical and theological genre symbolizing God’s call to humans and to an estranged universe to return, to come back home.

This genre also has some very important Christological implications and therefore set some fundamental guidelines for our faith.


The first call, the OLD call, from God to His son to come out of Egypt is recorded in the Book of the Prophet Hosea: 11:1:

‘Out of Egypt I have called my son’  (Hosea: 11:1)

That son was Israel. The Israelites were the sons of God in this old call. But they were ungrateful, rejected God’s tender love, and became worshipers of pagan idols. They served the Baalim and other graven images instead of the true God. In short, there was imperfection in this old call out of Egypt.


The second and NEW call from God to His Son out of Egypt was addressed to Jesus as recorded in the Gospels (Matthew 2:15).

Jesus was called out of Egypt, and was perfect in His obedience towards God.

In Jesus and by Jesus this call is addressed to you and to me. Hence by and through Jesus this History is perfected. The narrative has been transformed from History into Prophecy, not simply a predictive prophecy but a fully realized, actualized, and adequately fulfilled prophecy.


It is the same call we receive today, individually and collectively as people of faith. What is the nature and quality of your response?