16th October 2011 Newsletter

Posted in Parish

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

Posted in Parish

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?


25th September 2011 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 25th September 2011


What is religious discrimination?

On Tuesday, I spent a couple of hours of fun with a researcher from the University of Derby. She was part of team exploring the thorny question ‘What is religious discrimination?’ It is not an easy question to answer and I certainly can’t claim to have come to any conclusions after the extensive questioning.

The basic problem is one person’s religious observance can be offensive to another person.

A couple of examples of the tensions involved from my time as a Curate in Ilford.  An Orthodox Jewish group wanted to put up poles in our particular part of Ilford to help them in their religious observance. Should this be allowed? Or is it right to allow a local Muslim group to build a minaret on their local Mosque? Whose rights are protected under the law? The religious community or the wishes of the wider community?

Of course, there are two competing rights in both of these cases. The rights of the religious community to express their faith. Against the rights of the wider community that may object to that expression?  Of course, the hope is that these two competing rights can be resolved but often there has to be an arbiter in these disputes. Whatever way the judgement goes the losing side will feel discriminated against.  There are no easy answers but perhaps it is through holding these competing rights in tension is all we can do.



18th September 2011 Newsletter

Posted in Parish

St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 18th September 2011

The Flying Eagle

Eagles are magnificent birds; effortlessly soar so high, with a keen eye sight greater than that in human beings.  Ancient cultures saw these powerful birds of prey as divine symbols, etched on pyramids or carved as statues.  Their image is still used to depict power, speed, beauty and independence.  Eagle is also a Christian symbol which represents the resurrection and renewal.  In some churches one will find the Lectionary or Bible placed on the out stretched wings of an eagle.

It is remarkable that God even compares himself to an eagle.

In Exodus 19; God tells Moses at Mount Sinai that ‘I have bore you on eagle’s wings and brought you to myself’.  Also the profound saying in Isaiah 40:31; ‘Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint’.   Eagle is a sound metaphor that speaks of overcoming our natural impossibilities, weaknesses and seeing God as our very present help.

John’s gospel portrays Jesus as the Flying Eagle, who is above and beyond the world, with broad wings and strong soaring flight, who has left the cosmic heights and come to dwell among us.

For this reason, living under the shadow of His wings, Christ helps us to soar to new heights, to acquire a broader vision of God at work in us and in the world.