12th December News

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St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 12th December 2010

Themes of Advent

The themes of advent, Peace, Hope, Joy and Love are indeed just as challenging and radical as the person whose coming the season heralds. Please have a look at some of the Readings again.

First Sunday of Advent : Swords into Plowshares   (Peace)

Isaiah 2:1–5;  Matthew 24:36–44/24:43–51

Second Sunday of Advent: A Child Shall Lead (Hope)

Isaiah 11:1–10; Matthew 3:1–12

Third Sunday of Advent Rejoice (Joy)

Isaiah 35:1–10; Matthew 11:2–11

Fourth Sunday of Advent: Emmanuel: God with Us (Love)

Isaiah 7:10–16; Matthew 1:18–25/2:


Radical because they go against the current; challenging because they are contrary to our natural instincts.  Look,  listen, feel the different moods around us, watch the news, or google for information  -  unemployment, fluctuating financial market, wars and killings, knife and gun hate crimes, wikileaks,  homelessness, poverty and destitution, re-possessed houses in our neighbourhoods, bourgeoning bills and debts, rising energy bills etc etc! That can’t be Peace, Hope, Joy, or Love!


And yet, the Good News is persistent: there is hope! This hope of new life of God’s Kingdom, which Jesus regained for all cannot be decimated.  Jesus invites all…Come to me! He now descends in the incarnation to uplift all to this newness! It is the overwhelming love of God…..the Amazing Grace of God that gained for us such a great Redeemer, Jesus, Our Emmanuel.  Compared to the eternal glory and joy which God has in store for us the grim experiences that blight our sight at the present time are just as transient as the thoughts that generate them.

JUST LOOK beyond and see OUR EMMANUEL.  Jesus comes to bring the change you have always prayed and waited for: he brings Peace, Hope, Joy and love. Advent is the time to prepare a place of welcome for the God-made-man in our hearts, in our lives, in our homes, in our communities!  Let our welcoming cries of anticipation and joyous expectation go beyond all barriers, horizons and divisions as we pray:

Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus!

                                                               Fr Fred

5th Dec Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 5th December 2010



is the title of a book by Nicola Slee, a poet and theologian who came to talk at the Kitchen Table recently.

It’s subtitled ‘an alternative Christmas handbook’, and it’s full of good things for the times when all the preparations and festivities get too much.


The same theme was part of last week’s Front Page, where Ann offered us some suggestions from her list of ‘how to hold on to the important things’

to help guide us through Advent, amidst all the rush.


One familiar worry of this time of year is just how much Christmas seems to cost.

Add in concerns about the effects of public spending cuts, and the way in which we have all turned up our heating in the bitter cold of the last week,

and money or the lack of it is looming even larger in people’s thoughts than usual as we are tempted to buy just a little more – more food, more decorations, more presents .................


So here’s a very short word game or poem from Nicola’s book to remind us again of the purpose of this time of preparation –

and how easily, surrounded by glitz and tinsel, wanting to be generous, wanting to make things special, we all fall into the spending trap.


                                                                                                                                                 A time to

                                                                                                                                                 Delve deeper into

                                                                                                                                        the loVe of God –

                                                                                                                                                 Emmanuel –

                                                                                                                                                 Not spending

                                                                                                                                                 Too much money.



28th Nov Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 28th November 2010


Advent – When God says  ‘Coming – ready or not!’

Every year I think that it’s a shame that Advent comes at such a busy time……After all, most of us are now in the throes of laying in enough food for a siege, sending cards to everyone we’ve ever known – and many we’ve forgotten – and looking for that elusive perfect gift for the man who has everything, it seems hard to have to remember one more thing.

So how can we get ready for the most important event since time began, at the same time as all the other stuff? Here’s a few ideas from my list:-

*An extra prayer never goes amiss, I find, but I need to remind myself to do it, so, whenever I drive past one of our many churches, I say a prayer for God’s people there.And another tiny prayer for the sender of every Christmas card that arrives.

*I make a point of reading something different, maybe an article in the paper that I would usually gloss over, and I ask myself where God is in that situation.(And if you’d like to reflect a bit with others,

why not come to an Advent Group on Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday evening?)

*And, perhaps most importantly, I try to have some time of quiet, among all the hubbub, in front of our little crib – important this bit, without the baby in it - and think of us all waiting for Jesus.

We know that our preparation to meet the King of Kings is the work of a lifetime, not just a month, and as Christians we know that we celebrate and decorate because of Christmas, rather than because they’re nice things to do.

So to put the preparation and the celebration together is to enhance them both.

Happy Advent!


7th November Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 7th November 2010





Ancient Egypt has been a subject  which has fascinated people for generations, and  it’s certainly been  part of our school curriculum for a very long time

– since I was a child, at least!  So it probably shouldn’t have surprised me, that on getting back from a wonderful holiday seeing some of the great sights of that civilisation,

I seemed to find pharaohs, hieroglyphics, and mummies turning up regularly in books, films, TV, even advertisements.


Partly that’s because there is a new exhibition at the British Museum, about the ‘Book of the Dead’, the collection of stories, spells, and instructions,

designed to help the ancient Egyptians make the journey from death into the afterlife. 

It has been intriguing, at this time in the church’s year when we think so much of death and what lies beyond, to see how another culture,

from thousands of years ago, addressed the question of ‘what next’, one of the commonest and yet most profound questions for every human being.


For the Egyptians, well being beyond the grave depended entirely on a good life in this world.

For us, as Christians, the story is a little different: our striving  may be for the good life, to be faithful disciples,

but our trust is in the grace of God, who knows that we cannot depend on our own efforts,  and so gives of God’s very self in the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.



Sunday September 26th Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 26th September 2010


Stewardship Sunday


It is the time of the year again for us to review our giving to the church and also to look at our time spent focusing on the Lord, focusing on our relationships with others and the gifts God has given to us.


Ps 24 – ‘The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it.’ We are called in this world to be good stewards, good managers of all that God has entrusted to us at all times.   Below are prayers to ponder on this week:


Partners of Love


We love because you first loved us

We give because you gave yourself completely

We worship because you showed your very nature

We live because you died instead of us

We share because your care surrounds us all

We love because you first loved us.

© Frances Ballantyne

Divine Exchange


Jesus we thank you.

In your generosity, you became poor for us

In your giving, you became empty for us

In your grace, you became nothing for us.

You became poor, for us to become rich

You became empty, for us to become full

You became nothing, for us to become something

Jesus we thank you.

© Frances Ballantyne