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


12th June 2011 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 12th June 2011



                                                                  " When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,

"Receive the Holy Spirit…”   John 20:23


Pentecost is the festival when Christians celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Read Acts 2:2-4) It is celebrated on the Sunday 50 days after Easter; hence the name Pentecost which comes from the Greek pentekoste, meaning "fiftieth".  It is also called Whitsun or Whisunday, a name which derives from the white garments worn by catechumens, those expecting to be baptized on that Sunday, as per the old custom.

Pentecost is regarded as the birthday of the Christian church, and the start of the church's mission to the world. On the first Pentecost about 3,000 people were converted and baptized, a real "the birthday of the Church." On this day, with the descent of the Holy Spirit, Christ's mission is completed, and the New Covenant is inaugurated.

Pentecost comes from a Jewish harvest festival called Shavuot. Shavuot also marks the time that the Jews were given the Torah on Mount Sinai. It is quite significant therefore that the apostles were gathered together, celebrating this highly important historical Jewish festival of Shavuot when the Holy Spirit descended on them, a rebirth from the old to the new. The spiritual impact of the outpouring of God’s gifts on the Church in full power at Pentecost is not a myth. Neither is this experience the prerogative or monopoly of the

Pentecostal churches. The Church of God, including the Anglican Church, is essentially Pentecostal in origin and nature. Enjoy the beautiful Liturgy of today; The words of the Collect and the Preface:

Almighty God, on this day you opened the way of eternal life to every race and nation by the promised gift of your Holy Spirit…

And cry to the Risen Lord in prayerful demand……

“Lord send out your Spirit and renew the face of the earth”!

And then ..………..open your hearts for God’s Pentecost to happen in your personal life, in our Parish and in all our communities.    

                                                                                                      Fr Fred

5th June 2011 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 5th June 2011



Fifty years ago, two Portuguese students  found themselves in prison for toasting freedom in a country under the control  of an authoritarian and repressive government. Appalled at their experience,  a British lawyer, Peter Benenson wrote to the Observer newspaper, and launched an ‘Appeal for Amnesty’.

His article touched a nerve, and an international movement was born, dedicated to defending freedom of opinion and religion, and pledged to support prisoners of conscience throughout the world.

Six prisoners were identified in that first article, a philosopher, a poet, a trade unionist, an American minister campaigning against race segregation, and a cardinal and an archbishop from Hungary and Czechoslovakia respectively: all eventually won their freedom, with Amnesty playing a major part in highlighting the injustice which they suffered.

The work of Amnesty International has changed over the years, and sometimes their decisions, the causes they have chosen to champion, have been controversial. But listening to the current Secretary General speaking this week , I was reminded of the continuing need for their work, in the places of conflict and repression of our own time. And I was reminded, too, that where there is injustice and corruption, it is the poorest who suffer most.

Over  the years, churches, temples, synagogues, and mosques have used the stories and the resources offered by Amnesty and in the support they have given to its work they have shown how the ‘golden rule’ of love of neighbour runs through the teaching of so many faiths.

I pray for a world where that work will no longer be needed; but until that time, I shall continue to support Amnesty. If you would like to do so too, find out more at www.amnesty.org.uk



29th May 2011 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 29th May 2011


Trusting God’s Voice

 Sometimes we may realise that God is moving us to some greater hiddenness or to an unknown place.  The initial reaction to this invitation can be fear, or running away from the self, as one is more familiar with the loud voices that calls us to action and worry about worldly cares that dominate our lives.

In the midst of this life of combat, of noise of the mind involved in the things of the world, every now and then we may discover that God’s voice is saying, ‘Be still and trust that your life will be fruitful even in the hiddenness, even in that unknown place’.  Trusting this inner voice is not easy, because it is stifled with self doubt, insecurity and the need for affirmation and God’s voice becomes harder to hear.

It helps to find a safe space, go on a retreat or holiday, or spend sometime with trustful friends, to let that inner voice become clearer and louder over and above all the cares of the world.  Taking time out, being still to attend to this inner voice will affirm the truth from God.  The truth of inner peace and joy in the Lord, the peace of God, that is beyond understanding, reasoning and logic.

If for some reason or another we are unable to find that safe space, our visit to church on Sundays can be the space to leave wandering thoughts behind and focus on the Lord.  In church we may find ourselves in a privilege position in listening, being attentive and helping others stay faithful to that inner voice of God. The call in beckoning them to that greater hiddeness or to an unknown and unfamiliar place is the peace of God which directs and governs us.

…’And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you are called in the one body.  And be thankful’. Col 3:15.



22nd May 2011 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 22nd May 2011


So, the Vicar is leaving…….


I have only been a member of this parish for about 7 years or so, for me, the departure of a vicar is a new experience. The old hands among you have seen it all before and know what to expect but for, newer members and for members of our “wider” fellowship, it may pose some uncertainty.

I have been asked – why is Jane leaving? (have we upset her? – well, no – at least I hope not!) Moving on after a few years is very much the usual pattern for many clergy: indeed in some denominations it is obligatory – they swap you round every few years. Who is going to take over? We don’t know but we will have a say in who it is. No-one will simply be dropped onto us. When will the new person come? Not for a while. Will the new person be just like Jane ?– Ah! Quite possibly not – it could be someone from a very different background, it may be a man, with a family: we don’t know. And, my favourite:

if we are having a farewell lunch on the 19th can we all get to Wickford in time for her installation at 4.00 pm?. Err no – we don’t need to – her installation isn’t till July (good thing it is in Wickford and not Wakefield!)

There is a process for dealing with this and the process is beginning. Representatives from the congregation will have the opportunity of talking to the powers-that-be (the Archdeacon, as Bishop David is on sabbatical at the moment) to discuss the kind of ministry we want to see in this church, Parish and community.

Then we will draw up a “job-description” and advertise, interview, appoint and wait for the new vicar’s arrival.

All this will take a bit of time – at least 6 months to a year.

Meanwhile we have Jane for another month and then we at St Bart’s are very fortunate in having three wardens, many experienced members who have been through it all, a parish administrator and, above all, Frances, backed up by the other clergy in the parish, to lead us in our worship and our spiritual lives.