13th February Newsletter 2011

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St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 13th February 2011

…Perfect Love Casteth out Fear …  (I John 4.18)


As I write these words I am aware that next week is Valentine’s Day and this week has been National Marriage Week which is endorsed by the Church and, according to the by-line, “celebrates commitment”. But my thoughts are not so much of romantic love but of a slightly different kind of love:

the love of God to us as Christians.

 A close member of my family is facing surgery and continuing medical treatment for a life-limiting condition and naturally we are all concerned.  As I was thinking about all of this, the above verse came to me – “perfect love casteth out fear”,  in the Authorised Version.

 The commentators  point out that it refers to forgiveness

– we have no need to fear God because of our failings since God has shown us his love and has forgiven us –and it also refers to confidence.


It is the confidence part that I want to stress.  There are many passages of scripture which refer to Christian confidence and, I suppose, there are many because there need to be. We are human and we fail and we fear  and are anxious. This verse should help us to calm our fears and concerns. Of course like so much in the Christian life it isn’t easy. It isn’t meant to be easy, but it is there, for us to reflect on and draw on. How we can use it is up to us.


6th February 2011 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 6th February 2011



Why anyone should be thinking about fasting when we have just come into Ordinary Time or 5th Sunday before Lent, I do not know.  May be for some of us, our New Year’s resolutions to hit the gym or take up some kind of sporting activities to counter excess indulgence, over the festive period have gone by the wayside.  So see Lent as an opportune time to do something about it, fast, give up something or take up something.


Fasting, if our health permits, have many benefits to our spiritual and physical well being.  It is a spiritual discipline for growth and getting closer to God.  On a physical level the benefits are numerous, for instance, it is a valid experience for people whose calories have taken the upper hand in their lives.  It is a safe method for detoxifying the body; it even slows down the ageing process.   It is a belief that the one who truly fast will abstain from gossip, idle talk, rage and anger and many more things.


Our Old Testament reading in Isaiah 58 – says true worship and relationship with God is more than fasting.  For this reason, true fasting is more than what we do not eat, it is pleasing God by showing compassion to the poor, the helpless and the oppressed in our society.


Isaiah says the kind of fast the Lord requires from us is:

To loose the bonds of injustice,

To undo the thongs of the yoke,

To let the oppressed go free,

And to break every yoke……………….Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.


The mere fact…… is we can do both, see Lent as a time to get trim, get closer to God and reach out to others.


30th January Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 30th January 2011

‘Can you hear me?’

I saw a lovely piece on the news recently about an American lady, Brenda Charrett Jensen, who’s just got a new larynx; for 11 years, Brenda has been unable to speak naturally but thanks to the generosity of a family whose loved one died, doctors have been able to transplant a voicebox, so now she can speak – fantastic!

 And last week I went to see ‘The King’s Speech’, a wonderful film about King George 6th, who had a speech impediment, and how, with courage and determination, he was helped to overcome it.

You won’t be surprised to hear that I love a good conversation; I was brought up in a very chatty family and, on Friday nights, when we met up at my grandmother’s house, we would all talk at once! Stories, gossip, jokes,debate and discussion were the fabric of our lives and,nowdays,I  natter and deliberate with my family and friends; I preach regularly; I Pause For Thought with Chris Evans on Radio 2; I get chatting in supermarket queues; on my own, I talk to myself and Christopher says that I even talk in my sleep – but he’s very discreet about what I say…!

 And I thought about talking, and how important it is to have a voice.So many people in this world feel that their voice is not heard at all. Those people, the last, the lost, the little and the least, get on with their lives and we never hear them, never know what keeps them awake at night or indeed what transports them to delight.  They are not consulted and they don’t feel that their views are taken into account or that their stories are of value – and our world is the poorer for not hearing.

And while I’m sure God hears all their cries, sometimes we are prompted to listen to them on God’s behalf - and then to do what we can to ensure that the voices of all God’s children are heard.


23rd January Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 23rd January 2011




I noticed the other week that there is a new pawnbrokers’ shop in High Street North.
 I have a particular interest in these things, because over a century ago,
 in the 1880s, my great grandfather made his living as manager of a pawnbrokers’ in the High Street here.
 I once went into one of the more long-established of the present shops
to see whether they had any records that went back that long, but sadly they hadn’t.
 And that was the only time that I have been into a pawnbrokers’.

Lucky me! I’ve never been so short of money, so lacking in credit,
that the only way to get my hands on some much-needed cash is to pawn something valuable that I own.
 But the opening of the new shop tells me that more and more people are in that situation
 – and, useful though it may be to get the ready cash,
 the likelihood is that anyone who does put something into pawn is going
 to end up with bigger and bigger debts.

 So many of Jesus’ stories are about money and about debt.
He knew how desperate the need for money could make people –and how being in debt could destroy lives.
 Pray the Lord’s Prayeras a Scot,
 and you would say ‘forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors’.
 Those for whom debt is the biggest problem are often those who have least:
let us remember them as we pray that prayer,
but let’s also ask also why that is the pattern,
and whether there is anything we could or should do to change it.




16th January Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 16th January 2011

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Last week I tried to tell a joke in church.  Always a mistake.  Fred and I have yet to displace Morecombe and Wise as the comedy double act. This week we start the week of prayer for Christian Unity so I thought I would try again:


There was once an Anglican and Baptist minister having a heated discussion about Baptism.

The Anglican asked the Baptist if he considered a person baptised if he were immersed in water up to his chin.

No, said the Baptist.

What about if the person was immersed up to his nose, asked the Anglican.

Again the Baptist's answer was no.

Well surely he must be baptised if you immerse him up to his eyebrows, the Anglican said desperately.

The Baptist replied, that he didn't seem to understand.

The person must be immersed completely in water and only then would he be truly baptised.

That's what I've been trying to tell you all along, said the Anglican, it's only a little water on the top of the head that really counts.


I am always a bit sceptical of weeks of this and that.

It seems to me there has been very little progress over many years surrounding Christian Unity. So this theme needs all our prayers this week. But at least we do have a common recognition of Baptism across the different Christian denominations.