9th January Newsletter

Posted in Parish

St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 9th January 2011




It is fascinating to see in the news this week the latest attempt on the part of scientists to create rainclouds where no rainclouds existed before, in Abu Dhabi, which is very hot and very dry.

The system they are using involves huge ionizers which

promote cloud-formation in the atmosphere.

Other experiments elsewhere have mainly been conducted

where there are cloudy skies, and “cloud-seeding” precipitates rain.

But in Abu Dhabi rain has been falling out of a completely cloudless sky, which is rather remarkable!


                              Gillian Mayer

26th December & 2nd January Newsletter

Posted in Parish

St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 26th December 2010


Sunday 2nd January 2011


Emmanuel – God with Us


As I sat in front of my computer just before Christmas with the deadline looming I didn’t find this Front Page very easy to write.  Christmas Day with all the preparation, excitement and the buzz it creates is over.  The shops have immediately taken down their decorations and are promoting their sales – even on Boxing Day.

We have sung the last verse of “Oh Come All Ye Faithfull” and, apart from “Good King Wenceslas”,  Christmas Carols may seem a bit, well, yesterday.  So what is there to say?

The time after Christmas and into the New Year is a funny time:  neither here nor there. The concept of the “Christmas Season” and “Twelve Days of Christmas” seems unreal and remote. Instead, for many, it is time for relaxing, being with family, getting few odd jobs done around the house or even going away on holiday. For some it can be a stressful time, facing issues that have been put aside in the preparation for Christmas and, for others, it is a time of work and, for many of those, of hard work.

For all of us it is a time of looking to the New Year – for some it will be a positive time but not for all. Many families face uncertainties in 2011. It may be relationships and family problems , it may be health concerns and uncertainty,  it may be financial. The overall economy may be improving but job cuts are looming, public expenditure is being cut back and taxes , costs (and heating bills) are rising.

Which is where the Emmanuel bit comes in. We are celebrating the Birth of Christ and we need to take this with us into the New Year and remember also the uncertainties surrounding  Christ’s own birth.  As Christians we have that assurance that God is with us. The challenge is drawing on it.

Andrew Biro

19th December newsletter

Posted in Parish

St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 19th December 2010

Saint Joseph Pray For Us

 In Matthew’s gospel we hear the part Joseph played in the birth of Jesus the Messiah’s story. 

Engaged to Mary, he discovered that his ‘wife to be’ was pregnant not by him. 

We cannot imagine the hurt, the shame and anger he must have felt and as a righteous man decided to divorce her quietly.


BUT the messenger of God intervened and revealed to Joseph in a dream that his vocation was to be the husband of Mary and Step Father of Jesus. 

Joseph then became Jesus’ male role model on earth and He learned many things from him.


See below a reflection by Br. Julian, a Franciscan Friar from Helping Hands on: Thinking of Joseph.


‘It was one of those moments,

When everything seemed to be going wrong.

Tempers were frayed, emotions taut.

Panic seeping through, desperate attempts to keep control………and the final straw.

There was no room at the Inn, so long a journey, to a place called home.  But no welcome, no rest, no help, abandoned to fate….

Could I have done things better?

Doubt and self join their familiar dance, sapping energy, hope destroying leading us to a dark corner.

Where bitter souls do not sleep……..

It was some time in the night when self-reproach and blame began to tire and every human aching dropped exhausted, fallen and broken. 

It was one of those moments when the Son of God was born.’



12th December News

Posted in Parish

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

Posted in Parish

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.