Thursday, 19 January 2017

700 Years of the Elland Charter

We'll be celebrating the 700th Anniversary of Elland's Royal Charter at the 850 year old St Mary's Church, over the Weekend of Friday 24th to Sunday 26th February.

A Copy of the Charter. The Original was kept in St Mary's for over 500 years.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

A Commemoration of Canon Ernest Winter

Saturday 14th January 2017 marks 100 years since the death of Canon Ernest Winter, Rector of Elland, founding inspiration of All Saints Church, and a figure who contributed much to the welfare of this community during his 24 years as their parish Priest. Canon Winter was a nationally renowned figure, and even with the Great War raging in the early days of 1917, his death made national headlines. A Requiem Mass will be offered for him at 9.30am at the High Altar in All Saints on Saturday 14th, which will be followed by Prayers at his Grave in Elland (Exley) Cemetery at 11am. The following day, Sunday 15th January, we will remember him at a special commemorative Evensong in St Mary’s at 6pm.

Happy New Year, in the Year of Our Lord’s Grace Two Thousand and Seventeen

This year marks the Centenary of the appalling events in the latter years of the Great War, that led sisters Eglantyne and Dorothy Jebb to found the Charity, Save the Children. Children and Young People had suffered disproportionately among the Civilian casualties, but as the conflict came to an end first of all on the eastern Front, and subsequently, a year later, in the west, even the basic needs of children were often forgotten, as civilian populations struggled to feed themselves. Occupying British Soldiers shared their rations with German children to keep them alive, and Eglantyne and Dorothy managed to enlist both the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury in launching what turned out to be a very successful appeal. The Charity, still active today, was not the first in this field, as Barnardo’s, and the Church of England’s ‘Waifs and Strays Society’, (now known as the Children’s Society) were already busy, but it caught the imagination, and paved the way for great and significant appeals, such as Children in Need, in our own day.


Eglantyne Jebb is commemorated in the Church of England’s Kalendar on December 17th. Her sister, Dorothy, knew Elland well, as she was married to Charles Roden Buxton, MP for Elland from 1929 to 31. In honouring the sisters, we remember those who are prepared to move mountains for a cause that is right and just.


As this month of January begins, we are celebrating the latter days of Christmass, before adding new layers to our prayerful exploration of the Season with the Feasts of the Epiphany, and the Baptism of Christ. The Christ-child in the Stable, the inspiration for the godly humanism of such as Eglantyne Jebb in caring for Children in need, is the Christ whose life we share in Holy Baptism, and who, in his death and resurrection, will complete his ministry in opening up to all the riches of the Kingdom. We have looked for God’s coming amongst us as a child; may we be open to see his presence in all in need, and to respond with generosity and love, for our faith demands nothing less.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

An Advent Kiss

In these days of instant communications and social media, its noticeable how even messages from the most casual of acquaintances end with a kiss or two, or ‘xx’ to be precise! It doesn’t seem to matter how well you do or don’t know the person concerned, but the whole range of traditional ways of signing off, from ‘yours faithfully’, as far as ‘I remain, sir, your obedient servant’, seems to be disappearing. ‘X’ of course used to be the sign of the illiterate, but before then was actually akin to the sign of the cross in a medieval document, more ‘+’ than ‘x’, and kissing the sign on the parchment or paper was the equivalent to taking an oath. A simple gesture that bound the one who made it.


Politicians and media gurus expound KISS as ‘keep it simple, stupid’, and perhaps there is something of value there. The story that will unfold for us during Advent and Christmass is, at it’s simplest, a story of wonder and amazement, of God’s decisive involvement in human lives. Yet behind the wonder and the divine kiss of the Stable at Bethlehem, is the profound truth of God our Creator, who took our human flesh to redeem us on the Cross, and who remains with us still. A Holy Mystery that will never exhaust the telling.


Psalm 85 is often used to help us enter the Christmass mystery, especially verse 10,


            Mercy and truth are net together,

            Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.


In the mystery and graciousness of the Word made flesh, Jesus, the Son of God, God’s righteousness, God’s goodness, touches, kisses, the whole of creation. We are invited into the Divine embrace, invited to share all that God wishes for his Creation, visible, even touchable, in the Christ-Child of the Stable.


I hope you will have a good, and a holy Advent, and enjoy the caroling and the good cheer, the cards and the tinsel, if that is what you choose to do. Yet let us not lose sight of the astonishing, life-changing truth that we explore in this Holy Season, the God who took flesh in Bethlehem, shares our life still, and will come again in glory.


Pax et Bonum – Peace and all Good to you! 


Father David

The Advent Collect 


Traditionally, many Christians would have known a version of this prayer by heart, and used it every day. Make it your Advent Prayer!


Almighty God,

give us grace to cast away the works of darkness

and to put on the armour of light,

now in the time of this mortal life,

in which your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility;

that on the last day,

when he shall come again in his glorious majesty

to judge the living and the dead,

we may rise to the life immortal;

through him who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever. Amen


Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Called to be Saints

People in a crowd crushed by a lorry in Nice, the brutal murder of a priest in Normandy, the heartrending killing of disabled people in Japan, bombings and loss of life in Mogadishu and Kabul, random stabbings in a square in central London, continuing atrocities in Aleppo and deliberate targeting of Christians in Iraq. These brutal and barbaric acts of violence leave us struggling with feelings of anger, sorrow and fear. But how should faith respond?


Tragic and violent death takes us straight to the very heart of Christian faith, to the Cross on which Jesus also suffered. Whenever we gather as God’s people around the altar, we remember that we share in the death of Christ that we may also share in his Resurrection. We proclaim Hope; Hope is different from optimism. Optimism is merely passive, expecting good to come, starting from somewhere else. Hope is active, working for good to come, starting with ourselves. Learning to live this is the calling of every Christian.


Last year the murdered priest Fr Jacques Hamel, wrote in his parish newsletter, “Do not think holiness is not for us. Holiness does not mean doing extraordinary things. We are sons and daughters of God. It is by living this relationship, day by day, that we become saints.” Priesthood is a ministry of hope, because whenever Christians celebrate the Eucharist, the Mass, they proclaim Christ’s death, not in fear but in hope.


Now is the time for us to stop believing that we can’t be saints, to stop focusing on what we think of as our lack of holiness, to stop offering ourselves excuses. Instead, now is the time to offer the world our simple hope, to witness that the world is not left hopeless, despairing and lost, because God is as he is in Jesus, and therefore there is hope.  We may be unlikely to experience directly the violence that many people are facing all over the world. But there are other ways in which we need to witness to hope when it is given us to do so, in the face of prejudice, hatred, cynicism and despair. They are the easy answers of people without hope.


Hope means not giving in to fear of those who follow a different faith, to prejudice about immigrants, or to despair for the future. Whenever we hear or feel such ideas inside ourselves (because we are guilty too), we let them go and ask God to put them where they belong. If we all try to become more inclusive people, respectful, open and humble towards all, then that is how we will reject the fear, hatred and division that the terrorists want to inspire.


This month of November is the Month of the Holy Saints, and of the Holy Dead in Christ. In our worship we share already in the glorious Kingdom to which the saints bear witness, as we pray for God’s will to be done in the departed, and in those of us who are still on our earthly pilgrimage. In the Mass, we know that our prayers are united with the whole Company of Heaven.  

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Confronting Religous Violence

The former Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, has written a fascinating book, Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence. * Dr Sacks remains a widely respected figure, and is a man of some wisdom, to whom we would do well to listen. He challenges first of all the contemporary myth that Religion causes violence, a sentiment expressed, for instance, in John Lennon’s Imagine, and that therefore, religion ought to be, somehow, abolished. Some very serious research has shown that both in ancient and more recent history, only about 10% of wars have been religious in some way or another. The overwhelming causes of violence are rather to be found in disputes, big or small, over territory, power, nationality, money, or even sex. (you never hear anyone suggesting that therefore we should abolish money or sex!)  While religious affiliation may well aggravate a situation, religion has, from earliest times, proved to be the most effective way of cementing different peoples together, in learning how to live alongside one another, and to value and understand different approaches and cultures. Above all, to be a religious person, whatever one’s faith, is, for Dr Sacks, to commit oneself to want the best for the other person.


Meeting and sharing with people of different faiths has, for me, been a very valuable thing. The true search for God will always take us away from violence, and towards the heart of love. While other world faiths may therefore show me something of God, I do however believe that ultimately God is to be known most fully as he is in Christ, crucified and risen, and that view can be held with absolute integrity alongside wanting to know more of other world faiths. In no faith other than classic, biblical, catholic and orthodox Christianity, has God really, totally and truly revealed what he is like. To say that all faiths are equal, is to deny the death and resurrection of Jesus. That doesn’t mean that I am right, and everyone else isn’t, rather it means God is right! 


In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus sets out our clear Christian duty to love our neighbour. It is the Samaritan, the despised foreigner, who is closest to God. We are not just to be a good neighbour to those who are different, those who challenge us, those indeed, who, in our heart of hearts we do not like, but we are to be prepared to be helped, and loved by them.


Lord God,

Thank you for the human family,

For people of all faiths and none,

Especially those who are our neighbours.

May we learn to promote tolerance and understanding,

And also never be afraid to witness to our faith in Jesus. Amen.



 *Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence.  Published by Hodder & Stoughton                                                                                                                                                               

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Do This in Remembrance of Me

Do this in remembrance of me.


From the earliest times of her history, the Church has obeyed our Lord’s command, ‘Do this in remembrance of me.’ Come to Mass, be present, listen, sing, pray, offer Christ to the Father with the priest, receive Holy Communion, all offered to God’s praise and glory, that we may be sent out to live outside the Church walls what we have done within them.


In times of persecution, the only Altar available has been the hands of the priest. In times of peace, the Church has lingered over the wonder and mystery of the Mass, and embellished the celebration with beautiful surroundings, wonderful words and praiseworthy music.


In the wonder and gift of the Holy Eucharist, Christ makes himself known. Son of God and Son of Mary, present to our senses simply as bread and wine, but really, truly and sacramentally present in his body and blood. When we are offered the bread of life, as the Priest says, ‘The Body of Christ’, we respond ‘Amen’, meaning yes Lord, I believe that you are truly present.  All that we have to bring here is a hunger for this food, this manna from heaven, this life giving bread. If we are so full of ourselves and our own self-importance, we will hard it hard to make room, but if we know our need of God, then he may enter in, heal us, and save us. 


We never just ‘go to Church.’ We are entering a space set apart for worship of God, an earthly shadow of the heavenly Jerusalem. Christ is always here in the Blessed Sacrament reserved for Adoration, and for those in need, in the Tabernacle, the Aumbry. Christ is here in the living words of Scripture, and in each other, for you and I are made in the image of God.


‘Behold, I stand at the Door and Knock,’ says Jesus. Let us make the most of his gracious invitation, for in doing so, we will discover how to make the most of life itself.


  May the Heart of Jesus, in the most blessed sacrament, be praised, adored and loved with grateful

  affection, at every moment, in all the Churches of the world, even to the end of time. Amen.