Thursday, 23 February 2017
Thursday, 19 January 2017
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
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.
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
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!
Traditionally, many Christians would have known a version of this prayer by heart, and used it every day. Make it your Advent Prayer!
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
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.