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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Mercy and truth are net
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
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!
The Advent Collect
Christians would have known a version of this prayer by heart, and used it
every day. Make it your Advent Prayer!
grace to cast away the works of darkness
put on the armour of light,
the time of this mortal life,
your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility;
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?
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
the Heart of Jesus, in the most blessed sacrament, be praised, adored and loved
at every moment, in all the Churches of the world, even to the end of time.