Although a Northerner, I am not a Yorkshireman. I am quite content to be here however, having lived here for longer than anywhere else. All my ordained ministry has been in the Dioceses of Ripon and Wakefield, I am an Honorary Canon of a Yorkshire Cathedral, and, the one element of which I am most proud, my youngest Son is a born and bred Tyke. (A Loiner to be precise). None of this necessarily gives me any particular insight into the newly released report of the Church of England's Dioceses Commission, planning future patterns for the Yorkshire Dioceses, but it does mean I am interested.
The heart of the Report proposes a newly enlarged Diocese of Wakefield, principally covering the existing Dioceses of Ripon & Leeds, Bradford and Wakefield, with a number of Parishes geographically 'on the edge' being asked to consider where they might best belong. There is a fairly decent summary of the whole 120 pages here. Much comment has followed online, but not much from within the Dioceses concerned. They are either taking time to read and reflect, or ignoring what is being said elsewhere; after all, as Yorkshire and England cricket great Fred Trueman said in another context, 'not from Yorkshire? Then its nowt to do wi'thee.'
This morning,a paper copy of the Report came crashing through my letter-box, startling the cats. No doubt, others are going to be startled by some aspects of it. It is too early to say whether or not this is the right way forward, but I think the members of the Commission deserve some recognition; firstly because they have listened (I was part of a group that met with them earlier this Year), and secondly, because they have come up with a scheme that is practical, and provides a good basis for discussion within the three Ridings, and beyond.
Despite the weather, or maybe even because of it, it is good to celebrate two very successful events, the Christmass Fayre at S.Mary's, and the Christmass Tree Festival at All Saints. A lot of hours put in, and real dedication shown by our own people to get everything ready, surprising numbers through the door, candles lit, prayers offered,..and money spent!
Many thanks to all, and to Alan Willington for these pictures from All Saints.
It’s cold and wet, it seems to get dark around midday, and the heating needs to go on even earlier. Everyone you talk to seems depressed about the weather and the time of year. There is only one thing I can say in response to all this….and that’s ‘good’, for it means that Advent will soon be with us!
In Advent we look forward. In Advent, God’s people, are called to be people of hope, knowing that God is about to act. We will re-tell the story of the Patriarchs and the Prophets, until history brings us to a point in time where God acted to share our human lives. Jesus, the Son of God, was born of Mary in the stable at Bethlehem, come to share our humanity, with all its joys and sorrows, and through his death and resurrection, to lift up all that is human into the glory of the Kingdom of Heaven. If that seems a lot to grasp, it means we are never left alone, that there is always a meaning, purpose and dignity to every human life, however difficult the way may seem.
Alongside those difficult times, perhaps life can seem just grey, or a little obscure. Advent is an opportunity to listen again to God’s promises, but if we are really to do that, it will need a little discipline and determination, for there are so many other noises ready to drown it all out. Perhaps the real shame of this time of year is not the over-commercialisation, but that it is so easy to get dragged down onto the trivial and the irrelevant. So, here is a very simple Advent exercise.
You can read this all at one go, or at a few sittings, but spend some time with the Book of Isaiah, chapters 40 to 55. This section, often known as ‘second Isaiah’, was written at a time of exile, when the homeland of the people of God has ceased to exist and Jerusalem has been destroyed. Yet God will not forget his people, and out of the darkness emerges the promises of the Messiah, come to serve and save his people.
There will be a number of Readings from Isaiah during Advent, forming a backdrop as we look forward. On Christmass Day we will hear these words, drawing together the heart of the message,
Break forth together into singing, you ruins of Jerusalem,
For the Lord has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem. (Isaiah 52.9)
Enjoy the carols and the glitter by all means, but may there be a little time for sharing in the spiritual pilgrimage of the season.
May the Lord when he comes find us watching and waiting,
Friday, and the early Mass was preceded today by an unusual game of 'Hunt the Chasuble.' The Sacristy at All Saints is being decorated, which means the entire contents of that Tardis-like space are now arranged temporarily in the Chancel, behind the main/nave Altar. Once suitable vesture was found, we gave thanks for the formidable Carmelite and Teacher of the Faith, S.Teresa of Avila, author not only of the famous bookmark, but also of the line , From silly devotions and sour-faced saints, Good Lord, Deliver me; an essential prayer for catholics of all traditions. We also made a commemoration of the Anniversary of the Translation of the Image of Our Lady of Walsingham, recorded on this well known picture, as the Image was moved from the Parish Church to the newly built Holy House, in 1931.
From the Collect: ..aided by her (Mary's) Intercession with your Son, we might walk the pilgrim way of faith and so come to our home in heaven.
After a fairly gruelling but not untypical week, much of the rest of today has been spent playing catch up, especially in the preparation and addressing of Invitations to the November Memorial Services, and All Souls Requiems.
Pursuing the blessed relief of the trivial round, the common task, I did find time also to clear out the front of the garage, and take a car load of stuff up for recycling. Having changed out of clericals to do this, as inevitably it can be a grimy task, occasioned a variety of insults; our local RC priest spied me, and decided to announce that I appeared to have put on a little weight, while a (lay) colleague from the Hospice Chaplaincy Team, calling round to collect the Blessed Sacrament and make arrangements for this afternoons visits, informed me he had never seen me without a Clerical Collar, and that I looked almost human.
Someone obviously needs to get a life...I have a horrible feeling it's me....
September, a new School year, a new start for various Organisations, and, the return of lots of meetings!
This month we look forward to S.Mary’s Patronal Festival Weekend, and to our Churches’ involvement in the National Heritage Weekend, and Treasures Revealed.
During the 8 years that I have worked in Elland, I have lost count of the number of conversations I have had with people who visit one of our church buildings for the first time. Some have been Elland folk all their lives, who might say, ‘I always wondered what this church was like.’ Some have perhaps moved to the area recently, and are beginning to get to know what is going on. Some might have come along to a special service, a Baptism, or a Wedding, or a Funeral. Others may have come to an event or exhibition that we are hosting, or to one of our regular Sunday or Weekday services, or just popped in on the off chance when the building is open.
Whatever the reason, people often speak warmly of what they find, and I hope they always feel welcome. Some visitors will simply come along and admire the architecture. Others will want to know a little about how the building has evolved over the years, responding to different needs and opportunities. Some will look at the details of statues, or stained glass windows, the great hanging crosses, the screen, or the Stations of the Cross. Others will be fascinated by those little details that tell the story of the people of our communities, gravestones, memorial plaques and the like. Some will have a great sense of how all of human life is to be found there, with its joys and its sorrows – for churches are places of both mourning and celebration. Some may want information to guide them, and may join us at one of our regular acts of worship.
Many will be moved to light a candle, a sign of hope, of warmth and of prayer, and to perhaps write a few words, and place them on the prayer board. We pray for our guests and visitors regularly, and offer the requests for prayer that they leave. Whatever reason, we are welcome in the House of God, a place of peace for all.
To Pickering today, and a journey over the North Yorkshire Moors Railway to Whitby, behind 'Black 5' 45428 Eric Treacy, named after a former Bishop of Wakefield and Railway Photographer, and re-dedicated this morning by the current Bishop, with Bishop David Hope in attendance, (just visible in the Engine cab in this shot:)
The text for the Bishop's Address: Isaiah 6.1-3: 'I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the Temple...
Thank You for so many kind words and good wishes following the announcement that the Bishop has invited me to become an Honorary Canon of Wakefield Cathedral. The Installation will take place during Choral Evensong at the Cathedral on Sunday, 10th October, at 6.30pm, and there is an open invitation to all to be present at that Service.
Sometimes a line or two just jumps out, and stays with you for a few days. I read these words last week by Grace Sheppard, writing of the life and death of her husband, David, one time Bishop of Liverpool:
We all have to die one day. The important thing is to be
ready, and then we can get on with living.
After a week of General Synod generated hurt, misunderstanding, vitriol, confusion and uncertainty, how refreshing it was today to step well away from Church politics, and take part in two End of School Year services; one at St Chad's School Hove Edge, to which I was invited as Rural Dean as they await their new priest, and the second at our own Elland Church of England School. Two groups of Year 6 children, celebrating and remembering how far they have come, and looking to the future. Best wishes to all our Staff and young people at Elland for a safe and happy holiday, and a big thank you to Freda McGowan, our Head, as she retires, to Jane Ashley for being a brilliant acting Head, and to all the Staff for their hard work and dedication this year.
In the run up to the July Sessions of General Synod, as politics, posturing and position taking seem to have pushed out prayer, a modest contribution: a prayer that has been used in this Parish over the last few months
Heavenly Father, you have promised by your Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth.
We ask for the gift of your Spirit, for guidance and grace for the Church of England at this time.
Bless our Bishops, and all who have difficult decisions to make.
Teach us to respect and honour the convictions of others that are sincerely held, even if we cannot agree with them.
When the way ahead seems difficult or uncertain, help us to hold on to your love, from which we cannot be parted, by life or by death;
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Congratulations to all at Elland Church of England School: For the Award of the Inclusion Quality Mark, (the first Primary School in Calderdale to receive it), and the re-award of the Investors in People Accreditation, both awards presented today, at a special Assembly by Jane Donaldson, Calderdale’s Director of Childrens and Young Peoples Services. We have also had another superb Pantomime this week, ‘Dick Whittington and his Cat’: well done to all. We know there is much to celebrate about our School, and it is good to know others recognise it as well!
All Saints Anglican Church, Nyasura, Diocese of Mara
Pictures from our Link Parish, as they celebrate the Dedication of their new Church by the Archbishop of Tanzania. The cost of the Altar and decoration of the Church has been met by the Parish of Elland.
In the words of Frances, the Parish Secretary, 'Praise The Lord Jesus Christ brethren in Elland!'