Friday, 16 December 2011

Of Carols and Common Purpose

'This must be your busiest time, Vicar.'

I smile inanely, and resist the temptation to say no, that would be Holy Week, and by the way, I'm not a Vicar. Instead I mentally award myself £5 for everyone who says that to me, with a £10 bonus if they are active church-goers, who therefore ought to know better.

I am up to £120 so far.

Christmass falling on a Sunday this year ought to mean that the first part of next week will give us, on paper at least, a little breathing space. The Schools and Hospice have completed their various Carol Services, Nativities and Light Up a Life, the main Parish Carol Service is this coming Sunday, leaving just a Home or two before we are into the Christingle, Midnight Mass and Christmass Morning itself. The daily round of Prayer and Eucharist, Funerals (lots) and pastoral care continues, while tomorrow we begin perhaps my most favourite time of Year, the Eight days of Prayer before the Nativity, beginning with O Sapientia.

This week I have completed my Common Purpose Course, meaning I can rejoice in describing myself as a Common Purpose Graduate. Last Year, the Bishop's Staff encouraged me to take part, and found the funding as well. I don't easily sign up for Courses on Leadership, not least because I'm not entirely convinced that Priesthood and Leadership, as the Secular world sees it, are talking the same language. There are still aspects of the relationship that trouble me, but, a year on, I have had a great time in sharing all this with a good cross section of People and Places from the Private, Public and Voluntary Sectors in Yorkshire. I hope I can understand a little more about the challenges and opportunities that they face, and I hope that one or two have learnt a little more about what the Christian Church has to offer as well.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Advent Musings

Advent is upon us. In the midst of the December gloom, cold and darkness – and it’s not even Winter until December 21st !– we are called, like John the Baptist, to prepare the way for Jesus. In Advent we look for the promise of his glory, knowing we will celebrate his coming among us in the Child of Bethlehem at Christmass. The Church’s colour for Advent, like the season of Lent, is purple, a colour of preparation, of incompleteness, but the two seasons are not the same. Advent is first of all a time of joyful expectation, of getting ready, of fitting our hearts and lives to meet our Lord.

It is all too easy to allow ourselves to be overcome with the busyness, the rush and the urge to consume that the world seems to think is the only way to behave; that is a sure way to miss the heart of what God has to say to us. We enjoy the Carols and the gifts, the tinsel and the time to spend, if we are fortunate, with family or friends, but the Church reminds us to look first of all for the Good News of Jesus. Some will make sure that prayer and Bible reading don’t get forgotten, perhaps by coming along to an extra weekday Mass or two in Church; some will make use of the gently penitential elements of Advent, making use of the Sacraments of Anointing, for healing, or Confession, allowing ourselves to celebrate Christmass with a renewed spiritual strength, while others will quietly give up one or two treats for the season, giving the money saved either to the Children’s Society, (at the Christingle Service), or to our Christmass Retiring Collection for the Homeless, especially the work of Crisis at Christmass.

During Advent, our Sunday Liturgies help us to look forward, by concentrating on a number of Characters from the Scriptures. We begin with Abraham, Moses and the Patriarchs, who trusted God even when they had no idea, literally, where they were going. We think of Isaiah and the Prophets, who in the midst of violence, and economic disaster, looked forward to God’s salvation. Above all, at the heart of Advent, is Mary, the Mother of Jesus. The feast of her Conception, December 8th, is celebrated on this day in both the eastern and the western Church. This feast acknowledges the preparation by God of his people to receive their Saviour and Lord, putting 'heaven in ordinary' and showing that mortal flesh can indeed bring Christ to the world.

It's good to look forward to celebrating our Advent Liturgies, and to the special events of the season. Perhaps this prayer, for the Feast of Mary’s conception, is one we might use regularly during the season. It will help us to put our priorities in order, and to know something of the thrill and the passion of this season,

God most high,
from the first moment of her conception
you favoured the Virgin Mary with your grace,
that she might become the mother of the world’s Redeemer.

As you blessed the daughter of Israel,
so grant us the grace
to be fully engaged in your service,
eager to do your will.
Hasten that day of gladness
when you will bring to completion your saving work,
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever. Amen.

Friday, 25 November 2011


Today we have completed the Visits from and to Brooksbank School. All 10 Year 7 Classes visit All Saints, and then we have an opportunity to lead a session for each Class back in School, talking about the life and work of a Priest.

The Questions are always fun.

Amongst this year's gems were:

'Don't you think you should be doing a proper job?'

'Why do you wear that plastic thing round your neck?'

'Is it wrong to sit on a Gravestone?'

'Do you burn the Bodies?' - My Answer, Are you talking about Cremation? - 'Yes, what happens when you burn a body?'

'Is there anything banned in Church?'

We did conclude, however, with my being told, 'It would be a shame if Church wasn't there - there would be nowhere to sit when you needed help'.

Monday, 21 November 2011


Amongst 17 Candidates from our Deanery, Confirmed last night at St Matthew's Lightcliffe, Rachael (1st on Bishop Tony's left), Paul (2nd), and Margaret (6th), from St Mary's Elland.

Normal Service is Resumed

This time, it was going to be different.

So much to be hopeful about - but no,

England 8 - 30 Australia

Its not the despair that gets me down, it's the hope.

Friday, 11 November 2011

St Martin's Day- In Remembrance and a Royal Opening

The Commemoration of St Martin of Tours, Patron Saint of the Armed Forces, who turned from warfare to be a servant of the Prince of Peace.

A Fresco by Simone Martini, showing St Martin leaving the life of chivalry and renouncing the Army.

St Martin discovered what our own generation is yet to learn, that wars will end when we no longer see the need to fight. His Feast Day provides a fitting back-drop to the observance of Remembrance Day, and a reminder that there is always a better way.

Today saw a Royal Visit to Overgate Hospice, as the Duke of Gloucester returned, after his Visit in 2009 to formally open the new Day Hospice Extensions. The Visit included an Act of Remembrance at 11am, which I was delighted to be asked to lead.

Much of this week has been taken up with hosting visits from Brooksbank High and West Vale Primary Schools to All Saints. Over the next couple of weeks, together with my colleagues, we will be leading follow up sessions in Brooksbank, on what it is like to be a Priest.

As the School serves an area wider than Elland, for many, it is their first visit to All Saints. We ask the young people first of all to sit quietly, and then describe how the building feels, almost inevitably getting the response, 'Peaceful.' Out of the mouths of babes....

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

A New Yorkshire Diocese

Here we go again - "Church of England closer to creating a single Yorkshire diocese"

Click Here for more Information

Monday, 31 October 2011

All Saints Sunday

After the years of dreaming and hoping, planning and fund-raising, grant applications, and sheer physical hard work, at last, the reality, and the Dedication of the Canon Winter Centre by our Bishop, Stephen, after he had Presided at our Patronal Festival Mass.

The Centre is named after Ernest Winter, Rector of Elland 1893-1917, the founding Inspiration for All Saints Church.

A Grand Day!

Click Here for a Link to the Text of Bishop Stephen's Sermon at Mass.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Bishop Robert Freeman

To York yesterday, Friday, for a third celebration there within a few weeks. After the visit of the Image of Our Lady of Walsingham to the Minster, and the Wedding of David, our Parochial Treasurer, to Jan in the Church of St Michael-le-Belfrey, this time it was back to the Minster for the Consecration of the New Bishops of Durham and Penrith. Here is Bishop Robert Freeman of Penrith, formerly our Archdeacon, as he processes out of the Minster carrying his newly presented Pastoral Staff. As ever, at our Metropolitan Cathedral, a marvellous occasion:

I have always loved the description of the heart-shaped West Window of the Minster as 'The Heart of Yorkshire':

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Welcome... Daisy Kathryn Burrows.

Born 24th October 2011, 7lb 10oz.

We are a Grandfather.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Where did that go?

Holidays over.....Edinburgh a fond memory....School's back...Parish Meetings re-start....National Heritage Weekend....Classic Cars Exhibition...St Mary's Patronal Festival....the sad death of our colleague Fr Laurence...a Glorious Requiem....Retreat at Alnmouth Friary.....Our Lady of Walsingham at York....Canon Winter Centre completed...Fabric Work at St Mary's.....worshipping in a Building Site....
A Thanksgiving for 30 years of Overgate Hospice....Confirmation Preparation....Michaelmass.....Fr John Gribben CR......Some Domestic Health issues....

Suddenly it's October 1st. Where did September go?

Monday, 26 September 2011

Overgate Hospice - The First 30 Years

A Sermon preached at the Minster Church of St John the Baptist, Halifax, 25th September 2011, at a Service of Thanksgiving for 30 years of Overgate Hospice - Canon David Burrows, Hospice Chaplain

Reading 2 Corinthians 4.7-15

Because you care, we can, and have done so for 30 years.

This Service of Thanksgiving is an acknowledgement of a genuine and lasting Community Achievement, of 30 years of caring.

First time visitors to the Hospice will often comment on the striking carvings in the Entrance, the generous gift of the Wood-Carvers, panels representing the towns and villages, the cultural, political and sporting life of Calderdale. At the heart of it is a panel simply showing two intertwined, open hands, the Hospice logo. Little by little, over the last 30years, Overgate has worked its way into the heart of our Community. We are upheld by great waves of affection and care, which are given practical expression in so many ways.

If you want to know where you are going, it’s good to know what brought you to where you are now, and on whose shoulders you stand. As we have looked back this afternoon, so we will look forward. In an ever changing and challenging world, Overgate too has to change and grow as well. Sometimes those changes may be difficult to live with, but there remains the challenge and opportunity set down by Dame Cicely Saunders and the pioneers of the modern Hospice movement, to care for human beings at their most vulnerable, to care for the whole human being in an holistic way, and, to be open enough to learn from those in need. Each and every one of us has a unique human dignity – that dignity is not diminished in the face of illness, or in the face of death. One of Overgate’s key statements says, ‘ we cannot add days to your life, but we can add life to your days.’ A so-called life-limiting illness, can indeed be life-fulfilling.

There is a traditional Christian prayer, perhaps little used these days, that speaks of praying for a good death, of dying in the faith one has professed, of paying respect to the things that have been of significance and value in life, of being cared for and valued. Many have discovered that it is not the life-limiting elements of cancer that endure, but those that are life-enhancing.

In the words we have just heard from his 2nd Letter to the Corinthians, St Paul writes of living the human life as like having Treasure in clay jars – jars that can be so easily broken. We are vulnerable, but capable of all that is beautiful, and honest, and holy – afflicted but not crushed; perplexed but not driven to despair; struck down, but not destroyed. For Christians, it is in the messiness and the vulnerability of life, that life’s real purpose is to be found.

Overgate rightly takes it’s place in a rebellion, a movement that has quietly challenged and changed attitudes to illness, and to dying. The very word Hospice, of course, signifies a resting place, a breathing space, a place of shelter and of haven, it’s origins lying in the mediaeval pilgrims’ Hospices, on the great Christian pilgrimage routes. Whatever Spirituality feeds and sustains us, wherever we find ultimate meaning and value in life, in the journey of life, and in the journey of dying, it is the gift of care, and time and love that the Hospice represents. That these things are no longer hidden away, that we can speak once again of death, is in part due to places like Overgate. Perhaps there is a vital lesson to be learned as well, by those who in our own day plan, and manage, and legislate for our sometimes target-obsessed Health Services: there is a better way.

Of all the things people comment on about Overgate, the one that always strikes me most of all is when people comment on its ordinariness, and that might be the greatest virtue we have to offer, of facing the hard-headed realities of disease and dying and all the messiness that involves, with a good deal of practical common sense and care, with the willingness to go the extra mile.

In the words of Grace Sheppard, ‘We all have to die one day. The Important thing is to be ready, and then we can really get on with living.’

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Emblems - A New Exhibition, by Fr Matthew Askey

You are invited to the exhibition opening:

EMBLEMS - on the themes of life and death.

Time :Saturday, October 1st · 2:00pm - 3:30pm

Location: Armley Gallery (Armley Library)

Armley Library: 2 Stocks Hill, Leeds, West Yorkshire,

An exhibition of 8 new paintings by Matthew Askey - EMBLEMS - at Armley Library.

The Exhibition runs from: 1st Oct - 30th Nov 2011 @ Armley Library

Then at Wakefield Cathedral from Sat 21st Jan - Sat 18th Feb 2012.

There will be a catalogue available with all 8 paintings reproduced, an introductory text by Revd Iain McKillop all about the history of Emblems in art and culture; and the text of a "conversation" between myself and Adrian Marc Lister, who runs the Armley Gallery. The exhibition then travels to Wakefield Cathedral in the new year.

This exhibition was made possible with the financial assistance of ACE (Art and Christianity Enquiry), Wakefield Diocese, and CJW printers, Elland.

Tea, Coffee, and perhaps something stronger will be served during the opening. (catalogue available at the opening only, or by contacting me).

Fr Matthew Askey

Swap for Yer Dandy

‘An Evening of Blarney’ Friday 30th September, 7 for 7.30pm in the Canon Winter Centre at All Saints: Fr John Gribben, CR will entertain us with tales and stories from a Belfast childhood. Admission £5, all monies raised will go to the Appeal at the Community of the Resurrection, Mirfield. Tickets are available in advance, or on the Door.

In Memory of Father Laurence Wood

The Address at the Requiem Mass for Fr Laurence Henry Wood, 12th September 2011, All Saints, Elland - Fr David Burrows

Mary has particularly asked that this occasion should be one of thanksgiving; when I met with Fr Laurence a few weeks ago to plan these Funeral Rites, his specific instruction was, that if there has to be a sermon, it should be brief and uplifting – I will endeavour to achieve both.

We give thanks today for a husband and father, a grand-father and brother, and for our friend’s faithfulness and loyalty, for his humour and good companionship, for his gentle sense of mischievousness, and for 58 years of priestly ministry.

Knowing where you come from was very important to Laurence; Laurence Henry Wood, was born on 17th January 1927, third son of four boys, Frank, Thomas, and the late James, to Hanson and Edith Harriet Wood.

He was named after 2 Uncles who had died in the Great War, and baptized at St John’s, West Vale. Eventually the whole family were in the Choir there. Laurence was confirmed at Halifax Parish Church, and won a scholarship to Elland Grammar School, after his early education at West Vale.

By now he and the family knew the dark days of the War, of blackouts and rationing, and despite being in the Air Training Corps, Laurence’s Service was as a Bevin Boy, serving in 1945 in Pontefract and Barnsley. He needed to grow up fast, and learn a whole new language. He was rightly proud of his Service, not least when the Bevin Boys were finally given something of the recognition they deserved, just a few years ago.

Laurence spent 5 years at the Theological College at Kelham, under the patronage of the Holy Angels, which was very significant for him. He was made Deacon in June 1952 at Wakefield Cathedral, and his ordination to the priesthood being delayed by the Coronation, as the Bishops had to travel to London for rehearsals in those pre-M1 days, was ordained Priest on 14th June, 1953. He served his Title at St Saviour, Ravensthorpe, and subsequently worked in Parishes as Curate of Almondbury, in charge of St Michael and St Helen, and then as Vicar of Linthwaite, at Bonsall & Cromford in the Diocese of Derby, before returning to this Diocese to Longwood, with Outlane, and also as part time Chaplain of St Luke’s Hospital, before 16 years at Liversedge took him to retirement- on paper at least. He helped in some 60 Churches during that retirement, as well as being Hon Asst back at Linthwaite, before filling a similar role for us here in Elland. I know I am not the only Rural Dean to be grateful for his readiness to travel, and help out, often at short notice.

But a list of Churches can only tell us so much – for we need to go back to Ravensthorpe for the most significant event of his life; there he met Mary, and they were married by Bishop Roger Wilson in 1956, at 9.30am in the morning, as the Bishop had to get back to entertain a visiting Colonial Bishop. They had a family, Mark, John and Ruth, who married Richard, giving them 2 grand-daughters, Harriet and Victoria.

If it was important to Laurence to know where he had come from, it was equally important to know where he was headed, and what he was looking for. He showed always a great spirit of service, and a great devotion to the task. In nearly 60 years of ministry, just think how many Baptisms and Weddings that has involved, how many visits to weep with those who weep, to rejoice with those who rejoice; so many Funerals. A lifetime of memories which he was pleased to share, and, perhaps most significant of all, week by week, Sunday by Sunday, the grace and mercy of God in the Holy Eucharist of the Altar, and the faithful reciting every day of the Church’s prayers, Morning and Evening. Laurence remained faithful to the patterns of prayer and devotion formed within him a lifetime ago. It was this foundation, together with Mary’s loving support, that enabled him to help so many others to see something of God’s love. On his Coffin, as he faces his people for the final time, lie the symbols he especially requested, his Ordination Stole, the Bible given to him at his Priesting, and a small chalice and paten from his Home Communion set. Signs of Laurence’s faithfulness, signs also of the love of God in Christ Jesus, crucified and risen, who meets us here at the Altar, who will wipe away every tear from our eyes, despite the sadness and pain we know today. For Christ is the bread of life, whoever comes to me, he says, will never be hungry, whoever believes in me will never thirst.

There were difficult and sad times for Laurence, of course, not least in the death of James, his youngest brother. There were the inevitable struggles of priestly ministry. One of the pieces of music Laurence has chosen today for Park Wood, is ‘The War March of the Priests’, a piece of significance for the Bevin Boys I understand, but also, I think, tipping the hat to the other side of a priest’s life. Yet Laurence faced these struggles, as he faced the news of his illness, knowing God’s faithfulness and strength. His last days, lovingly cared for at home by Mary and the family, were indeed grace-filled, and largely, mercifully, pain-free, and I’m grateful that I was able to see a little of him in those days, as we shared Holy Communion, and as Laurence made his plans for his Funeral.

There was a little phrase Laurence would use – ‘God Willing.’ Will we see you at Mass on Sunday, Father? - ‘God Willing.’ In his last days, his faithful prayer for a quiet and peaceful death, God Willing, was answered. Today we say goodbye to our friend. Today we surround him with our love and our prayers, as we commend him to God’s sure keeping, and we trust that Mary and all his family, will know that same love, and be supported by our prayers, in their loss.

The Holy Angels remained very important to Laurence. He slipped away a little sooner than we were expecting, late on the evening of Friday 2nd. Once we had prayed for him, it was after Midnight when I left the house. Almost without thinking, I turned on the radio, only to hear, fittingly, Faure’s ‘In Paradisum’, a setting of the Latin words of the Requiem Mass. ‘May the Angels lead you into paradise, may saints and martyrs receive you, and lead you to the Holy City, the New Jerusalem.’ May that be our prayer for him today. May he rest in peace, and Rise in Glory.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

September's Pastoral Letter

September, and a new School Year begins. Please remember our Staff and young people at Elland C of E School in your prayers, especially those who are new to the School, together with those who have moved to new Schools since leaving Elland in July.

Both of our Churches will be open during the National Heritage Weekend, S.Mary’s on Friday 9th, from 11am-1pm, and from 10am-4pm on Saturday 10th. All Saints will be open on Saturday 10th from 10am-4pm, when there will also be a display of Classic cars in the Church Grounds. The same weekend also marks S.Mary’s Patronal Festival, beginning with the Annual Organ Recital on Friday 9th at 7.30pm, with Jonathan Bielby, recently retired Director of Music at the Cathedral, and always a welcome visitor. The Patronal Festival Eucharist will be at 10am on Sunday 11th September, and the Celebrant and Preacher will be Bishop Tom Butler, honorary assistant Bishop in our Diocese, having recently retired as Bishop of Southwark. This service is for all – there will not be 9.30am or 11am services that day (though the 8am Holy Communion at S.Mary’s will happen, for those who absolutely cannot be there at 10am.)

September 11th, 2011, is also the 10th Anniversary of the atrocities of the Terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. People of good will, of all faiths and none, will be marking this day as Awareness Sunday – A Path to Peace, and prayers for peace and reconciliation will be offered in S.Mary’s. John, our Archbishop, writes, “Around my neck I wear a cross bearing the words of Archbishop Oscar Romero. The words read, ‘Peace will flower when love and justice pervade our environment.’ I welcome Awareness Sunday as it seeks to reach out and build better relationships based on mutual respect and understanding.”

As you read this, we hope that work will be complete on the Canon Winter Centre at All Saints. Bishop Stephen will be formally opening the Centre at All Saints-tide, though it is already being used for one or two church events. A Group is meeting to consider publicity and making best use of this marvellous new facility for the Church in Elland – its good to know dreams can be realised sometimes! Fundraising began for the Centre well before I arrived in Elland 9 years ago; we are, of course, now in a very different economic climate, and some of the Corporate and Business use we aimed for, may now be harder to find. I know that many of you pray regularly that we will make the best use of our Church buildings, and, with those prayers, we are sure that regular community use will emerge.

The next stage of the Fabric Work at S.Mary’s will see plaster removal and drainage work start on Monday 12th September, together with work on the monuments in the St Nicholas Chapel, which will probably have begun by the time you read this.

Talking of the venerable and valued ....our best wishes to Fr Philip who reaches 70 this month – and retirement! Once he reaches this milestone, he will receive formal Permission to Officiate from the Diocese, and will now serve as one of our Honorary Assistant Priests. While he continues as a valued member of our Pastoral Team in Elland, from now on he is moving towards a different working pattern, of Sundays plus two days in the week, which will mean he is not as available as before.

During September, we will be using a new Diocesan Resource for prayer, Praying for the Earth, at the daily Mass, remembering the environment in our public and private prayers of Intercession. Many Christians find this a useful time to pray for our care for God’s Creation, not least in our lead up to the Harvest Thanksgiving, and the Feast of S.Francis of Assisi, both of which fall at the beginning of October.

All Creation worships you, O God,
and we your people bless you for the beauty of the earth.
We thank you for making a good world in the beginning,
and for making it better by the Word made flesh,
whose death and resurrection in the body
reveal the promise re-creation of the universe.
May your Kingdom come on earth as your will is done in heaven
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

With my prayers, and in gratitude for yours,
Fr David

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Heavenly Treasures

A major piece of hugely expensive Market Research has apparently revealed that you are 26% more likely to attend a cultural event if you live in London.

(A spontaneous piece of research among my nearest and dearest revealed however, that 100% of us are irritated by such patronising rubbish.)

So, my annual cultural visit to the big City, and two great exhibitions, Treasures of Heaven at the British Museum, and Devotion by Design at the National Gallery.

If you view the works in the Medieval Galleries in the Sainsbury Wing at the National Gallery, it is not immediately obvious what most of them are. Framed and exhibited as individual paintings, many of them were originally part of altar-pieces until subsequently broken up. This wonderful example, from the exhibition, is The Virgin and Child Enthroned, with Narrative Scenes (1260s), by Margarito of Arezzo.

Devotion by Design gives an opportunity to view a number of altar-pieces, sensitively lit, and at an appropriate height - there is even a quasi-altar, with cross and (inappropriately sized and positioned) lit candles, to put across something of the height and scale involved. Two 15th century pieces are shown in such a way that it is possible to examine the back as well as the front, to understand how they were originally put together, and how it has been possible to recreate them. An Exhibition that says as much about presentation as it does about art and meaning. Many of these works would only have been seen with any sort of clarity by the Priest standing at the Altar, or perhaps by a pious Benefactor, yet they were still painted with as much care and attention to detail as possible. Perhaps what the Exhibition is not quite able to get across, is that like the carved stonework high on a medieval Cathedral, which only the carver and the Angels would ever see, they were done for the glory of God, and that means only the best is good enough.

Although I was not wearing 'Clergyman', I noticed a clerical collar or two at both Exhibitions, and I'm sure that I wasn't the only one to quietly pause in prayer and reflection, as the spiritual and the mysterious quietly returns to public, secular, spaces. I wonder what Karl Marx would have made of a show of Reliquaries beneath the astonishing dome of the British Museum's Reading Room, the site of his creation of the Communist Manifesto!

Treasures of Heaven presents a collection of Reliquaries, and associated items, some chosen for the quality of the craftsmanship, others for what they have to say about the Christian approach to remembrance, and to the Saints over the Centuries. Hugely enjoyable, and sympathetically presented, the story continues after the dislocation caused by the Reformation, when many relics were destroyed or dispersed, and those that remained for use in devotion were scaled down and re-assessed. One case presents secondary relics of Charles I, King and Martyr, though not, sadly, the blood-stained table in the Deanery at Windsor, said to have been caused as his body was prepared for burial in St George's Chapel, and the exhibits conclude with a reflection on the Visit of the Relics of St Theresa of Avila in 2009, and with a contemporary film presentation on Remembrance. The sheer persistence of these items, regardless of what you might think about the efficacy of prayer and the saints, is a rejoinder to the secular mind-set, and, in its own way, a statement of the significance of the Spiritual.

The Reliquiary of St Baudime

This picture could have been taken in a Shop attached to a Pilgrim Shrine, as you can buy pilgrim badges, medals and pictures and both serious and popular Books on the Saints, but it is actually the British Museum's Gift Shop.


The Museum itself, outside of the Treasures Exhibits, (which you have to pay to see), was as uncomfortably packed as ever, so much so that I didn't linger for long in the Galleries, especially once I had re-acquainted myself with the Lewis Chessmen.

Most of these wonderful 12th Century figures, probably carved in Norway, but discovered off the Isle of Lewis, at Uig in 1831, are now on show here, with only a few to be found in the National Musuem of Scotland. I sense a campaign for their repatriation north of the border coming on!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Nothing for the Journey - Well Done Ben!

Sent: Saturday, 23 July 2011, 20:39

Subject: I have made it!

Hi Fr David,

I just wanted to let you know that at 5pm today I made it to Buckfast Abbey! I still cannot believe I have actually walked here from my front door. It has been an incredible journey and I have met so many new and fascinating people on the trip who are spread out all over the country. I have constantly been amazed at the kindness of strangers and I was given shelter every single night of my walk.

I really could not have done it without the prayers from Elland. There were times in my walk when I was really struggling, specifically on Wednesday when I had to walk 33 miles from Bristol to Somerton. My feet and ankle were really sore and the temptations to give in started to whisper in my head. However, with so many people praying for me I was able to find new bursts of energy and walk every single step of the journey.

Thank you so much,


P.S The next part of my summer will be my trip to Zimbabwe from 25 August until 9 September.

A message from Ben Bradshaw, an Ordinand at the College of the Resurrection, Mirfield, who was on placement with us in Elland during Lent 2011. Here is a reminder of what the walk was all about:

'On the 11th July I will be starting a 322 mile walk from Mirfield to Buckfast Abbey. On my walk I will experience the reality of the Gospel (Luke 9:3). I will not be taking any money at all with me on my journey; I will be completely dependent of God and the kindness of strangers. I am undertaking this challenge in aid of the refugees at Tongogara in Zimbabwe and the disabled residents of Mutemwa settlement also in Zimbabwe.

I visited both places in 2010 and was deeply moved to do something to help them. The refugees have fled from all over Africa having suffered horrific experiences, everyone I spoke to had witnessed loved ones being murdered. They told me that their faith has been the only thing that has kept them going through all of this. However, the only building at the camp that they have to worship in is too small and is falling down, meaning the refugees are unable to come together as a community to worship which is so vital to keep them going.

The refugees at Tongogara are some of the poorest people on the planet and life at the camp is very tough. They are dependent on the UN to provide them with very simple and basic food and also a small amount of schooling. The church we are building will also be used as a community centre, allowing for the children at Tongogara to get a better education and give them the best possible chance of a future. Many of the children have spent their whole lives within the refugee camp and know of no other way of life.

So far we have raised £10,000 towards the church building which has meant work is now well underway but we still need to raise more if we are to finish the church and make a massive difference to the lives of a lot of people who have been through so much and continue to go through so much.

Mutemwa settlement in Zimbabwe cares for over 60 patients who all suffer from various disabilities including leprosy. As at Tongogara, life at Mutemwa is extremely hard and money is always short. The residents are in constant need of food, medicines, medical care, clothing and shelter all of which are vital to improving the standard of life for the residents.

John Bradburne devoted the last 10 years of his life to care for the residents of Mutemwa before he gave up his life for them and was murdered in 1979. He has become the inspiration for my walk as he lived his whole life trusting in God and in the kindness of strangers. John's unusual and saintly life meant he was often called a Vagabond of God. He was neither a nurse nor a doctor; he was simply a servant of God, a man who loved the downtrodden and those rejected by society. This fundraising will allow the love and care John showed to the residents of Mutemwa to continue.

I have a big target to reach which is why I am doing such a challenging walk. However, if we can raise it, then we will have made a huge difference to the lives of some of the very poorest people on earth.

Thanks for taking the time to visit my JustGiving page. Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity and make sure Gift Aid is reclaimed on every eligible donation by a UK taxpayer. So it’s the most efficient way to donate - I raise more, whilst saving time and cutting costs for the charity.

So please dig deep and donate now.'

Monday, 11 July 2011

St Benedict

‘Prefer Absolutely Nothing to the Love of Christ’ – St Benedict

July 11th is the Feast day of St Benedict. The Church’s Kalendar describes him as the Father of Western Monasticism, and Patron of Europe. Benedict was born around 480 in what is now central Italy. As a young man he was sent to study in Rome, but seeking greater meaning in his life, he withdrew to live as a hermit at Subiaco. He quickly attracted disciples and established a number of communities. Around the year 525, after some disagreement, and surviving an attempt to poison him, (which puts our own disagreements as Christians into some perspective!), he moved to Monte Cassino with a band of loyal monks, dying there in about the year 550. Monte Cassino itself was to become the site of a very destructive battle during the Second World War.

Benedict wrote a Rule for his Monks, based on his own experience of ordinary, fallible human beings striving to live out the gospel. He would be amazed to know that his Rule, that he describes as a ‘Simple Rule for Beginners’, has influenced countless numbers throughout the Christian centuries, and continues to do so today, simply because it is so helpful. Benedictine Monks and Nuns, Oblates and Associates, who try to live out something of the Monastic way in their own homes, lives and families, ordinary Christians and even business leaders and politicians, have found solid guidance for living in the Rule of St Benedict.

Benedict is a master of keeping things in balance, of knowing that there is a need for Prayer, Work and Rest in every Life. He teaches the value of silence and simplicity, of not being afraid to confess weakness, and of serving others rather than always seeking to gratify your own personal desires. We are to listen to God with the ‘Ear of the Heart’, a lovely phrase, reminding us that the spiritual dimension of life is as real and as significant as all that we touch, taste and see.

Summer days are upon us, and whether you are planning a Holiday or not, I hope there is time for rest and renewal for each one of us. Time perhaps to pause and take stock, to consider the priorities in our lives, and to consider, like Benedict and the Rule, whether or not we are giving sufficient time to God, to listening with the ear of the heart, to scripture and to prayer. Benedict himself reminds us in this prayer not to try and travel too quickly along life’s way, but to look around and enjoy the journey:

Gracious and holy Father,
give us wisdom to perceive you,
intelligence to understand you,
diligence to seek you,
patience to wait for you,
eyes to behold you,
a heart to meditate on you,
and a life to proclaim you;
through the power of the
Spirit of Jesus Christ our Lord,

Holy Benedict, Father of Monks, Patron of Europe, pray for us!

Saturday, 9 July 2011

The Hepworth

For once, a Saturday afternoon without 101 things still to do before the Lord's Day begins, so the current Mrs Burrows' wish to visit the new Debenhams in Wakefield means I can finally get around to a visit to the Hepworth, centrepiece of the Waterfront regeneration project alongside the River Calder, a £35m home for the work of the locally born Sculptor and Artist Barbara Hepworth, as well as the Wakefield City Art Gallery Collection.

A great place to spend a couple of hours, perhaps what really impressed me most of all was the Gallery Building itself. It's location, even alongside a main traffic artery is stunning, well thought out, and the environs perectly complimentary. Officially, the design is 'bold and modern'; some have criticized it as brutalist, but, for me, it works - the galleries are light and airy, almost as if you were inside the Artist's Studio. Local interest is present also in a collection of prints and paintings of the nearby Chantry Chapel, also open this afternoon, and a hive of activity.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

The End of the World is Nigh - Please Give Generously one way to attract attention and donations, for the 'John Martin: Painting the Apocalypse' Exhibition at Sheffield's Millenium Galleries.

The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, John Martin,1852

Martin, who lived from 1789-1854, was one of the most popular artists of the 19th century, justly popular for his vast narratives, often dealing with apocalyptic scenes from the Bible or classical mythology.

The Great Day of His Wrath, John Martin, 1853

This particular work is part of his Last Judgement Trilogy, of massive scale and impressive detail; among the mass of teeming humanity falling into the abyss are a Cardinal or two, Popes and lawn-sleeved Bishops, together with one of those new-fangled Steam Locomotives and Carriages.

Well worth going to see - but how much do you tip for the Apocalypse?

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Catching Up

Preaching in the Cathedral at Evensong last Sunday, Trinity Sunday, fulfilling the annual (voluntary) duty of an Honorary Canon, a veritable feast of Stainer and Stanford. Too many times I've heard sermons that have tried to explain the Trinity, so I preached on the Trinity as a mystery and reality to be lived out, not as a problem to be explained away. An unusual highlight of the early part of last week was the opportunity to reflect on Liturgy with a Suffragan-Bishop elect, - and to teach him how to use a Thurible!

Corpus Christi was duly observed with a Sung Mass and Procession of the Blessed Sacrament, while the following day saw the opportunity to say Mass for the Nativity of St John the Baptist at St Paul's King Cross, in the early days of their Interregnum. St John, to whom a number of Churches are dedicated in Calderdale, and whose severed head is graphically portrayed on represenatations of the old Halifax Coat of Arms in Barry's magnificent Victorian Town Hall, is also portrayed on the glorious High Altar Reredos at St Paul's


(The High Altar at St Paul's, King Cross)

Friday Night took us to Headingley, for a long awaited Derby clash between the mighty Leeds Rhinos, and the Bradford Bulls......Bradford were the least poor of two off-form Teams, and it wasn't a good night for Leeds fans, though the weekend's Rugby theme did pick up with a Saturday afternoon spent at the marvellous Heritage Centre at the George Hotel in Huddersfield.


The First Sunday after Trinity will bring a thank you and farewell to Luke, our latest Mirfield Ordinand, as he completes his placement with us, a Garden Party, and Benediction at St Paul's, before thoughts need to turn to Bishop Tony's Pastoral Visit on Tuesday, the episcopal OFSTED......

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Feasts in June

June begins with two very important Holy Days, as the Queen of Seasons, Easter, reaches its glorious conclusion. The whole of the great Fifty Days of Eastertide form a single festival period, in which a tone of joy and thanksgiving is sustained.

Ascension Day is the fortieth Day of Easter. The Lord commissions his disciples to continue his work, he promises the gift of the Holy Spirit, and then he is no longer among them in the flesh. The Ascension is therefore closely connected with the theme of mission. The arrival of the promised gift of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost completes and crowns the Easter Festival.

Following the day of Pentecost, Ordinary Time, or the Season of the Year, resumes. The first Sunday of this period which will take us right through to the eve of All Saints is Trinity Sunday. The following Thursday is a particular day of Thanksgiving for the Holy Eucharist, Corpus Christi, celebrated with a Procession of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. The principal Commemorations of the Saints in June include the Apostle Barnabas (June 11th), the Birth of S John the Baptist (June 24th) and the Apostles Peter and Paul, (June 29th), together with two others who ought perhaps to be better known in our Nation, S.Columba of Iona, (June 9th), and S.Alban, the first martyr of these islands, (June 22nd).

Some Prayers attributed to St Columba

Be Lord Jesus, a bright flame before me,
a guiding star above me,
a smooth path below me,
a kindly shepherd behind me:
today, tonight, and forever

Kindle, O Lord, in our hearts, we pray,
the flame of love which never ceases,
that it may burn in us and give light to others.
May we shine forever in your temple,
set on fire with that eternal light of yours
which puts flight to
the darkness of this world;
in the name of Jesus Christ,
your Son, our Lord.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Wakefield, Walsingham and Weetwood

An unusual shot of the Shrine Church at Walsingham taken from the College garden.

I have been trying to find time to post these pictures for a few days, but it has been one of those weeks - or normal life, as we call it. Last weekend saw our Parish Pilgrimage to Walsingham, and in between the carefully timetabled rush from one thing to another, I did remember to take a few shots of Fr Philip leading the Stations of the Cross on a beautiful Saturday morning.

Before travelling down on the Friday morning, it was off to Wakefield Cathedral with our Year 6 Class from Elland C of E School, for a visit generously funded by a collection on Education Sunday. Ali, the Cathedral's Education Officer was present to welcome us, to show our young people around the Cathedral, reflecting on the faith that inspires a living building, and then to take part in a Stained Glass Workshop.

What was clearly noticeable as we worked in areas just along from the votive candles, was how many people were coming in to light a candle, and to offer a prayer. The Cathedral's fairly unique position, not just in the City Centre, but very much merging with it, obviously encourages people to call in as easily as calling into their favourite shop.

Last Tuesday was spent in the plush surroundings of Weetwood Hall in North Leeds, now a well appointed Hotel and Conference Centre, but when I knew it 30 years ago, a somewhat run-down University Hall of Residence. The first day of the Common Purpose Course, which the Diocese has encouraged me to take part in this year. I don't easily sign up for Courses on Leadership, not least because I'm not sure that Priesthood and leadership are the same, but this was a very long but fascinating day, with a good cross section from Private, Public and Voluntary Sectors in Yorkshire.  

Monday, 2 May 2011

The 15th All Saints Art Festival

Thank you as ever to the 'Home Team' for all the hard work that has gone into this weekend.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Post-Triduum Thoughts

These first pictures were taken early on Holy Saturday in All Saints, the Altars stripped and bare, the Cross used for the veneration during the Good Friday Liturgy clearly visible.

Holy Saturday began with a gathering for Morning Prayer and the Litany, together with a Reading from an ancient Homily, on the Harrowing of Hell, the Christian poetic imagination's response to 1 Peter 4.6, where the Gospel is preached even to the dead.

As the day wore on, gatherings of the faithful descended on both churches, to clean, decorate and prepare for the great day. By late afternoon, as these pictures show, Holy Saturday has given way to Easter Eve.

The Font and High Altar at S.Mary's, ready for Easter Day.

On Holy Saturday, the Aumbry in the S.Nicholas Chapel at S.Mary's still empty, awaiting the joyous restoration of the Blessed Sacrament:

All the services of the Great Three Days have been noticeably well attended this year, from Bishop Stephen presiding for us at the Maundy Thursday Liturgy, right through to the Dawn Liturgy, and the 4 celebrations of the Holy Eucharist on Easter Day. Despite some exhaustion on the afternoon of Easter Day, having surfaced at around 3.45am, my conscience, my faith and my Church all instruct me that this day is the Queen of Feasts , meaning that some feasting and drinking is obligatory.....

A few more pictures of All Saints, taken in the early evening of Holy Saturday, awaiting the visit of the women to the Tomb:

In the middle of the Medieval East Window at S.Mary's, you can just see on this picture a wonderful Resurrection Image, based on the account in St Matthew's Gospel, as Christ holds the Royal Victorious Banner, and the soldiers cower in terror.

Thou Art Risen, O Lord!
Let the quiet Altar dazzle with light;
let us haste to thy Presence, wondering, incredulous for joy;
and partake of thy Risen Life.

(Eric Milner-White)

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Palm Sunday, of the Lord's Passion

A well-attended Sunday, some of the faithful away, but  well balanced by a sprinkling of occasionals, and one or two new folk. The happy, holy chaos of the procession around the streets at All Saints, and then our Bishop Stephen, presiding at the Liturgy at St Mary's. This year his pilgrimage through Holy Week sees him based principally in our Deanery. The first time I have ever heard a Bishop begin a Homily with the words, 'I have only been tear-gassed once...'.

Despite being Ordained for over 20 years, there always seems to be a sense of Holy Week suddenly taking me by surprise. This year has been no exception, despite an attempt to get ahead. Palm Sunday has taken us where we need to be, spiritually and practically, and I trust we are ready with readers, and with feet to wash and eyes to watch for Maundy Thursday. There will be Holy Oil Stocks to prepare, various bits of furniture to move, service sheets to find or produce which, together with the Daily Liturgies, will take us through the next three days. An encouraging number of folk have come forward and responded to the invitation to Confession or Counsel.

A helpfully reflective Evening Prayer and Benediction tonight - the Lord turned up. As there are houses built quite close around All Saints, its often possible in the silence to hear conversations going on outside, children shouting and playing, car doors being shut - a real sense that we are the Church in the world, and the Lord's Blessing is given for all in our Parish, whether they are aware of it or not. As we pray in a petition we often use on Sunday evenings, may the Lord remember those who have said no prayers on this Lord's Day, and those who do not know how to pray.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Mothering Sunday

The 4th Sunday in Lent is known by various titles; Refreshment Sunday, Laetare Sunday or Mothering Sunday. It marks a mid-point in the season of Lent, when fasting rules and Lenten disciplines are relaxed, so we can be refreshed when we take them up again! Words traditionally used in the Liturgy today, from the prophet Isaiah, encourage us to rejoice:

Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her. Rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her; as a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you, says the Lord: you shall be comforted in Jerusalem. Isaiah 66.10,13

We give thanks today for our Holy Mother, the Church, and the spiritual Jerusalem; for the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God; for all mothers, and for all who care for children. The flowers offered in many churches today are gifts from Mother Church.

The Christian tradition for today is therefore much richer and more inclusive than the commercial Mothers’ Day; (before the false idol Hallmark got involved, the origins of the secular Mother's Day are to be found in an anti-war movement by Mothers of American Soldiers in World War 1.) Today we pray also for those whose experience of motherhood is difficult, or for families and relationships that are broken or estranged. Our life in community as Christians reminds us that we are all children of one Heavenly Parent and Creator, the God and Father of us all.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Today's Good News

Good News for the Fabric Appeal at St Mary's...from Today's Halifax Evening Courier

Published on Thursday 24 March 2011 09:33

Elland’s historic parish church will undergo major refurbishments thanks to a £157,000 grant.

St Mary the Virgin Church at The Cross received the grant from English Heritage under the Repair Grants to Places of Worship scheme supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The Grade-I listed church needs work doing to its east, west and south walls, a new drainage system, repairs to monuments and windows and a roof security system.

But a further £25,000 is needed to complete the work, which they hope to raise through more grants and fund- raising events.

Peter Uttley, church warden and treasurer at St Mary’s, said: “The grant will enable this historic building, which has served the local community for over 800 years, to continue to provide support and a place of worship for the next generation.

“I am hopeful that this can be achieved by contributions from a number of sources including the local community.”

An English Heritage spokesman said: “St Mary’s dates from 1180, making it one of the oldest buildings in Elland. It is at the centre of the town’s historic core.”

The church received a £105,000 grant from the fund last year. That was spent on roof repairs, guttery, masonry and drainage.