Monday, 25 November 2013

Advent

Christ, be our light! Shine in our hearts. Shine through the darkness.
Christ, be our light! Shine in your Church gathered today     (Bernadette Farrell)

It’s so easy just to let it slip by. How can we make something of Advent?

Advent is a time of practical and spiritual celebration for the great Festival of Christmass. Advent is a time of journeying and a time of pilgrimage, strengthening our call as baptized Christians to walk in the light of Christ.

Advent, a word that means “coming” or “arrival,” is about
History: Jesus was a real person born in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago. Through the Scriptures we will join with God’s people through the ages as they look for him.
Mystery: Jesus is always with us through the gift of grace. Grace is a sharing in God’s own life and love that is beyond our understanding, but a love we know through faith, especially shared with us in the Holy Eucharist.
Majesty: Christ will come again—the Second Coming—in glory at the end of time. Your Kingdom Come, we pray, that his will may be done on earth as it is in heaven. 

Some will keep Advent as a ‘Little Lent’, with an element of fasting and penance. Yet above all, this is a time of expectation and joy. The Advent candles show us the grounds for our joy, as we look for the Light of Christ. Many Churches use a variety of purple and pink Candles, but in our Churches, we have tended to follow a more contemporary colour scheme: 

The first red candle is a symbol of Hope and represents the Patriarchs such as Abraham and David.

The second candle stands for God's Peace, as we are reminded of the prophets, especially Isaiah, who looked for the Messiah.

The third candle is for 'Love'. John the Baptist baptized Jesus, who is perfect Love.
 
The fourth candle symbolizes 'Joy'. We are able to share in the joy of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus and Mother of the Church.
 
The fifth white candle, is for the Christ Child, and is lit at the Eucharist on Christmass Day.

Advent Sunday is often described as the Church’s New Year, for on that day we begin a fresh cycle of Readings from the Scriptures. This Year we enter Year A of the Lectionary (Book of Readings), the Year of St Matthew’s Gospel. Matthew appears in the list of the twelve apostles of Jesus and, according to the gospel written under his name, was a tax collector. Mark and Luke called the tax collector Levi, and it has been assumed that they are one and the same. This occupation was despised by his fellow Jews as a betrayal to the occupying Roman force but Christ showed that judging by outward appearance was not what he was about. He ate with Matthew and with his friends, scandalising those around him. Matthew affirmed that his life would now change because of following Jesus, and that he would make amends for any former wrongdoing. This was enough for Jesus, for he had drawn someone back to God. He was forgiven, therefore he was acceptable, therefore he was received. Matthew’s Gospel has a strong Jewish background, and blocks of solid teaching; it’s sometimes known as the Teacher’s Gospel. The traditional symbol for Matthew’s Gospel is a human being.   

I hope you enjoy your Advent! It’s easy to get distracted in Advent. It’s too easy to let the busyness and the unnecessary commercialism be a substitute for what this time is really about. 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. You may wish to use one of these collects from the Church's Liturgy, every day in your own prayers

 For Advent

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

For the 12 days of Christmass

Lord Jesus Christ,
your birth at Bethlehem
draws us to kneel in wonder at heaven touching earth:
accept our heartfelt praise
as we worship you,
our Saviour and our eternal God. Amen

 May the Lord when he comes, find us watching and waiting, Amen.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

October.....

Harvest, Praying for Peace, and Dedication Festivals.
 
Every Sunday we give thanks for Creation and Redemption, to the God who made us, and calls us to life through the Resurrection of Christ. Sunday is a time for God’s Creation, and each Sunday is, or should be, a unique and special day for Christians. It is on this day above all that the Christian Community is called to gather at the Altar, to share again the Bible stories that tell us about God, to pray for the needs of the world, to greet one another with the Kiss of Peace, and to break bread, knowing that in the sacrament of the Eucharist, God is present with us. Each and every Sunday is a unique gift, a day when we remember and give thanks. It is a particularly focussed response to that act of Thanksgiving for creation, that forms the particular backdrop to this month of October, centering on our celebration of the Harvest at the beginning of the month. In many parts of the world, it is Christians who are leading the concern for our planet, its future and its sustainability, and so we pray particularly for the protection of Creation and the promotion of sustainable lifestyles that reverse our contribution to climate change. We remember the need to provide food to sustain human life, and a sense of a proper humility before God as Source of all things, together with gratitude for his goodness, and responsibility in stewarding the resources of the earth.
 
Please join with the prayers of many folk of goodwill around the world for Peace, during the Week of Prayer for World Peace, from Sundays 13th-20th October. Perhaps you might like to use this prayer, even commit it to memory, as one of those prayers it is good to be able to turn to regularly,

O God, Lead us from death to life, from falsehood to truth.
Lead us from despair to hope, from fear to trust.
Lead us from hate to love, from war to peace.
Let peace fill our hearts, our world, our universe,
through Christ the Prince of Peace  Amen. 

On Sunday 27th October, both of our Churches keep their Dedication Festivals. We give thanks for the faithful witness and efforts of those who have gone before us in establishing, beautifying and maintaining our Buildings as signs of the living Gospel, remembering that these Houses of the Church are places where the sacraments are celebrated, and the Gospel proclaimed, as we are God’s people, his Church, called to serve him in Christ. We know only too well the responsibilities of maintaining our Church fabric, and the priority we continue to place on meeting all our financial needs. Much work, and a lot of money, has gone into our Church fabrics of course over recent years. On the Festival of Dedication we pause to take stock, and remember just why our Buildings are so important for us, and how we can use them for the Gospel. On this Feast, indeed on every Sunday, we have the opportunity to allow God to renew us in his service, to renew our dedication that our buildings will be signs and access points of the gospel of Christ, and to renew our determination to continue to minister and witness to our Parishes of Elland, despite the increasing indifference, and sometimes outright hostility we face.

And how do we do all that? Well, there is a complex answer, and a rather simpler one. The complex one first of all, is that by the time you are reading this, we will have begun in earnest the process of discerning and preparing our new Parish Transformational Plans. Four years ago, our existing plan was presented in our Cathedral, alongside those of the Parishes of the Diocese, on All Saints Day 2009. We made a commitment there to continue to work on what we felt God was calling us to, and now, with the United Benefice in place, it is good to have the opportunity to thoroughly, and prayerfully, consider the next stages. 

The simpler answer quite simply underlines everything  - through prayer.

             Lord God Almighty, Guide us to Thy Will,
             Steadfast our minds towards Thy Will,
             Teach us to do Thy Will,
             that we may inwardly love Thee before all things with a pure mind.
             For thou art our Maker and Redeemer, Our help, Our Comfort,
             Our Trust, Our Hope. Amen.

 (A Prayer of King Alfred the Great, commemorated on 26th October.)

 

 

Monday, 16 September 2013

Digging Around


A Plaque discovered underneath the flooring in the St Nicholas Chapel in St Mary's, during repair works.

The Plaque reads 'Thornhill Vault 1751 – 1800 discovered June 1937'. Bottom left is a Lifting Ring.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

September Thoughts


I have a dream that little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.

 I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places plains, and the crooked places will be made straight, and before the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the mount with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the genuine discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, pray together; to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom forever, knowing that we will be free one day.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, we're free at last!"

 
50 years ago, Dr Martin Luther King spoke these inspirational words as part of a speech before over  250,000 of his fellow Americans in Washington. They were there to mark the centenary of President Abraham Lincoln's 'Emancipation Proclamation' to free African-Americans. King argued that the freedoms promised by to the newly-emancipated African-Americans never really materialised, and the March on Washington was an attempt to encourage all Americans to re-commit themselves to the Emancipation Proclamation's original promise.

 Many Christians and others of goodwill will particularly remember those words on Racial Justice Sunday, 8th September. Fittingly, that day for us in Elland will be St Mary’s Patronal Festival, as we give thanks for the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Our Lord and God, and Mother of the Church. Her ‘Yes’ to God, ‘Let it be to me according to your word’ showed her to be worthy to be the bearer of the Word made flesh, Christ Jesus, true God and true man. Only in Christ will all barriers be truly broken down. King knew this of course, the words at the beginning of the 2nd paragraph as quoted above, are words from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, which the Church has always understood as pointing to Jesus. Mary opens up for us the way to a new humanity, made real in Jesus. In her, it is good to be human, for there is only one race, the Human Race.

It will be good to welcome back Fr Martin Wood, former Team Rector, as our preacher on September 8th, together with Phyll Wood, who served here as a Reader, for the Parish Eucharist at 10am in S.Mary’s, (There will be no 9.30am or 11am services that day.) We also look forward to an Organ Recital on Saturday 7th September, with Thomas Moore, Organist and Director of Music at our Cathedral Church of All Saints Wakefield, beginning at 7.30pm.

September brings a new School Year and a fresh start for many of our Parish Organisations, and now that we have completed the work necessary to establish a new relationship between our Parishes in the United Benefice, there is an opportunity to revisit and renew our Development and Transformational Plans. Canon James Allison, priest in charge of Coley in our Deanery, and a member of the Diocesan Mission Group, will be helping us to kick start that process at a meeting in the Canon Winter Centre at All Saints, at 7.30pm on Tuesday 17th September, for All PCC & Core Group members from both our Parishes.

Like the great Christian heroes, we are called to look forward, in hope and faith.

May God, who is able to keep us from falling,
And lift us from the dark valley of despair
To the bright mountain of hope,
From the midnight of desperation to the daybreak of joy,
To whom belongs all power and authority,
Give us his blessing and his peace. Amen.

 Pax et Bonum – Peace and all Good to you! – Father David
 




 

Thursday, 11 July 2013

A Tapestry of Connections

General Synod gave us a gift on Monday, in deciding to go ahead with the creation of a new Diocese of Leeds, to be known as West Yorkshire and the Dales, and to be formed out of (most of) the existing Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon & Leeds, and Wakefield. There will be a new Diocesan of Leeds, and 4 area bishops, slightly confusingly to be known as Ripon, Bradford, Wakefield and Huddersfield, (henceforth to be known as Huddersfield Without (a cathedral). It is a gift that will be  welcomed in two of the existing Dioceses, but a gift that is, at best, uncomfortable for us in Wakefield, because we had stated quite clearly there were more helpful ways to move us all forward. 
 
It wasn't a great debate - a worrying number of Synod members were not even there. The genuine concerns that Wakefield had raised concerning our history, local knowledge and relationships, ways of doing mission and the place of the cathedrals were politely acknowledged, but sadly patronised by some. We are still no nearer to knowing why or how this structure will help us to be more mission focussed.
 
So be it. Time to receive the gift, and to contribute to making it work, for the Church and the people of West Yorkshire are too important for this to fail. Time to be prepared to hold this structure to account, and make sure it delivers all it promises. Our neighbouring Dioceses will have much that is of worth to offer, and we trust that they are ready to receive from Wakefield as well. But in order to make some sense of all this, and with many in this Diocese feeling surprisingly emotional this week, I looked again at the Reredos in All Saints Church, and I am reminded that we have been here already.
  
 
 
The High Altar Reredos in All Saints, Elland
 
Along the top of the Reredos in the above picture, (sorry they are so dark!), are 4 Angels, each bearing a symbol; from left to right, the Arms of the Savile Family, the Yorkshire Rose, the Cross-keys of the Province of York, and the Arms of the Diocese of Wakefield.
 
 
The Savile Arms
 
The then Lord Savile having given the land for All Saints Church in 1897, the Family Arms were included in the Reredos which is a 1927 memorial to Canon Ernest Winter, founder of All Saints.
Since their arrival from France and their original association with 12th Century Elland, or Ealand,  the Saviles have many associations with the West Riding, but it is here in Elland that the family fortunes originated, before their family symbol of Eagle Owls as seen above, subsequently transformed into the Owls on the Arms of the City of Leeds.
 
 
I have a great affection for the City of Leeds, having serving there for 7 years after being ordained 25 years ago in Ripon Cathedral. I'm proud to be a sporting Loiner, or a Rhino as we have to be known  these days, and have been known to turn up at Elland Road as well as at Headingly. Although I am not a born and bred Yorkshire man, I am quite happy to be the father of one, and the grandfather of another genuine Yorkshire tyke. For me, the Northern Province is a good place to be.
 
 
Centre right and right, the Arms of York (St Peter's Keys) and Wakefield.
 
I am sure that my tale of casual connections could be repeated by many, and it is on those relationships that, allowing for a fair treatment of, and willingness to listen to, all sections of the new Diocese, that it will have a chance to work. After all, this remains a great place to be, and I have taken a moment to remind myself this week just how fortunate and grateful I am to be here. 
 
Perhaps for most folk, the wheel will only hit the road when we have to pay for it all, and we test the optimistic assertion of the Dioceses Commission that this will be cost neutral. Or, in other words, who will pay for my new Notice Boards?
 
 
May the Lord continue to bless the Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon & Leeds and Wakefield, their Bishops, Clergy and people, as we work for our new Diocese.
 
May the Holy Spirit inspire those who will choose our new Bishops, and inspire us to show proper care for those who face great uncertainties for their jobs, livelihoods and ministries. 
 
May Blessed Mary Queen of All Saints, St Peter, St Wilfrid, St Paulinus, St Blaise and the whole company of heaven pray to God for us!

 
 

Speaking but not Listening

 
The Bishops Chair in the Chancel of All Saints Church, with the Wakefield Diocesan Coat of Arms
 
 
The General Synod has spoken.
 
The General Synod might have been listening, but it certainly hasn't heard.
 
The Diocese of Wakefield will be no more - we are all to be ecclesiastical Loiners* instead.
 
*Residents of the fine City of Leeds

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

A Golden Jubilee of Priesthood

Congratulations to Canon Michael Haynes on marking 50 years since his Ordination to the Priesthood. Pictures from the Mass of Thanksgiving at All Saints, with Bishop Tony.

 
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Kirchentag: Hamburg 2013

Few of us, I imagine, have been part of a congregation numbering some 120,000, at least 4,500 of whom made up the brass band! Such was the closing service at the 2013 Kirchentag, 'Soviel du Brauchst', ('As much as you need', see Exodus 16:18), held in Hamburg from 1st-5th May. Festival, Conference, Celebration and much more, Kirchentag is both a lay -led Movement and a gathering every two years.


A view of the Opening Service in the Hamburg Rathaus, Wednesday 1st May.


Radically re-modelled by Allied Bombing in August 1943, Hamburg, Germany's 2nd City, was nonetheless a marvellous venue for this gathering, which included a few from Wakefield and Bradford Dioceses. (Much comment at the opening Service on how the Nordkirche, the Evangelical/Lutheran/Reformed Christians across Germany's Northern Dioceses had reorganised and restructured in the face of a situation far more complex than that facing the West Yorkshire Dioceses!)


 
Hamburg's Bismarck Tower, 35m High, and just around the corner from the hospitable St Thomas Beckett, Anglican Chaplaincy in the Dioceses of Europe, and, in the other direction, the notorious Reeperbahn.
 
The richness and diversity of Germany's Churches was a joy to see and share in, and, for me, at any rate, a quietly humbling reminder that in our British Church life, we often have only a partial view of things. 
 
The Wittenberg Tourist Authority Display, complete with coloured statues of Martin Luther.


Saturday, 6 April 2013

Quasimodo Sunday

Easter. Not just one day, or even a weekend, as the BBC seem to think, but 50 days of celebration. A week of weeks plus the eternal day, Pentecost. Not sure I can eat any more chocolate however...

Numbers for the Triduum were very good, especially considering how much snow was still around, and generally how grim and frozen everyone is feeling. This week has seen more Funerals, and the first Wedding of the year, with a very adventurous bride insisting on wearing a strapless dress, while the rest of us shivered. 

The Sunday after Easter. also known as the Second Sunday of Easter, Low Sunday, Divine Mercy Sunday, the Sunday of Thomas, and most memorably of all, Quasimodo Sunday from the first two words of the traditional Latin opening Antiphon at Mass, speaking particularly to the newly baptized:      
I Peter 2:2
Quasi modo geniti infantes, rationabile, sine dolo lac concupiscite ut in eo crescatis in salutem si gustastis quoniam dulcis Dominus.

As newborn babes, alleluia, long for pure spiritual milk without guile, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. Rejoice to God our helper. Sing aloud to the God of Jacob.
In antiquity, the day that the newly baptized officially put away their white robes, known liturgically as Dominica in albis or the Sunday of putting away the albs.

The Gospel reading is John 20: 19-31. Doubting Thomas, though I prefer Thomas, man of faith, as he utters those words of acclamation and recognition, 'My Lord and My God.'


 
On a Day with a hint of spring, the view from the lower part of St Mary's Churchyard this morning as the new Morrisons has finally opened. We even have a new public Clock visible to all; this morning it was working perfectly, unlike ours on St Mary's tower!
 
 
 

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Spy Wednesday in the Snow

The phenomenal amount of Snow over last weekend seems to have created a new variant of that gently competitive game that Clergy do so well, though we really should know better. Instead of competing to be the busiest priest around, or playing the numbers game, we now have 'We've had much more snow than you have.' 
 
In the spirit of which, here is a picture of my driveway ....
 
 
 A Liturgical chill descends on Wednesday in Holy Week. Jesus tells Judas, 'Do quickly what you are going to do', Judas leaves, and the Gospel writer tells us, 'And it was night'.
 
I have been encouraged by those who have turned out to Mass so far this week, and Palm Sunday was much better than I could have reasonably expected, given the conditions. Our School Holy Week Service had to be held in the School Hall today, rather than in St Mary's, but Palm Crosses were given out and we told the story of the death and resurrection of Our Lord through the special foods of this Week, Hot Cross Buns and Eggs.
 
The Triduum awaits, beginning with the Chrism Mass and Clergy Lunch at our restored Cathedral. The weather prevented my attendance at the re-dedication Service last Saturday, but the Nave certainly looks stunning on the pictures.
 
 
 Otherwise, Sermons and Service Sheets are mostly ready, but there ought to be a golden rule at this point in Holy Week - don't worry about it!
 
A Blessed Triduum to all.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

A Monastic Visit and a Farewell in Christ


Earlier this week, we took our Year 5/6 Class from Elland C of E School, to visit the Community at Mirfield, following on a visit from Fr Oswin to School last month. Br Steven is shown here guiding us around the Community Church.
 
 

Last Sunday was Fr Matthew's final day in the Parish, as he and the family prepare to move on to Southwell. Here we bid our farewells with our prayers and best wishes. 'I think there's a cheque here somewhere....'





Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Lent, Holy Week & Easter 2013

This Year's Lent Leaflet available here

Mobile Cathedral


Photos from the Visit of Bishop Tony, with the Cathedral Clergy and Choir, to All Saints last Thursday, as part of the Mobile Cathedral, celebrating 125 years of Cathedral and Diocese, with a series of Deanery events. Each Parish represented, together with the Chaplaincy at Overgate Hospice, was presented with a wooden Cross made from Pews that have been removed from the soon to be reopened Nave of the Cathedral. The Crosses are the work of Prisoners at Wakefield Gaol, and not, as +Tony claimed, the work of prisoners at the Cathedral...

 
The delay in posting these has been due to family circumstances, in particular the current Mrs Burrows' mother, moving house, which goes some way to explaining with how ancient and stressed I am looking these days...

 
A generous Collection taken at this event will help fund Chaplaincy resources for the Hospice.
Many thanks to Rich Wainwright for the pictures www.rdoublefilms.com & www.youtube.com/user/wakefieldcathedral
 

 

Monday, 21 January 2013

Confirmation and an Ecumenical Cul-de-sac


 
 
Standing on Bishop Tony's left, (on the right of this picture), Casper, Rachel, Susan, Graeme and Michael, all from All Saints Elland, and Confirmed at St Thomas Greetland yesterday, together with those Confirmed in their home Parish. My thanks to Terry and to all at St Thomas' for their welcome and hospitality, it was good to share this great day with you all.
 
Yesterday evening, a reasonable number for a Snowy night gathered at St Mary's Elland, as we hosted the main Service for Elland & District Churches Together in this Octave of Prayer for the Unity of Christians. (I get irritated when it is described as the Week of Prayer - it isn't, a week being 7 days, and this Octave lasts for 8!) This years Prayers are a gift from the Dalit Christians of India, as we reflected on the Rule of faith in Micah, 'Do Justice, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly with your God.' Here, as in too many places, the energy has gone out of the search for Unity; compared with those who were involved when I first arrived here, few new faces have appeared over the years, and this and other events and Services still largely rely on those who have always supported them. There are fewer Churches here, and certainly fewer Clergy and Ministers around compared to what there used to be, and some, though not all, of our Churches, are ageing and gently shrinking.  We are currently without a major project, as it is perhaps in mutual Christian service where the next stage of the Pilgrimage for Unity is to be found. Yet we continue, for we can do no other, if we are to be faithful to Christ.
 
Last Friday I was asked to take part in a meeting with Archdeacons and other Rural/Area Deans of the three Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon & Leeds and Wakefield, as the momentum gathers towards Decision Day on the Dioceses Commission proposals. (Latest here: http://www.wakefield.anglican.org/diocesesreview/) We were asked to consider the effect of the Scheme on the Parishes. The Meeting was positive and helpful, but, at a time when Diocesan Boards, Committees, Bishops and Archdeacons have spent a lot of time on this Scheme, the fact that only now the key element, the Parishes, is considered, speaks volumes. 

Elland C of E School Website

Much chatter across the Church blogosphere about the need to update and refresh your on-line presence. This is not an optional extra any more, but may well be a lead in Mission. So its good to commend our Schools new Site, which can be found here http://www.elland.calderdale.sch.uk/