Monday, 4 December 2017

Christmass 2017

Advent 2017

Advent is a time of quiet joy, and of hope and expectation. We celebrate God who shares our life with us, from the stable in Bethlehem to the Cross of Calvary. Christ is with us in word and sacrament, and with us each time we serve one another in a spirit of love, in the name of the Church. We prepare to celebrate once again the Birth in time, of the One who will come again to judge the living and the dead.

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. Some may wish to take the time to make a Confession, or to have a conversation about their spiritual life; I would be delighted to listen to you. You may wish to use one of these collects, opening prayers we use in the Parishes’ Liturgies, each 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

Please pray that Christmass will be a true hope for humanity, and that the birth of the Redeemer may bring peace and hope to all people of good will. Remember all families, may parents may be true evangelizers, passing on to their children the precious gift of faith. Thank You for all you do for the Life of God’s Church here in Elland, May the Lord bless you, and may you know the peace of the Christ-Child in your hearts, this Christmass-time.

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

Father David

On Advent Sunday we begin the Lectionary Year B, which is the Year of two Gospels. Principally our Gospel Readings over the next 12 months are taken from St Mark’s Gospel, but with some also from St John, (about whom more next month.)

John Mark was a Jew and, according to Paul's letter to the Colossians, was cousin to Barnabas. He accompanied Barnabas and Paul on their first missionary journey. Afterwards, he went to Cyprus with Barnabas and to Rome with first Paul and then Peter. Mark's gospel is generally regarded as the earliest and was most likely written whilst he was in Rome. It was probably based as much on Peter's preaching of the good news as on Mark's own memory. Mark's gospel has a sharpness and an immediacy about it and he does not spare the apostles in noting their weaknesses and lack of understanding that Jesus the Christ would suffer for the world's redemption. Sharing in the glory of the resurrection means sharing in the giving of self, both in body and spirit, even to death; sharing the gospel was, for all, in essence both excessively generous and ultimately sacrificial.

A Collect

Almighty God,
who enlightened your holy Church
through the inspired witness
   of your evangelist Saint Mark:
grant that we, being firmly grounded
   in the truth of the gospel,
may be faithful to its teaching both in word and deed;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Mark: A Sonnet by Malcom Guite, from ‘Sounding the Seasons’, Canterbury Press, 2012

A wing├Ęd lion, swift, immediate

Mark is the gospel of the sudden shift

From first to last, from grand to intimate,

From strength to weakness, and from debt to gift,

From a wide deserts haunted emptiness

To a close city’s fervid atmosphere,

From a voice crying in the wilderness

To angels in an empty sepulchre.

And Christ makes the most sudden shift of all;

From swift action as a strong Messiah

Casting the very demons back to hell

To slow pain, and death as a pariah.

We see our Saviour’s life and death unmade

And flee his tomb dumbfounded and afraid.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Thoughts from our Placement Ordinand

We recently hosted Michael Dixon, a potential Ordinand, from St Matthew, Carver Street in Sheffield on a 4 week Placement here in Elland. Here are his thoughts on his time here:
When I arrived in Elland for my placement, I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted to get out of my time there. I wanted to learn more about the daily life of a parish priest, having learnt all I could from the Father Brown novels, in order to help me better discern a vocation to the priesthood and decide whether this would be the life for me.  Although I had an idea about Mass and the like I was still a little unsure about what parish priests actually did in the hours that you don’t see them in church so at the beginning I didn’t really know what to expect. Thankfully in Fr David and, not forgetting Frs Miguel and Philip, I had some very capable, knowledgeable and patient teachers from whom I learned a lot.

I’ve spent the last few weeks doing all sorts of different things: attending meetings with people planning baptisms, weddings and funerals with Fr David and had the privilege of being able to attend these events. I’ve attended ordinations, meeting people who have just been ordained as priests and stand in a position that I might find myself in in a few years (a prospect that is both exciting and just a bit terrifying!). I’ve visited those currently living in care homes and with Frs David and Miguel, taken the sacrament to those unable to attend church as well as visiting the chaplaincy at Overgate Hospice and taken part in assemblies at the school, something I’ve very much enjoyed. More than anything though I’ve spent my time in Elland listening and learning. Listening to Fr David about his experiences as a priest and how to deal with certain situations, listening to churchgoers who have kindly invited me into their homes about their lives and experiences as part of the Church and I’ve tried to listen to God while praying, thinking about what sort of calling He has placed on my life.

It wasn’t just the priests in Elland that I learnt from however. I must give a big thanks to Lynn, the Reader, to the churchwardens at both All Saints and Saint Mary’s, the servers and of course all the members of the congregations who taught me a lot and made me feel very welcome. It’s with a real sense of sadness that I’ll be leaving Elland, despite having only been here a month and it goes without saying that I shall be returning at some point in the (hopefully) not so distant future.

I’ve also got to give a big thanks to those who put me up and indeed out up with me over the last month, and finally a thank you to my parish priest back in Sheffield Fr Grant Naylor who is forever supportive of me in discerning my vocation and to the Additional Curates Society who kindly provided a grant which ensured that I would be able to come on this placement in the first place.


As August begins, we say Farewell and Thank You to Fr Miguel, Yaneth, Samuel and Xavier, as Fr Miguel has concluded his Ministry here with us in Elland, and moved to prepare for his new Ministry in Barnsley. We bless God for all we have received here from his priest, and pray for the family as they move to a new Home, to new Schools for the Boys, and to new opportunities and challenges. The dates for Fr Miguel’s Licensing Services can be found elsewhere, and I hope a good number of us are able to be there, to support him in prayer at this new beginning.


Earlier in the Year, both of our Church Councils spent some time discussing the changes in the provision of Priestly Ministry that his departure would lead to. We are blessed that both Fr Philip, and Lynn, our Reader, continue to exercise active ministries among us, while also recognizing that both are now regarded as Ministers in Retirement by the Church, and we need to be fully aware of that. While an Assistant Curate such as Fr Miguel is always a priest in training, and should never be seen as simply an extra pair of priestly hands, nevertheless, we are now staffed by one full time priest, rather than two. I am particularly grateful that both PCCs emphasized the need for me to ensure I took the proper time off, both during the week, and my proper Holiday entitlement, while recognizing that there may be an occasion when I am away, for instance, when it is not possible to maintain the usual pattern of Sunday Services.


At the heart of Priesthood is the call to be a person of prayer, with and for the people we are called to serve. In a sense, there is nothing remarkable about this, as God has called me to this particular Vocation and sustains me in it, just as he has called you to live as a Christian in your own daily living. I am grateful for those who encourage and support me, and to those who speak to me when they know I have got something wrong. Those of you who also give much time, effort and care into various tasks in our Churches do it all as Volunteers, and what you offer is just as significant, just as precious in God’s eyes. Our Churches would not function as they do without you. I am always grateful for the way in which the people of our Parishes enable me in living out the gift of priesthood, in putting up with my faults and errors, in showing me brotherly, and sisterly, correction when necessary, and in supporting me. As we learn to readjust to a necessary new pattern of priestly ministry, I am sure we will be able to show a similar amount of understanding and toleration.


Thank you for all your prayers for our Parishes, for your prayers, and for all that you do in the Lord’s name.


Friday, 24 March 2017

April's Pastoral Letter: The Journey of Holy Week

Holy Week will soon be upon us. At 6pm in All Saints on the evening of Palm Sunday, Bishop Tony will celebrate his Chrism Mass, with the Blessing of the Holy Oils of Baptism, of Chrism and of the Sick. The theme of the Mass is a celebration of Christ our Great High Priest, who offered himself for us on the Cross, and who, reigning in Glory, calls us now to share his Divine Life. The Sacramental Oils are used in the making of disciples, in the blessing of objects and people, and in prayer for those in need, as a sign of Christ alive and active in our own day.


Bishop Tony will be joined by traditionalist Deacons and Priests from across our Diocese, those who in particular identify with the Society under the patronage of St Wilfrid and St Hilda, and we will have the privilege of renewing our commitment to ministerial service. Following the recent, disgraceful workplace bullying of Bishop Philip North, we are yet again at a time when the catholic voice in the Church of England is under threat; there are those who wish to silence us, to refuse us the honoured place we have been promised. Despite the widespread support for Bishop Philip from women bishops and priests, a well-orchestrated campaign by a few intolerant illiberals hounded him out.  At this Mass, with their Bishop, traditionalist catholics will gather to pledge to work within our Church of England, for the good of all, and for the mutual flourishing of all, especially those with whom we disagree on this issue. We need to say that there is no place for bullying; the bullies will not win, we are staying within the Church.


Mindful of the range of views across our parishes, I hope you will take the opportunity to be present, to share in this unique, once a year event, and one that, as it is shared around traditionalist parishes, will not return here for a long time.


The most significant celebration of the Eucharist in the whole year is the Easter Liturgy. Every other Eucharist, in both of our Churches, feeds into and is fed by this event, as we receive the good news of the Resurrection. In previous years, it has been a dawn celebration, this year, in order to make it a little more accessible, it will begin at 7.30pm (not 8pm as previously notified!) in All Saints on the evening of Holy Saturday, 15th April.


The Service lasts about 90 minutes, and will be followed by Festive Refreshments. We begin with the new Fire of Easter, before carrying the light into Church, and blessing the Easter Candle. After the Easter Scriptures, the Font is blessed, Baptismal Vows are re-affirmed, and the first Eucharist of Easter is offered. 

May the Lord bless us as we prepare for the Great Week.


Thursday, 23 February 2017

Lent, Holy Week & Easter

Lent, Holy Week & Easter in the Elland Parishes: Click here

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Thursday, 19 January 2017

700 Years of the Elland Charter

We'll be celebrating the 700th Anniversary of Elland's Royal Charter at the 850 year old St Mary's Church, over the Weekend of Friday 24th to Sunday 26th February.

A Copy of the Charter. The Original was kept in St Mary's for over 500 years.