Monday, 5 December 2011

Santa Claus.....

December 6th is the feast day of Nicholas, Bishop of Myra - one of the vicar's favourite saints (not just because he is Father Christmas - though partly and he did love seeing "Arthur Christmas" this week!!! ;-) ). We'll be praying this litany in church today.....


O God, Creator of heaven and earth,
All    Have mercy on us.

O God, Redeemer of the world,
All    Have mercy on us.

O God, Sanctifier of the faithful,
All    Have mercy on us.

Blessed Mary, full of grace,
Blessed Joseph,
Blessed John the Baptist,
Blessed Lucy,
All holy women and men of God,
All    Pray with us.

Blessed Nicholas,
Holy Bishop of Myra,
Holy Saint in Bari,
All    Pray with us.

Nicholas: Patron of children and seafarers,
Gift-giver and Wonder-Worker,
Friend of the poor and needy,
Icon of gentleness and generosity,
Patron of Palestine’s freedom,
Model of meekness and charity,
Defender of the Christian Faith,
Myrrh of the fragrance of Christ,
Help of those who suffer wrong,
Faithful steward of the mysteries of God,
Guide of the penitent sinner,
Source of joy and thanksgiving,
Saint who points us to the Manger,
All    Pray with us.

Let us pray:
Grant that we,
aided by the prayers of St Nicholas and all the saints,
may be strengthened on our earthly pilgrimage
to live and work for the praise and glory of God,
Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer,
and in our service to God’s people and God’s whole creation.
We ask this through Jesus the Messiah.
All    Amen.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

There's no place like home

The camera zooms in on Dorothy’s borrowed ruby slippers as she repeats the mantra “there’s no place like home” and wishes herself returned to Kansas  - back on the other side of the rainbow and away from the Technicolor world of Glinda and the Wizard of Oz. How often we long for home – especially at this time of year. A log fire centred home, full of peace and goodwill, the smell of warmed mince pies and the shining joy of presents exchanged. For many such a dream is as unlikely as a world of munchkins and witches who can be defeated by a bucket of water.

The writer of Luke’s gospel in the Bible tells the story of Mary and Joseph who were rejected from their family home. The “Inn” (with no room for them) doesn’t refer to a pub but to the “upstairs living quarters” of the family home in Bethlehem. The writer has them sent downstairs with the animals – not good enough for the family upstairs who were aware of what the neighbours might be saying about Joseph and his pregnant girlfriend…. Christmas begins with a story of those who wish they had a “home”.

This year in our church services we will be hearing stories from the Children’s Society. Stories about those in the UK who long for a home this Christmas. We’ll also hear stories from Christian Aid as we remember the world’s countless people who long to be able to find themselves safe in a home. We’ll think about our response – not least by collecting through Carol singing in Winton and Moordown and at Church on December 17th.

We’ll have a service to remember those whom we no longer have in our homes, who have passed on – our “Blue Christmas Service” - on 11th December at 6pm. This is a chance to be thankful and remember as we miss them in our Christmas homes. On the afternoon before this we have a chance to be at home together at our parish Christmas party at 3:30pm – all welcome, please sign up in St John’s or at Messy Church.

Unlike Joseph’s family, at St John’s we’re not ashamed of being seen with anyone – everybody is welcome. Our Christmas services are a home for anyone who wants to join us – just like all of our services and events.

We’ll even make you feel at home if you’re not wearing ruby slippers……

Friday, 21 October 2011

Remember, remember....

“Remember, remember
The fifth of November
The gunpowder treason and plot.
I know of no reason
Why the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot."

How good are you at remembering things? I sometimes worry about how much time I spend going back home to check I’ve turned things off, or struggling to put names to faces, or the daily task of finding my car key…Maybe we all need prompts sometimes.

November is a month full of remembrance. We will light bonfires and watch fireworks to remember the events of 5 November 1605. Actually we’re required to celebrate it by law, since the “Observance of 5th November Act 1605” was passed by Parliament in 1606!

For November 11th, many of us will wear poppies to remember those who lost their lives in countless wars and human conflicts. We can see that this remembrance is more than just reading names out – but a reminder of how important it is to struggle for peace and justice in our world today, to truly honour those who did so before. (We will have a special act of remembrance at St John’s at the 10am service on 13th November.) 

In church we also use November to remember those who have inspired us to live lives of justice, love and peace – all the “hallows”, or saints, of the past. Who inspires you? How do you remember them? (We have an All Saints service at church at 8am on November 1st).

At this time of year, we also remember those we love but who have died. Christians call this All Souls. At St John’s on Sunday 30th October at 6pm we have a simple service called “The love that heals” to remember them together, and a more traditional All Souls Eucharist at 10:30am on Wednesday 2nd November. Even if you can’t be at one of the services, please let us know the names of anyone you’d like to be remembered at them.

And we’re not alone in remembering things this month. Our Muslim sisters and brothers will be celebrating Al-Hijira, their New Year, on the 26th, whilst Pagan celebrations of Samain began the month, and on the 10th many Sikhs will remember the birth of their founder, Guru Nanak.

What are the important things in your life that should be remembered? How do you remember them? You may like to join us in remembering or just let us know what should be remembered. Send an email or tweet if you like, or comment below. November certainly give us lots of prompts of all the things that should never be forgot…