From the editors.....
This is the sixteenth Parish Magazine on St Mary's website.
As always thanks to all who have contacted us, please keep in touch and send us comments and articles for inclusion.
Pauline & Bob - co editors..
Updated 1st July 2021
I entered York Minster last Saturday after fifteen months. There once a week I used to be a tour guide or a duty chaplain. Now I was no less stunned by the enormous spacious span of the nave (one of longest and widest in England) as when I visited the Minster for the first time some years ago. The socially distanced congregation made the nave look even more spacious as I sat down for my friend’s ordination service.
I often marvel how the people of the past devoted their wealth and knowledge to build such a magnificent building. On this day I experienced what they meant the building to be and, like generations of pilgrims, had a glimpse of what the Minster means.
Outside, it was late June, on a cloudy, cool Saturday afternoon. With the relaxed restrictions, crowds filled the shops and streets of York. Restaurants, cafes and street food vendors claimed much of the street, setting out tables and chairs for their trade; the marketplace and the embankment were filled with people. There was a definite sense of excitement and of relief too that permeated York. The city once again was choked with traffic, loud music blared out, groups of tourists stood, gazing up and blocking pavements. Everything came back to life.
Inside the Minster there was none of this bustle. The angelic singing of the choir, accompanied by the organ, brought me to the place above. With the ascending music my eyes travelled upwards, and there my eyes met some stained glass on the clerestory windows. There I saw some saints in the glass, looking down, and listened to the singing and prayer for some eight centuries. Whatever happened in one’s life, here is the place where one is able to rest, to bind wounds, to seek help, to see the light, to be accompanied by saints from present and past. Here the stones praise God, speak of His glory.
It was a new beginning for my friend, now ordained into holy orders. Her joy was carried by the liturgy, the prayers, the chants, the bread and wine. In the building, the fruit of human wisdom, skills, faith and devotion, heaven and earth meet, there where ordinary men and women dedicate their lives to the service of God.
Buildings made of lifeless stones, bricks and mortars are not merely shells for human necessity, they are at their best expressions of devotion – a great cathedral dedicates human wisdom and skills to the glory of God. Our little parish church building is much less splendid than the Minster, yet it is the same. For it is a place where we leave the world outside, meeting God and finding sanctuary. Each week, we gather, just as our fathers have done for centuries, to worship God and to have a glimpse of Heaven. Norma
Random Ponderings by a Recognised Parish Assistant
A recent episode of a TV drama, set in the present day, had the title “The New Abnormal”, which I thought summed up very well how we often feel nowadays! Sometimes I find myself buying sanitiser, preparing to 'Zoom', hanging up the family's face masks on the airer with the rest of the weekly wash, and so on – and I think: how did I get so used to this? How did it come to feel so normal, when in my heart I know it isn't normal at all? Should I really just accept that these precautions are part of life – or should I keep in mind that they are abnormal, and temporary, and one day we will look back and think “That was so weird, thank God it's over”?
Maybe it's a good idea to do both – to cope cheerfully with the situation, while remembering that it isn't permanent and that 'normal' life will return.
It makes me think of another situation that the Bible sometimes compares to a disease (see, for instance, Isaiah 1:4-6). That situation is human sin – the rebellion against God that began in Eden and now infects the whole world. 'Sin' simply means 'wrongdoing', and it surely causes most of the misery in the world – for instance, selfishness and greed that means some have too much while others starve; hunger for power that leads to tyranny; rage, or thirst for revenge, that produces brawls, murders, or even international wars; and the human capacity for deceit that leaves many of us wondering if there is anyone we can really trust. There is so much kindness and goodness in the world, but somehow sin always seems to try to spoil things. Even St Paul, that seasoned warrior of the faith, complained that he often did what he knew was wrong (Romans 7:21-24). But he knew Christ had the answer (verse 25)!
For us, a world plagued by sin is normal. But the Gospel (the Good News) is that this is temporary. Jesus, on the Cross, dealt with our sin once and for all. One day, we are promised, all trace of it will be done away, as completely as medical science has now eliminated smallpox. Creation will be redeemed and restored and all things made new (Revelation 21:1-7).
Maybe then we'll look back on our strange, abnormal normal of prisons and burglar alarms, of locks and barbed wire, of security checks and fraud prevention, of refugee camps and child protection and everything else we have to have because sin is in the world – all the things we'll never need again, because thanks to Jesus there will be no more sin. And we'll say, with joy and deep, deep gratitude, “Thank God it's over.”
Rail to Refuge is a joint initiative between rail companies and Women’s Aid in which train operators cover the cost of train tickets for women, men and children escaping domestic abuse travelling to refuge accommodation.
Visit womensaid.org.uk/rail-to-refuge/ for more information
Pilgrimage routes to explore in the North
A ‘Santiago of the North’ has been launched, encouraging people to walk ancient pilgrimage routes to Durham dating back more than 1,000 years.
Around 30 churches in the dioceses of Durham and Newcastle are part of four revived pilgrimage routes starting from villages and towns in the region, re-creating the routes taken by pilgrims to Durham Cathedral.
‘The Way of Learning, The Way of Life, The Way of Light and The Way of Love,’ allows pilgrims to walk from 27 to 45 miles while exploring places of historical and religious significance.
Modern-day pilgrims can visit churches and historical monuments, museums and galleries on the route, including shrines and places associated with Saints Cuthbert, Bede, Hilda, Helen, Wilfrid, Oswald, Aidan and Godric.
Further pilgrimage routes The Angels Way (30 miles) and the Way of the Sea (62 miles) link Lindisfarne and Durham, the two most important pilgrimage centres in the region.
Northern Saints Trail Coordinator David Pott says: “There is a 21st-Century revival in pilgrimage – only 2,500 people walked the Camino to Santiago in 1985, but there were 347,538 pilgrims recorded in 2019.”
“Pilgrimages are attracting people who are not necessarily of strong Christian faith but who want to explore more.”
Opening and closing churches in the UK
There were an estimated 45,500 congregations or churches in the UK in 2020: 79%, in England, 8% (3,700 churches) in Wales, 8% (3,500 churches) in Scotland and 5% (2,100 churches) in Northern Ireland.
New congregations are being started or having to close all the time, and in the fifteen years since 2005 it is estimated that collectively some 3,100 new congregations have started while some 5,800 have closed, a net drop of 2,700 across the UK.
Most of the Anglican new congregations are in the Church of England, many of which are planted by the larger churches. A third of all the churches which have closed in the last 15 years have been Methodist, followed by the Anglicans and Roman Catholics (both 15%) and the Presbyterians (9%). The Baptists (7% of all closures) have also seen over 400 churches close in the last 15 years, which is one in eight of their congregations.
From UK Church Statistics Nos 1-4.
JULY DIARY DATES
Saturday 3rd July Churchyard Tidy
Wednesday 14th July PCC meeting 7pm
The Good Samaritan
Canon Paul Hardingham considers our call to befriend people in need.
This month we are looking at the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). This familiar story tells of a man who is mugged on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho and rescued by a Samaritan. Jesus tells it in response to a lawyer’s question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” When Jesus calls for a life of total love towards God and neighbour, the lawyer comes back with the question: ‘who is my neighbour?’ (29).
The plight of the man and the indifference of the priest and Levite would have horrified Jesus’ hearers. They assumed that the hero of the story would be a Jew! However, Jesus presents the Samaritan, a sworn enemy of the Jews, as a model of integrity and an example to follow: “Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?…Go and do likewise.” (36,7). The challenge of the story is that often our neighbours can be our worst enemies, yet these are the very people we are called to love as ourselves.
Of course, we can all think of people to whom we are called to be a Samaritan in our lives: those we try to avoid and don’t want to get alongside. If we are honest, we know that we don’t have it in us to love as Jesus says here. We all need somebody who will be our Good Samaritan, to rescue us and enable us to love others as ourselves. Jesus is that Good Samaritan for us.
“By depicting a Samaritan helping a Jew, Jesus could not have found a more forceful way to say that anyone at all in need – regardless of race, politics, class, and religion – is your neighbour.” (Tim Keller).
Whats your next step?
Roger Roberts reflects on the endings – and beginnings – that summer can bring.
Does this month spell the end of school, college, or even a job, for you? Then congratulations are in order: you have completed a significant step.
Now it’s time to decide your next step. The dictionary defines ‘step’ as a physical movement that advances you in a desired direction. You ‘step’ forward in order to get somewhere specific. Each ‘step’, however small, will make a difference to your life.
The Bible reflects this. It is filled with the metaphors of stepping, walking, running and goals, pilgrimages, journeys, all to describe the years of our lives.
So, choosing your next step in life this year is important. The good news is that you need not do it on your own. In God, you have a divine ‘life coach’. He knows you perfectly – and He has a plan for your life. Most of all, His plan is to have a close personal relationship with you.
We’ve all seen toddlers staggering towards danger, ignoring their parents’ cries of warning. We’ve all seen adults making a mess of their lives. They are ignoring their personal divine Shepherd, Guide, Teacher and Helper.
A baby learns to walk safely by listening to its parents. We learn what God’s will is for us through daily reading of His word, in the Bible, and in obeying what we read.
For when God guides us, He does not hand down a divine map of our lives for us to follow on our own. His guidance is more like that of a torch – a little advance light, day by day, for our immediate daily path.
Remember, the Lord wants you to succeed in the earthly goals that He has for you! So, trust Him to be your guide and helper as you step into your future.
HYMN: The story behind ‘Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken’
Glorious things of thee are spoken, Zion, city of our God;
The year was 1800, and Vienna was under bombardment by Napoleon’s troops. The great Austrian composer, Haydn, then old and frail, asked to be carried to his piano. There he made his own defiance of Napoleon, by solemnly playing through his composition ‘Emperor’s Hymn’. Haydn had composed it for the Austrian Emperor, Franz ll’s birthday on 12 February 1797. Haydn never touched his piano again, and died a few days later, aged 77.
That is where the tune for this well-loved hymn came from. It quickly became the tune of the Austrian national anthem. It was later even adopted by the Germans, as the tune for August Heinrich Hoffman von Fallersleben’s (1798 – 1874) anthem Deutschlandslied, which began with the famous words: ‘Deutschland uber alles’ (Germany before everything). In the ensuing political upheavals, the tune survived in the German national anthem, but was abandoned by the Austrians in 1946.
In the meantime, the tune had also reached England, as early as 1805. It was then that the words of a hymn by John Newton were first paired up with it. This meant that when the Austrian Emperor Franz visited his grandmother Queen Victoria, at Windsor Castle, he most likely would have sung his own national anthem tune to English words written by a converted slave trader turned country vicar!
John Newton’s inspiration for this hymn comes from Psalm 87: ‘Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God’ (vs3) and also a text from Isaiah 33:20-21: ‘Look on Zion… there the Lord in majesty will be for us a place of broad rivers and streams…’
John Newton’s hymn celebrates the joy of knowing that the Church is the new Jerusalem (Zion) where God abides. He rejoices that God protects His people and promises to supply their needs. He leads them into the Promised Land, just as long ago He led the Israelites through the wilderness to their Promised Land. Back then, He led them with a fiery and cloudy pillar; now we have His very Spirit within us, to guide us each step of the way home.
By the Revd Peter Crumpler, a Church of England priest in St Albans, Herts, and a former communications director for the CofE.
Can comedy point the way to faith?
Truth can come from a range of places. In Shakespeare, it’s the fool who often has the insight that the main characters lack. In the Old Testament, it’s the prophets that proclaim the truth from God’s perspective.
Maybe today, we should be listening more to the comedians – to the people who stand back from our day-to-day happenings and see the world from different angles. They can make us laugh, but they can also teach us truths about ourselves that can be distinctly uncomfortable.
Take the new book by comedian, and Catholic, Frank Skinner. It’s called ‘A Comedian’s Prayer Book’ (Hodder & Stoughton) and runs to just over a hundred pages. Yet in that thin volume, Skinner – who is very open about his devout Christian faith – poses serious questions for both believers and atheists.
It’s far from being a comfortable read, though it never ceases to be amusing and thoughtful.
Setting the scene for the book, Skinner, an award-winning comedian, television and radio host, explains: “Imagine someone on a pilgrimage, stopping at churches, martyr-related tourist spots and sacred wells, while dressed in a medieval jester outfit.
“The intention is serious and completely devout, but the pilgrim just feels more at home in the motley than in sackcloth and ashes. He feels jest is an integral part of who he is, and it seems wrong to deny that part.”
Skinner sees his role as a comic as integral to this faith, although some ‘fellow pilgrims’ may be uncomfortable with someone who seems to see humour all around him – and can easily make others laugh.
Yet Frank Skinner raises deep issues in the chapters of this slim volume, including questions that will connect with people both within the Christian faith, and those standing outside.
He describes his prayer life as “a telepathic dip into a long, ongoing conversation with thousands of tabs left open and no helpful ‘new readers start here’ summaries or simplifications for the neutral observer.”
Skinner’s ‘prayer book’ is on my bookshelf alongside ’10 Second Sermons,’ (Darton, Longman & Todd) written by fellow comedian Milton Jones in 2011. Again, the comedian’s quirky view on life brings fresh insights and challenges.
Jones, a master of one-line jokes, describes gossip as “bullying people who are not there,” lust as “rehearsing for a play in which you shouldn’t have a part” and salvation as “like being returned to the factory settings – but you have to admit there is a factory, and that there could be some settings.”
One of my favourites is Jones’s description of the Holy Spirit as “a real person you can invite in. But watch out – in time He will go over, pull the fridge from the wall and say ‘What’s all this mess under here?’ But at least He helps clear up.”
Both Milton Jones and Frank Skinner are comedians of faith – comedic commentators with a gift of making us see the world with fresh insight. And, as importantly, making us laugh.
Time for a change
Tony Horsfall considers the challenge of change
I have had my walking boots for a few years now, and they have been faithful companions. We have walked many miles together during that time, on my daily walks as well as on holiday. They are partly responsible for my physical recovery after Covid-19, so they have a place in my heart. They fit me very well, and we have adjusted to one another. But they are very thin now on the soles and heels, and it is reluctantly time for a change.
So, one recent Saturday I bought a new pair. They are clean and smart, and fully waterproof. The soles are strong and new. There are no signs of wear and tear. But I know that change is never easy. They will take some time to wear in. They may rub and I may get a blister or two. Occasionally I will long for my old boots, and wonder, ‘Did I make a mistake?’ Hopefully, they will become as much a part of me as my old ones as we tread the miles together. But there is always a risk with something new, Isn’t there?
Change is never easy in whatever form it comes. But change is inevitable because life does not stand still, and we have to keep adjusting and adapting and being open to fresh winds of the Spirit. Never more so than in these present, troublesome days.
Strangely enough as I have been meditating on this, my reading this morning (Isaiah 9) contained a reference to ‘Every warrior’s boot used in battle … will be destined for burning (v5).’ Oh dear. I’m sure like me, warriors were fond of their boots too and found it hard to part with them.
Guidance on contested heritage
The Church of England has published guidance for parishes and cathedrals amid concerns over memorials with links to slavery and other contested heritage.
The new guidance enables churches and cathedrals to consider the history of the buildings and congregations, and to engage with everyone in their community to understand how physical artefacts may impact their mission and worship.
The guidance specifically addresses the issue of heritage associated with racism and the slave trade – including plaques, statues, inscriptions and other monuments, but hopes that by doing so it will establish a methodology which can be used for other forms of contested heritage.
The spaces between
Most of us have been in situations where we are not in control, and we don’t know how to feel or how to react to our situation. We need help.
The most valuable gift you can have at those times – is time itself. Time to be ‘listened to’. Really listened to. But it is not easy to find someone who will ‘actively listen’ to you.
Think of the last time you were in the reverse position with a friend or a colleague, and they were talking to you. How easily do you recall what they actually said? Most of us are so busy getting our replies ready for when the person has finished speaking, that we don’t clearly hear their punch line.
With God it is different. We can take everything to Him; all our worries and cares and failures and faults. And He listens.
He doesn’t necessarily jump in with an instant, easy solution, but rather He promises to always guide us, if we ask Him, through life’s challenges, and He promises to never leave us. He often speaks to us through his written word, the Bible.
This last year, when many of us have been communicating with others by phone or Zoom, we get nervous if it all goes quiet. We feel the need to ‘nudge’ the other person, to make sure they are still there. Silence is not a natural state for many of us – and yet it is in the quiet we can hear ourselves and God most clearly.
So, when we talk with God, our conversation should not be rushed and one-sided. We need to give space to our silence before Him, to wait and listen for Him to speak to us.
Next time you worship in church, listen to the silences: the spaces between the words, the music and the actions. Listen to all the prayers that are spoken.
Look at your surroundings and reflect that they have absorbed thousands of prayers – and holy silence – down the centuries of their existence.
Look out the window and see the vastness of the sky above you – and let your prayers join with those that have gone before you. May the knowledge that you are not alone encourage and strengthen you.
Honesty is the best policy
by David Pickup, a solicitor.
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbour, for we are all members of one body. (Ephesians 4:25)
The church service has just finished, and you are about to go home to read the latest edition of the parish magazine. You parked a bit carelessly because you were in a hurry and as you drive off you feel a slight bump. You stop and see a small scratch on the car parked next to you. It is the vicar’s pride and joy! What do you do? Do you drive off and hope no-one saw. Then, when you get home you have a look round your car and see a bump on the other side where someone hit you.
As Christians we are told to be honest and admit our mistakes. When it happens to us, we feel outraged that someone could damage our property and not own up to it. When we do it to others, the right thing would be to leave a note and take care when parking next time. Honesty is the best policy. We should do to others as we expect others to do to us. If you hit another car, you can feel it and often hear an ominous noise. Sometimes it is difficult to know if you have caused any damage.
People do not, of course, always act honestly. Admitting mistakes is not common in our world. A small scratch or bump can be costly to repair and who wants to lose their no claim’s bonus? Sometimes it is costly to admit a mistake, but as Christians we should be as open and honest as we expect others to be. We should stand out as different to other people and have a good conscience.
Please take my money
Have you ever tried to use cash in a shop, and been refused? That happened to more than a third of us last year.
But now, in response to widespread protest, supermarkets and high street shops have promised that they will continue to accept cash. Aldi, Asda, Co-op, John Lewis, Lloyds Pharmacy and Waitrose have all joined a pledge organised by the consumer group Which? to protect customers’ choice.
Which? is now asking the government to set out when it will introduce laws protecting access to cash, which the Treasury promised in March 2020. A treasury spokesman said: “We remain committed to further legislation to protect cash.”
What will you miss about lockdown?
More than half of us admit that we will miss some aspects of the Covid-19 restrictions, especially spending more time at home with our family, and appreciating the quieter roads.
A recent study by King’s College London and Ipsos Mori found that around one third of us feel the past year has been similar or better than normal, while 54 per cent of us say that we will miss some of the changes.
Three in ten of us feel closer to our immediate family than we did before the pandemic, while just one in six of us say that we have grown further apart. One in five of us say that our finances are better because of the pandemic.
Overall, it seems that while the public would rather the pandemic hadn’t happened, that doesn’t mean it’s been all bad for everyone, or that people see it as deeply affecting their future lives.
A tribute to Dolly the Sheep
The first cloned mammal – Dolly the sheep – was born 25 years ago, on 5th July 1996, at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh.
The news was generally greeted with either direct opposition or considerable suspicion. Richard McCormick, a Jesuit priest and professor of Christian ethics at the University of Notre Dame, voiced the feelings of many when he said: “I can’t think of a morally acceptable reason to clone a human being” – a view echoed by the scientist who produced Dolly as an accidental by-product of other work.
As it turned out, making cloned mammals was highly inefficient: Dolly was the only lamb that survived to adulthood from 277 attempts. But fears that Dolly would be unhealthy and unable to reproduce proved ill-founded. She bred with a Welsh Mountain ram to produce six healthy lambs.
Fears of a human cloning programme have so far not been realised, although gene-edited human babies were produced in 2018 by Chinese scientist He Jainkui, who was subsequently jailed with two colleagues for “illegal medical practice”.
One legacy of the Dolly experiment was the birth of stem-cell research. Dolly died prematurely in 2003 from a form of lung cancer common in sheep. Her body is on display in the National Museum of Scotland.
July Crosswords Clues (answers next month)
1 Sent out three times from Noah’s ark (Genesis 8) (4)
3 ‘The vilest — who truly believes’ (8)
9 Described by the MP Sir Wilfred Lawson as ‘the Devil in solution’ (7)
10 ‘Whoever — his life for my sake will find it’ (Matthew 10) (5)
11 King of Gezer (Joshua 10) (5)
12 Gideon’s home town (Judges 6) (6)
14 The area under the jurisdiction of a primate (13)
17 To him God promised that David would be king (1 Chronicles 11) (6)
19 A descendant of Aaron (Leviticus 21) (5)
22 ‘If any of you — wisdom, he should ask God’ (James 1) (5)
23 I gain me (anag.) (7)
24 Relating to the armed forces (1 Chronicles 5) (8)
25 Title given to 2 Down (abbrev.) (4)
1 Greek coins (Acts 19) (8)
2 Church of England incumbent (5)
4 What Epaphroditus was to Paul (Philippians 2) (6-7)
5 Mother of David’s sixth son (2 Samuel 3) (5)
6 ‘We are hard pressed on every side but not in — ’ (2 Corinthians 4) (7)
7 It destroys treasures on earth (Matthew 6) (4)
8 It threatened Paul in Jerusalem (Acts 21) (3,3)
13 Well-known Reference Bible that espoused dispensationalism (8)
15 Where the choir sits in a parish church (7)
16 Real do (anag.) (6)
18 ‘Martha, Martha... you are worried and — about many things’ (Luke 10) (5)
20 ‘Another man considers every day — ’ (Romans 14) (5)
21 A place where the Israelites camped (Exodus 15) (4)
Send your answers with your name to firstname.lastname@example.org
ACROSS: 1, Ambush. 4, School. 8, Tired. 9, Famines. 10, Citadel. 11, Endor. 12, Atonement. 17, Avert. 19, Oracles. 21, Married. 22, Lance. 23, Rhythm. 24, Hyssop.
DOWN: 1, Attach. 2, Biretta. 3, Sided. 5, Compete. 6, Owned. 7, Lustre. 9, Falsehood. 13, Ostrich. 14, Talents. 15, Farmer. 16, Asleep. 18, Early. 20, Alley.
Winners Peter Warren
HISTORIC BUILDINGS IN YORKSHIRE
Rearrange these letters to form the names of 12 historic buildings in Yorkshire.
Answers may consist of two or three words. Here's a tip: the list includes three castles, two halls and two abbeys!
1. CUBLINGS HORSECOAT
2. BRUSH LOAN TANGLE
3. ESMEE SHOULDER
4. CATS HEMMLED A LID
5. O WOW TWO HOUNDS THERE
6. KRIMEN STORY
7. AUNTI FAY BOBENS
8. TORPID CHARLEAN
9. OUR YAMPOT CRINGER
10. A GROSS BLUE RACCOTH
11. HORGAN GUBBENHILL
12. JULA BABY VEXER
Answers to June Anagrams: Winners: Mabel McGurk
GARDENING TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT - Answers
1. LAWN MOWER 2. HEDGE TRIMMER 3. SECATEURS 4. PRUNING SHEARS 5. COLD FRAME
6. RASPBERRY NETTING 7. WHEELBARROW 8. INCINERATOR 9. COMPOSTER BIN 10. CHAINSAW
Compiled by Peter Warren
Send your answers with your name to email@example.com
Why your dog may be in danger
Dog thefts across the UK soared last year. The problem is now so serious that the government is to set up a pet theft taskforce to fight the organised crime gangs involved.
The taskforce will include officials from the Environment Department (Defra), the Home Office, the Ministry of Justice and the police. There will also be input from animal welfare experts.
Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, said: “Having callous thieves steal a much-loved pet is heart-breaking for families, and is a cruel crime.” Stealing a pet is already a criminal offence, with the offender facing up to seven years in prison.
The police strongly advise pet owners never to leave their pet unattended in public, to vary their walking routines, and to take basic security steps at home, such as checking locks on doors and garden gates.
St James the Least of All
On why the clergy should avoid computers
St James the Least of All
My dear Nephew Darren
Thank you for the kind offer of your old computer, but I do not want it. I know you find it a fundamental basic of daily life, but I do not, and I intend to keep things that way.
This is despite the fact that our diocesan office now takes it for granted that all of us clergy have a computer. Indeed, the diocesan secretary and I have had several awkward phone calls upon this very subject. He can’t believe that I really don’t have one, and suspects that I am simply hiding my email address from him so that he cannot send me the daily diocesan briefings, weekly questionnaires, and constant notification of all sorts of meetings and training days. But I remain firm: I have survived in ministry for nearly 50 years without a computer, and I don’t intend to change now. When he gets tetchy with me, I take the high moral ground and remind him that St Paul did not have a computer.
Besides, it would not end with just a computer. Next, I would be obliged to get a printer and then ink cartridges and then maybe some sort of virus would attack me. As I have no idea about any of this, I might have to allow someone into the vicarage to sort it out, and even worse, I might even have to pay them. My money can be far more usefully spent on good claret.
Being without a computer also saves me much aggravation. From what I can gather, most computer owners spend significant parts of their lives either trying to get their machine to do something that it refuses to do, or else getting help from someone in a remote part of the world who speaks a jargon only distantly related to English, who assures you that whatever you did, it would have been better if you hadn’t.
So I have decided that should I ever REALLY need to use a computer for something, I will visit our local primary school and get a six year-old to do the job for me, which they do with effortless efficiency, speed and accuracy.
Your loving uncle,
How climate change could affect your cup of tea
Now here’s something that will send you straight to your kitchen to put the kettle on: the Great British cup of tea may not taste quite so good in the future.
It seems that extreme weather and rising temperatures could lead to inferior leaves in the future, according to Christian Aid.
Kenya, the world’s foremost exporter of black tea, is now affected by erratic rainfall, floods, droughts, and rising temperatures. India, Sri Lanka and China, also major tea producers, face climate change problems as well.
Climate change has been predicted by some as likely to cut production in Kenya’s best tea-making areas by as much as a quarter by 2050. Even areas of only average growing conditions could see production fall by 39 per cent.
As one tea farmer in Kenya’s Western Highlands, explained: “We cannot predict seasons anymore. Temperatures are rising, rainfall is erratic, often accompanied by unusual hailstones and longer droughts. If this continues, it will make growing tea much harder.”
Don’t stop too soon
The story is told of a college graduation where there were a large number of graduates waiting to receive their degrees. Speed was of the essence, and so as the Chancellor presented their diplomas, he simply smiled each time and whispered: “Congratulations, keep moving.”
It’s actually good advice for all of life, and for your Christian life as well. Discovering the reality of God’s love for yourself is life-changing, but – keep moving!
There is so much more that God has in store for you! Paul in 2 Timothy says “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day….”
So, wherever you have reached in your own faith pilgrimage, congratulations, but keep moving!
The jazz diet?
According to a new study, the moody piano blues of jazz may influence you towards making better dietary choices. Apparently, a slow jazz melody, played on piano, can nudge people towards choosing a healthy meal, and to lingering over it for longer.
Previous research has shown that background music can influence consumer behaviour, but this study at Aarhus University in Denmark is the first to link jazz with food choice.
Ivy on your house is not really so bad after all
So says the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).
In an effort to restore the plant’s reputation, the RHS has been showcasing the species at its flagship garden in Wisley, Surrey. It hopes to set a new trend, and to get people to stop seeing ivy as ‘the enemy.’
At Wisley you can now see 390 varieties of ivy, with a vast array of leaf shapes, sizes and colours. The RHS wants people to see that ivy can be an attractive and even eco-friendly addition to your home.
RHS experts say that ivy is a ‘super plant’ that not only has insulating benefits, but also offers habitats for a variety of wildlife, as well as being a food source for birds and pollinators during months of the year when there is very little else for them to eat.
Two out of three adults in the UK are now overweight. That means that the Government has made tackling obesity as the ‘priority’ for recovering from the pandemic. (80 per cent of our health problems are caused by unhealthy lifestyles.)
Boris Johnson recently announced an Office for Health Promotion (OHP) to boost our activity and to slim our waistlines. Experts say that the Covid-19 death toll has been fuelled by the obesity epidemic.
What happens when you look at your smartphone
Looking at your smartphone, or touching it, makes other people want to do the same to their smartphones.
A recent study at the university of Pisa calls it ‘human mimicry’, when people unintentionally change their physical behaviour to match those of people nearby.
The study found it happened to people in social settings that included work, restaurants, cinemas, gyms, waiting rooms, social parties, social meals, public parks and family environments.
Try it yourself, and see what happens to people near you a few minutes later….
All in the month of July.
100 years ago, on 1st July 1921 that the Chinese Communist Party was founded.
Also 100 years ago, on 10th July 1921 that Belfast’s Bloody Sunday took place. Protestant loyalists attacked Catholic enclaves and set fire to homes and businesses, sparking rioting and gun battles. At least 17 people were killed and more than 70 injured. 2,000 people were left homeless.
Also 100 years ago, on 30th July 1921 that the hormone insulin was discovered by Frederick Banting and Charles Best at the University of Toronto.
80 years ago, on 19th July 1941 that British Prime Minister Winston Churchill launched his ‘V for Victory’ campaign.
75 years ago, on 22nd July 1946 that the King David Hotel bombing took place in Jerusalem. The Irgun (a militant right-wing Zionist group) bombed the hotel which housed the British administrative headquarters for Palestine. 91 people were killed.
60 years ago, on 1st July 1961 that Diana, Princess of Wales, was born. (Killed in a car crash in 1997)
Also 60 years ago, on 2nd July 1961, that Ernest Hemingway, American novelist and short story writer, died. Winner of the 1954 Nobel Prize in Literature. Best known for For Whom the Bell Tolls, A Farewell to Arms, and The Old Man and the Sea. (Suicide)
40 years ago, on 4th July 1981, that the Toxteth riots broke out in Liverpool.
Also 40 years ago, on 17th July 1981 that the Humber Bridge, linking Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, was officially opened. It was the world’s longest single-span suspension bridge at that time.
Also 40 years ago, on 29th July 1981 that the marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer took place at St Paul’s Cathedral in London.
25 years ago, on 5th July 1996 that the first cloned mammal was born. Dolly the sheep was born at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh. (Died 2003)
15 years ago, on 15th July 2006 that Twitter, the micro-blogging social network, was launched.
10 years ago, on 23rd July 2011 that Amy Winehouse, British soul/R&B/jazz singer and songwriter died. (Alcohol poisoning, aged 27)
Church notices that didn’t quite come out right….
The preacher for Sunday next will be found hanging on the notice board in the porch.
The minister is going on holiday next Saturday. Could all missionary boxes be handed into the vicarage by Friday evening, at the latest.
Ladies, when you have emptied the teapot, please stand upside down in the sink.
There will be a procession in the grounds of the monastery next Sunday afternoon. If it rains in the afternoon, the procession will take place in the morning.
1st July Henry Venn of the CMS
Most Christians in the UK have heard of the Church Mission Society or CMS. Far fewer have heard of the Revd Henry Venn (1796-1873), whose father, the rector of Clapham, founded CMS in 1799, and who himself became the greatest missionary strategist of the 19th century.
Not that Henry Venn ever became a missionary himself; after Cambridge he served his curacy at St Dunstan’s in Fleet Street, and then an incumbency at Drypool in Hull, before becoming vicar of St Johns, Holloway in1834. But Henry Venn’s parish-based ministry did not obscure his passionate interest in overseas evangelism, and in 1841 he accepted an invitation to become the honorary secretary of the Church Mission Society. That decision was to shape the history of overseas missions, and to make CMS into the most effective force in Britain for delivering effective overseas mission.
For Henry was an outstanding administrator, and his wisdom and management of the missionaries enabled CMS to grow and flourish. When Henry first began work on CMS, it employed 107 European clergy and nine local indigenous people. When he died in 1873, there were 230 European clergy and 148 local people in service.
After his resignation from St Johns Holloway in 1846, Henry devoted himself almost exclusively to the work of CMS. He was directly responsible for sending out 498 clergymen, all of them chosen by him, and with most of whom he continued in regular correspondence. He also established eight or nine bishoprics for the supervision of CMS missionary clergy and was usually involved in the appointments made.
Henry and a missions colleague in America were the first to use the term ‘indigenous church’, and they were way ahead of their time in seeing the necessity for creating churches on the mission fields that in time would become not only self-supporting, but also self-governing and self-propagating. In fact, Venn wrote with enthusiasm on this "euthanasia of missions," meaning that missionaries were only ever meant to be temporary, and not permanent.
All in all, Henry Venn’s exposition on the basic principles of indigenous Christian missions was so powerful that much of it was later adopted by the Lausanne Congress of 1974.
But alongside Venn’s passion for evangelism was his concern for social justice, and he frequently lobbied the British Parliament, especially the closure of the Atlantic slave trade.
In 1873, when he was 76, Venn died at his home in Mortlake, Surrey. He is buried in the churchyard.
Five fun things to do during boring sermons
1 Pass a note to the organist asking whether he/she plays requests.
2 See if a yawn really is contagious.
3 Slap your neighbour. See if they turn the other cheek. If not, raise your hand and tell the minister.
4 Try to take the handbag of the lady in front of you by putting your toe through the handle.
5 If all else fails, look up at the ceiling, point, and scream.
Some of the following may strike a chord if you can remember HOLIDAYS
Holiday: an all-expense tour
Holiday: something you take when you can’t take what you’ve been taking any longer.
The older you get, the tougher it is to lose weight before you appear in a swimsuit, because by then your body and your fat are really good friends.
Why don’t sheep shrink when it rains? (A question for anyone holidaying in the Lake District or Wales.)
If flying is so safe, why do they call the airport the ‘terminal’?
Why didn’t Noah swat those two mosquitoes when he had the chance?
I wonder how much deeper the ocean would be without sponges.
The Verger was in a hurry to inform the congregation that the Vicar had recovered from an illness, so he put the following notice outside the church: God is good. The vicar is better.
Once asked how many people worked in the Vatican, the Pope replied, ‘Oh, about half.”
Sky at night
The scientific theory I like best is that the rings of Saturn are composed entirely of lost airline luggage.
The views expressed in this a magazine are those of the contributors and do not necessarily reflect those of St Mary's, it's clergy or the Church of England.