The will of God will never lead you where the grace of God will not protect you.
ASCENSION DAY - THURSDAY 13th MAY
Today is Ascension Day, which is 39 days after Easter. The Ascension Day of Jesus Christ always falls on a Thursday and is a day when Christians celebrate the ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven as recorded in the Bible. In some parts of the world, Ascension Day celebrations often include processions symbolising Christ's entry into heaven and, in some countries, chasing an effigy of the ‘devil’ through the streets and dunking it in a pond or burning it is symbolic of the Messiah's triumph over the devil when he opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. The pandemic has meant that many festivals like this have had to stop but it is, nevertheless, a significant day in our Christian calendar.
"When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven." (Luke 24:50-51)
(Photo of 'Christ the Redeemer' by Robert Nyman)
A rainbow looking as though it has landed on the church (it hasn't, of course). How wonderful. (Thank you to Dave Calloway for allowing me to use this photo. It's fabulous.) During the pandemic the rainbow has been and still is a symbol of hope and it seems appropriate that it appears to be ending at the church. Hope is - faith grace prayer truth forgiveness thankfulness generosity caring listening sharing harmony friendship kindness love peace.
MESSAGE FROM FR MARK - SERVICES
We have two short services each Sunday. The first service is at 9 am followed by a second at 10 am. If you have previously attended either of these services, then your seat will automatically be kept for you. If you haven't attended before, then please contact Fr Mark - use the form on the Contact Us page (the vicarage telephone number is on that page also).
PLEASE NOTE that if you, or anyone you have been in contact with, have displayed any symptoms then PLEASE DO NOT ATTEND CHURCH.
We shall maintain our Covid-safe environment for some time with sanitising, social distancing and face masks or visors being compulsory.
The Great Fifty Days of Eastertide form a single festival period in which the tone of joy created at the Easter Vigil is sustained through the following seven weeks, and the Church celebrates the gloriously risen Christ:
Triumphant in his glory now, his sceptre ruleth all, earth, heaven and hell before him bow, and at his footstool fall. (Fulbert of Chartres)
Early Christians gave the name Pentecost to this whole fifty-day span of rejoicing, which Tertullian calls ‘this most joyful period’ (laetissimum spatium). It is sometimes also called ‘Great Sunday’. In those places where the custom of lighting the Easter Candle at the beginning of Easter is followed, the lit Candle stands prominently in church for all the Eastertide services.
The Alleluia appears frequently in liturgical speech and song; Morning Prayer begins with the traditional collection of Pauline texts known as the Easter Anthems, and white or gold vestments and decorations emphasize the joy and brightness of the season.
On the fortieth day there has from the late fourth century been a particular celebration of Christ’s ascension. He 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.
What a difference a week makes. Even more flowers had opened up along the path up to church to greet us on Easter Sunday, our first service since we had to close at the start of this lockdown. Also, tied to the gate of the church, was a wonderful note from Random Acts of Kindness with a crocheted flower. What a lovely gesture.
We had not been able to attend church for quite a few months, following a request from the Director of Public Health for Sandwell. So it was lovely today, on Palm Sunday, to be able to pop in and collect my Palm Cross and stay for private prayer. I was greeted, along the path up to church, by some spring flowers - what a lovely welcome. Nature's sign of hope.
MESSAGE FROM FR MARK DURING THE CORONAVIRUS LOCKDOWN I hope and pray that this finds you and your loved ones all well. I’d like to share with you and encourage you to use this aid in prayer. It’s a wonderful website with daily prayers and reflections and a host of other resources to help you at this time. The following information is taken from the Pray As You Go website:
A new prayer session is produced every day of the working week and one session for the weekend. It is not a 'Thought for the Day', a sermon or a bible-study, but rather a framework for your own prayer.
Lasting between ten and thirteen minutes, it combines music, scripture and some questions for reflection. Our aim is to help you to:
become more aware of God’s presence in your life
listen to and reflect on God’s word
grow in your relationship with God
The style of prayer is based on Ignatian Spirituality. I hope and pray that you find this of use.
I would like to encourage you to build a routine of prayer into your own lives if you have not done so already. In order to help you with this I would like to offer a variety of resources that may be of use.
I hope that this selection of resources will offer you a means of incorporating prayer into your daily life. In addition to the above links to prayer resources, you can find a booklet called ‘Prayers for The Long Haul’ on the Services page of the website. This is a booklet containing set prayers that can be used throughout the day to add structure to your daily prayer life.
With my prayers and best wishes
PRAYERS FOR THOSE WHO HAVE DIED:
Photo by Aaron Burden
You may remember that on 26th January the Archbishops of Canterbury and York invited everyone in our nation - whether they have a faith or not - to pause, pray and remember the 100,000 people 'known to God and cherished by God' during February. (At the time of updating this notice, the number has risen to 126,000 in the UK and, sadly, we will hear of more deaths in the days to come. We remember, also, the 2.72 million people who have died worldwide.) You can, of course, continue to pray during March onwards and this link will take you to the web page to help you. We must, also, bear in mind that many other people have died during the pandemic, though not from Covid, so we will remember them too. Gracious God, as we remember before you the thousands who have died, surround us and all who mourn with your strong compassion. Be gentle with us in our grief, protect us from despair, and give us grace to persevere and face the future with hope in Jesus Christ our risen Lord. Amen.
Isn't this a fabulous watercolour painting of our church by Matthew Pritchett, a local man? Matthew has been on our prayer list for a while. Please keep him in your prayers. Get well soon Matthew. Thank you for allowing me to use your painting on here and the website.
WORSHIP DURING A PANDEMIC, AUGUST 2020
(Photos taken just before the 10 am service on 16th August 2020.)
At the beginning of the year who would have thought we would not be able to attend church for many months and then only in the Church Hall and following strict social distancing measures, sanitising and wearing face masks? Thank you to Linda Russell for taking the photos. Thank you to Fr Mark for making it possible for us to worship together (albeit a different type of service) and to be able to take communion. If anybody from the 9 am service wishes to take photos next week, please send them to me to include in this album. We remember those members of our congregation who are still unable to join us for collective worship.
In the meantime, you can, of course, still do a Spiritual Communion Service from home using the service sheet on the website (you can use this link) which can be downloaded to use when it is convenient for you. Also, Fr Mark recommends you follow the Pray as you Go website services daily. https://pray-as-you-go.org
For the moment, I will continue to post the Reflections Fr Mark sends for each day as well as the Daily Prayers during the week. On Sunday, I will post the Bible Readings, Weekly Prayers and Weekly Notices, also.
If you know of anybody who is ill or has died and you wish us to add them to our prayers, please let us know (Wendy will receive those messages and will ensure the names are added to our prayer list and will, also, advise Fr Mark who prays daily for people on the list. You can use Messenger (the link is always on the ‘About Us’ page of Facebook (you can use this link) and it is on the Contact Us Page of the website (please use this link). If you don’t use Messenger then you can complete the Contact Us form on the website and that will go directly to Fr Mark.
The photos were taken in the church hall but services are now held at the same times in the church.
The 5 Marks of Mission - Church Society
To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
To teach, baptise and nurture new believers
To respond to human need by loving service
To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to seek peace and reconciliation
To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and renew the life of the earth.
We pray that all of our congregation and the people in our parish may find this uplifting. We pray that God will be with our PCC members over the coming months. It has been a difficult 6 months so far and we hope that the they will be able to meet soon to discuss matters prior to the Annual Parochial Church Meeting.
ST BARTHOLOMEW'S DAY - 24th AUGUST
The Church of England and other Anglican churches honour our patron saint, St Bartholomew, today. Bartholomew (‘God has given’) was one of the 12 apostles of Jesus. He has been identified as Nathanael or Nathaniel who appears in the Gospel of John when introduced to Jesus by Philip (who also became an apostle). Saint Bartholomew was a missionary who lived in the first century AD. He is credited with many miracles related to the weight of objects.
When told about Jesus of Nazareth, Nathanael was quoted as responding "What good can come from Nazareth?" (John 1:46) Since there are no throw-away phrases in the Gospels, especially in John's Gospel, what could this mean? Was it just that Nazareth was a rural, backwater sort of place? He looked down on Nazareth, but he was shocked that a saviour could come out of such a place. There was no deceit in him and he followed his God, doing the best he could for his Lord.
We meet prejudices all the time. I saw a quote recently that said "Those people who have told you to your face that nothing good can come out of you, or family and friends who have looked down on you, will be amazed by what God will do in your life. Focus on improving your life, cut out negative people from your life and don’t lose hope in God." Such a powerful message to us all. Don’t be put down by people who mock you because of your Christian faith or because of your ethnicity, accent, shape, sexuality or your choice of career, music, books etc.
One tradition has it that Apostle Bartholomew was executed in Albanopolis in Armenia. According to popular hagiography (biography or anthology), the apostle was flayed alive (skinned alive) and beheaded. He is said to have been martyred for having converted Polymius, the king of Armenia, to Christianity.
This morning's service was lovely. Several of us commented on how nice it was. Despite not being in our beautiful church, the service seemed very personal even though we were all social distanced from each other. Well done Fr Mark.
The Open the Book banner that Marg Wood created during the early part of lockdown was on display on the stage and it looked wonderful. Well done Marg.
Please pass on this information to anybody you think will benefit from it.
BBC Radio 4 If you’re not already aware, Radio 4 is broadcasting each day a ‘Thought for the day’. So if you know somebody who does not have a computer or who is blind, please pass on this information. This is a great way of connecting to faith. ‘Thought for the Day’ is a daily scripted slot on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 offering reflections from a faith perspective on issues and people in the news. It is broadcast at around 7.45 each Monday to Saturday morning. If you prefer to listen to them from your laptop or other device, you can access the daily sound clip and previous sound clips, using the weblink below. They will be available for a year. You will more than likely need to log in but it’s easy if you haven’t registered before. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00szxv6 Diocesan Digest Sound Magazine This service from Lichfield Cathedral gives Church news, local and national; comments and features; Diocesan Bishop’s letter; news and letters from Spotlight; music, organs, bells and choirs; ‘Thought for the month’; recipients' letters; magazines; interviews and events. It is available for anyone who is blind or visually impaired and qualifies for the Royal Mail’s 'Articles for the Blind' scheme. It is produced and run by independent volunteers. If you know somebody who is blind who might benefit from this service can you tell them please? If they would like to receive the Diocesan Digest they need to contact Lichfield Cathedral by telephone or email, as follows: Tel: 01543 306030 | 07986 954 859 Email: email@example.com (You can access the May issue using the following weblink): http://www.bwbf.org.uk/player/?url=http://www.bwbf.org.uk/localtns/lichfieldcathedral/TOPD_playlist.pls
CHURCH OF ENGLAND’S DIAL-IN WORSHIP SERVICE LINE
There are a number of churches providing Podcasts (digital audio files) and Videocasts (a podcast with video content) that you can open from their websites but what about if people don’t use a computer? They will not be able to access those or see the service documents, reflections, readings and prayers that we have on our Facebook page and on this website. Also, what about if people are blind and they don’t use screen readers to access their computers?* (Of course, some blind people might not have a computer, anyway.)
Are you lonely, especially from isolation during lockdown?
I am pleased to advise you that the Church of England launched a dial-in worship service at the end of April where you can access hymns, reflections and prayers. You can read about it on the website links lower down. The telephone number is 0800 8048044 (don’t worry, this is a free number so it won’t cost you anything, no matter how long you are on the call). When you are first connected, you may hear The Right Honourable Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury. If not press the asterisk key (*). If at any time during the call you want the main menu press 0 for the options (see the information below).
* The Archbishop of Canterbury
0 Main menu
1 Hymns for that day
2 Hymn line (different daily hymns)
3 Prayer line
4 More Options (which then takes you to a list of other options):
5 Church of England's weekly service
6 Morning and Evening prayers
7 Latest Government advice on Coronavirus.
8 Mothers’ Union midday prayers
If you know anybody who is lonely or who doesn’t use a computer or is blind, can you pass on this information, please? Thank you. Please remember that everybody at St Bartholomew’s is thinking about all of you. Thank you to Vera Malton who passed on the above telephone number to Joyce Turner who, in turn, passed it on to me to post something about this service on our Facebook page and website. The following website links will give you more information about the service:
* Blind people use screen readers to access computers. A screen reader is software that accepts the standard output from computers and converts that into voice or Braille.
Here we have a couple of photos from 23rd April 2020 taken by Fr Mark, showing the beautiful display of Forget-Me-Nots growing above the wall along the pathway.
The meanings of the Forget Me Not flower are: * True and undying love * Remembrance during partings or after death * A connection that lasts through time * Fidelity and loyalty in a relationship, despite separation or other challenges * Reminders of your favourite memories or time together with another person * Growing affection between two people * Helping patients with Alzheimer’s Disease * Caring for the poor, disabled, and needy
How appropriate is that at this time, with us not being able to go into church? As you look up the path towards our beautiful church it’s as though God is feeling lonely and is asking us not to forget him. It’s also reminding us to care for others.
As the name suggests, the flowers are given or used to decorate gifts with the hope that the recipient will not forget the giver. Its name came from the German word vergissmichnicht which means 'forget me not’. Another name is Myosotis from the Ancient Greek μυοσωτίς which meant "mouse's ear” and the foliage is thought to resemble that.
Our churches may be closed, but Christ is not quarantined.
"Dear God, when evil darkens our world, give us light. When despair numbs our souls, give us hope. When we stumble and fall, lift us up. When doubts torture us, give us faith. When nothing seems sure, give us trust. When ideals fade, give us vision. When we lose our way, be our guide. We pray we may find serenity in Your presence, and purpose in doing Your will. Amen"
NOTICE FOR OUR REGULAR CONGREGATION MEMBERS A few of you have asked how you can continue to donate your regular weekly giving. May we suggest 3 ways you can do this.
Set up a weekly or monthly standing order.*
Do a weekly or monthly bank transfer.*
Set aside whatever sum you wish to give each week and bring to church once we can resume services.
Please note: If you use the regular Gift Aid envelopes because you are a tax payer, you need only bring the envelope for the date you attend church. Destroy any previous envelopes. * If you choose to use Options (1) or (2) please send a private message through Messenger to m.me/StBartsWednesbury and we will let you have the Bank details to enable you to set up a standing order or bank transfer. To enable our Treasurer to recognise the regular giving can you use the reference Collection so that she can ensure that money is accounted for under Regular Giving.
Please note that the Food Bank hours have been further reduced to: Wednesday: 1-3 pm and Friday: 3-6 pm.
CORONAVIRUS AND SITTING QUIETLY IN A ROOM ALONE by Bishop Robert Barron Available from: https://www.wordonfire.org/resources/article/the-coronavirus-and-sitting-quietly-in-a-room-alone/26865/ Blaise Pascal said, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” The great seventeenth century philosopher thought that most of us, most of the time, distract ourselves from what truly matters through a series of divertissements (diversions). He was speaking from experience. Though one of the brightest men of his age and one of the pioneers of the modern physical sciences and of computer technology, Pascal frittered away a good deal of his time through gambling and other trivial pursuits. In a way, he knew, such diversions are understandable, since the great questions — Does God exist? Why am I here? Is there life after death? — are indeed overwhelming. But if we are to live in a serious and integrated way, they must be confronted — and this is why, if we want our most fundamental problems to be resolved we must be willing to spend time in a room alone. This Pascalian mot has come to my mind a good deal in recent days as our entire country goes into shutdown mode due to the coronavirus. Shopping malls, movie theatres, restaurants, school campuses, sports stadiums, airports, etc — the very places where we typically seek out fellowship or divertissements--are all emptying out. This is obviously good from the standpoint of physical health, but I wonder whether we might see it as something very good for our psychological and spiritual health as well. Perhaps we could all think of this time of semi-quarantine as an invitation to some monastic introspection; some serious confrontation with the questions that matter — some purposeful sitting alone in a room. Might I make a few suggestions in regard to our retreat? Get out your Bible and read one of the Gospels in its entirety — perhaps the Gospel of Matthew, which we are using for Sunday Mass this liturgical year. Read it slowly, prayerfully; use a good commentary if that helps. Or practise the ancient art that has been recommended warmly by the last several popes — namely, lectio divina. This “divine reading” of the Bible consists in four basic steps: lectio, meditatio, oratio, and contemplatio. Firstly, read the scriptural text carefully; secondly, pick out one word or one passage that especially struck you and then meditate on it, like a ruminating animal chewing on its cud; thirdly, speak to God telling him how your heart was moved by what you read; fourthly and finally listen to the Lord, discerning what he speaks back to you. Trust me, the Bible will spring to life when you approach it through this method. Or read one of the spiritual classics during this time of imposed isolation. Keep in mind that, prior to the rise of the physical sciences, the best and brightest people in our Western intellectual tradition entered the fields of philosophy, theology, and spirituality. One of the dark sides of our post-Enlightenment culture is a general forgetfulness of the astonishing richness produced by generations of brilliant spiritual teachers. So take up St Augustine’s Confessions, preferably in Maria Boulding’s recent translation, which reads like a novel, or Frank Sheed’s classic translation. Though he lived and wrote seventeen centuries ago, the spiritual seeker of our time will discern in Augustine’s story the contours and trajectories of his own. Or read the Rule of St. Benedict, especially the section on the twelve degrees of humility. If you dare, follow St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises, preferably under the direction of a good guide. If these texts and practices seem too dated, spend your quiet time with Thomas Merton’s splendid autobiography The Seven Storey Mountain, which, in compelling prose, tells the story of the twentieth century author’s journey from self-absorbed worldling to Trappist monk. And of course, pray. When Merton was once asked what is the most important thing a person could do to improve her prayer life, he replied, “Take the time.” Well, now we have more time. Do a Holy Hour every day or every other day. Dust off your rosary, which I think is one of the most sublime prayers in the Catholic tradition. When we pray it well, we meditate on the mysteries of Christ; we call to mind, fifty times, the inevitability of our own passing (“now and at the hour of our death”); and we entrust ourselves to the most powerful intercessor on earth or in heaven. Not a bad way to spend twenty minutes. Take the time at the end of the day to examine your conscience — and not in a cursory manner. Do it carefully, prayerfully, honestly. Ask yourself how many times in the course of the day you missed an opportunity to show love, how many times you did not respond to a grace, how often you fell into a habitual sin. Now that we’re being asked to keep a certain distance from our fellow human beings, embrace the solitude and silence in a spiritually alert way. Go for that long walk on the beach, across the fields, up in the hills — wherever you like to go to be alone (whilst you can). And just talk to God. Ask him what he wants you to do. Pray for your kids or your parents or your friends who might be struggling. Tell him how much you love him and how you want greater intimacy with him. And please put away the iPhones! Open your eyes, lift up your heads, and take in the beauty of God’s creation and thank him for it. If Pascal is right, many of our deepest problems can be solved by sitting, with spiritual attention, alone in a room. Perhaps through God’s strange providence, the quarantine we’re enduring might be our chance.
For details regarding Safeguarding please refer to the Safeguarding page using this link or use the Menu bar. For further information you can refer to the Diocese Safeguarding web page, also, using this link.
A warm welcome is extended to all those who join us. It is a joy to gather in the Lord’s name and to break bread in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. It is an equal privilege to welcome among us those of other faiths as well as those who search for meaning in their lives and refreshment on their journey.
We hope you will join us at one of our services (once they resume but see note above from Father Mark). You will be very welcome.
May we all catch in this holy place a glimpse of God's glory and to come to know and do His will, now and in all eternity. May God bless you.
Please note: Use the menu bar to access specific pages. You can use the following links to access certain pages quickly:
For booking the Church Hall or to make requests to light up the Steeple click here.
(There is a slideshow at the bottom of this page that shows many photos past and present.)
We are a 'Traditional Anglican' church. Our church building is a very large and fine medieval church enlarged and developed by the Victorians. It is a grade II listed building first mentioned in 1088. It has a superb collection of William Kempe stained glass windows and plenty of original medieval furnishings. Sitting on the top of Church Hill, seen for miles around, St Bart's has been at the heart of Wednesbury for centuries. (Click here to find out more about our history.)
We welcomed the appointment of Revd Mark Danks, who was licensed on 11th January 2018, as the New Vicar of St Bartholomew's Church. So please make contact with us or come to our regular Sunday services. We would love to help you and get to know you.
Currently our services are 9 am and 10 am (see notice at the top of the page). (Normally our Sunday services are 8.00 am and 10.30 am. We have a Tuesday Service at 10.00 am.)For more information on services and activities please see this page. When it is possible to do so, we will also offer Home Communion to the housebound. Please contact Father Mark for further information, using the contact form.
We produce a newsletter each month with information regarding past, present and future events. You can find this on the Newsletter page using this link or on the page in the drop down menu.
Church Hill Wednesbury WS10 9DG
For information about previous events, other than the ones below, please go to the Events page and/or to the Noticeboard.
This banner was presented to the church on 23rd February. See more information on the Photo of the Week page.
Thank you to Ryan Brookes who has agreed for us to post the following aerial photos.