Please see the notices on the Home page about collective worship and private prayer.
Food Bank: A big thank you from Joyce on behalf of the volunteers. A total of 28 kg of food was donated during the Harvest collection period. THANK YOU. We will continue to collect food to take to the Food Bank. Please place your items in the boxes as you enter church. If you are not able to attend church, please deliver your donations directly to the Food Bank. Their opening times are Wednesday 10 am to 3 pm and Friday 1 pm to 7 pm.
Weekly Notices (22nd-29th November):
Please pass on any relevant information to people you know who will find it of some use. There are hyperlinks to the relevant website pages and Facebook pages to help you find them.
Today and next Sunday (22nd and 29th November), during the national lockdown, the church will be open for private prayer only 10 am to 11 am. Please see the notice about this on the Home page using this link. If the lockdown eases, we hope to resume worship on Sunday 6th December but we will update you after the government makes an announcement at the end of November/early December.
Therefore, the weekly Communion Worship service is currently suspended during the national lockdown. You can still take Spiritual Communion at home using the Service sheet which you can find on the Services page.
We advise you to follow the 'Pray as you Go' website daily, for each day's short service. The service is reflective, quiet and aims to help you to become more aware of God’s presence in your life, listen to and reflect on God’s word and grow in your relationship with God. https://pray-as-you-go.org
Fr Mark will continue to pray for all those people on the Weekly Prayer list - those who are ill or have died. There is, also, a Church of England Prayer Book on the Services page of the website too (you can use this link).
If you need to contact Fr Mark to ask for prayers for loved ones who are ill or have died, please use the form on the Contact Us page of the website. The page has a telephone number too. The form will be submitted to Fr Mark. There is a Messenger link on that page, too. Alternatively, use the Messenger link on Facebook - the messages come directly to me and I will pass on the information to Fr Mark.
I have created a page for relevant notices about Christmas. So, to keep up-to-date with what is going on, use this page. It will be updated regularly. I will continue to post on these Weekly Notices also and some notices may appear on the Home page. Also:
(1) Wednesbury 2000 have launched a Christmas Parcel appeal so that they can reach out to those families in our community who are most in need. Please read the full article and poster about this which can be found at the bottom of these Weekly Notices. Thank you.
(2) The theme of this year's national Church of England Advent and Christmas campaign is ‘Comfort and Joy’. A range of national content and resources, including recorded music and videos for young people, will be available for churches. Use this link to find out more.
(3) The Bible Society has produced a ‘Rooted Advent’ box (cost £15) which is suitable for families with primary school aged children. It contains all the ‘ingredients’ you need for a meaningful, memory-making, relationship-building family Christmas, including:
A card for each day of Advent, featuring Bible passages, prayers and discussion starters
Pegs and string to hang up the cards and display the story
(4) Not everyone is living in a family situation at the moment, so the Bible Society has come up with 5 ways to encourage each other and focus on Jesus this Advent. Use this link to find out more.
CHRISTMAS NATIVITY TRAIL
The Children’s Ministry co-ordinators and Fr Mark have been in communication about Christmas at St Bartholomew’s. There is little chance of us celebrating Christmas in the way we have in the past. If we are honest, we have no idea to what extent we can celebrate it this year.
We have come up with one plan that, Covid permitting, will be workable and safe.
We are still in the planning stage at the moment.
The plan is to set up stations in church, each one reflecting a different element of the Nativity and how it relates to us, especially in these difficult times. Each station will be distant from the other so we can maintain social distance between visiting households and there will be a one-way route around the church. At each station there will be a bible reading, a prayer, the opportunity for reflection and a visual or interactive experience. This is a Christmas like no other and we’re all in this together.
Lynn and Mario are going to put together a music station and already have some ideas. We can’t sing together but we hope we will be able to listen to Mario without breaking any rules.
Some of the community are making 'items' to display and others are contributing their thoughts about 'what they like about Wednesbury' - these will form part of the story at some of the stations in this community event.
We will update you once we have a better idea of when we will be able to open the church for you to visit the Nativity Trail. Look out for posts on Facebook and here on this page of the website.
We're pleased to tell you that St Bartholomew's Church has registered their interest to participate in this great idea.
'Churches Together' are hoping to get as many churches as possible to join the initiative so that we can get communities to sing carols on their doorsteps. This is what they say:
"This Christmas is different. As Churches Together, we are encouraging people to sing Doorstep Carols with their neighbours on Monday 21st Dec at 8:00 pm. On this darkest and shortest of nights, remember, Light wins! Others are doing the same. If you can use Doorstep Carols in your area, jump on board! We can add participating churches to the interactive map. A Christmas event that's simple, free, Covid-safe, weather-proof, and has no pack-down. What's not to like?"
I will post more information over the next week or so. Please share with your immediate neighbours and let's get as many communities as possible, to sing a few carols at the same time. It doesn't matter which church people support, or even if your neighbours have little or no faith, this is open to everybody.
BIBLE SOCIETY NEWS:
Read about how the Bible has helped people. You can use this link. ( ‘My Bible - Reasons to believe in the power of the Bible’ ) The Bible Society has a lot of stories from a wide range of people which are interesting and uplifting.
See the notice above about Christmas.
We are blessed to have access to the Bible and to be able to read and study it whenever we want, but there are many people across the world who are not in the same position.The Bible Society have asked "Why not choose to give life-changing gifts this Christmas?" They have a range of charity gifts available. You can read about this on their website (use this link to go to the specific page).
The Bible Society would appreciate your prayers for Open the Book, their incredible project to share Bible stories in primary schools across England and Wales. Please pray that children will be blessed and encounter the Bible for themselves as this important work continues within government guidelines.
During the pandemic we’ve seen a huge rise in the number of online/livestream services taking place on Sundays. It’s been truly inspiring to see the innovative ways church communities have continued their ministries in difficult circumstances. The Bible Society has put put together a collection of free and shareable video resources for churches based around key biblical themes, including powerful spoken word pieces and original songs to help you reflect. Use this link to access them.
ARE YOU STRUGGLING WITH BEREAVEMENT?:
A useful resource is available on the 'At a Loss' website. Use this link to find out more. It is a useful resource to direct grieving people who need support.
DONATIONS TO THE FOOD BANK:
The final day of our Harvest collection was last Sunday BUT we will continue to collect food for the Food Bank each week anyway, as usual. The Food Bank will be grateful for any non-perishable food and items.
Joyce and the other Food Bank volunteers have expressed their thanks for the donations we have collected so far.
If you are not able to attend a service, please deliver your donations directly to the Food Bank. Their opening times are Wednesday 10 am to 3 pm and Friday 1 pm to 7 pm.
ONLINE TALKS WITH LUCY WORSLEY - Live on Crowdcast
I followed the webcast last week when Lucy Worsley and guests discussed and explored the fascinating history of royal coronations through the centuries. It was very interesting and informative. She will be doing 2 more webcasts before Christmas and I have registered for those too.
The events are free to join, but they ask you to consider donating £10 or whatever you can affordbut it's not compulsory to donate. You will need to register for the event:
Do you like unearthing secrets and peeling away layers of history to discover lesser-known stories? The National Trust series of behind-the-scenes films will be right up your street. There are some lovely short videos of places of places and gardens such as Bodnant Garden in Conwy, Coughton Court in Warwickshire, Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire (film location for 'The Secret Garden' and so on. Use this link to access the videos.
Local National Trust gardens and parklands will remain open during the national lockdown, for us to enjoy fresh air and exercise, with cafés open on a takeaway only basis. Following official guidance, all National Trust houses and shops in England are closed until Wednesday 2nd December. They still need to limit numbers to maintain social distancing, so you will need during busy periods to avoid disappointment. Use this link to find out more.
NATIONAL GARDEN SCHEME:
Despite the challenges created by the pandemic and the closure of all its gardens during both lockdowns, the National Garden Scheme announced on Friday donations totalling £2,884,710.00. The lion’s share – £2,587,000.00 – goes to the nursing and health beneficiary charities without which the NHS would have struggled during the coronavirus crisis. For details of the beneficiaries within the NHS as well as other beneficiaries, please see the website for more information. You can, also, read about the impact of their donations. This is an amazing sum of money and makes me proud to be a member of the scheme. You can use this link to read more.
Although we are unable to visit their gardens during lockdown, the National Garden Scheme have provided virtual tours you can watch. (There are over 180 gardens to choose from.) It is a known fact that looking at gardens and nature as well as gardening is beneficial to our physical and mental health. Enjoy. https://ngs.org.uk/virtual-garden-visits/
DO YOU HAVE PRIMARY SCHOOL AGE CHILDREN? 'OPEN THE BOOK':
Our Open the Book team is not able to visit local primary schools to go into assemblies and deliver stories from the Bible at the moment, due to Covid-19 restrictions. (Many schools are not having whole school assemblies anyway.) Please pray for our team (Margaret Wood, Linda Russell, Lynn and Mario Castillo, Claire Yardley, Amanda Horton and Wendy Bird and occasional guest appearances from Rob Yardley!). They hope to be able to visit the schools after Christmas. Marg and Linda have some exciting ideas for our work in schools in the future.
USED STAMPS WANTED: Did you know the Bible Society can raise money from used stamps? Please send your used stamps to Bible Society, Stamp Appeal, Post Room, Stonehill Green, Westlea, Swindon SN5 7DG.
MONTHLY NEWSLETTER: The November newsletter is available to download from the Newsletter page. Thank you to Alison for compiling the Newsletters. If you know anybody who doesn’t use a computer, could you possibly print out a copy and pass it on to them, please? If you have any news Alison can include in November's newsletter please contact Wendy on Messenger (m.me/StBartsWednesbury) or via our Facebook page using the message facility and she will pass on the information.
If you want to download the calendar to your laptop, iPad, mobile phone etc, you can use the link below (there are many formats for you to choose from to download a version and there is, also, an App). I have the App and find it useful to use. Each day, I receive friendly daily happiness 'nudges'.
SERVICES FOR THOSE WHO ARE BLIND, PEOPLE WHO DO NOT USE THE INTERNET AND THOSE WHO ARE ANXIOUS BECAUSE OF ISOLATION:
Church of England’s Dial-in Worship Line: The Church of England launched a dial-in worship service at the end of April where you can access hymns, reflections and prayers. This is useful for anybody who doesn’t use a computer, is blind or for those who feel lonely and isolated. 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). Please pass on this information to anybody you feel will find this useful. You can read about it on the website links, as follows:
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. It’s a great way of connecting to faith. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00szxv6
MUSIC: Music can lift our spirits, especially when we are feeling low.
Over 300 churches from Ireland recorded The Irish Blessing; singing a blessing over Ireland and beyond. Link
This link is from the Churches of Hawaii called The Hawaii Blessing. It was recorded during the first week of May this year by worship leaders from 25 churches across all 6 major islands of Hawaii. Link
The Tenors - How Great Thou Art (Official Video) Link
If you haven’t watched this YouTube video and heard people from 50 Covid affected countries singing ‘Amazing Grace’ (Abderval Vocal Group Avg), I recommend you click on this link and listen. Be prepared - it’s emotional but, also, uplifting. Link
Osinachi Joseph, known professionally as Sinach, is a Nigerian singer, songwriter and senior worship leader at Loveworld. In this video she is performing ‘I Worship You’. Link(Acknowledgement: Sinach, Way Maker.)
CAN YOU CONTACT A PERSON? Fr Mark asks if you could endeavour to make contact with at least one person from the congregation each day. We ask you NOT to put yourself at risk - this could be by a telephone call, a text, Messenger, WhatsApp, email, FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, etc. The knowledge of knowing that someone cares will help a great deal of people at this time. People may not be coping with the isolation or may live on their own. Perhaps, through this testing time we will be able to forge stronger friendships and build upon our sense of community. Also, not all of our congregation members use Facebook or the website so your contact will be the only one they will get from our church family. “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” Galatians 6:10
CORONAVIRUS SUPPORT GROUP: There is a support group in Wednesbury to help those self isolating or at high risk. They are local residents offering help such as walking dogs, running errands, phone calls, etc. You can contact them in 3 ways. Details are:
'Wednesbury Coronovirus Support Group' on Facebook - you can use this link to access it.
Call 07597 142161 or 07925 150323 between 9 am and 5 pm
CORONA LOCKDOWN PARENTS’ ACTIVITY SUPPORT GROUP: There is, also, a Facebook group where parents can share free (or cheaply) fun and educational activities to entertain children at home and to help everybody with children keep their sanity in extended isolation. You can use this link to access the page. Please pass on this information to somebody you know who has a family and may need this support.
REGULAR GIVING: If you have already started making your contribution electronically, thank you. It is very much appreciated. If you haven’t already done this during these difficult times then please do consider doing it as it helps us to ensure both our sustainability as a church and to also ensure its future. We might not be able to have larger gatherings for worship and currently we have limited services but we still need to pay bills to maintain our beautiful church. Therefore, please do consider making your weekly contribution electronically. May we suggest 3 ways you can contribute to our finances:
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 services.
* If you choose to use Options (1) or (2) please send a private message through Messenger to m.me/StBartsWednesbury and I will let you have the Bank details to enable you to set up a standing order or bank transfer. (Fr Mark has already emailed some of you with those details.) To enable our Treasurer to recognise the regular giving can you use the reference ‘Collection’ so that Glenys can ensure money is accounted for under Regular Giving. Please note: If you use the regular Gift Aid envelopes because you are a tax payer, please continue to use these.
Thank you. We pray that you stay safe. The Lord bless us and watch over us; The Lord make his face to shine upon us and be gracious to us; The Lord look kindly upon us and give us peace. Amen
CHRISTMAS PARCEL APPEAL
Wednesbury 2000 are launching a Christmas Parcel appeal so that they can reach out to those families in our community who are most in need. We know how important it is that all children feel the magic at Christmas and Wednesbury 2000 believes nobody should go without. During this COVID period many people in our local community are experiencing difficulty providing basic necessities, so we are appealing to you for donations to help Wednesbury 2000 to make up their parcels. All information and contact details for the organisation are on the poster below. If you want to donate or volunteer then please contact them or follow the information on the poster. If you are a family in need or know of a family in need, then please contact Wednesbury 2000 to receive a box. All correspondence is confidential and abides by Data Protection laws. PLEASE NOTE: This project was arranged prior to the new lockdown restrictions being announced, so the opening hours on the poster are different from what has been posted across their social media. This appeal starts on Monday 9th November (not 2nd as shown on the poster). The new opening hours are Monday and Tuesday 11 am to 8 pm from 9th November to 6th December.
For a number of years some of us have attended these yearly events and they have been very uplifting. This year, of course, was very different. Ali Jarvis, the Secretary for the Midlands Women’s Convention, advised us that their band had recorded some wonderful music; Agnes Brough (from Scottish Women’s Convention) spoke and recorded her talks on Jonah and they recorded all the rest of what usually makes up a day at the Convention - reading and praying together, interviews and even an online bookshop from 10ofthose.com.
The videos were shown on their website and on YouTube at 9.30 am on Saturday 3rd October. Each session ran for about an hour with a 15 minute break between them.
A HUGE THANK YOU TO THE AHMADIYYA MUSLIM ASSOCIATION The Ahmadiyya Muslim Association in Walsall is currently offering nationwide help to the elderly and needy within the community and outside. Khansa Razzaq asked her members to make food/toiletries donations for the vunerable. She contacted Wendy and Marg from our church and said they were donating food to local food banks and were also offering help in neighbourhoods. She wanted to know if we needed any sort of help and support from them and they would try their best to help. I suggested our local food bank would be very grateful for any provisions they could offer especially as stocks of some items were very low. Only a few hours later Khansa and some other ladies went to the food bank with 2 car loads of items. Joyce, one of the food bank volunteers and a member of our congregation, was ecstatic with the donations and said that there must be about 75-80 kg! That's so wonderful, isn't it? And this has come about through the friendship between the ladies of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association and our ladies at church. It is even more wonderful how people of faith are working together and how love transcends so many obstacles that we often put in place. It truly is, 'love thy neighbour’, isn't it? Thank you SO much ladies.
22nd March 2020 "I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world. (St Teresa of Calcutta)
Previous quotes of the week can be found lower down this page. __________________________
International Women’s Day 2020
On Thursday 12th March Sue, Marg and Wendy attended the International Women’s Day event at the Bethel Lighthouse Centre in Walsall after being invited by Khansa Razzaq (from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Association, Baitul Muqeet Mosque). The event was hosted by Black Country Near Neighbours, WSBC and Baitul Muqeet. We heard talks from some inspirational women who shared their stories of empowerment; women such as Khansa Razzaq; Shaz; Ritu Sharma; Maureen Lewis (CEO) and Sharron Thompson from Walsall Black Sisters Collective; and Rina Kundu. Khansa shared with us the Islamic perspective of the status of women in Islam and, as usual, her talk was very interesting. She finished with a moving quote - “They tried to bury me; they didn’t know I was a seed.” Shaz, the Black Country Near Neighbours Coordinator at Transforming Communities Together (NCT) said that every one of us is contributing in our own way and planting seeds for future generations. During her talk she shared a quote from the Guru Granth Sahib Ji, in 473 (thanks to her colleague Gurj Singh Shergill), as follows: “From woman, man is born; within woman, man is conceived; to a woman he is engaged and married. Woman becomes his friend; through woman, the future generations come. When his woman passes away, he seeks another woman. To a women a man is bound. So, why call her bad? From her, kings are born. From a woman, woman is born; without woman there would be no-one at all.” (https://www.facebook.com/blackcountrynearneighbours/…) Ritu started Kaushalya UK which is a ‘not for profit’ community organisation that aims to provide a platform for women’s empowerment and personal development. It is a non-political and non-religious organisation. The aim of Kaushalya UK is upliftment of all. It organises events, workshops and seminars. Ritu spoke about her own struggles and wants her life experiences to be a message for anyone who has struggled or is struggling, to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Her message was of light, of love, of resilience and of self-belief. You can see more about this organisation on (https://www.facebook.com/pg/calltowomanpower/posts/?ref=page_internal) Ritu also has a YouTube channel and you can watch a video she has made by following this link: (https://www.youtube.com/watch…) Rina is the co-founder (with her son Shantanu) of the Be Free Campaign (www.befreecampain.org). The charity works to demolish the stigma behind mental health and promotes the free expression of individual values. They work with schools, universities, hospitals and communities around the country to raise awareness about mental health without fear of judgement or discrimination. Rina showed us some techniques to help with physical pain and mental well-being. At the end we all received a certificate to acknowledge our attendance and then enjoyed a delicious lunch. Thank you. World Hijab Day On Tuesday 25th February Marg, Sue, Linda, Mandy, Jacqui, Claire, Lynn and Wendy visited the Baitul Muqeet Mosque in Walsall after an invitation from Khansa Razzaq* to celebrate World Hijab Day which is an annual event founded by Nazma Khan in 2013. The event takes place on 1st February each year in 140 countries worldwide. The hijab is a veil worn by some Muslim women in the presence of any male outside of their immediate family, which usually covers the head and chest. The term can refer to any covering for head, face, or body worn by Muslim women and conforms to Islamic standards of modesty. I was told that there is no compulsion to wear it. * Khansa is from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Association, Baitul Muqeet Mosque. The ladies’ community stands for education, integration and interfaith peace. They are also committed to helping others, engaging local communities and working for the common good. The principle to which they adhere is that they have kindness at heart for the whole of mankind. Islam teaches them to always be mindful towards God, who is their Creator and to always keep His memory fresh in their hearts and to deal with His creation with love, affection, harmony and tolerance; something in which we believe, also. Khansa has a unique approach to interfaith - putting on gatherings such as today’s event, conferences, etc. There are more than 100 branches in the UK. We were joined by Shaz, Black Country Near Neighbours Coordinator at Transforming Communities Together (NCT). NCT works together with churches and organisations across the Black Country, Staffordshire and the Potteries, to help local communities flourish so they can enjoy life in all its fullness. They were formed in 2014, a Joint Venture between the Diocese of Lichfield and the Church Urban Fund Together Network. They are a partnership between the Church Urban Fund and Lichfield Diocese. NCT engages with people in communities so that they can respond effectively to issues of poverty and social justice. The NCT key values are listening, partnering, celebrating and empowering. Their work concentrates on 4 main areas: Social and Financial Inclusion; Health and Wellbeing; Community Cohesion and Developing Work. Police Officer Rani Gundhu joined the event. Rani is the longest serving female officer for West Midlands Police having served for 33 years. She said the force has changed a lot in that time. When she first joined the force it was primarily male dominated. She has worked in many departments over the years and more recently works with the vulnerable under the diversity and inclusion umbrella. There were delicious refreshments and drinks available throughout the morning. Some of us had Mehndi art done; we tried on hijabs. There was a book display and information about the different religions that wear hijabs. It was a fabulous morning spent wi
PREVIOUS NEWS can be found below (or on the Events page): On Christmas morning our Nativity scene welcomed baby Jesus. We now await the arrival of the wise men. We wish you all a very happy and joyous Christmas. Our next services will be at the usual times on Sunday 29th December.
Glenys Foley (Treasurer here at St Bart’s) received a lovely message and a few photos from David Solomonraj and family who live in Coimbatore, India. The family visited our church last year just before Christmas and they hope to visit us again next time they are in England. Thank you for these photos (below). The last photo was taken when the family visited St Paul's Cathedral in London. We hope David and his family had a very happy Christmas.
At the start of Advent, we placed a tree in church on which people could place stars to remember loved ones they no longer see:
Read the poem on the left. Then re-read it but start on the bottom line and read up to the first line.
Jesus is the only reason for Christmas:
CRIB 'n' CHRISTINGLE SERVICE Thank you to all of you who came to our service this afternoon. It was lovely to see some familiar faces and to welcome new visitors to our church. It was a lovely child-friendly service. Father Mark started the service by getting the children to search around the church for some figurines that had escaped earlier from the Nativity scene. Well done to those who found them and helped Father Mark to place them in the stable ready for the birth of Jesus in the morning. After singing ‘Away in a Manger’ Linda read from Luke’s gospel and this was followed by the carol ‘See Him lying on a bed of straw’. Wendy did a short talk about the Christingle and got the children to help explain the meaning of each part. Then, assisted by her trusty helpers, Linda and Faith, they did a demonstration of how to hold the Christingle as we are, of course, mindful of ‘health and safety’ - cocktail sticks and lit candles plus children is always asking for danger to follow. 😀🤣 Christingles were lit before the carol ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ and then blown out afterwards. The service was followed by refreshments. THANK YOU: to Linda and Amy for preparing the Christingles; to Father Mark, Mario and Alice for leading us in worship; to Joyce, Linda, Linda, Lynn, Wendy, Alison and Karen for helping with refreshments, etc. We wish you all a merry Christmas. “May Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, shine upon you and all those you love this Christmastime and always. And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be among you and remain with you evermore. Amen”
CAROL SERVICE 15th DECEMBER 2019:
The Carol Service of 9 carols and readings was on the third Advent Sunday and it was lovely. Thank you to everybody who attended; we hope you enjoyed it. The church floodlights were lit prior to the service to welcome everybody. The hymns sung by the congregation were: Once in Royal David's City; O Little Town of Bethlehem; While Shepherds Watched; See him Lying; We Three Kings of Orient Are; Silent Night; O Come, All Ye Faithful, The First Nowell and Hark the Herald Angels Sing. The readings during the service were: The prophecy of the Messiah's birth; The Annunciation to Mary; The birth of Jesus; The shepherds go to the manger; Wise men are led by the star to Jesus; The Incarnation of the Word of God; A Christmas Carol; Jesus Visits and ended with a poem called 'The boy who laughed at Santa' by Ogden Nash. After the third hymn and reading Mario Castillo sang beautifully the lovely hymn 'O Holy Night' accompanied by Paul Jones on the organ. On Friday 20th December St John's C of E Primary Academy had their Christmas service in church. The children sang beautifully and some of the children read short passages from the Bible to tell the Christmas story. Towards the end of the service the children stuck prayer stars on 2 card trees they had painted. It was a wonderful service. (The lantern hanging on the pulpit was made by Mario Castillo. It looked beautiful.)
The aim of the services during Advent and on Christmas Day is to enable all ages to engage with some of the surprising things that happened when God entered the world at Bethlehem. It is, of course, Christ’s nativity that has provided the occasion for this festival of the incarnation, since the end of the third century. The Christmas crib can be said to descend from the tableau of Christ’s birth that Francis of Assisi arranged when he celebrated Christmas at Greccio in 1223. Christmas carols are a medieval tradition, which has been notably developed from the end of the nineteenth century. “Almighty God, you have given us your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him and as at this time to be born of a pure virgin: grant that we, who have been born again and made your children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; 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” “God our Father, whose Word has come among us in the Holy Child of Bethlehem: may the light of faith enlighten our hearts and shine in our words and deeds; through him who is Christ the Lord. Amen” The tradition of a midnight vigil on the eve of Christmas began in the East and was observed in the late fourth century in Jerusalem by a Christian woman named Egeria on the night of 5th January. The tradition reached the Western world in the year 430 under Pope Sixtus III in the Basilica of St Mary Major. By the twelfth century, the practice of midnight Mass had become more widespread as all priests had been granted the faculty of celebrating three Masses on Christmas Day (previously reserved to the Pope) and this provided the three different propers (the part of a church service that varies with the season or feast) that were celebrated at their appropriate times of midnight, dawn and day “Eternal God, who made this most holy night to shine with the brightness of your one true light: bring us, who have known the revelation of that light on earth, to see the radiance of your heavenly glory; 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” “God our Father, in this night you have made known to us again the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: confirm our faith and fix our eyes on him until the day dawns and Christ the Morning Star rises in our hearts. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen”
During our service on 14th July we sang that wonderful hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ written by John Newton. The words were written in 1772 by the English poet and Anglican clergyman John Newton and it was published in 1779. Newton wrote the words from his personal experience; from a slave trader to a clergyman. John Newton lived from 1725 to 1807. His father was a Merchant Sea Captain and his mother died when he was just 7. After only 2 years of schooling he was sent to sea at the age of eleven; his early life by his own accounts was rebellious and immoral. It was Newton’s choice of words to describe himself as ‘a wretch’, a word implying a ‘conscienceless person’, that gives us some indication of his past. During his youth he was flogged for desertion from the Royal Navy and at the age of just 22 he was given command of his own ship; a ship involved in the slave trade. It was 3 years later during a violent storm that his life undertook a new direction. It was during this storm that Newton was terrified manning the pumps for 9 hours in an effort to keep his ship afloat. It was then he found himself crying out to God for protection. Once the storm had abated and from safety and distance he was convinced that the beginning of his conversion had happened on that deck amidst the storm and John Newton wrote these words: “On that day the Lord sent from on high and delivered me from deep waters.” - a line from the second verse of Amazing Grace and he recalls being “The hour I first believed.” Newton then went on to forsake the slave trade and his seafaring life. After training for 9 years he entered the Anglican Ministry in 1764. The opening words of ‘Amazing Grace’ express Newton’s belief that his prayers were indeed answered when he cried out that day amid the tempest. The lines “I once was lost, but now am found” are probably best thought of as a beautiful way in which Newton expresses both his saving and his coming to faith. This line may, for some, conjure up imagery similar to that discussed in the earlier work on Psalm 23, of a lost sheep being returned to the protection of the flock by the caring, loving shepherd. Just like Newton we are all, in a way, journeying and although our journey is upon the seas of life, we may not owe our own conversion to such tempestuous seas. We may rest assured, however, that should we ever find ourselves in need of help then, like Newton himself found, we shall be brought out of distress and the “waves of the seas shall be hushed”. 1. Amazing grace how sweet the sound That saved a wretch like me I once was lost, but now I'm found Was blind, but now I see. 2. 'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear And grace my fears relieved How precious did that grace appear The hour I first believed. 3. The Lord has promised good to me His word my hope secures He will my shield and portion be As long as life endures. 4. The earth shall soon dissolve like snow The sun forbear to shine But God who called me here below Will be forever mine, will be forever mine You are forever mine.
It is with great pleasure we can share news that Leanne Carr became The Revd Leanne Carr on Saturday 29th June at Birmingham Cathedral. We offer Leanne our congratulations on being ordained Deacon and will, hopefully, will be ordained Priest in 2020. Her church is Holy Trinity in Sutton Coldfield. You can see the official photograph on the Cathedral’s website and Twitter. Meanwhile, attached are family photos: the first one shows Leanne with (from left to right) stepmom Liz, dad Derek and mum Jill and the second photo is of Leanne with her sisters (from left to right) Sarah and Melissa. Leanne and her sisters used to sing in our choir and her dad was the choirmaster and organist until he moved to Teignmouth. Mum Jill still attends St Bartholomew’s.
The Hiding Place On the evening of Sunday 30th June, Joyce Turner, Lynn and Mario Castillo and Wendy Bird attended Pelsall Evangelical Church to see a theatre production entitled ‘The Hiding Place’ by the Oddments Theatre Company. This was a true story about a Dutch lady called Cornelia “Corrie” ten Boom and her family’s struggle to save the Jews from the Nazis and how their faith became light in the darkest places. Corrie was a Dutch watchmaker and later a writer who worked with her father, Casper ten Boom, her sister Betsie ten Boom, and other family members to help many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust during World War II by hiding them in her home. The invasion of Holland by Nazi Germany on 10th May 1940 began a devastating chain of events that wove them intrinsically into the history of the Second World War. On 15th May 1940, one day after the bombing of Rotterdam, the Dutch surrendered and the royal family escaped to London. The Resistance in the Netherlands took the form of small, decentralised and independent activities famous for its non-violence, hiding and sheltering of those persecuted by the Nazi regime. Over 300,000 men, women and children were protected by landlords and carers. Corrie and her sister Betsie were remanded in the notorious Ravensbrück concentration camp, near Berlin. Of some 130,000 female prisoners only 15,000 survived until liberation. (Betsie died there from illness on 16th December 1944.). After the war, Corrie returned to Holland and set up a rehabilitation centre in Bloemendaal housing both concentration camp survivors and Dutchmen who had worked with the Germans during the war and who were left unemployed and destitute. It was an excellent production. ---------- PREVIOUS QUOTES OF THE WEEK: 29th March 2020 All shall be well … And all shall be well … And all manner of things shall be well. (Saint Julian of Norwich) 22nd March 2020 "I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world. (St Teresa of Calcutta) 15th March 2020 “Those who carry God in their hearts take heaven with them wherever they go.” (St Ignatius of Loyola) 8th March 2020 “Speak little, listen much." (St Ignatius of Loyola) 1st March 2020 "During the season of Lent … we make more room for God in our lives." (Pope Benedict XVI) 23rd February 2020 “Excellent sermon Father,” said the parishioner, as she shook the priest’s hand. “Everything you said applies to someone or other that I know!” (Fr. Anthony de Mello) 16th February 2020 “People mistakenly assume that their thinking is done by their head; it is actually done by the heart which first dictates the conclusion, then commands the head to provide the reasoning that will defend it.” (Fr. Anthony de Mello) 9th February 2020 "But Jesus accepts what we give, blesses it, breaks it open and magnifies it. Often in ways that we don’t see or cannot see. Or will not be able to see in this lifetime. Who knows what a kind word does? Who knows what a single act of charity will do? Sometimes the smallest word or gesture can change a life.” (Fr James Martin SJ) 2nd February 2020 “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord, “plans for you to prosper, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) 26th January 2020 “The way Jesus shows you is not easy. Rather, it is like a path winding up a mountain. Do not lose heart! The steeper the road, the faster it rises towards ever wider horizons.” (Saint John Paul II) 19th January 2020 "What makes you happy or unhappy is not the world and the people around you, but the thinking in your head.” (Anthony de Mello) 12th January 2020 "Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties." (Helen Keller) 5th January 2020 "The object of a new year is not that we should have a new year, but rather that we should have a new soul." (G K Chesterton) 29th December 2019 Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing but of reflection. (Winston Churchill) 29th December 2019 Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing but of reflection. (Winston Churchill) 22nd December 2019 Politicians compete for the highest offices. Business tycoons scramble for a bigger and bigger piece of the pie. Armies march, scientists study, philosophers philosophise, preachers preach and labourers sweat. But in that silent baby, lying in that humble manger, there pulses more potential power, wisdom, grace and aliveness than all the rest of us can imagine. (Brian D McLaren) 15th December 2019 The quote for this week is lovely. During this time of year we are all a lot busier than normal what with present buying, card writing, parties, etc, but often we are too wrapped up in the commercial side of Christmas. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if more people could behave in this way? “At this Christmas when Christ comes, will He find a warm heart? Mark the season of Advent by loving and serving others with God's own love and concern.” (Mother Teresa) 8th December 2019 “When we lose one blessing, another is often most unexpectedly given in its place.” (C S Lewis) 1st December 2019 “Words which do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness.” (Mother Teresa) 24th November 2019 “We are not at peace with others because we are not at peace with ourselves, and we are not at peace with ourselves because we are not at peace with God.” (Thomas Merton) 17th November 2019 “What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What will I do for Christ?” (Saint Ignatius of Loyola) 10th November 2019 "If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” (Saint Teresa of Calcutta) 3rd November 2019 “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord, “plans for you to prosper, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) 27th October 2019 "Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible." (Saint Francis of Assisi) 20th October 2019 In the twilight of life, God will not judge us on our earthly possessions and human success, but rather on how much we have loved." (Saint John of the Cross) 13th October 2019 The measure of a life, after all, is not its duration but its donation. (Corrie Ten Boom) 6th October 2019 The highest and most sublime achievement in this life is to remain still and let God act and speak in you. (Meister Eckhart) 29th September 2019 “We should seek not so much to pray … but to become prayer.” (St Francis of Assisi) 22nd September 2019 “Remember that nothing is small in the eyes of God. Do all that you do with love." (Saint Therese of Lisieux) 15th September 2019 Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows; it empties today of its strength. (Corrie Ten Boom) 8th September 2019 All should each try to be the first to show respect to the other, supporting with the greatest patience one another’s weaknesses or behaviour. No-one is to pursue what they judge best for themselves, but instead, what they judge best for everyone else. ... Let us prefer nothing whatever to Christ. (Rule of Saint Benedict: Chapter 72) 1st September 2019 If it is peace you want, seek to change yourself, not other people. It is easier to protect your feet with slippers than to carpet the whole of the earth. (Anthony de Mello) 25th August 2019 Be calm, infinitely calm, both in soul and in body. Do not attempt too much, but what you do, do well and gently. Quality first, but good quality. (A Carthusian) 18th August 2019 To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing. (Martin Luther) 11th August 2019 To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you. (C S Lewis) 4th August 2019 God will either give us what we ask or what He knows to be better for us. (Saint Bernard of Clairvaux) 28th July 2019 First keep peace with yourself, then you can also bring peace to others. (Thomas a Kempis) 21st July 2019 Our challenge as Christians is not to try to convert people around us to our way of belief but to love them, to be ourselves living incarnations of what we believe, to live what we believe and to love what we believe. (John Main OSB) 14th July 2019 “Let nothing disturb you, nothing frighten you, all things are passing, God is unchanging. Patience gains all; nothing is lacking to those who have God, God alone is sufficient.” (St. Teresa of Avila) 7th July 2019 The three most important virtues are humility, humility and humility. (Saint Bernard of Clairvaux) 30th June 2019 Whenever you begin any good work you should first of all make a most pressing appeal to Christ our Lord to bring it to perfection. (Saint Benedict) 23rd June 2019 A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows. (Saint Francis of Assisi) 16th June 2019 All sorts of people are fond of repeating the Christian statement that “God is love”. But they seem not to notice that the words ‘God is love’ have no real meaning unless God contains at least two persons. Love is something that one person has for another person. If God was a single person, then before the world was made, God was not love. (C S Lewis) 9th June 2019 God has no need for our worship. It is we who need to show our gratitude for what we have received. (Saint Thomas Aquinas) 2nd June 2019 Remember that you are never alone; Christ is with you on your journey every day of your lives! He has called you and chosen you to live in the freedom of the children of God. Turn to him in prayer and in love. Ask him to grant you the courage and strength to live in this freedom always. Walk with him who is ‘the Way, the Truth and the Life!’ (Pope John Paul II) 26th May 2019 There are those who seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge; that is curiosity. There are those who seek knowledge to be known by others; that is vanity. There are those who seek knowledge in order to serve; that is Love. (Saint Bernard of Clairvaux) 19th May 2019 All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well. (Julian of Norwich) 12th May 2019 Pray as if God will take care of all; act as if all is up to you. (Saint Ignatius of Loyola) 5th May 2019 Peace-making is a full-time vocation that includes each member of God’s people. (Henri Nouwen) 28th April 2019 Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. (Helen Keller) 14th April 2019 Have patience with all things - but first with yourself. Never confuse your mistakes with your value as a human being. You are a perfectly valuable, creative, worthwhile person simply because you exist. And no amount of triumphs or tribulations can ever change that. (Saint Francis de Sales)