Thursday, 26 January 2012

The Archbishops Message

In his video message to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day, the Archbishop urges us to speak on ‘behalf of the neighbour and on behalf of stranger’ as part of this year’s theme of Speak Up, Speak Out:

‘Holocaust Memorial Day brings back to our minds the appalling consequences of a situation where people don’t speak for the neighbour and don’t speak for the stranger; where people are only concerned about their own security, their own comfort zones.’

He goes on to say ‘in our commemoration this year we are encouraged to challenge ourselves: who do we speak for? Are we willing to speak for the neighbour and for the stranger, for people like us and also people who are not like us? Are we willing to take risks alongside one another?’

Archbishop Rowan describes how, during a recent visit to Congo, he spoke with people about their experience of living through genocide:

‘I heard there something of the experience of people who have lived through genocide of another kind – people who didn’t know and couldn’t rely on the fact that there were others to speak for them. And yet there were some; there were signs of hope, and even the slightest difference in the middle of such a catastrophic situation is of the greatest importance - a sign of grace, a sign of God.’

In commemorating the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the Council of Christians and Jews - the UK's oldest national Jewish/Christian interfaith organisation - Dr Rowan Williams cites one of the founders, Archbishop William Temple, who had ‘come to the conclusion that he had to learn to speak for a stranger’.  In 1943, Archbishop William Temple argued in the House of Lords that the West should combat the atrocities against Jews in Nazi Germany, he also argued that Jews should be given sanctuary as refugees in the UK due to their persecution during the Holocaust.

Looking ahead to the witness that will be taken forward into the next generation, the Archbishop expresses his hope that the ‘several decades of intense friendship and relationship building’ shown by CCJ will continue to develop.

‘Our words may not be very loud, they may not instantly change everything, but they will change something: they will change us, they will change at least one neighbour - they will make some strangers into neighbours. And that is profoundly and eternally worth doing.’

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

2012: A Happy New Year? Yes!

In the last few days, I have been greeting people I meet with a heartfelt Happy New Year.  I have sent these wishes to family, friends, colleagues and people whom I barely know.  But as I have done so it has felt like wishful thinking as many of us expect 2012 to be a tough year, possibly even more challenging than the year we have just said good bye to.  We have only to see on the news in the reporting of speeches from various European political leaders that, in their openness of sharing, they are preparing us to not expect a quick fix to our economic and social issues.

As I thought about the seeming dislocation between my wishes of a Happy New Year and the reality which we see around us, I found a prayer which helped me to see things differently.  I share this below and you will see that threaded throughout is the assurance that God is with us.  Jesus never promised an easy path through life, but this is what he did promise “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).  In the words of the prayer below, it is this presence that will strengthen us, take away worry and make our faces shine through the darkness.

Therefore, all of us at Christ Church with St Marys do indeed wish you a Happy New Year.  May the knowledge and assurance of the arrival and presence of Jesus in our world celebrated this past Christmas, remain with you during the coming year.
The Reverend Trudie Wigley, Curate

May God make your year a happy one.

Not by shielding you from all sorrows and pain,
But by strengthening you to bear it, if it comes;
Not by making your path easy,
But by making you sturdy to travel any path;
Not by taking hardships from you,
But by taking fear and worry from your heart;
Not by granting you unbroken sunshine,
But by keeping your face bright, even if shadows come;
Not by making your life always pleasant,
But by showing you when people and their causes need you the most, and by making you anxious to be there to help others. 

God’s love, peace, hope and joy to you for the year ahead. 
May it be a happy year whatever it brings.
Amen                                                                              Anon

A blessing as we journey into the New Year

May our eyes be opened to the wonder of the daily miracles around us and our sense of mystery be deepened.
May we be aware of the light that shines in the darkness,
and that the darkness can never put out.

May we be blessed with companions on the journey,
friends who will listen to us and encourage us with their presence.
May we learn to live with what is unsolved in our heart,
daring to face the questions and holding them
until, one day, they find their answers.
May we find the still, quiet place inside ourself where we can know and experience the peace that passes understanding.

May love flow in us and through us to those who need our care.
May we continue to dream dreams and to reach out into the future with a deeper understanding of God’s way for us.
And now may the blessing of God almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be among us and remain with us always.


Tuesday, 13 December 2011

This Christmas, what will your vote be on God’s bailout plan?

This is my family’s first Christmas in Swindon and the past week has seen a hive of activity in our road.  We have been watching as our neighbours put up their Christmas lights outside and beautifully adorned Christmas trees have begun to emerge in windows, sparkling for all to see.  The Christmas cards have also started to arrive and many have beautiful serene pictures of snowy landscapes, or peaceful scenes of shepherds or the lowly stable.  All wish us a peaceful and joy filled Christmas.

But as I think upon many of the stories we hear in our news, these wishes of peace and joy can feel dislocated from world events.  Reflecting on the summer riots, Archbishop Rowan Williams describes some of society as living in a general fretful state.  We see this echoed amongst our political and business leaders.  As I write they are hotly debating the future of the Euro and the implications of using our vote of veto on the bailout plan.  Joy and peace seem a distant hope amongst this fretfulness.

But there is hope because it was into our world that Jesus was born.  His own day had its own set of troubles – different, but just as real.  But God showed up. The precious gift of Jesus is God’s astonishing bailout plan to a world in need – he gave of himself through Jesus that we might know joy and peace beyond measure.  Above all, his presence amongst us is the greatest gift of pure love which can sustain us as we each make a path through the challenges of this world.

As the world celebrates another Christmas, we invite you to come and journey with us at one of our Christmas services and to ponder on the gift of Jesus.  Look for him as we retell the remarkable story, sing the familiar carols and marvel once more at his coming into our world.  As we have seen in the economic crisis, bail outs are expensive, and God’s was the costliest as he sent his own son.  However, it is freely given to each one of us if we accept.  So this Christmas, as we celebrate Jesus’ birth, will your vote be yes to God’s bailout plan of love?

All of us at Christ Church with St Marys wish you, your families and those you love, a blessed and joy filled Christmas.  May you know the peace of God’s presence and love. 

The Revd Trudie Wigley

If you would like to attend one of our Christmas Services this year - the details are here.

Christmas in a nutshell:

Saturday, 25 June 2011

How times have changed

Thomas and Sandra Mckee renewed their wedding vows at Christ Church on the 50th anniversary of their wedding.  When they married in Glasgow in 1961 they could not marry in church as Tom was Roman Catholic and Sandra was Anglican so they had their wedding in a Registry Office in Glasgow.  Nowadays a church wedding would not only be possible, but  welcomed.  Ecumenism has made us all think again!
We wish Tommy and Sandra every blessing for the years that lie ahead. 
Margaret Williams