We wish all readers of our blog every Blessing and much happiness in 2011.
I thought the version of the Nativity shown on BBC1 last week was very good. Whilst some poetic licence was inevitable this was no more than many of us clergy have done when we have tried to make the story come to life. I thought the girl who played the Virgin Mary was excellent; her portrayal underlined the fact the Mary was a girl of humble origins specially chosen by God to be the Mother of His Son.
Compare that with the dire programme on Boxing Day when we were “entertained” by the Songs of Praise Big Sing. Sugary, schmaltzy etc. it certainly was but there was nothing religious about it in my opinion and to see some of those in the large audience dressed up with Father Christmas Hats, with paper chains and tinsel wrapped round them really took the biscuit. Many others were in their shirt sleeves and there were many women with bare shoulders indicating that this programme must have been recorded when the weather was a lot warmer than now. Yet, the BBC can get it right: Kings College Nine Lessons and Carols on radio 4 and a Kings Carol Service on television.
When the BBC do something well it is exceptionally good but..............sadly, much of their religious output on TV is dreadful.
We left home early having managed to get the car out of the drive which I thought yesterday would be nigh on impossible. Instead of using the back roads to St. Barnabas we used the main road which is a much longer route but at least it had been treated and although there was still some ice it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. However when we turned off to drive up Snakes Lane, where St. Barnabas is situated, we found that the road was still covered in snow and ice – not a pleasant experience – but we arrived safely just as the 8.00 a.m. Low Mass was leaving where the usual congregation had been totally depleted.
At the 9.30 a.m. Solemn Mass we had a full team of servers and a full choir and about three quarters of the usual 9.30 a.m. congregation. I preached on the theme of St. Joseph and how he had responded to the angel by fulfilling all that was asked of him. I reminded the congregation that whilst the birth of Jesus might still have been possible without the co-operation of Joseph it would have meant that Mary would not have had the vital support which she must have needed. God’s plan for the salvation of mankind had come about by the co-operation and the obedience of both Mary and of course, Joseph her “most chaste Spouse”.
We had intended to drive to the Cotswolds to see our son and his family, to deliver our Granddaughter’s birthday present and the Christmas presents. But with the driving conditions so hazardous we had to cancel that and we now hope the weather will improve sufficiently for us to go later in the week.
THE REDBRIDGE AND HAVERING ORDINARIATE GROUP
We meet tomorrow evening for Mass at 7.30 p.m. at St. Augustine’s Church, Rush Green, a round-up of news and some Christmas refreshments.
MORE FROM THE LATEST MEETING OF GENERAL SYNOD
A question was put to Synod by Sheridan Worsop (Gloucester): Could we please have an update of the sale of Lambeth Palace, Church House and Southwark Worship Centre (Cathedral) as I understand that an offer has been accepted for the Cathedral which was not the best offer received. And can we have assurances that the historic chapel and library of Lambeth Palace will be preserved. Replying for the Commissioners Sir Humprey Goodenough said: “The sale of Lambeth Palace is proceeding, subject to planning permission, to substantially extend it and turn it into a five start hotel and casino. We have accepted an offer on these terms from one of the premier hotel and casino chains of the United Arab Republic. The Archbishop will be housed in a flat to be built at the Palace and will have access to the chapel whenever she wishes. This will preserve the historic link between Archbishops of Canterbury and the Palace. The Library will be preserved and be moved to Church House which we have decided not to sell at the present time, until we can find another venue for General Synod to meet and a suitable place to house the very extensive library. With regard to Southwark Worship Centre we have accepted an offer from the Muslim Council and it will become the South Thames Mosque and Community Centre. Whilst the questioner is quite right that this was not the best offer received, we felt that the building would be ideally suited as a mosque whilst the other bidder, the Ordinariate wanted to retain it as a place of Christian Worship and it was felt that this would not be compatible with our views on this body. The sale to the Muslim Council will further our wish to come closer to the followers of the Muslim faith, an act if you like of ecumenism.”
Sherdian Worsop then asked for time to be allocated for further discussion on this but this was refused by the Chair.
More from General Synod in a later edition.
Today I went to the Brookside Christmas Lunch as a guest of the staff and pupils. Brookside is one of the schools run jointly by the NHS and the Education Authority and part of the New Rush Hall Group of Schools of which I am Chair of the Governors. The staff, medical and educational, are a wonderful team and I always enjoy paying them a visit. The only problem I had was getting there; it took me around three quarters of an hour there and the return afterwards took an unbelievable hour and 10 minutes – for a distance of no more than 8 miles. The A12 was just totally gridlocked – for what reason nobody seems to know. The snow was not very nice but the A12 was clear. Travelling in this part of the world is often a complete nightmare and a short journey can take ten minutes or an hour – it just doesn’t make a lot of sense.
The trustees of the Catholic League have agreed to make a grant of £65,000 over two years (£35,000 in 2011 and £30,000 in 2012) towards the foundation of the Ordinariate's central services and the establishment and operational costs of the Ordinary's office in support of his pastorate.
The Trustees view the Ordinariate as a fulfilment of their primary historic object, which is to promote the unity of all Christians with the Apostolic See of Rome. After almost 100 years of witness and encouragement to this end, the Catholic League regards the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus as the definitive form providing for that corporate union in the English situation for which we have prayed. Therefore, by means of this grant we wish to support Pope Benedict's in his intention that the new Ordinariate will contribute prophetically to Christian unity in this land, founded on none other than “unity ... in the apostolic faith” (as he said in his Address at Westminster Abbey during his Apostolic Visit) and the resulting “convincing account of the Risen Lord” which are both vital to a New Evangelisation in Europe.
We are pleased to announce the birth of our new granddaughter this morning at the North Middlesex Hospital.weighing 7lb 4oz. Mother and daughter are doing well and should be returning home tomorrow. Needless to say we, and our son-in-law, are delighted
THE DIOCESE OF BARCHESTER
Parish Priest for the LEP of Great Misgivings
The duties involve the co-ordination of Worship in the Parish Worship Centre which is used by the Anglicans, Hindu’s, Buddhists, Muslims and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) every Sunday. Inclusive “All Faith” Services are held every month. During the week various organisations use the building including the Druids, Muslims for Friday Prayers, the local White Witches coven, the Mother Earth Society and the Great Misgivings Rosicrucian’s Lodge.
The person appointed will be licensed by the Hindu Society of Great Britain to take Hindu Services after a suitable period of training. She/he will become part of the Ministry Team comprising of ministers from each of the faiths which use the church. The Parish Profile, available on line at www. greatmisgivings .co.uk /profile, states: “We are working together so that we can become one united body, a big happy family, respecting our differences and emphasising our similarities. Our Parish Motto is Compromise, Compromise and Compromise even further.”
We offer a salary of £75,000 plus fees. There is a modern House with four bedrooms.
Applications should be sent to The Diocesan Office for the attention of the Human Resources Department.
The Inclusive Parish of Much Grumbling, Maidstone
We are urgently seeking a replacement for our Musical Director who has just been appointed to a similar position at Canterbury Worship Centre (Canterbury Cathedral) The person appointed will be conversant with guitars, drums, tambourine and electronic keyboards. She/he will be able to train people to play the aforementioned instruments and be a competent guitarist and singer themselves, having the ability to lead the musical worship of the Parish. Also competence in preparing Worship Songs for us with the overhead projectors is required. Duties include weekly rehearsals and Sunday mornings and evenings services (No organ playing needed as we no longer have one) Experience with Liturgical Dance would be an advantage as we have a small Dance Team which is involved at every service.
Salary £10,000 plus fees
Today I presided at the Parish Mass at St. Barnabas, Woodford Green, whilst Father Paul Harcourt from All Saints, Woodford Wells preached and concelebrated. Sadly, with the continuing interregnum congregations have fallen and it is to be hoped that it will not be long before the problems concerning an appointment are resolved. I will be there again next Sunday.
I am disgusted by the behaviour of some of those taking part in the Student Protests. It seems to me that the students have a case but this is not the way to advance it. It seems that the protests have been infiltrated by anarchist’s intent on violence, mayhem and destruction.
Ann and I have both benefitted from a free education as have our two children and whilst I would support successful graduates making some contribution to the cost of their education I believe the current proposals will exclude many who will be frightened by the prospect of leaving university owing £27,000 or more.
Our tax system is complicated enough now without making it even more so with a “graduate” tax which is proposed by the opposition. Another suggestion, which I am warming to, is to get companies to sponsor universities and I know how beneficial sponsorship of this nature can be having experienced it in education in the past. It can be of benefit both to the donor and to the recipient.
Earlier this week my wife went shopping. In one Departmental Store she collected a number of items and went to the cash desk to pay for them. She had noticed that every single item was more expensive than a short while ago so she queried this with the girl who was serving. “It’s due to the increase in VAT” she answered. “But that doesn’t come in until January” my wife replied. “Well we had to do it now as we won’t have enough time to do it for January”. My wife left the goods on the counter and left the shop. So be warned. It seems that some businesses are acting unscrupulously in the busy run up to Christmas by increasing prices before they need to do so and thereby increasing their profits.
Congratulations to Stacey Solomon, a girl from Dagenham, who has won the title “Queen of the Jungle” in the ITV programme “I’m a Celebrity – Get me out of Here”. Stacey who came third in last year’s X Factor went to school in King Solomon’s School, Barkingside which is just marginally outside the parish boundary of St. Francis of Assisi, where I was Vicar for 15 years. During her ordeal in the Australian Jungle, Stacey retained her great sense of fun and humour. She is a credit to her family, to her old school and to the Jewish Community to which she belongs. This is the time of year whilst Christians prepare for Christmas with Advent, members of the Jewish Community celebrate Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. So to Stacey – Mazel tov (Congratulations).
For the first time for several days I was able to get my car out of the drive today. The local authority has kept the main roads fairly clear but the side roads and most of the pavements have been untreated. Although in Essex we’ve had quite a lot of snow it has been nothing like those in the North of England and there now seems to be a bit of a thaw. However, the temperature looks set to drop below freezing again tonight so there could be loads of ice to contend with tomorrow.
To add to the gloom of traffic being snarled up just about everywhere FIFA didn’t award the UK the world cup. I can’t in all truth say it bothered me but I know a lot of people are feeling disappointed and let down. I’m sure the newspaper reports about FIFA and the Panorama programme did not help the UK cause. I understand that the bid cost £15million and it grieves me that so much money should be wasted like this when the country is in such a dire financial plight and when that money could have been spent in relieving homelessness etc. What a strange world we live in!
It was with a degree of sadness that I read an e-mail from Forward-in-Faith announcing that Bishop John Broadhurst had resigned as Chairman. Bishop John steered F-in-F from the beginning and he has been an inspiration to me, and, I am, sure to all those who have struggled to keep alive the Catholic faith in the Church of England since the decision was made to ordain women to the priesthood. When he announced that he was taking up Pope Benedict’s offer of the Ordinariate and resigning as Bishop of Fulham from the end of the year, I suppose that it was inevitable that he would resign from Forward-in-Faith. Sister Anne Williams CA will be acting Chairman until elections for a new chairman have taken place. I wonder if the Church of England will ever realise, or acknowledge, the calibre of those Bishops who are paving the way to the Ordinariate: Bishop Keith Newton, Bishop Andrew Burnham, Bishop David Silk, Bishop Edwin Barnes and Bishop John Broadhurst. A regular item in Forward Plus has been “There were Giants in the Land” These Bishops were certainly giants for the Catholic Faith of the CofE; they will now, I am sure, be giants for the setting up of the Ordinariate – the CofE’s loss is the gain of the Ordinariate. May they be blessed in the task they are undertaking.