Monday, 28 February 2011
Sunday, 27 February 2011
I was very saddened yesterday when we received a phone call to tell us that a parishioner from my old parish had been murdered. Bert was found just before midnight, in his home, on Friday with multiple stab wounds. Although Bert only came to church infrequently, I knew him very well. He and his wife lived just round the corner from the church and his garden backed on to the church grounds. Nearly every day he I saw him walking his dog and we would have a brief chat. Bert was a devoted husband to his wife Pat who suffered from a long term illness; she died about a year or so ago.Police are continuing to make their enquiries. Please pray that he may rest in peace.
Today I celebrated Mass and preached at St. Barnabas, Woodford Green. In my sermon based on today’s Gospel from the Sermon on the Mount I talked about how it was impossible to serve God and Mammon, a false God. Mammon is not just money but anything which consumes our lives excluding God from them. For example the person who knows that alcohol is ruining his life but can’t stand the idea of giving it up. Jesus tells us that our concern should be serving God and if we do that, we have no need to worry about anything else.
After Mass I returned to St. Augustine’s, just in time to be there for coffee and then a wedding rehearsal for a wedding next week-end when I am playing the organ for two lovely people in our congregation.
Friday, 25 February 2011
Our hearts and prayers go out to the people of New Zealand following the terrible earth quake in Christchurch. It is thought there were 22 people inside the Christchurch Cathedral Tower when the earthquake struck and it appears that they were all killed. Tests have been carried out and they reveal no sign of life.
BEING BRITISH IN LIBYA
There was a time when if you were British you could rely on the Foreign Office to assist you if you were caught up in some uprising etc abroad. Help would be on hand quickly and efficiently. Sadly, it appears, those days are gone and to quote one commentator he described the situation as: “Britain’s shambolic response to the plight of UK citizens caught up in the revolution in Libya”. Other countries had started to evacuate their citizens whilst Britain seemed to be doing little or nothing. The Dutch, French, Bulgarians and Americans have been able to get their citizens out of Libya quickly. It now seems that transport is being provided for the British stuck there but it seems to me to be a case of too little and much too late.
ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND
The Royal Bank of Scotland announced yesterday that they had only made a loss of £1.1b but can afford to pay out bonuses of (guess!!!!!) £1.1b! Well that’s all right then! The RBS are 83% owned by the British Government who made a record loss of £24.3b in 2008. The Chief Executive is to receive £2.4 million in his bonus. The Guardian reports that “more than 100 bankers at RBS were paid more than £1m last year and total bonus payouts reached nearly £1bn – even though the bailed-out bank reported losses of £1.1bn for 2010”.
We have been lectured by David Cameron, Prime Minister and George Osborne, Chancellor, that we all have to feel the pain. What they never said was "unless you are a banker" and, as has been pointed out many times, it was the greed of the bankers which caused much of the deficit in the first place. Surely they should be made to “feel the pain” and forgo their bonuses and repay the money that was used to bail them out and then, and only then, get bonuses again. I’ve just had another thought: perhaps they could donate their bonuses to the British Red Cross Appeal for New Zealand.(click here to donate to the Red Cross Appeal)
Monday, 21 February 2011
Sunday, 20 February 2011
I understand that at the Southend Deanery Synod held on 17th February there was an item on the Agenda regarding the Consecration of Women Bishop’s Measure. The Synod passed the following resolution provided by the Church of England Evangelical Council:-
1. desires that all faithful Anglicans remain and thrive together in the Church of England and therefore
2. calls upon the house of Bishops to bring forward amendments to the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure to ensure that those unable on theological grounds to accept the ministry of women bishops are able to receive Episcopal oversight from a bishop with authority (i.e. ordinary jurisdiction) conferred by the Measure rather than by delegation from a Diocesan Bishop.
This will now have to be reported back to Chelmsford Diocesan Synod.
What effect will it have? There is no way of knowing but one Deanery Synod has done its best to ensure sacramental assurance and other Synods, not only in this Diocese but around the country, may be moved to pass this resolution as well.
Not everybody will be able to go to the Ordinariate, for a variety of reasons, at the present time. Some will take longer to make their decision but the good news is that the Ordinariate is not like the Winter Sales, only for a limited period and I anticipate many others will wait a little more before taking this step, discerning God’s will for them. The first wave will be going on Ash Wednesday and others will undoubtedly follow in due course. The interesting thing is that Ordinariate Groups seem to be springing up all over the country see the Ordinariate Portal (click).
REBRIDGE AND HAVERING ORDINARIATE EXPLORATORY GROUP
Wednesday 23rd February
Mass 7.30 p.m. followed by refreshments and the Evangelium Course.
All interested are very welcome
Saturday, 19 February 2011
According to one description it is about “empowering” local people, encouraging them to take an active part in their local community. According to the Daily Mail, to this end, 500 paid Senior Organisers are to be employed to ‘empower’ citizens to ‘shape the services that matter to them’, (and who) are to receive a wage of £20,000 in the first year of their four-year training programme. Known as a neighbourhood army, they will supervise 4,500 unpaid part-time workers and volunteers. They will first appear on the streets in ten areas including London, Birmingham, Bristol, Cornwall and Norfolk.
Then there is the Web Site “Big Society Network” which has the following statement:-
The Big Society Network exists to generate, develop and showcase new ideas to help people come together to do good things. An untapped social energy exists in our villages, towns and cities that if unleashed could help us build a bigger, better and happier country. We will work in partnership to deliver innovative solutions and share what we learn with you.
I have looked at the Web Site (click click here) read various blurbs about it, but still don’t really understand what is so innovative about Cameron’s BIG SOCIETY. Much of what is being suggested or proposed is no more or less than is happening already via the Churches. Will the Big Society be the success that David Cameron thinks? I have my doubts but I’ve been wrong before!!!
Friday, 18 February 2011
Wednesday, 16 February 2011
I was saddened, but I can’t say unduly surprised, at the report by the Health Service Ombudsman, which revealed that in upholding 10 complaints found that “doctors and nurses denied pensioners food and drink, left them unwashed and in some cases prevented their loved ones being with them when they died”. See Daily Telegraph 16TH February 2011 (No National Health Service workers were disciplined over their failure to provide “basic standards of care” for elderly patients, The Daily Telegraph can disclose. By Martin Beckford and Andy Bloxham)
Part of priest’s duties involves visiting elderly people in hospitals and residential homes. I have witnessed some appalling treatment meted out to old people often in situations where the nurses are just too busy to offer the standard of care that one would expect. Many of the Residential Homes leave a lot to be desired too. Often the food in hospitals or in residential homes is truly awful. On one occasion I had lunch with an elderly lady in a Home and was served with what purported to be Shepherd’s Pie; it was totally disgusting: it was full of sugar and I just couldn’t eat it. Goodness knows how these folk manage when they get this sort of diet. I have witnessed the food served in some hospitals; often by the time it gets to the patient it’s cold, it looks unappetizing and I know of cases where the food has been so appalling that relatives have had take food to the hospital for their loved one so they had something nourishing to eat or where the elderly person is too ill to feed themselves but there’s nobody available to help them.
The Daily Telegraph gives of some of the case details and one person responing on its Web Site wrote: “Change your stories to an animal hospital treating horses and leaving them without food or water till they died of neglect - and there would be police called and the people involved would be charged, tried and prevented from future work with horses and it would make headline news.”
It has been said that you can judge a society on the way it treats its elderly. I’m afraid it doesn’t look too good for ours on that basis.
Monday, 14 February 2011
Just recently, I’ve been having moments of nostalgia, remembering people and places from quite a few years ago. I think this was sparked by +Edwin’s forthcoming ordination to the priesthood in Portsmouth RC Cathedral (St. John’s). Whenever I was in the vicinity of the Cathedral, I used to go in for a few moments of quiet amidst the hustle and bustle of the city. I watched as the interior all changed (for the better) due to Vatican ll. Shortly after the new organ was installed I was fortunate to be able to go and play it. Sometime later I played there for a couple of weddings. In my youth when I worked for Portsmouth City Council I used the organ at St. Jude’s Church, Southsea for practice, moving when it became unavailable to the Garrison Church also n Southsea.
For a while I was County Music Advisor for Hampshire Girl Guides and performed for their conferences on the Guildhall Organ, quite a fine instrument but poorly looked after by the Council in those days.
We lived just of the sea front at Lee-on-the-Solent for a few years before I went to Salisbury & Well Theological College. One beautiful summer recovering from an illness I was able to go swimming every single day for a couple of months. Despite not living near the sea for some 25 years I still miss it and can’t wait to walk along a sea front to smell the ozone and watch the waves as they come in or go out.
Living at Lee-on-the Solent, I became the Organist & Choirmaster of St. John’s, Forton in the days of Father Garth Munro who, after retirement was succeeded by Father Douglas Freeman who came to us from St. Ives, Cornwall. Both priests were stalwarts in the Catholic Faith and would be horrified to know that St. John’s now has a woman priest, losing many of the congregation who have taken refuge in another Anglo-Catholic parish.
At Lee-on-the-Solent, we had a wonderful priest, a Roman Catholic, Father Percy Collier who was very involved in the life of the village and known and respected by everyone who lived there. You would often see him walking along the road as he eschewed (or couldn’t afford) to use public transport. He would walk to Portsmouth and back. An expert on Harmoniums and an excellent musician, he travelled in Europe mainly France, to find them and play them. My deputy Organist and I played the organ for Fr. Percy mainly for Rosary and Benediction when his own organist was not available. About the time I left Lee-on-the-Solent to go to College, one of his congregation started to train as a permanent deacon. I was very touched to find that Father Percy regularly offered Mass for us both. In those heady days, I really believed that reunion with Rome would happen in my lifetime. Perhaps the Ordinariate is the answer to that optimism and to those prayers – only time will tell.
Sunday, 13 February 2011
In Pope Benedict’s book, Jesus of Nazareth, he comments on the phrase, "But I say to you..." the Pope quotes a Jewish Scripture scholar, Rabbi Jacob Neusner. Regarding Jesus' approach to the Law, Rabbi Neusner asks, "What did Jesus leave out?" He answers, "Nothing." Then he asks, "What did Jesus add?" To that the Rabbi answers, "Himself." Jesus did not come to give us a new law but rather He came to give us Himself which He does this every time we come to church for Mass when he gives us Himself in the Blessed Sacrament.
Today’s Mass Setting was Wills in D (Missa Eliensis) and the Choir sang the Anthem “If ye love me” by Thomas Tallis.
This year S. Barnabas celebrates its Centenary. On Feast of S. Barnabas Saturday 11th June there will be a Procession and Solemn Concelebrated Mass at 12 noon followed by lunch. On Saturday 8th October at 7.30 p.m. there will be an Organ recital by Dr. Alan Thurlow, Organist Emeritus of Chichester Cathedral and sometime Organist of S. Barnabas.
Saturday, 12 February 2011
She started by explaining why the Committee had decided to change the date of Christmas presently in December to the third Sunday in October. Research had shown that the Nativity could not possibly have been December and that October was probably more historically correct. Various experts had been consulted about this, before the Committee had made its decision. Another factor was Christmas had become so secularised that to bring it back to a religious, as opposed to a secular, occasion, a change of date would focus people’s minds.
Colonel Ivor Wright said that whilst he could understand that the change of date would necessitate the abolition of Advent which didn’t concern him unduly, he thought the abolition of Lent was another matter and he hoped that a way would be found to preserve this.
In reply Professor Twaddle said there was little point in having a period of Fasting and Abstinence in a season of Penitence which hardly anyone observed these days. Far better to abolish it altogether than have it supported half heartedly.
The Revd. Antony d’ Lovian proposed an amendment which would allow parishes to opt out of the new calendar and continue to observe the old one. He noted that the Church of England was the only Christian Body to want to change and many of the people in the pews didn’t like the idea. This was opposed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who in congratulating the Committee on the obvious time and work they had put into the new calendar, said it was important that the whole church kept the same festivals. If parishes were allowed to choose which calendar they would observe nobody would know where they were. She supported the changes and hoped Synod would reject the amendment. When the Amendment was put it failed in the House of Clergy.
The Revd Primrose Watts said that the Church of England should show courage and leadership in making these changes, regardless of what others were doing or what they thought. She observed that the Orthodox Church celebrated Christmas on the 6th January rather than the 25th December and nobody had a problem with that. People in the parishes would soon adjust and what was more they could have a holiday at Christmas like everybody else although she favoured renaming it, as the Committee had suggested to Winterfest to remove any religious context from it.
The Revd. William Quiral said he thought it would be very difficult to hold Carol Services in October. It would make nonsense of the Hymn “In the Bleak Midwinter” or “See amid the winter’s snow”. Also, one of the highlights of the Christmas season for many people in the UK and all over the world was the Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College, Cambridge. Replying Professor Twaddle said that it was perfectly possible to rewrite hymns; for example “in the Bleak Mid Autumn, Nasty winds do blow” or something similar and it would give poets and composers the opportunity to write new songs for this season. The King’s College Nine Lessons and Carols was a more difficult problem which she felt sure could be overcome with a little time and thought.
The other changes include Easter on the 2nd Sunday of April, Back to Church Sunday on the 2nd Sunday in September, and Harvest Festival on the 4th Sunday in September, and Mothering Sunday on the 3rd Sunday in March. Epiphany would now be kept on the 3rd Sunday in October, 7 days after the Nativity, as there was now no need to observe 12 days after Christmas as had been done previously.
The Archdeacon of Postlethwaite asked what date the Annuciation would be kept as the 25th March would no longer be possible. Professor Twaddle replied that this would now be the 2nd Sunday in January.
Roger Dismas, Lay Member of Buntingford, said he thought the whole scheme was a load of rubbish and he would be voting against it. He could see no need for any change. Christmas on the 25th December had worked perfectly well for many generations and which he intended to continue to observe, regardless of what Synod decided. Professor Twaddle asked him how he could do so when everybody else was observing October.
The Measure was passed in all three houses. Afterwards the Revd. Antony d’Lovian said it was typical of General Synod to pass such a measure with no consideration for the way people in the pews felt. He would continue to keep Christmas and all the other dates in accordance with the Western Calendar and, frankly, he didn’t give a fig what the rest of the Church of England did or did not do.
Friday, 11 February 2011
Thursday, 10 February 2011
Today Members of Parliament are debating the Court of Human Rights decision that prisoners should be allowed to vote. Strong views have been expressed that this should not be permitted but, as has been pointed out, due to the Court ruling, Great Britain does not have a choice. The argument against the Courts decision is that when a person breaks a law which results in their imprisonment they lose their civil rights. It seems, from press reports that there are very strong views about this from the general public. In the end the Government will have no option but to implement some scheme to satisfy the Court, or be subject to massive claims from people denied what they argue are their democratic rights.
There is another point of view which I hold. As Christians we believe in redemption and forgiveness so prison should be a time for rehabilitation enabling a person to re-enter society as a responsible citizen. One factor in rehabilitation is the recognition by the offender that he or she should participate in the democratic process of our country, both local and national. Voting is part of that participation. I suspect that many in prison have never ever taken the trouble to vote and prison could/should be the place to prepare an ex-offender to take an interest in local and national government.
Perhaps the compromise would be to allow prisoners to vote after they have served 75% of their sentence.
Wednesday, 9 February 2011
I was fortunate that when I went to Theological College I was generously funded by Hampshire County Council with a small top-up from Portsmouth Diocese. There would have been no way that I could have funded it myself and neither would I have been prepared, or able, to take a loan to pay tuition fees and living expenses. Both our children went to University and neither had to pay tuition fees although one of them needed to take a Student Loan which has only recently been fully repaid.
Of course, if you happen to live in Scotland, then no tuition fees are payable at their universities. So my question is this; if Scotland can afford to give students free university education why can’t England?
Sunday, 6 February 2011
Second, the new boss of Santander Ana Patricia Botin is thought to have amassed £21 million in her pension pot which will provide a pension of £750,000. Last year when she was paid £2.68 million a further £ 1.3 million was added to her pension. The Spanish Chief Executive of Santander, according to the Sunday Times, has a pension pot worth £72 million.
These mind boggling figures are truly incomprehensible. At a time when, as a country, we are faced with austerity, pay curbs and growing unemployment, to see the fat cats get even fatter is repugnant. What makes reading these headlines even more salutary is that today I preached about Christians being a light in the world (see St. Augustine’s Blog) and having a care for the poor, the unemployed, the homeless, the sick and the dying.
Saturday, 5 February 2011
The recent Day of Prayer for Egypt as protesters clash in Cairo
As Christians met in London to pray for Egyptian believers, Copts joined Muslims in Cairo to protest against President Mubarak. Organised by Christian Solidarity Worldwide and United Action for Egyptian Christians, the day of prayer was planned in support of Christian freedom, but Bishop Angaelos, head of the UK’s Coptic Orthodox Church, asked for prayer for all Egyptians. Separately, the Anglican Bishop of Egypt, the Most Revd Mouneer Anis, reported that Muslims protected Christians and the Cairo Cathedral after security forces withdrew. A Vatican expert on the Arab world, Fr Justo Lacunza Balda, predicted that armies would not be able to quell the uprisings. In Addis Ababa, at the African Biblical Leadership Initiative forum sponsored by Bible Society, Methodist peer Lord Boateng said Egypt 'faces opportunity and danger'.
Sources: The Church of England Newspaper (2/2); Ekklesia (30/1); Catholic Herald (31/1); Independent Catholic News (2/2); Inspire Magazine (29/1); Methodist Recorder (3/2); Church Times (4/2) With thanks to the Bible Society News Watch 04/02/11
After years of living under the regime of President Mubarak, Egyptians have been told by him that he will leave office in September this year and not seek re-election. It seems that the days of Mubarak’s authoritarian regime are now numbered and it must be our hope, and our prayers, that a democratic government be elected. Please keep Egypt and the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Anglican Church in Egypt in your prayers at this critical time in their history
Friday, 4 February 2011
The Church Times and the Church of England Newspaper both give details of the statistics of Church Attendance in 2009 which showed a drop of 1%. In 2009 average Sunday attendance was 944,000 compared to 2008 of 960,000 and 2007 of 978,000. Monthly attendance had dropped from 1.667 million in 2008 to 1.651 million in 2009. Church House said that the total number attending church dropped by 2% overall in the seven years from 2002. Despite the spin put on these figures they are nothing if not depressing. Attendance dropped at an alarming rate during the 70s, 80s and 90s but, although the figures show that the rate of decline is not as great as it was, it is still continuing.
We were told way back in the 90s that the ordination of women would halt this trend but instead it has continued albeit at a slower rate. We were told then that the ordination of women would bring people back to church – it hasn’t. What I have noticed in many places is that both Anglo-Catholic Churches and Evangelical Churches who are against the ordination of women to the priesthood have experienced significant growth. Perhaps there is message here?
Wednesday, 2 February 2011
The Revd Professor Jean Twaddle was recently elected as Chair of the Liturgical Calendar Revision Committee. In her first interview she told our reporter that her first task would be to change the date on which the Church celebrated the birth of Jesus. There were, she said, many changes, in the future but the first and one of the most important was Christmas. She pointed out that for many years scholars had concluded that December could not be the right date and that October was probably more accurate. She was in favour of renaming the 25th December as Winterfest rather than keeping it by its present name: Christmas. It would become a totally secular holiday which is what it is already for the greater part of the community.
The Church would celebrate Christmas on the 3rd Sunday in October although she favoured dropping that name and, instead, calling it The Nativity. It would be up to the Liturgical Committee to decide how this should be kept but she envisaged the usual Midnight Celebration (she did not approve of the word “Mass” she said) and Sunday Services. There would be no need to have a holiday.
Another controversial change she proposed would be the abolition of Advent and Lent. It would no longer be practical to keep a period of Advent with the transfer of Christmas to October as this would mean starting in September which would cause no end of difficulties, mess up Harvest Festival, one of the very important festivals of the year, and, in any case, she didn’t see the need for it in a modern society. With regard to Lent she thought this was no longer appropriate as people these days didn’t need to fast and most ignored it anyway. Penitence was a thing of the past and psychologically it did more harm than good. She thought that, by enlarge, Confession was a thing of the past too, and it should stay that way. By abolishing Lent it would just be adjusting the Calendar to be in step with modern practice.
She thought “Back to Church” Sunday should become a permanent fixture in the Church’s Calendar to be kept on the Second Sunday in September. She wanted to revamp the occasion and thought that every church should offer a bag of goodies for those who came. What that should contain was not part of her remit but she thought it could include things like some shopping vouchers from a local supermarket, a copy of the magazine if the church produced one, a bar of chocolate, a couple of cans of lager, a copy of the hugely popular Celebrity Gossip for the ladies, a copy of a “boys” magazine for the guys and a bag of jelly tots or smarties for the kids. The final details would be down to the Liturgical Committee.
Tuesday, 1 February 2011
Between them the two clubs spent a record £134 million in just one day. Chelsea finally signed Torres for a deal that could ultimately be worth £50 million, and Benfica’s David Luiz for £25 million, while Liverpool spent a remarkable £36 million on Carroll and £23 million on Luis Suár.
The amount of money spent by football clubs on players is just unbelievable. Can anybody be worth that amount?!! Children die in Africa and other parts of the world from malnutrition and disease and there is never enough money to save them. Just think what £134 million could do. If I supported Chelsea or Liverpool I would be ashamed of them. There are so many good causes desperately needing money in these difficult times that to see that amount spent on footballers makes me feel sick.
Then there’s the amount paid to football stars themselves. I have never been able to understand how they can be paid millions of pounds for kicking a ball! But then I can never understand how bankers can be worth the fabulous amounts paid to them or, for that matter, pop stars. Is it any wonder that teenagers, unable to get a job and having to exist on the minimal amount of money paid to them by the State, feel rebellious?
As they try to repay the deficit our Government imposes swingeing cuts, in all sorts of different ways saying we all have to share the burden when it is painfully obvious that it is the low paid and unemployed that feel it the most whilst the wealthy are cushioned. It is a fact that there are around 23 millionaires amongst the29 members of the Cabinet – are they sharing the burden or even feeling it? Local Authorities are announcing hundreds if not thousands of redundancies amongst their staff whilst some of those Councillors award themselves bigger allowances and expenses.
I saw a quote sometime ago and feel it is still relevant today “To make the poor work harder we pay them less; to make the rich work harder we pay them more”.
May God forgive us.