the Church of the Epiphany

 

BOOKS


Some books I am reading:
 

 
 

LINKS


Other websites of interest:
 
Diocese of Lichfield
 
The Church of England
 
Experience Days
 

 
 
Friday, 28 June 2019:

Summer Fayre


Thank you to everyone who supported our Summer Fayre.
We raised £850 and still have donations coming in.



 
Posted by Janet Taylor at 12:36 am.


 
Saturday, 1 June 2019:

Raffle prizes


Below are some of the prizes in our Grand Raffle which
will be held at our Summer Fayre on Saturday 15th June
2019 at 11am, the draw will take place at approx 1pm.
We would like to than everyone who has donated prizes; see
list below.

Top 3 prizes

£50 Experience day Voucher -
http://www.experiencedays.co.uk/

Cream tea for 2 - Halfpenny Green Wine Estate

£25 voucher - David Austin Roses



Some of the other prizes, not in order:

6 Half price tickets for the Panto - Grand Theatre

Selection of stationery - Oxley Stationers and Printers

7 day family pass - Nuffield Health

1 Month membership pass - Nuffield Health

2 Family passes - The Judge's Lodging

1 Bicycle helmet - Hatley's bike shop

6 Admission and race cards - Monmore Green Greyhound track

2 x 2 Brewery tour vouchers - Bank's Brewery

2 children's tickets - Dudley Zoo

2 Main meals - Gatehouse, Hungry Horse

1 Manicure voucher - Pure Beauty

Plus many more.


 
Posted by Janet Taylor at 9:28 pm.


 
Friday, 12 April 2019:

Curate's Blog


Curate’s blog
With Holy Week and Easter fast approaching, the APCM,
services to prepare, sermons to pray through and write, it
feels as if time is running away with me. We all get so
busy it’s good to take a few moments to reflect and to
take time to breathe.

I wonder if you stop for a moment to consider all that
goes on behind the scenes for our services. Hymns are
chosen, reading sheets prepared, notices emailed to
Michael to go on the weekly sheet, which is then produced
and printed off for our use. In church, bread and wine is
out ready, candles lit, lights switched on, microphone
switched on, fire exits opened, altar candles filled with
oil, the collection plate is in situ ready for our
offerings – the list goes on. Readers prepare to read,
intercessions are written, the altar is prepared and we’re
good to go. There’s more to it than that, though. Sermons
do not write themselves – they are thought through, prayed
over, as they are prepared. Our worship each Sunday
morning happens because so many folk know what they are
doing and are prepared, for which I – for one – say a huge
thank you.

Recently I’ve visited people, both for funerals and for
more general pastoral visits. I’ve attended a study day
at Shallowford, and a day course on upkeep of church
buildings, churchyards and fundraising. Support from my
fellow curates, as ever, is invaluable as we all minister
in different situations and we learn from each other. I’m
preparing for Holy Week, beginning to source liturgy and
to think through sermons. School assemblies form part of
my brief; having delivered an assembly on Lent, I’m now
preparing the Easter assembly for Rakegate Primary and
Gennie will be doing the same at Bushbury Lane Academy
and Long Knowle Primary. .

What is the driving force behind what we do? The big thing
for me is that we do all this not in our own strength, but
in God’s, as we minister in His name and to His glory. We
have such a lot to share, we should shout it from the
rooftops!

It’s so important to try not to be too busy to hear God’s
still, small voice. To that end, I’m reading a new book
entitled The Easter Stories by Trevor Dennis, and, with
Leanne, am reading a Margaret Silf book ‘O Taste and See’.
The latter gives insights as to how we can still ourselves
to find God around and within us. It certainly offers food
for thought.

Anne

 
Posted by Janet Taylor at 6:56 pm.


 
Thursday, 14 February 2019:

Curate's Blog


Curate’s blog
In church on the fourth Sunday of Epiphany, Gennie
suggested that we try to allow ourselves time to
think of things we are grateful for. It’s often easy to
think of what’s going wrong in our lives, or of
challenges and difficulties which we all face from time to
time. Being grateful for blessings received
and trying to be open and aware to the good things in our
lives is I think partly a state of mind. If I’m
really fed up, I will struggle to remember to be grateful
for things and will see only a huge ‘to-do’ list
which seems endless. So, I try very hard each day to find
something to be positive and grateful
about. Once I began to think like this, it’s hard to stop
at just one thing each day – but thinking of
one thing each day is a good place to begin.

Last week, I felt tired and under pressure to complete
assignments (yes, I still have essays to write)
together with all the other things I am expected to do. I
felt fairly grotty too, which didn’t help. One
afternoon I had to go out for an hour. As I climbed
wearily out of the car, I heard the most beautiful
song coming from branches above me. It was a very dreary
and dismal day, and it was easy to spot
the most beautiful little robin amongst the branches. He
sang so loudly and clearly and for five
minutes, I stayed still, watching and listening.

On one level, this is a story of a little robin singing.
On another, it spoke to me of God. It was a
blessing, a few minutes respite, and certainly something
to be grateful for. I needed to refocus and to
remember the bigger picture. One writer who writes about
thinking in this way is Margaret Silf. I’ve
mentioned her before, she writes about Ignation
spirituality and shows how we can focus on God in
our everyday lives. I find myself repeatedly drawn back
to her books and each time I learn a little
more about myself, and become a little more aware of God
at work in our lives. If you’d like to
borrow any of her books or find out a little more about
her or Ignation spirituality, have a word with
me.

With Lent beginning on March 6 th , we have opportunities
to go deeper with God. Some of you will be
aware that we had ‘diocese mystery worshippers’ visit us
in October last year. They said how friendly
and welcoming we are as a church and congregation, but one
of the comments they made was that it
is very noisy before the Eucharist service. Is it worth
trying to be in church five or ten minutes earlier
than usual before our Sunday Eucharist, and using the time
for quiet prayer, as a Lentern discipline?

Just a thought.

Rev Anne
 
Posted by Janet Taylor at 4:27 pm.


 
Sunday, 16 December 2018:

Christmas poem


Christmas Poem

This has to be my favourite Christmas poem of all time.
The author was a Quaker who used to write a new poem each
year to send in Christmas cards to her friends. I love
the way that this poem plays with the ‘before’ (BC) and
turns it into AD (the year of our Lord.) The year of our
Lord. It strikes me afresh each Christmas that the year
Christ was born, everything, but everything, changed. It
was an ordinary event. The birth of a child born to a
young couple, an everyday occurrence. But it was no
ordinary baby, no ordinary birth, and we are invited to
walk ‘haphazard into starlight’ into the kingdom of
heaven.
Plenty to think about!
Rev Anne
BC:AD

This was the moment when Before
Turned into After, and the future's
Uninvented timekeepers presented arms.

This was the moment when nothing
Happened. Only dull peace
Sprawled boringly over the earth.

This was the moment when even energetic Romans
Could find nothing better to do
Than counting heads in remote provinces.

And this was the moment
When a few farm workers and three
Members of an obscure Persian sect
Walked haphazard by starlight straight
Into the kingdom of heaven.
U.A. Fanthorpe

Rev Anne
 
Posted by Janet Taylor at 10:03 pm.


 
Sunday, 21 October 2018:

Remembrance


Remembrance
This year the memories of the end of World War I may
appear more poignant. We remember the end
of World War I each year, but this year we will be
commemorating 100 years since the end of the
Great War. When we remember, what are we doing?
There is an argument as we remember the end of the war,
on the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day
of the eleventh month, that we are glorifying war and all
the associated thoughts and ideas.
However, I think that it is important to
remember. Those soldiers were being disciples, doing
their
discipleship just as Jesus did. I suspect none of us
wants war and it is painful to remember that,
twenty years after WWI, WWII began. The important thing
is for us to remember ALL nationalities,
not just ‘our brave lads’. Each memory has another side
to it. For example, as we remember the
Dambusters from WWII, it is important to remember that,
for the Germans, it was a civilian disaster
as the valley was flooded. Ordinary people, people like
you and me, drawn into a war that they
probably did not want.
How can we achieve peace? Hope UK has 100 days of peace,
with prayers and readings from 4 th
August until 11 November – have a look at their website
for prayers for peace. Alternatively, light a
candle and stay in the quiet, remembering, and praying
for peace. All those who were involved in
WWI believed that they were fighting for peace. A
worldwide peace will never happen until nations
allow themselves to listen to other nations, to
understand where they are coming from, to
remember. Peace has to be built.
We can pray. We can remember, and in the two minutes
silence allow ourselves to go deeper into the
silence. We can pray for the armed forces of today and
for their families.
A prayer for Remembrance Sunday from the Church of
England website:
O Lord, our maker and our strength, from whose love in
Christ we can never be parted either by
death or defeat: May our remembrance this day deepen our
sorrow for the loss and wastes of war,
make us more grateful to those who courageously gave
their lives to defend this land and
commonwealth; and may all who bear the scars and memories
of conflicts, past and present, know
your healing love for the sake of Jesus Christ, the
Prince of Peace. Amen

Rev Anne
 
Posted by Janet Taylor at 10:16 pm.


 
Monday, 10 September 2018:

Curate's Scribbles from Rev. Anne


Curate’s Scribbles

It’s been a whirlwind 6 months or so, with lectures,
residential weekends and assignments to complete, so it
was almost a relief to reach the middle of June and
submit all the assignments required. However, there was
no time to rest! My robes and clerical blouses had not
arrived, we were already receiving notification of the
next stage of our training as curates, John and I were
trying to arrange the caterers for the party for after my
ordination and the list goes on and on.
So in a way it was almost a relief to reach the end of
June and to go on our pre-ordination retreat. Firstly,
the 18 curates to be ordained Deacon at Lichfield
Cathedral had to go to a rehearsal at the Cathedral,
wearing our cassocks, on Thursday 28th June. Following
this, we all went to Shallowford House near Stone for our
retreat. Of course, Shallowford now feels very well
known to me, but I was struck afresh by its prayerful
atmosphere.
Our retreat was conducted by a residential canon,
Georgina, from Worcester Cathedral and the theme was
‘Telling the Story.’ Over the weekend we had five
addresses from Georgina, plus a Eucharist. We had
silence and plenty of time to walk around and to read. I
read a book by Paula Gooder, ‘Phoebe’ which I will write
about at a later date; it was perfect reading and I
thoroughly recommend it. On Saturday Bishop Michael came
to hear us swear our oaths in the Chapel, wearing our
cassocks – a solemn moment – and to give us his charge.
That afternoon ten of the ordinands departed for the
Cathedral ready for their ordination service that
evening.
Thank you to everyone who prayed for us and who came
along to the Cathedral to support me. July 1st was a day
that will live long in my memory. I think I cried through
much of the service. It felt very profound that, on that
Sunday morning, the ordinands were all women. The choir
was amazing, I loved the Elgar anthem which felt as if it
washed over us during Communion. The sun shone, the music
was sublime, and the preacher preached about Wolves! What
was not to like? The service was meaningful and very
special.
Thank you, too, to everyone who was able to come back to
the church hall at Oxley and celebrate with us. It was
wonderful to see Fr Colin, who left Oxley 30 years ago,
joining us along with previous curates, priests and
interim ministers – Pat, Roberta and Keith, who came to
celebrate with us.
So, what now? Time to rest? Well, given that the new
Curates had a meeting at Shallowford two days later, not
really! We have been given our curate handbooks and have
dates for residential weekends and for training days and
evenings. I know already that in the new year I have to
hand in a 5000 word essay based on our parish … so the
academic work continues for the next three years. The
big difference of course is that I can ‘do’ things. It
was a privilege to baptise Cameron in our morning
Eucharist on Sunday 8th July, and again to baptise little
Rachel Sharon Louise on Sunday 29th July. Please pray
for them and for their families and Godparents/Sponsors
in their new beginnings as Christians.
There is much to learn, and I am grateful to Fr Michael
and Gennie for opportunities and time to reflect. I’m
excited about the new beginnings and am really looking
forward to my year as Deacon. Thank you to you all for
your support and encouragement; it is such a privilege to
be in this position.
Anne

 
Posted by Janet Taylor at 8:08 pm.


 
Tuesday, 22 May 2018:

Thank you


On Sunday we thanked John for his 20+ years as Church
Warden.

A big thank you from us all, we really appreciate all you
have done and will still be doing.




 
Posted by Janet Taylor at 6:37 pm.


 
Friday, 27 April 2018:

Ordinand’s report April 2018


It feels strange to think that, after all this time, you
are reading my penultimate Ordinand’s report! How time
flies. We (as ordinands) are nearing the end of our
studies and time together. We have almost finished our
second module on Doctrine, and we are still working on
Christian Theology, Ritual and Pastoral Care, and
Preparing for Denominational Ministry.
Sadly, our 4th study/residential weekend at Queen’s was
cancelled due to the snow we experienced in March. I was
partly relieved at not having to travel but also partly
gutted. We have only one weekend left now, plus Easter
School. I was so looking forward to that particular
weekend as well, for we were looking at Baptism and
liturgy associated with that, as well as there being a
clerical clothing event in college so that we would have
the opportunity to try on clerical shirts, robes and so
on. Also, I’m keenly aware that my study time with some
of my friends is coming to an end and many of us felt
cheated out of time spent together!
I will be away at Queen’s for Easter School from 7th
April. We’ll be studying Psalms and also Baptism and
Funeral rites and so on. Our week will be crammed full
as we have the missed weekend to try to catch up on.
Looking ahead, and we are now very, very busy.
Assignment deadlines come thick and fast, made more
difficult now that Queen’s Library (one of the best
theological libraries in the country) is out of action
for much of the time due to 3 old Victorian pipes
bursting on that snowy weekend. In a way, it’s a good
job our residential weekend was cancelled or else we
would all have had to be evacuated. Ceilings came down,
obviously there was water damage to the student kitchens
and bedrooms on both accommodation floors of the Old
Building and there was damage to the library and student
common room. Thankfully only 78 books have had to be
sent to go in a freezer to dry out, but with health and
safety in force the library is open at reduced times.
Queen’s are doing their best to ensure that we all have
some access to books but it’s not the same as browsing
the shelves yourself!
In addition to the assignments, we have tutorials with
our personal tutors and meetings with bishops – I have
met with Bishop Clive, and have an appointment to see
Bishop Michael in Lichfield. Then there’s the ordering of
clergy robes and so on – it’s so complicated!
Thankfully, Diane has taken all the necessary
measurements and I will be able to order my cassock,
surplice and cassock-alb and my clergy shirts. My stoles
are already ordered – and I am very excited about these!
Many of my friends are from the Stafford/Shrewsbury/Stoke
areas and they will be ordained at the Cathedral on
Saturday 30th June. I will be ordained Deacon on Sunday
July 1st with my friends who will be serving curacies in
Lichfield or Wolverhampton. More details will be
available soon.

Anne

 
Posted by Janet Taylor at 12:41 pm.


 
Monday, 12 March 2018:

Ordinand's blog


Ordinand’s Notes Jan 2018
At the beginning of our 3rd year of training, back in
September, we were told that we should be prepared for
our 3rd year to race by. It certainly seems to be the
case!
We have only 2 residential weekends left, plus Easter
School. Weekly lectures continue at Shallowford. I’m
working hard on assignments and presentations/theological
reflections, actually I learn a lot from doing them but I
will be glad when they’re all done. My friends are
finding out where they will be stationed, in the case of
my Methodist friends, or where they will serve their
curacies in the case of the Anglicans. I’m really
excited that some of my friends will be in Wolverhampton!
Obviously, as an OLM my curacy will be here in our
benefice; I’ve met with Bishop Clive and have been
offered – and accepted – the curacy. I will be ordained
Deacon at Lichfield Cathedral on Sunday 1st July, with
the service beginning at 10am. It’s a very exciting time
but also a bit scary. I really couldn’t be doing any of
this without your prayers and support. Thank you.
Anne

 
Posted by Janet Taylor at 12:53 pm.


 
Sunday, 3 December 2017:

Advent,Christmas and Epiphany thoughts


Advent, Christmas and Epiphany thoughts

As I begin to write, it is 21st November. Christmas
lights will be switched on in the city centre tomorrow
night. Already as I drive around, I have seen Christmas
decorations in windows of people’s homes. Shops are
full of Christmas cards and the sound of Christmas carols
and songs are being played in many shops and
supermarkets. Websites and shops urge us to spend our
money on gifts, and finding the ‘perfect gift’ is a
statement we often hear. What is this all about?
Advent begins on December 3rd this year. Advent, a time
of preparation and waiting. This year we could be
forgiven for feeling short- changed, as Advent 4 will
also be Christmas Eve. Advent offers us an opportunity to
get ready, not by rushing around (or not!) buying cards
and presents and trying to get organised wrapping gifts
and writing cards, but chance to prepare ourselves
spiritually. “O come O come Emmanuel” is one of the most
beautiful, haunting Advent hymns, urging us to wait, to
be prepared as we wait for the arrival of the Christ
Child. The hymn retells our faith story, where the
prophet Isaiah foretold the birth of Immanuel, which
means, literally translated, God with us.
Here is our perfect gift, this child, God made man. He
comes to us in the messiness of human life. He is born
in a stable, full of mess and noise, a far cry from our
traditional image of sweet little nativity plays which
will be seen in schools up and down the country. And
Christmas begins once again. Christmas, where Christ
comes to us as a baby. We marvel at this gift of the
Incarnate God, and we rejoice that Christ is here among
us. Yes, a helpless baby lying in a manger, but also God
in all His deity. It’s a lot to get our heads round.
For we know the baby grows up to be the adult Jesus who
constantly challenges us, who calls us to follow him.
Christmas begins on December 25th; it does not end then!
We continue to reflect on God’s gift to us, the gift of
his Son, as we move towards Epiphany. Of course, this is
our feast of title, and we will celebrate on January 6th
with a full sung Eucharist. What are we celebrating? We
remember and retell the story of the wise men who
journeyed to visit the young child. It has two things for
us to think about; firstly, that the word ‘epiphany’
means revelation or sudden awakening. Those moments when
God breaks through into our lives are true epiphany
moments and we need to be awake to notice them.
Secondly, God reveals himself as the God of all, not only
the God of Israel and the Jews but the God of all.
May we all be blessed with moments to prepare ourselves
for the rebirth of the Christ-child into our lives, as we
continue to follow in His ways.
Anne Martin

 
Posted by Janet Taylor at 10:12 pm.


 
Monday, 6 November 2017:

Remembrance


Remembrance.

This year the Royal British Legion is asking everyone to
‘Rethink remembrance.’ They’re asking us to recognise
the sacrifice made by thousands of people, past and
present, as serving members of the Armed Forces. The
poppy has become a symbol of remembrance in many
countries, but what does it mean to you?

Is it merely the symbol of yet another charity fund, or
is it a visual way you can recognise the sacrifice made
by many, who fought so that we can enjoy the democratic
freedoms we have? Is it a sign of hope, or a sign of
peace? What does it mean to you?

On Remembrance Sunday we will be thinking about these
questions when local Guiders talk about Remembrance and
offer thoughts and ideas during the service at 10:45am.

Remembrance Day is a day when we remember those who have
died fighting in wars. On the local news the other day I
saw that a primary school in Telford had attempted to
make the act of remembering more real for their pupils.
Each child painted a rock and on it wrote the name of a
soldier who had died in war. The rocks and stones were
hidden around their locality in the hope that many of
them will be returned to school, where the pupils will
build a rockery from the stones as a lasting tribute to
the fallen. One child said, “We hope that all the rocks
will come back but we know that some won’t. That’s what
happened to those who are fighting in wars; some will
come back home and others won’t and it helps us to
remember them all.”

It is so important to remember, to build up memories. We
will never know all who died during conflict, but God
does. We can pray for peace and try to enact that in our
lives. Our Christian faith is built on stories, stories
told around campfires by countless Israelites as they
remembered their shared story, before writing down their
shared history and traditions. This is our story. The
story telling continued in Jesus’ time and eventually was
written down. Why were they written? To ensure future
generations would hear and understand the shared history
and tradition and to come to faith.

Remembrance Sunday has become part of our culture and our
shared story. We are given space and time to come
together in communities and to rethink our story. We can
pray for peace, but we should never forget.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Anne


 
Posted by Janet Taylor at 12:56 pm.


 
Thursday, 10 August 2017:

Summer


Summer Days

‘Summertime and the living is easy.’ George Gershwin’s
words could be aptly applied to August, when many of us
take holiday. It’s a month to focus on summertime: family
time and barbeques; the beach and ice cream; long days
with no school! It is time to wind down from the frenetic
pace of our normal routines.


However, while summer is a season, it is also a state of
mind. We all have periods in life, which are summer-like,
when life goes well. How can we walk by faith in the
summers or good times of our spiritual lives?
When we go through times of sickness, financial
pressure, difficult relationships and other problems, we
more easily focus on God. In a spiritual summer season,
we can subtly find ourselves enjoying the gifts without
acknowledging the Giver! The greatest danger in the
summertime season of life is to forget who is responsible
for the good life that we are enjoying.

Our normal routine revolves around clocks and calendars,
but we can easily get distracted when we break these
disciplined routines. In the spiritual summer seasons of
life, there is a temptation to miss out on our regular
times with God in Bible reading and prayer! Things that
make summer seasons enjoyable can also become big
distractions.

How can we make the most of this summer season and keep
focused on God? We need to maintain a ‘gratitude
attitude’: thankful to God for all His blessings to us.
‘When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord
your God for the good land He has given you. Be careful
that you do not forget the Lord your God.’ (Deuteronomy
8:10/11). So, stay close and stay grateful to God in this
summer season of life!


Many thanks to Gennie for giving me the opportunity to
include this piece which I am sure will speak to many of
us.
Carolyn (at St Gregory’s)

 
Posted by Janet Taylor at 10:54 am.


 
Monday, 19 June 2017:

Church of the Epiphany 2017 Annual Meeting Address.



I want to start with a big thank you. I’ve lived here a
year now, even if it’s not quite a liturgical year. It’s
been a good year and I want to thank all of you for your
support and welcome. I’m only going to make some very
short individual ‘thank yous’, and that to the wardens,
Father Michael , Alan and ordinand Anne for their support
and work together. This church has good team work, and
there are lots of people who do many things, some seen
like the music or PCC but many more unseen, that I’m
still finding out about. So a huge thank you to everyone.
Many of the highlights have actually been covered in
other reports.
My priorities throughout my ministry have always been
worship and then pastoral care. If we get these right,
then the rest will follow. Obviously it has been a year
also of working out how to be the Vicar of two parishes
but today I am just talking about here at Oxley.
I think the worship on the whole is good, and I guess I
would highlight for myself, the remembrance service and
Blue Christmas, the other Christmas services especially
our name feast and the ‘turn’s afterwards. That was fun.
My most special thing though, occurs during our
celebration of Holy Communion, and although we started
distributing Communion with me sitting due to my
arthritis, it actually for me, has become very special.
There is that little bit more time so that I pray for
every person individually as I share the bread. It feels
very holy and pastoral,
and this leads me onto pastoral care.
Gradually as time goes by I am asked for more
involvement, and it takes time for you to trust me or
even believe that I am available, but I am. I do like to
visit people in hospital, or know when someone’s dying or
died, but I haven’t always known in time, or at all.
We might need to improve the communication a little.
I want to bring my chosen text in here.
As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord,
continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up
in him and established in the faith, just as you were
taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with
thanksgiving. At the same time pray for us that God will
open to us a door for the word, that we may declare the
mystery of Christ, for which I am in prison, so that I
may reveal it clearly, as I should.
Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the
most of the time. Let your speech be gracious, seasoned
with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer
everyone.
It has been a delight to worship here with people who
have ‘received Christ,... abounding in thanksgiving’; we
don’t always remember that St Paul enjoins his folk to
pray and worship.
Having done a year, I might want us to play a little
more, enrich the liturgy a bit.

It is good to be in church of grown up Christians, and
the challenge is to continue to live our lives in him,
rooted and built up in him. We need to think about how we
grow, get fed as mature Christians. Many of you are
living the kingdom out in important work places, and are
we enabling you and your faith to be there? Are we
resourcing you?

I want to move on to the second part of my text, where it
talks about ‘outsiders’ and opening a ‘door for the
word’.
We have treasure here, and there have been couple of
things that have sprung up as opportunities, Bushbury
Lane school, coming regularly and wanting our
involvement.
Maybe the science park will develop, and we do good
funerals and baptism, but maybe we need to think again
how to follow them up.

We don’t get ‘passing trade’ where people come and try
out the church much. In fact I can almost name the Sunday
s when there has been someone new.
Christmas, is one of the ideal times to reach out to new
people and the wardens and I have talked about this and
we thought that we want to keep our treasure of worship
and traditional worship but in addition, we are want to
run a ‘Community Carol service’ this year, hopefully
with involvement from the schools, and community groups.
And really make a go of advertising well.
We are going to try and focus in that in the Autumn.
And we need to think a little more about our publicity
and signage.

Basically I see us developing, going in the same
direction, that we have been going in.
Rowan Williams used to say that trick to mission was to
look around and see what God was up to and join in. Maybe
we could be just a bit more focussed, more explicit about
being open.
One of treasures is our theology, a practice of welcome.
There is an organisation called ‘Inclusive Church’ and I
think we fit with them very well. I’ve put their belief
statement on the sheet with the text.
"We believe in inclusive Church - church which does not
discriminate, on any level, on grounds of economic power,
gender, mental health, physical ability, race or
sexuality. We believe in Church which welcomes and serves
all people in the name of Jesus Christ; which is
scripturally faithful; which seeks to proclaim the Gospel
afresh for each generation; and which, in the power of
the Holy Spirit, allows all people to grasp how wide and
long and high and deep is the love of Jesus Christ."
We’ve already committed ourselves to looking at how to be
a ‘dementia friendly church’ and we know we have some
more work to do on being more accessible.
There isn’t a church in this city that actually says
explicitly, that it welcomes gay people, and I’d like to
work towards that and being more open for all, on all the
fronts.
We need to think about what barriers there are to people
knowing about us, coming in and trying us out or
participating more. When we’ve done that we can trust God
then to do the rest.
Particularly I want to also get us to begin to think
about the white working class, that live in our parish,
those that feel disenfranchised, that’s also in
‘Inclusive Church’s statement at the beginning. I think
we could use some of their material. There is a local rep
and I’d like to ask him to come and talk to us and see
what we can do.
I guess I want to go back to our text.
And ask you to think, where are you on this… and where
are we as a church?
Are you, we, rooted and being built up, and if not what
would help,
do you need help with growing in prayer, have you got a
pastoral need for yourself or someone you know,
are we open to ‘outsiders’ , and what can we do to
improve that.
As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord,
continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up
in him and established in the faith, just as you were
taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with
thanksgiving. At the same time pray for us that God will
open to us a door for the word, that we may declare the
mystery of Christ, for which I am in prison, so that I
may reveal it clearly, as I should.
Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the
most of the time. Let your speech be gracious, seasoned
with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer
everyone.
If you have any comments on this or anything else, then
please let me or the wardens know. !
All of this is so that we may continue to ‘declare the
mystery of Christ’ in this place, making the ‘most of our
time’.
Thank you.
Revd Gennie Evans

 
Posted by Janet Taylor at 11:31 pm.


 
Friday, 21 April 2017:

Jesus knows us and loves us


This week in church we have the story of Jesus and the
Samaritan woman at the well, from chapter 4 of John’s
gospel. Maybe it was like this:

Noreen at the well

Narrator: Jesus came,
By himself,
to Jacob’s well in the town Sychar.
He was tried and sat down about noon.

A Samaritan woman came to draw some water
And Jesus said to her,

Jesus: Can I have a drink of water?

Narrator: The woman answered,

Noreen: You are a Jew,
I am a Samaritan.
How can you ask me for a drink?

Jesus: If only you knew what God gives
And who was asking you for a drink,
You would ask him
And he would give you life giving water,
And you would never be thirsty again.

Noreen: Can I have some of that water?

Jesus: Go and call your husband and come back.

Noreen: I haven’t got a husband

Jesus: You’re right.
You’ve had five
And the man you have now isn’t your
husband.

Noreen: I see you are a prophet.
And I know that when the Messiah comes,
He’ll tell us everything

Jesus: I am he.
I who am talking to you now.

Noreen: Well what could I say?

Harry’s lying in his bed
Waiting for me to come back and make the
dinner
And I’m standing gabbing on to some other man...
another man...
And he’s a Jew...

But...

Anyway...

I don’t think I’ve ever talked to a man
who understood me.
But this man did.

It was if
Everything I’ve never been able to tell anyone...

I could tell him,
Even the things
I don’t like admitting to myself...

And he knew, he understood. I could tell him everything
and he knew...he told me right back
He told me everything I’ve ever done,

and it was all right.

It was like saying
the best prayer of my life
and having it answered there and then.

(From ‘Present on earth’ by the Wild Geese Worship
Group)

It’s a good story, it was hot, and Jesus was thirsty, so
he said
‘Would you give me a drink please?’
Yes, and then he told her things about herself. She
didn’t tell him, and he didn’t have to guess. Jesus knew,
because he was God.
It was bit of a miracle, that Jesus knew everything about
her. She was amazed, and surprised.
Jesus knew all the good things about her, and also all
the bad things that she’d done.
But he wanted to be her friend. And he loved her,
accepted her, knowing everything, good bad, secrets
everything.

The woman went and told everyone back in the village that
Jesus was the Christ, God, that he told her everything
that she’d ever done, and wanted to be her friend, that
he came to help people.

It is the same today, whether you’re young, old, black,
gay, straight, white, single, married, got a partner,
whatever.
Jesus knows all about you, us,
and he says I want to be your friend, Come, drink my
water. Be my friend.

And we can. One of the ways we are Jesus friends is by
coming to church, and later sharing his bread and wine.

And we all need to remember that, that Jesus knows about
us, we don’t have to be afraid, and he loves us.

Thank you Jesus that you know all about us, and love us
and want to be our friend.

Amen.

 
Posted by Janet Taylor at 11:56 am.


 
Thursday, 9 March 2017:

From Rev Gennie


It’s January as I write this, a new year, a time for
reflection. We have also been thinking about the
Epiphany.

It is an odd word, and yet that word means a ‘moment of
sudden and great revelation or realisation’

It’s like a moment of mystery, when suddenly things make
sense. And it used for the time when Jesus was made
manifest to the gentiles, the magi, the wisest people,
and there was a mystery. Following a star.

We have spent some time reflecting on what the story can
mean for us.
You may like to do the same.

The wise Magi set out to follow a star:
God is found in the moments of wonder that make us stop
and ponder the mystery.

What have been your own ‘awakening moments’ of wonder
that have led you deeper into mystery?

The star’s light was seen in the darkness:
In their darker moments they trusted that the light was
still to be found.

How have you experienced the dark?
Where/how did you recognise the light?


They asked questions when they were lost:
Continuing to try to make sense of where they were and
where they were being led, they looked for help.

What are the questions you live with?
Who are ‘wisdom figures’ for you?
Who has helped you with your questions?


They traveled together:
We don’t know how many of them, but we can imagine the
little community that they became as they traveled
together, sharing this experience.

Where do you experience community?
What does this add to your journeying?


They met King Herod on the way:
For his own reasons of power and control he tried to
deceive them.
We need to recognise the twisted value systems of our
world and not get caught up in them or be misled by them.
In what ways are you most often pulled off course?
They bowed down in adoration:
Falling on their knees they worshiped the King – a moment
beyond intellectual understanding, and of recognition.
We can imagine that moment of knowing in the deep
silence.

Do you cultivate silence in your life so that there can
be moments of knowing and of recognition?


They offered their gifts:
To be in the presence demanded a response, an offering –
of themselves and of their gifts.
Identify your own gifts. What are you offering of
yourself, your time and your material possessions?


In a dream they were shown the truth:
Because of the danger, they were warned to return by a
different way.
Revelation can come to us through our dreams.
Have you ever experienced this? How else do you
experience God’s revealing of the way to you?

For prayerful pondering:
So at the beginning of a new year, maybe spend some time
reflecting:
• Name and give thanks for a moment of wonder.
• Resolve to offer your gift this year in a
particular way.
• Name some aspect of darkness and pray for light.
• Name a companion on the journey and give thanks
for their support.

A blessed new year from Revd Gennie

 
Posted by Janet Taylor at 6:05 pm.


 
Monday, 5 December 2016:

From Rev Gennie


As I write this we are coming up to the last Sunday of
the church’s year, and the feast day of Christ the King.
And it is the day that Donald Trump has become President
of the USA. So I am thinking about what sort of king, or
the most powerful man in earth is going to be, and what
sort of King is Jesus.

In the reading set for the Christ the King Sunday, Luke
tells the profoundly moving story of three men dying on
crosses. One of them is angry, the second repentant and
aware, the third is Jesus, “the firstborn of all
creation,” but he is also dying on the cross.

And the repentant man recognizes the difference between
them, sees the sign above Jesus’ head, ‘This is the King
of the Jews,‘ and despite what his eyes see, just another
dying man—he makes a strange request of Jesus: ‘Remember
me when you come into your kingdom.’
But Jesus’ reply gives him much more, he says, ‘Today you
will be with me in Paradise.’ He promises relief and
heaven. There is a glimpse of who Jesus is, offered at
this most hopeless of moments.

Jesus rarely revealed his divine authority. He chose the
way of justice, love, and humility in the short earthly
life that led him to the cross. But here and there we
find a few glimpses of the glory: the stories of his
birth hint at this with all the heavenly host, the
angels, proclaiming the glory of his birth.

And the writer of the Colossians writes years later—‘for
in him all things in heaven and on earth were created. .
.’ It is a glory he had known before—‘he, himself, is
before all things’;

There is the sudden appearance of the Holy Spirit Jesus’
Baptism and the words only the few heard, “You are my
Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased” (Mark
1:11b);

We also remember the transfiguration for the chosen three
disciples; where his shining glory was shown. We remember
the triumphal entry into Jerusalem with cloaks and leafy
branches spread before him to the accompaniment of
Hosannas; and, finally, this moment at the crucifixion
when he assures the penitent thief of a place in
Paradise.

The Sunday of Christ the King, and all through the
Christmas season we are faced with thinking about what
this means. We are given clues of what the scoffers think
of Jesus as king, at the cross saying ‘Are you not the
Messiah, Save yourself and us.’ This is another
temptation for Jesus like the devil offered him in the
desert three years earlier.
Jesus is offered the chance to save himself, to avoid the
cross, and to save the criminals as well. He is tempted
to choose another vocation, to be a different sort of
king, perhaps a political figure. And yet Jesus remains
steadfast.

Jesus saves others, including us, by not saving himself.
He is committed to God’s plan, which has included
betrayal and death. Only in the powerlessness of the
cross can he demonstrate the authority over the universe,
that ultimately rescues criminals, scoffers, religious
leaders and us. Jesus defines what sort of king he is.

The Christian faith is not a power struggle, that follows
the rules of this world, of retaliation, competition,
greed and domination. Instead Jesus goes to the cross,
and beyond.

The dying thief, sees the truth, he acknowledges his
guilt, but he sees that Jesus will enter the kingly
realm, not by coming down from the cross, but by dying.
The thief shows extraordinary faith and insight and says
‘Jesus remember me, when you come into kingdom’.

This is a confession of faith, and shows that he has
understood the gospel, that all the mocking, trials and
crucifixion are needed to go through to the resurrection.
Jesus loved his killers. The love of Jesus, his
forgiveness, shows that there is another way.
It shows that love is stronger than evil, love is
stronger than death. That love undoes these powers of sin
and death.

Most people are aware that they fail, that they get
things wrong, that they are estranged from God, and
themselves, that they will die. And yet we can have more.
We can pray this prayer for ourselves, ‘Jesus, remember
me…’ We can pray this prayer knowing that he does,
knowing that he is the Lord, that he has overcome
violence, sin and death, and that he knows and loves us.

And we can let that love into our lives. Do we accept
Jesus as our king? We need to keep doing so. He will not
force himself on you, that is not his way. He may be the
Lord who holds the universe together, but the cross shows
he forces nothing, but shows love.

If we want to be part of his kingdom, we need to just
ask, we all need to receive his forgiveness, and let him
wash the dirt away, receive the life, the eternal life.
The kingdom of God, is about seeking the lost, offering
salvation to those who call out to him and making friends
of enemies. And we share in it.

We may want to also pray that our church and all
Christians can show this love, that we can be accepting
of those who have been criminals.
We can pray for reconciliation, a different sort of power
in the world.
But it begins with us.
Let us pray that we will not only ask Jesus to remember
us, but that we will remember him.

And Jesus reply, when we call out to him?
‘You will be with me in paradise.’


 
Posted by Janet Taylor at 11:04 am.


 
Sunday, 23 October 2016:

Ordinand's blog


With the dark nights and cooler weather looming, we know
that we are coming towards the autumn. Liturgically we
are approaching the end of the Church’s year. As I write
we are about to celebrate our Harvest Festival. This
year we have linked it to Creationtide, when we are able
to think about God’s creation and also to think about
environmental issues. The Youth Group were able to focus
on this when they visited the Reflections garden at
Beaudesert on their retreat camp. So we’re about to
celebrate Creation tide and Harvest, but we must look
ahead.
For many people the end of October and beginning of
November means Remembrance. Everyone knows the secular
‘festival’ of Hallowe’en but not everyone knows that it
stems from a holy day. We celebrate All Saints Day on
November 1st and All Souls on November 2nd. The root
word of Hallowe’en is ‘hallow’ which means holy, and
‘e’en’ is an abbreviation for evening. So it refers to
the evening before All Saints Day when we honour the
saintly people of the past. More than a thousand years
ago in Ireland and Britain, a common custom of Christians
was to come together on the eve of the feast of All
Hallows Day to ask for God's blessing and protection from
evil in the world. Often, they would dress in costumes of
saints or evil spirits and act out the battle between
good and evil around bonfires. That's the source of the
modern observance of Halloween.
Churches often hold Remembrance services on Remembrance
Sunday. We will hold our act of remembrance during our
10:45 service as we think about issues of war and peace,
and loss. May we also remember those who are on active
service in our armed forces today, and their families.
With images of war-torn Syria filling our TV screens and
the footage from the world wars, we could be forgiven for
wondering where is God in all this? War is made by
people, not God. God is there in the suffering and in
the silences, God is there in the aid convoys and the
medical expertise. God is there through the prayers of
countless people. God is there.
Through our words and actions, can we show people that
God is here with us all today in Oxley?

Anne


 
Posted by Janet Taylor at 6:39 pm.


 
Monday, 8 August 2016:

Anne's article


“Come away to a deserted place…and rest awhile.” We find
these words in Mark chapter 6. At this time of year I
suspect many of us are turning our thoughts towards
holidays or time away from the norm.
Not everyone will have the luxury of a complete break
during the summer, I know, but what I think we can take
from Mark 6 verses 30-31 is that we all do need to have
some sort of ‘down time’. Whatever we call it - a
holiday, a mini-break, a day out, or even a couple of
hours spent in the garden, we need some time away from
the normality of everyday life.
We know from reading the Bible that Jesus went away - or
tried to get away - for time alone with God before key
moments in his ministry. He recognised that it was
important to make time for himself, for time for him to
be with God and for him to try to recharge his batteries.
We may be away on holiday or we may not, but we can try
to use sensibly what time we can have to relax. Maybe
try to tune in with nature around you - actually listen
to the tunes the birds sing, or watch the ducks or
seagulls inflight. Notice how the breeze rustles the
grass or the leaves on the trees, or how it causes waves
to ripple. Feel the breeze on your face. Take time to
smell the fresh, earthy smell after the rain. In short,
take time.
This isn’t easy to do, I know, but in so doing we can
become more in tune with creation and with our Creator
God. When I had a tough month full of assignment
deadlines and with sermons to prepare on placement, I
found that there were times when I simply had to move
away from the computer or from my books and notes. A
short walk which took perhaps 20 minutes was enough to
refresh me. I noticed the dandelions growing in the
cracks in the pavement, I heard the birdsong around me;
in fact those 20 minutes revived me. I was aware of
God’s presence in our world.
May we all become more aware and in our own way reflect
God’s presence to those around us.
Anne
(I’m an ordinand at Oxley)

 
Posted by Janet Taylor at 11:34 pm.


 
Saturday, 2 July 2016:

Pentecost


As I write this message it is the feast of Pentecost. I
want to talk for a moment about natural power. Wild fires
like in Canada or hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes,
volcanic eruptions and tsunami waves, they all
fascinate us. There are lots of TV programmes on them.
Their destructive force seems to come out of nowhere to
wreak havoc upon man and nature. Television gives many
people the chance to watch their devastation from a safe
distance, so that they mean only fantastic images in the
mind’s eye.
It is very different for those who undergo one
first hand. I know people who have been in the Caribbean
when there’s been a hurricane, or the volcano on
Montserrat. Suddenly, there’s a new respect for the
immense power residing in nature, real and dangerous.
It is a power that before the catastrophe had no
meaning or existence, so hidden and remote did it remain
from the predictable routine of daily life. Such an
experience changes lives. In an instant the world is
turned upside down by the tremendous release of energy
through water, air, fire, and earth. An unrecognizable
landscape and devastated communities are left in its
wake. And it can take years for people to recover.
Science helps us to understand the systems behind
this release of energy. But the world continues to be
caught by surprise by its many manifestations. We are
continually reminded of our fragile existence within
creation.
There is another power, a creative power of an
altogether different sort and size that informs our
faith. It is this power that changes lives at Pentecost.
It is the power behind creation and it is the power that
was received by a small, insignificant, and
unsophisticated group of men and women, gathered in
Jerusalem waiting for a promise to be fulfilled.
The horizons of their world were limited to the
countryside of Galilee and Palestine until the Spirit
opened their hearts and minds to a greater world beyond.
Nothing could have prepared them for the magnitude of
their enlightenment, as they responded to this world-
shattering experience of the supernatural creative spirit
of God.
To stand in its path was to catch fire with divine love.
In an instant their world was turned inside out by a
tremendous rush of creative power released into their
hearts and minds, souls and bodies, manifesting as flames
about their heads.
This inrush of creative energy, that brings
together, unifies, heals, more powerfully than natural
powers tear apart, this power poured itself out among
them. Their eyes and hearts were opened to a completely
different category of experience, unknown to the world.
They saw a new world, through new eyes. The differences
of culture and language that separated one from another
crumbled before this unifying power. Suddenly each could
speak and hear, with the same understanding, the stories
of God’s deeds of power.
As the power of nature, opens us up to the enormity of
its scale and its ability to destroy, -so too the power
of the Spirit opens our hearts to a new relation among
people, a new intimacy with God.
Man-made bridges crumble before natural disasters; But
the Spirit builds bridges beyond time and space, between
slave and free, man and woman, Jew and Gentile.
It is this power, the power of the Spirit of God,
that changes lives at Pentecost. This is the supernatural
power that sustains creation, that raised Jesus from the
dead, that reunites what has been torn apart, reconciles
the alienated. The spirit of Pentecost rushes into the
world as if out of nowhere, and breathes life into the
midst of death. This is Pentecost, the outpouring of
God’s spirit upon the disciples, then and now.
God opened the way and taught their hearts, and
now other languages, other voices, other experiences, are
no longer foreign to our own. All are one in God’s love
through the power of his reconciling spirit. For God’s
power has been received and has shown the coming together
of creation, which exceeds beyond our capacity to
comprehend, and beyond the power of nature and man to
destroy.
Suddenly the systems of oppression and sin that
bind and imprison seem insignificant compared to the
marvellous freedom the spirit of God breathes into us,
his fragile beloved children.
And we can have this, we can be filled, again and
again. Today. We say quietly ‘Come Holy Spirit’ into us.
And then filled with the power of God, we are made
capable of sharing God’s mercy, God’s compassion, God’s
forgiveness to the blind world.
Today we are reminded of the creative energy of
God, which overwhelms the destructive powers of man and
nature so that we too might learn to see the Spirit as it
rushes through our own world, reconciling, reuniting all
of creation through us, within us, for us.
The spirit leads us into a new life, of love,
where slaves are made children, sinners forgiven, old
wounds from abuse are healed, there are visions and
dreams that speak of a reality that does not conform to a
world
dark and bloodied by the violence of our blindness.
How? We pray, we call on God, and as Peter tells
us, ‘Call on the Lord’s name and be saved’, God has
provided access to the Spirit, through the sacraments of
bread and wine, and holy oil, and just simply calling on
his name.
So look here in this church and around and about
Oxley for people going quietly about God’s work, creating
order out of chaos, offering compassion to the suffering
and hope to the desperate.
This is God at work, in spectacular and
unspectacular, quiet loving ways. The Holy Spirit of God,
here. In ordinary and extraordinary ways, at the scene
of natural disasters and the more unnatural ones like
wars and oppression, and in our ordinary struggles of
this life, the Spirit of God flows in to heal and mend,
to recreate anew.
This is Pentecost. So we pray, “Come Holy Spirit,
come fill our hearts with your power, and your love. Come
Holy Spirit”.

This is Pentecost.

Amen

 
Posted by Janet Taylor at 10:10 pm.


 
Saturday, 16 April 2016:

Gennie's first article


Magazine article
Greetings. Happy Easter.
This is my first magazine article for the parishes of
Oxley, the Epiphany and Wednesfield, St Gregory the
Great. I am writing this, in a study that feels decidedly
unsettled, with boxes all around as I prepare to move
vicarages. And the rest of the house is full of more.
Moving is an unsettling process and probably a little
unsettling for the parishes too, but maybe a little
information as way of introduction will help.
I am 54 and I grew up in Wolverhampton and went to school
in Oxley and Wednesfield before going to Manchester to
study Biology and Microbiology.
I had grown in faith from being a teenager and in my
twenties I deepened my experience of church tradition to
include a real commitment to social justice in all forms.
So yes I was involved in the peace movement and went to
Greenham Common. My early jobs included youth projects,
working in a refuge for abused women, and other community
projects. I was drawn to work in mental health and
throughout my spiritual journey I have found something of
God in the hard places. My ministry has always been in
inner urban areas. I discovered prayer and was fortunate
to be guided well.
Despite loving my youth or social work I also found I
wanted to be able to integrate talking about the eternal
and I entered religious life in London and was a novice
for two years. I loved the prayer but in the end it
seemed that I should really be a parish priest. I trained
at St Michael’s Llandaff, Cardiff and had a curacy in two
newly joined together parishes in Moss Side in
Manchester.
Yes, at times this was on the edge, but I learned my
trade as a priest before going to the Pleck in Walsall
for the last 8 years. I have loved being a vicar there,
but am also really excited about coming to Wolverhampton.
What else to write about me, I have three cats, I love
the outdoors and used to be a rock climber and
mountaineer. I now struggle with arthritis and have
adapted some of the sports to non weight bearing ones. I
sometime use an electric bike or float down rivers in a
kayak. I like watching the birds and painting, music…
As I prepare to come to my new life I am minded of the
joke that is often told that if you want to give God a
good laugh, then tell him your plans. And I think there
is an element of truth in that.
I can’t remember who taught me many years ago, that the
the secret to mission (the real buzz word in church
circles these days) is to look for what God is doing in a
place and join in.
I do not have plans yet, unless we count planning to look
and listen.
I know that God has been and is at work and I really look
forward to finding how and where I can join in, in Oxley
and Wednesfield.

God Bless, Gennie

March 3rd 2016

 
Posted by Janet Taylor at 10:39 pm.


 
Sunday, 14 February 2016:

Rev Keith's last blog


A Farewell from Rev Keith Duckett, Interim Minister at
St. Gregory’s, Wednesfield & Church of the Epiphany,
Oxley…
It seems strange to be saying ‘goodbye’ already, but nine
and a half months have gone quickly and it is time to
move on! I hope it is in fact ‘au revoir’ more than
‘goodbye’ and I will still be living in Wednesfield, so
hope to see you in the future. Above all, I want to say
‘thankyou’ to Bishop Clive, Archdeacon Sue and your
Parish Wardens for giving me the opportunity to minister
with you, and a ‘thankyou’ to the church members who have
welcomed and supported me. It has been a time of
rejuvenation of my spirituality and ministry, for which I
will always be grateful.
I am moving on to be part-time chaplain based mainly at
Walsall Palliative Care Centre within Walsall Healthcare
NHS Trust, whilst carrying on with my Counselling
training at Staffordshire University for another year or
so. Walsall Healthcare chaplains share ‘on-call’ duties
with New Cross Hospital chaplains across both Trusts, so
if you see me there in an official capacity you’ll know
why. As some of you know, I’ve also been doing a few
hours as a ‘Chaplain for Wellbeing’ with the Edgbaston
Wellbeing Hub and some GP Medical Centres in Birmingham.
Current arrangements will not be able to continue, but I
am hoping I may be able to continue this in some other
way in the future, or do some work for the Association of
Chaplains in General Practice.
I have been with you at a very significant time in the
life of your churches as the new United Benefice was
formed over the Summer. This new arrangement can be a
source of enrichment and fresh opportunities, but
probably also difficult challenges. This is likely to be
especially true for your new Vicar, Rev Gennie Evans; I
was going to say: ‘so please support her’; but I will
word that differently and say ‘please SHOW HER your
support’. It was great to have someone come to me after a
service the other day and thank me for something I said
in the sermon which helped them cope better with their
circumstances at home. We don’t often get feedback, and I
can assure you that ministers are only human and it is
helpful to hear the positive stuff. Equally, we need to
hear the negatives, so I would urge you to find a way to
have a quiet, constructive conversation with your Vicar
or a Warden if there are things you are unhappy about in
the future.
There are likely to be tough times ahead for ministry and
mission in all churches, not just for us in Wolverhampton
and the Black Country, but nationally and globally too.
So it was lovely to have such a good turnout from both
churches at the service for the Feast of the Epiphany in
Oxley on the 6th January where I felt we were able to
remind ourselves of some of the essentials of our faith
and discipleship. Church life may at times lead to
disagreements about priorities and how to do things, but
I repeat one of the points I mentioned in the sermon on
that day: the theme and readings reminded me of Psalm
34:5 “Look to God and be radiant…”. Let’s keep getting
back to basics: feast the eyes of your soul upon God (in
scripture, sacrament, nature, fellowship, meditation,
icons, whatever is right for you) and you will reflect
God’s light in the world. Every time we sense a tension
rising amongst our congregation members, perhaps we could
turn back to this verse.
It has been suggested that we print an extract from a
meditation that I read out in my Sermon on Sunday 10th
January when we celebrated the Baptism of Christ, so here
it is, from John O’Donohue’s book Benedictus. A Book of
Blessings (published in 2007 by Bantam Press). It is from
a Chapter entitled: “To Retrieve the Lost Art of
Blessing”… and may God indeed bless all your futures
through all his words and mine. Amen!

 
Posted by Janet Taylor at 10:24 pm.


 
Saturday, 2 January 2016:

From Rev Keith - November


Rev Keith, Interim Minister writes:
I am writing this in the week following the atrocities in Paris and just after the announcement that you have a new Vicar, Rev Gennie Evans, who is currently at St. John’s in the Pleck, Walsall. The events in Paris make us wonder if beliefs and faith and ideologies are worth fighting for. To what extent should we try to impose our own views of right and wrong, good and bad, on others? Does it always end up in arguments, disagreements, falling out, even violence? The alternative extreme is to be always watering down our own views to please others, so that others do not get upset; or even to give up altogether, to back-off and leave it to others to fight over religion and politics.

Let’s be honest, all of us generally think that we are right! Some of us deal with this by trying to manipulate the world, the church, our relatives, our colleagues, into our way of seeing things and doing things. Others deal with this by staying on the edge of community life or church life; some even think “stuff what the world thinks; I am going off into my own private world, with people who are like me, to do my own thing”. But is there another way?

It is a delight to know that you will have a new Vicar starting with you early next year, but there will inevitably be differences of opinion about how things should be done in the future. Not least the fact that you and Gennie will have to work out how best to share her time between the two parishes and the two congregations. Expectations will be many and varied. Gennie will bring her own gifts, ideas and priorities, which some of you will agree with or even love. Others will find change a bit difficult to handle (whether it is planned or unplanned, unintended or unforeseen). There will be exciting new developments and there will be misunderstandings and mistakes from all quarters.

Some of you may feel like objecting to certain things. Others will find a new lease of life, preferring the different approaches which may arise. Still others will be uncomfortable or unhappy, but will just quietly back off and ‘vote with their feet’. Is there another way? How do we learn to live and work together in a world full of numerous different points of view?

I am also sitting here pondering my sermon for the “Feast of Christ the King” this coming Sunday. And there’s something in the Gospel reading which may be of help for us here. I’m looking specifically at John chapter 18, verse 37. The version printed in my Lectionary book is this:
“Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” (NRSV)
As you know, I often look at different translations to get a different angle on things… So have a look at this:
“All who are on the side of truth listen to my voice.” (Jerusalem Bible)
“People who are interested in the truth listen to me.” (‘Good as New’ Translation)
“Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” (New International Version)
Here I get the sense of:
If you are seeking truth (wisdom), you will not be afraid to give me a fair hearing.
If you are secure in yourself, you will have courage to listen for further revelations of truth, no matter who is speaking.
If you are insecure and fearful of change, you will not be open to others.
As the First Letter of John says: “Perfect love casts out fear.” As St Paul says in Romans chapter 8: “You have not received a spirit of fear but a spirit of adoption” – You are adopted because God loves you and so you do not need to fear. Instead, you can be a listener; always open to others’ feelings and points of view; not afraid to be challenged. I pray that we will all become a community of deeper listeners, setting an example to the world and each other that truth is discovered in the love of listening.
In John 18 verse 36, Jesus distances himself from the forms of power that colour most human institutions: domination, manipulation, violence, bullying – “my kingdom (my way of ruling) is not from this world”… We do things differently where I come from; I am here to encourage a community of listening, says Jesus…. And so how about this translation of 1 John 17 to finish with:
Love comes to its perfection in us when we can face the Day of Judgement fearlessly, because even in this world we have become as he is. (New Jerusalem Bible)
Let us have no less an ambition than ‘to become as he is’, by the grace of God. Amen.

 
Posted by Janet Taylor at 12:30 am.


 
Friday, 2 October 2015:

From Rev. Keith


Rev Keith, Interim Minister for Epiphany, Oxley & St. Gregory’s, Wednesfield, writes:
As I sit down to type this article, I am looking forward to a weekend away when we shall be going to Cardiff for two Rugby World Cup matches at the Millenium Stadium. (Yes, I got very lucky in the public draw for tickets!)
By the time you read this, you’ll know what happened. I wonder if it will include a serious injury or two? The Wales squad have already lost two key players to injury before the tournament has even started. Every now and again there are some really serious injuries in the world of rugby. Is it worth it? Well of course some of you will have no interest in rugby whatsoever, but imagine how those who enjoy watching or playing it might answer that question…
Players who take part do so at their own risk. Seriously injured players probably make up a tiny proportion of the total number of players across the world at all age levels. (Someone google that for me.) But, still, is it worth it? Well, you can guess my answer…. Even after having seen a recent TV documentary about the prevalence and long-term dangers of mild and hidden concussion in the sport, I still find myself looking forward to this weekend (but glad that it is other people playing – like gladiators with me watching on from a safe distance!!).
How did I come to be thinking all this stuff about rugby? Well, I was wondering about how to suggest a little something at both Church Council meetings about the place of the offering of money within the liturgy on a Sunday morning. And I was reminded of the chapters in a little book that my wife used to structure a service when we were both training at Queen’s Theological College back in the late 90’s. It’s by Henri Nouwen, published in 1992, and it’s called “Life of the Beloved. Spiritual Living in a Secular World.” (I’ve found our copy and intend to read it properly for the first time; if you like the sound of it, I notice you can currently get it for £2.34 on Amazon!) Some of the chapters were called:
Taken
Blessed
Broken
Given

Anyway, to pull all these threads together: here goes! You may recall that, at church on a Sunday morning, after the Offertory (when people collect and bring forward the bread, wine and money) and before the Eucharistic Prayer (the big long prayer where the priest stands behind the altar table), there is usually another little section. It’s entitled “The Preparation of the Table / The Taking of the Bread and Wine”. At Epiphany there is no prayer printed and the priest chooses some words to use. At St Gregory’s, a prayer is printed, and you have probably noticed that I use a slightly different version of what’s there.
For me, the reason we bring up a collection of money at this point in the service is because it symbolises our offering of ourselves – our being taken - as part of ‘Holy Communion’. When we bring forward the bread and wine, we are bringing gifts of creation to use as Jesus did.
The important thing here is that Holy Communion involves four elements or actions: Taking, Blessing, Breaking and Giving, to help us follow what Jesus did. You may or may not realise that these four actions are represented by four different prayers and actions in the service. The ‘Blessing’ part is the bit we call ‘The Eucharistic Prayer’ (“Lift up your hearts. We lift them to the Lord… etc, etc…). The “Breaking” part is obvious: “We break this bread to share in the body of Christ” etc…. The “Giving” part is, of course, when the priest and other Eucharistic ministers distribute the body and blood (the consecrated bread and wine).
But what about the first part – the “Taking”? For me, this is about us being taken by God – taken in order to be blessed, so that we can be “broken” for the life of the world; “broken” so that we can be given by God to the world for the sake of growing his “kingdom” (on earth as in heaven). “Broken” here means three possible things to me:
• Changed – as God takes us, sometimes he remoulds us…
(The experience of every rugby match improves a player’s matchplay wisdom… every time we allow ourselves to be ‘taken’ by the Eucharist, we can be moulded a bit more by God for kingdom wisdom…)
• Shared – as God takes us, sometimes he shares us with others…
(Each rugby player shares their talents and physical prowess for the sake of their teammates and the watching audience…We do not just come to the Eucharist for ourselves or for even for our fellow members…)
• Turned upside down and inside out – as God takes us, sometimes he allows us to be taken apart before being re-built/transformed…
(Sometimes players get hurt – no-one wants this but it happens… In the same way, God does not want us to go through the pain of breakdowns of any kind, whether it’s a person’s inner struggle or a split between people… but sometimes the ball has to hit the ground before it can bounce back up, if you see what I mean…).

God takes us just as we are (that’s the confession bit, with forgiveness assured). He then blesses us BEFORE we are “broken”. Only then does God ask us to allow ourselves to be given in the service of his kingdom.
So, to make the link, as some other churches do, I was wondering about holding up the plate of money as I say the second part of this prayer, to symbolise us offering ourselves to be “taken”:
(Holding up the bread and wine)
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation
Through your goodness we have this bread and wine to offer
Fruits of the earth and work of human hands
They will become for us the bread of life and cup of salvation
Blessed be God for ever!
---
(Holding up the plate of money)
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation
Through your goodness we have ourselves to offer
Fruits of the womb and work of your love
We shall become for you a holy people
Blessed be God for ever!

What d’you think? Let me or a member of the PCC know… Hope my explanation helps, or at least provokes your own ideas about what the different sections of worship are all about. Sorry if you knew all this stuff already, but it’s good to return to the heart of our lives as a worshipping community and check out if what we’re doing chimes with what we believe.

I guess you could do a whole lot more with the rugby analogy. Taken = training? Blessed = singing the national anthem? Broken and given…? And there’s a whole new article to be written about how we apply these four elements to our lives beyond Sunday worship… Being taken, blessed, broken and given in the world, Monday to Saturday… but I will read Nouwen’s book first and ponder all this some more!
Yours in Christ
Keith

 
Posted by Janet Taylor at 9:53 pm.


 
Friday, 2 October 2015:

From Rev. Keith


Rev Keith, Interim Minister for Epiphany, Oxley & St. Gregory’s, Wednesfield, writes:
As I sit down to type this article, I am looking forward to a weekend away when we shall be going to Cardiff for two Rugby World Cup matches at the Millenium Stadium. (Yes, I got very lucky in the public draw for tickets!)
By the time you read this, you’ll know what happened. I wonder if it will include a serious injury or two? The Wales squad have already lost two key players to injury before the tournament has even started. Every now and again there are some really serious injuries in the world of rugby. Is it worth it? Well of course some of you will have no interest in rugby whatsoever, but imagine how those who enjoy watching or playing it might answer that question…
Players who take part do so at their own risk. Seriously injured players probably make up a tiny proportion of the total number of players across the world at all age levels. (Someone google that for me.) But, still, is it worth it? Well, you can guess my answer…. Even after having seen a recent TV documentary about the prevalence and long-term dangers of mild and hidden concussion in the sport, I still find myself looking forward to this weekend (but glad that it is other people playing – like gladiators with me watching on from a safe distance!!).
How did I come to be thinking all this stuff about rugby? Well, I was wondering about how to suggest a little something at both Church Council meetings about the place of the offering of money within the liturgy on a Sunday morning. And I was reminded of the chapters in a little book that my wife used to structure a service when we were both training at Queen’s Theological College back in the late 90’s. It’s by Henri Nouwen, published in 1992, and it’s called “Life of the Beloved. Spiritual Living in a Secular World.” (I’ve found our copy and intend to read it properly for the first time; if you like the sound of it, I notice you can currently get it for £2.34 on Amazon!) Some of the chapters were called:
Taken
Blessed
Broken
Given

Anyway, to pull all these threads together: here goes! You may recall that, at church on a Sunday morning, after the Offertory (when people collect and bring forward the bread, wine and money) and before the Eucharistic Prayer (the big long prayer where the priest stands behind the altar table), there is usually another little section. It’s entitled “The Preparation of the Table / The Taking of the Bread and Wine”. At Epiphany there is no prayer printed and the priest chooses some words to use. At St Gregory’s, a prayer is printed, and you have probably noticed that I use a slightly different version of what’s there.
For me, the reason we bring up a collection of money at this point in the service is because it symbolises our offering of ourselves – our being taken - as part of ‘Holy Communion’. When we bring forward the bread and wine, we are bringing gifts of creation to use as Jesus did.
The important thing here is that Holy Communion involves four elements or actions: Taking, Blessing, Breaking and Giving, to help us follow what Jesus did. You may or may not realise that these four actions are represented by four different prayers and actions in the service. The ‘Blessing’ part is the bit we call ‘The Eucharistic Prayer’ (“Lift up your hearts. We lift them to the Lord… etc, etc…). The “Breaking” part is obvious: “We break this bread to share in the body of Christ” etc…. The “Giving” part is, of course, when the priest and other Eucharistic ministers distribute the body and blood (the consecrated bread and wine).
But what about the first part – the “Taking”? For me, this is about us being taken by God – taken in order to be blessed, so that we can be “broken” for the life of the world; “broken” so that we can be given by God to the world for the sake of growing his “kingdom” (on earth as in heaven). “Broken” here means three possible things to me:
• Changed – as God takes us, sometimes he remoulds us…
(The experience of every rugby match improves a player’s matchplay wisdom… every time we allow ourselves to be ‘taken’ by the Eucharist, we can be moulded a bit more by God for kingdom wisdom…)
• Shared – as God takes us, sometimes he shares us with others…
(Each rugby player shares their talents and physical prowess for the sake of their teammates and the watching audience…We do not just come to the Eucharist for ourselves or for even for our fellow members…)
• Turned upside down and inside out – as God takes us, sometimes he allows us to be taken apart before being re-built/transformed…
(Sometimes players get hurt – no-one wants this but it happens… In the same way, God does not want us to go through the pain of breakdowns of any kind, whether it’s a person’s inner struggle or a split between people… but sometimes the ball has to hit the ground before it can bounce back up, if you see what I mean…).

God takes us just as we are (that’s the confession bit, with forgiveness assured). He then blesses us BEFORE we are “broken”. Only then does God ask us to allow ourselves to be given in the service of his kingdom.
So, to make the link, as some other churches do, I was wondering about holding up the plate of money as I say the second part of this prayer, to symbolise us offering ourselves to be “taken”:
(Holding up the bread and wine)
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation
Through your goodness we have this bread and wine to offer
Fruits of the earth and work of human hands
They will become for us the bread of life and cup of salvation
Blessed be God for ever!
---
(Holding up the plate of money)
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation
Through your goodness we have ourselves to offer
Fruits of the womb and work of your love
We shall become for you a holy people
Blessed be God for ever!

What d’you think? Let me or a member of the PCC know… Hope my explanation helps, or at least provokes your own ideas about what the different sections of worship are all about. Sorry if you knew all this stuff already, but it’s good to return to the heart of our lives as a worshipping community and check out if what we’re doing chimes with what we believe.

I guess you could do a whole lot more with the rugby analogy. Taken = training? Blessed = singing the national anthem? Broken and given…? And there’s a whole new article to be written about how we apply these four elements to our lives beyond Sunday worship… Being taken, blessed, broken and given in the world, Monday to Saturday… but I will read Nouwen’s book first and ponder all this some more!
Yours in Christ
Keith

 
Posted by Janet Taylor at 9:51 pm.


 
Thursday, 6 August 2015:

From Rev. Keith


As I sit here to write in mid-July, I have just been reminded that this article is for an edition which will be out at the time of our Harvest Service at Epiphany. I haven’t had a break for a Summer holiday yet, but already my thoughts must turn to Harvest too!
The Harvest Service at Epiphany this year will be on 27th September at 10.45am, followed by a Harvest Lunch… perhaps a good Sunday to aim at inviting family, friends or neighbours who do not normally come or have not been for a long time. Have a think if there is someone you could invite and encourage… after all, a lot of what Jesus did was based around food!
At St Gregory’s, the Harvest service will be on the following Sunday (4th October at 9.15am), but by then we will already have had a big celebration of the Feast Day of St Gregory…. This will take place as part of the Sunday morning service on Sunday 6th September at 9.15am when we hope to have the Marching Band taking part as well! – Perhaps another occasion to invite someone to join you?
I’ll get back to my harvest theme later, but first: Why do we want people to come to church? This might seem like a surprising question for someone like me to be asking, but I have been reminded of some words written by Richard Rohr which I read the other day in his book called “What the Mystics Know: Seven Pathways to Your Deeper Self”. And it goes like this:
Jesus invites us as the Church to become a new community of human beings; he calls us a ‘little flock’ (Luke 12:32). I don’t believe he ever wanted us to be the whole – only the part. He said we should be the yeast, the leaven, not the whole loaf. He called us to be the salt, but we want to be the whole meal. He urged us to be the light that illuminates the mountaintop, but we want to be the whole mountain. The images that Jesus uses are very modest and yet very strong….
It’s very difficult to be yeast, salt or light on your own (to be small, modest and strong at the same time)… we need to be part of small communities that support each other, dotted about all over the world. This way we can feel more confident and enriched by each other to go into our daily lives and be a bit of good flavour in the world. This is why we need to find ways to be communities that others can feel comfortable to join and get involved in. We need them! But this almost certainly means that when someone new shows an interest or joins in, we must be prepared to be changed by them (forever – even if just a little tiny bit).
But you’ve heard all this before – Ministers subtly (or not so subtly) going on about the need to change, to grow, to be open, etc, etc, etc! I understand it is scary to have to be prepared to adapt. It means sacrificing a little bit of our treasured ways and habits. But maybe this is not such a bad thing: in Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus does talk about the possibility of salt “losing its saltiness”. I know from personal experience what it is like to “go stale”… I didn’t realise it at the time when it was happening, but looking back I now realise that I had gone stale in a job I used to do. I know I am mixing lots of metaphors here, but perhaps one way to keep fresh is to allow other chemicals (new people) to react with our own chemical properties (to ‘force’ us to change).
Apparently yeast boosts flavour as well as causing the dough to rise; salt of course can add flavour too (I like a bit on my chips); and light has been crucial for the growth of my potato plants. Too much yeast, salt or light, however, without other key ingredients, and things can be a disaster. Too much of any of these (churchy) ingredients and not enough of other (worldly) things and we might just have a mess on our hands. We are all witnessing on the news channels the effects of too much over-zealous religion in our world today. So, although we have some flavour to offer the world, we also need to be flavoured by the world! Also, maybe if we listen to others, they are more likely to listen to us. As our Area Dean said recently at Deanery Synod, we are way past the days when we could expect people to listen to us.
End of sermon; back to harvest-time! I had wanted to have a go at growing vegetables for a long time, but never quite got round to it. The real reason I think, if I’m honest, was fear of failure. (I like getting things right and perfect, so I have never really been much good at trying things unless I was really sure I knew what I was doing.) But in the end I decided last Autumn that I had to just have a go – trial and error; read a couple of books on the subject, not 10; experiment a bit; make the best of the resources I had or could afford; and so on…. Aha, like me, you can probably see another sermon arising out of my keyboard here….! If I’m honest, I often write sermons and essays like this – start writing and see what words might sprout out of the seedbed of the last paragraph…. Risky I know, and not what you are supposed to do in essay-writing or sermon preparation…. But sometimes it works! – I have passed all my essays so far on my current course, and, as for the sermons… well, you’ll have to ask the punters what they really think!
But anyway, as with my counselling work, cricket coaching, leaving my last job, and even becoming an Interim Minister, so with the vegetable growing – a bit of planning, a lot of faith, sprinkle in some enthusiasm and a dose of ‘have a go and see’ – and my daughter and I are enjoying digging up a weekly crop of vegetables. Perhaps in church life we need to be a bit more experimental with our recipes…. And remember that God is the chef – we are just the ingredients!
Wow; I hope that all made some sense – close to the editorial deadline, I just had to practice what I’ve just been preaching and ‘have a go’. Some of what I’ve said might be wrong; or I might even change my mind in the future; but I guess the important thing was to have a go and invite feedback – let me know what you think and maybe we can be changed by each other! Amen!


 
Posted by Janet Taylor at 5:21 pm.


 
Friday, 22 May 2015:

From the Interim Minister


Rev Keith Duckett, Interim Minister of Church of the Epiphany, Oxley, and St Gregory, Wednesfield, writes: Well it’s been about a month since I joined you as part-time ‘Interim Minister’ on 13 April (although I enjoyed a few opportunities to be with you before that in Lent, Holy Week and the beginnings of Easter). So publication of a Parish Magazine for June in both parishes seems like a perfect time to take stock and reflect.
Firstly can I say a big thankyou to both congregations, and especially their Church Wardens, for your enthusiastic welcome. I do believe that welcome, inclusivity and hospitality are at the heart of the Gospel and so it has been lovely to experience that myself. Secondly, congratulations to you all for keeping faithful and keeping so much going in challenging times. Challenging for you as you go through the process of remaining as two parishes whilst joining together to share a Vicar in the future. Challenging for all Christians in our society as we face so many pressures to remain faithful and to discover the right way forward for church, religion and humanity.
One of the privileges of working for two parishes is that I see how different churches do things differently. This reminds me that there are many different ways to go about ‘being church’ and being faithful to God. None of us can ever be sure of what the right way is, so I thank you for being patient with me as I feel my way forward in ministry; and I hope we can be understanding of each other as we march or fumble our way into the next stages of our lives.
For me, one of the most important spiritual writers of recent times has been Richard Rohr. One of the things he wrote about in one of his books (sorry I can’t remember which one!) is as follows. He notes that one of the dangerous but inevitable things about any organisation or institution is that it will always end up spending at least some of its energies in keeping itself going. Of course, on one level, this is right and necessary. The problem comes when that begins to take over as the primary purpose. So I enjoyed reading what Archdeacon Sue Weller proposed as the wording for part of my ‘Working Agreement’. We are currently in the middle of asking your two Church Councils to accept the full document (or not, as they choose!). But this bit seems so essential and so much beyond argument that I feel it is acceptable to print it now. It goes like this:
“Aim of Post: …leading and encouraging the congregations in Gospel engagement in the parishes. This will be done by identifying with and working alongside the present congregations…”. I think this is an ideal way to capture the core Christian purpose for all of us, as well as the core method of achieving it; could this be a ‘Working Agreement’ for each one of us?
1. Encouraging ourselves and others to engage with the Gospel.
2. Learning to understand (identify with) and get alongside other people, so that we can all do this work of encouragement and engagement.
Finally for now, three things:
1. After over 12 years as a chaplain in hospitals, a hospice and a school, it has been refreshing for me to join you all in congregational life. I have particularly enjoyed preaching and presiding at the main Sunday services, so thanks again for having me!
2. In some ways I feel like a beginner. But I also hope I bring valuable experience and insights from the past 12 years of ministry ‘on the frontline’ with the wider world. Much of my time was spent with “fringe Christians, ex-Christians and non-Christians” - something I felt inspired to do; people I was often inspired by.
3. All of which reminds me of one of my favourite quotes: “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few” (Shunryu Suzuki). Thanks for reading!

 
Posted by Keith Duckett at 5:52 pm.


 
Friday, 27 February 2015:

Thoughts during Lent


Looking at the grey cold afternoon outside from the comfort of my study I wondered how the saints we celebrate in Lent coped with the cold and snow they encountered as they travelled around Britain on their missionary journeys, If youíve ever been to St Davidís cell on the south western tip of west Wales you can marvel at the view on a summerís day: however, it would be extremely stormy and bitterly cold during the winter months. St David was used to hardship and discomfort as the Monastic Rule of David prescribed that the monks had to pull the plough themselves without draught animals: to drink only water:®to eat only bread with salt and herbs and to spend the evening in prayer, reading and writing. No personal possessions were allowed; to utter the words ëthis is my bookí was an offence. St David lived a very simple life and he practiced asceticism, teaching his followers to refrain from eating meat and to abstain from drinking alcohol. His symbol, like the symbol of Wales is a leek.
St Chad who we celebrate on the 2nd March spent his early life travelling around Ireland on foot teaching and preaching. He had to rely on the hospitality of local people and very often between settlements had to sleep in fields. Even later in life when he became a bishop he led a simple life denying himself the comforts other people took for granted.
St Patrick who we celebrate on March 17th led an adventurous life. He was born in Roman Britain at Banna Venta Bernaie in Caphornius. His father was a deacon, his grandfather Potitius was a priest. At the age of 16 he was captured and carried off as a slave to Ireland. Patrick worked as a herdsman and remained a captive for 6 years. Patrick wrote that his faith grew whilst he was in captivity as he prayed on a daily basis. After 6 years he heard a voice telling him that he would soon return home and then the ship was ready to sail. Fleeing his master, he travelled to a port over 200 miles away. There he found a ship and after numerous adventures he returned to his family. Patrick was aged 20 at this point.
Patrick recounts that he had a vision a few years after returning home. He said ëI saw a man coming, as if it were from Ireland. His name was Victorius who carried many letters and gave one of them to read. The heading at the top of the letter read ëThe Voice of the Irishí. As I continued to read the letter I imagined that Iíd heard the voice of those very poor people who were close to the wood at Foclut, which is situated near to the western sea ñ and they cried out as if with one voice ëWe appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us.í
In each of these cases the saint makes nothing of hardship under which he was living, but rather they concentrate on the important focus of their life, which is spreading the gospel. We all need times of challenge to remind us of the many good things that we have been given. We also need reminding at times for our need of God. We live in relative comfort so we tend to lose the urgency to nourish and renew our spiritual lives. St David, Chad and Patrick lived daily with the need to rely on God for His grace to do His work.
As we enter the season of Lent we should make time to recover our sense of need. By the discipline of fasting, even in a small way we are encouraged to pray for the strength to continue through the 40 days of Lent. It is in this way we will be reminded of our daily need of prayer in order to grow in our relationship with Christ. So may we use this time of Lent to develop our spiritual health in preparation for the fantastic events of Easter.
 
Posted by Fr Simon at 5:04 pm.


 
Sunday, 21 September 2014:

"Lord, for the Years"


"Lord for the years, Your love has kept and guided", the first verse of a hymn which has long been one of my favourites and which I chose for my first service here at The Epiphany on 27th May 2004. That proved to have been a good choice as, unbeknown to me, it was something of an Epiphany anthem. So of course I had it as my final hymn at my last service here on 7th September 2014. In the ten years between those two services we have shared so much together here in Oxley, and I take with me to Lichfield many, many memories. My thanks to all of you who have shared those years with me go deeper than I can find words to express. And now, changes and challenges lie ahead for all of us, some of which we may welcome, and others we will not. But in it all there is one constant, the love of God which has never failed us, nor ever will. So there seems only one way to sign off my last blog here "May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all, now and always".
 
Posted by Pat Hawkins at 11:55 am.


 
Wednesday, 6 August 2014:

The light in the darkness


Like thousands of others, millions probably, on 4th August 2014 at 10pm I lit a candle, turned out my lights, and watched the coverage of the Westminster Abbey commemoration of the centenary of the outbreak of World War 1. Among the many moving moments of that service, the sound of a prayer read in German was particularly poignant. And then, at the end, one hundred years to the very minute, the sight of a single candle flame burning above the grave representing those many, many, unnamed dead. But not just any candle flame, rather the light of the Paschal, the Easter, candle which speaks not of easy comfort but of resurrection, new life precisely where hope seems impossible. This was not the war to end all wars, and the tragedies which are unfolding around us this very day are no easier to comprehend. In the midst of it all, our call as Christians is to live in service of the light and to take every opportunity we can to share it.
 
Posted by Pat Hawkins at 11:22 am.


 
Friday, 25 July 2014:

"Sons of Thunder"


I realise that some people are frightened of thunder, and I can imagine some situations in which I would not care to be caught in a storm. but I must admit there is something about the energy and drama of a "good" storm that exhilarates me. So, when Jesus gave the nickname "Sons of Thunder" to two of his disciples, the brothers James and John, I am not convinced that he meant it entirely as a criticism. At any rate, as I read the stories about St. James, whose feast day it is today, I find myself grateful for their evidence that there is a place for the stroppy and the insecure in the kingdom of heaven. And thankful for the transformation that can take place as people grow into their relationship with Jesus; so James' bombastic bravado becomes the courage that led him to become one of the first martyrs.
 
Posted by Pat Hawkins at 8:45 pm.


 
Thursday, 19 June 2014:

Different glimpses of glory




Nestling between the hills of Burgundy are the remains of the once great Abbey of Cluny. Before the building of St. Peter's in Rome the Abbey Church here was the largest building in Christendom, and in its heyday (around 1,000 years ago) the glory of the liturgy drew pilgrims from across Europe, as the influence of its worship spread. All of that is long gone now, but a bare 10 km away, in the little village of Taize, lies the quiet grave of a man who settled there in the dark days of World War Two and started praying. And the liturgy of the Taize brothers draws pilgrims from across Europe, and beyond, as the influence of its worship has spread. The contexts and styles, not least of building, are radically different, but I find the echoes extraordinary: the glory of God shining out through lives given to Him.


 
Posted by Pat Hawkins at 11:36 am.


 
Monday, 14 April 2014:

Walking the Walk


A labyrinth is an ancient form of prayer which has become popular again in recent years. The idea is that as your feet follow the twists and turns so you reflect on the journey with and to God. Some years ago our youth group made a labyrinth and yesterday evening we took it to Lichfield Cathedral. Along the path of the labyrinth were footprints, telling the different stages of the story of Holy Week. This is a journey we are all invited to share, to walk in prayer with Jesus as he journeys to the cross and beyond. At the centre of our labyrinth yesterday we placed the account of the first Easter morning, the hope that is at the heart of our faith.


We took the labyrinth to Lichfield, along with some prayer stations, as part of "Ekklesia" for young people (11-29), held there on the second Sunday of each month. if you haven't given it a try you are missing out.
 
Posted by Pat Hawkins at 7:03 am.


 
Saturday, 5 April 2014:

Out of the depths


The Gospel reading set for this Sunday(6th April), that of the raising of Lazarus in John Chapter 11, is a story of extra-ordinary power and drama, moving through grief, horror, and humour, to a finale which is utterly unexpected and to many, now and then, incredible. It is a story we need to spend time with in prayerful contemplation, try thinking yourself into the scene: who do you most identify with, what are the thoughts and feelings you experience as the events unfold. But also note two things: this story is a prelude to the events of Easter, but it is not the same; Lazarus is brought back to life not resurrected, unlike Jesus he will die again. And equally importantly, at Easter Jesus does not just stand at the entrance to the tomb and call humanity out, He descends Himself into its depths to fetch us.


 
Posted by Pat Hawkins at 9:07 pm.


 
Friday, 28 March 2014:

The quiver of a whisker




I thought it was about time for the vicar's cat to make his appearance on this blog. Caught in his favourite position: almost asleep curled up on the most comfortable chair in the house, he might not move all day. Unless, of course, he smells something that might be to his advantage; and he has an uncanny ability to hear, apparently through closed doors, a food sachet being opened. The transformation from beanbag to hunter is instantaneous, ears pricked, whiskers quivering, every sense is focused. In calling us to be attentive to God, Psalm 123 uses the analogy of a servant focused on her mistress - not an image that really fits with modern life. But my cat provides me with a vivid illustration of the need to keep my spiritual whiskers quivering.
 
Posted by Pat Hawkins at 8:44 pm.


 
Wednesday, 19 March 2014:

Clearing the Ground


Here we are two weeks into Lent and I am discovering that it is much harder to give up "Candy Crush" than alcohol: I'm not sure how much, if at all, that should worry me! It's not a bad thing to use the opportunity that Lent offers to keep a check on those things which can easily become compulsive, so long as we realise that the point is not an exercise in self-control. The English word Lent derives from the same root as "lengthen" and carries the original connotation of Spring, the time when the days lengthen and growth begins again. That's helpful, it reminds us that spiritually too this is meant to be a time of growth. But just as in a garden so in our souls, new growth is so much harder if it has to fight its way through a tangle of weeds and brambles. Lent's abstinence is not about giving things up for its own sake, it is about clearing the ground so that the new growth has room to breathe.




 
Posted by Pat Hawkins at 4:34 pm.


 
Wednesday, 26 February 2014:

Northern Light



If you were to drive up the A1 almost to Scotland and turn right, you would come (assuming that you have timed your arrival to fit with the tide) to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. Last May a group of us from The Epiphany did precisely that, and spent a magical few days in the company of saints Aidan and Cuthbert. And of course Chad, who with others like him in the seventh century, shone the light of Christ from the North-East into the darkness of middle England. As we drove back home I found myself wondering what it was like for Chad, walking south through the forest and moorland, knowing the people he was going to, the Mercians, only by reputation, as particularly pagan and hostile. But his faith in Christ, and his love for people was such that he won them over, and became of course first bishop of Lichfield and patron saint of this Diocese. (I think there is a case for him to be patron saint of England, but that is for another blog!.) As we remember Chad this coming Sunday, March 2nd, may we take inspiration from his simple faith and courage, to be lights for Christ in our own day.
 
Posted by Pat Hawkins at 10:19 am.


 
Sunday, 24 November 2013:

Vicar's thought for the week


One of the things about living on my own which I don’t enjoy is the discovery of how many jobs require three hands: my “favourite” is the spring loaded shower rail which requires you to fix two ends simultaneously whilst adjusting the central tension. Today’s Epistle reading from Colossians (Colossians 1.11-20) tells us that in Christ “all things hold together”. We rightly read that as a statement of His authority, but we need to remember that the place where all things hold together must also be a place of tremendous tension. Indeed it is cross shaped.
 
Posted by Pat Hawkins at 5:02 pm.


 
Sunday, 17 November 2013:

Thought for the week


Vicar's thought for the week: “God’s in His heaven, all’s right with the world“. Probably a good few of us would recognise the quote, but I wonder if anyone knows who wrote it, without, unlike me, resorting to Wikipedia. If you do look it up, you will find something interesting things in the article, but nothing so far as I could see that points out that the statement is obviously false. All’s anything but alright with the world, as the most fleeting look at the News makes clear. But as our Gospel (Luke 21.5-19) and Epistle (2 Thessalonians 3.6-13) readings today make clear, starry-eyed romanticism is not part of the Christian faith. it is in the midst of the world as it is that we are to look for the coming of God.
 
Posted by Pat Hawkins at 5:44 pm.