Pilgrimage to the National Memorial Arboretum
St Mary’s pilgrimage to the National Memorial Arboretum was well attended and took place on a fine day on Saturday 18th May, appropriately just a few weeks before the 75th Anniversary of D-Day. Set in 150 acres of park and woodland, and bordered by the serene River Tame, the Arboretum and its 350 memorials were designed to provide a national focus for Remembrance, not just for the military, but also for all rescue services and many other associated organisations. The visit started with a short service in the chapel and then we dispersed in all directions either to seek out memorials relevant to our own respective families, or simply to admire the beautifully constructed and tended monuments and statues. Some took the internal land train to enjoy a 50 minute tour of the site with an audio commentary whilst others followed recommended tour routes described in the official written guide. Central to the site is the Armed Forces Memorial which is a stunning and captivating piece of architecture listing on Portland stone panels some 16,000 names of those who have been killed on duty since WW2. Sculptures and statues within the large circular construction bear silent witness to the cost and scale of armed conflict in recent years. Particularly heart-wrenching are the memorials dedicated to the Burma Railway, Polish Forces and “Shot at Dawn”. (There are no words to describe the distressing feelings evoked by a visit to the latter memorial). Despite moments of sadness tinged with gratitude to those who had given their lives for us, all in all Alan Newton organised a wonderfully thought-provoking and informative day in the company of good church friends. Individual return journeys are already being planned to visit the numerous monuments still to be seen.
This evening (14th January 2019) Hub in the Pub adopted the form of a humorous interview between Rev John Stopford and Rev Antony Dutton. Antony summarised his journey into ministry. He credits Whitegate Primary School for his basic religious literacy and explained how during a school trip to Rome he was amazed by the amount of religious devotion which he witnessed, but was unable to make it his own experience. He said he went up to university as an angry agnostic searching for answers in both the pub and cathedral.
Still seeking answers, he then returned to Chester to study theology and whilst there he was influenced by one of the Melanesian Brothers. He was also strongly encouraged by Rev Lesley Eden, with whom he often shared the Evening Office. Around that time a chance remark by Bishop Peter encouraged him to take the plunge and train for ordination. This he did at Cuddesdon College, Oxford, where he ‘met people as weird as himself’. During his ordination at Chester Cathedral he had a profound experience when the Bishops laid their hands upon him: he felt ‘he went from terror to bliss’.
Following his Curacy at Malpas and the inspiring lead by his training incumbent, Ian, he moved on to St John the Evangelist, Great Sutton, as Vicar. Asked about the highs and lows of his ministry there, he said that he had a very rewarding funeral ministry, but had mixed views about baptisms, particularly with difficult two-year olds. He thinks sermons are very important, but likes to keep them very focused.
Antony named two challenges he faces: one being the lack of general religious literacy and the other trying to encourage young people into church. He is in the process of writing his PhD in church history whilst enjoying his Parish Ministry. Antony chose the Ankawa Foundation as his chosen charity, which supports Christian Communities in northern Iraq (www.ankawafoundation.org).
Thanks go to David Hughes and his staff for the excellent food.
On Tuesday 4th December 30 people arrived at The Mews for their Advent Lunch. The Mews looked very festive with the tables laid and decorated.
Linda, Chris, Alan and Colin had worked hard all morning preparing a Turkey lunch with all the trimmings. This was followed by Christmas pudding and custard. Coffee and tea with a mince pie was served whilst everyone enjoyed Christmas Carols which were led by Andrew Millinchip.
A gift was also given to everyone who attended.
We had a wonderful day with a super atmosphere and in the process raised £173.84 for church funds. It was good to see so many people enjoying the fellowship and friendship of parish life together.
Linda & Chris would like to thank everyone who attended and helped serve and tidy up after the meal. Special thanks also to Alan and Colin Newton and Andrew Millinchip.
Christmas Hamper Raffle
Tickets for our Christmas Hamper Raffle are now on sale and are available from Carole Sweet for £1 each.
The raffle will be held on the 19th December at the carol singing. So the winner will get the hamper of goodies in time for Christmas.
First prize a Hamper full of Christmas Goodies
Second Prize a Hamper full of pamering goods
Third Prize a Panettone
On Saturday 15 September twelve of us visited Rodington Vineyard, in the beautiful Shropshire countryside where the fabulous Blue Tractor Wines are grown. The wine tasting was organised by the Social & Fundraising Committee as a social event.
Manjit, the owners daughter, welcomed us to the vineyard and in between rain showers explained that the vineyard came into being after her parents bought 10 acres of agricultural land and found the soil was more suited to vines than orchard. On this small farm they grow nine different vine varieties, including Ortega, Solaris, Bacchus, Seyval, Rondo and Pinot Noir. The vines were only planted in 2009 and their first small production run was 2012 (family only) but by 2014 their Solaris white wine was winning a silver International Award.
We were able to taste 8 wines which comprised 3 white, 1 red, 2 rose and 2 sparkling wines. The 'nibbles' turned out to be a full picnic lunch, with their own grapes and apples & pears from the token orchard area - a nod to the original plan. The measures of wine were generous and enabled everyone to get a good taste of the quality of the wine.
The event was fantastic. Manjit didn't hurry the tasting and had plenty of time to chat with us and tell us lots of stories. All in all it was a lovely way to spend a Saturday.
Summer Lunch 2018
On Tuesday 14th August, 29 friends of St Mary’s gathered in The Mews for a Summer Lunch.
The tables were beautifully dressed, and there was a wonderful atmosphere with everyone joining in and chatting together.
John started the proceedings with a ‘Grace’ which was followed by a cold meat salad and dessert.
This was a wonderful example of St Mary’s friendship and fellowship.
Linda & Chris would like to thank everyone who came and special thanks to Alan for helping prepare the meal. Thank you also to everyone who helped serve, clear the tables and stack the chairs and tables at the end of the lunch. Together we made £150.73 for church funds.
Canon Chris' Retirement Pary
Parishioners from both St Mary’s and St Peter’s came out in force to celebrate Chris and Barbara’s 4 ½ years with us and to say goodbye as they head for the east coast. Guests from Chris’s ministry in Scargill, Filey and Chester Cathedral added to our number.
The “bring and share” aspect of the Afternoon Tea was almost too successful as, knowing Chris’s fondness for baked goods, every possible combination of butter, sugar, flour and other mouth-watering ingredients arrived and was placed on the table, together with a variety of sandwiches and savouries. The free bar did a roaring trade with French wines and Elderflower Cordial.
Chris and Barbara are pictured here being helped by their grandson Isaac to cut the special Retirement Cake, baked and decorated by Nancy Carter. It was delicious, as was to be expected, for Nancy has a long-held reputation to uphold.
They were presented with a cheque and gifts from each parish: a canvas log-carrier (with logs from Church Wood and from Little Budworth) and two carved stone birds; these gifts being tokens, pointers to the future as we’ve suggested they might like to purchase a log store and a bird bath & sundial when at last their garden in Flamborough is ready.
There were short speeches and a few tears, there was singing by the Little Budworth Community Choir who had prepared a fabulous, “Little Budworth Calypso”; Canon Chris had brought his guitar and sang, accompanied on stage by his whole family.
Most of all there was lively chatter, convivial company and a great atmosphere as we wished Chris and Barbara the very happiest of retirements.
Canon Chris' Final Sermon
Sermon CWH Bread and Fishes 29.7.18
John 6. 1-21
Lord, take my lips and speak through them...etc.
Today I am Vicar of Whitegate and Little Budworth.
In 3 days time I won’t be. Parting is such sweet sorrow. But of course things have to move on,
And we’ll still be friends, fellow-believers, all called to do God’s work and to make Jesus known.
Yes, retiring from being a full-time priest is the end of an era for me, but also the start of a new adventure. Learning to spend time in different ways, enjoying time with Barbara and our ever-increasing family, but basically still a Christian – looking to God to see what he’s got in store...
To me, it’s a real miracle that I’m here, preaching in a pulpit, because as a teenage boy I stuttered when asked to say anything in public. I believe that God guided me to fluency of speech through being a junior school teacher and working with children, by the local Vicar in Essex asking me to lead a chorus time in Family Services, and mainly through singing, because you can’t stutter when you sing. Even so, I couldn’t have imagined back then that God would call me to a ministry that involved so much public speaking, even sometimes the pressure of speaking live on radio.
So I can testify God has been at work in my life, despite my failings and frailties, he has brought me through, called me to follow him, and given me the strength and confidence that I have needed.
What helps also is being sure of the message you have to share. And I am convinced, to the extent of being passionate, that the Gospel message needs to be heard and lived out so that we can grow in faith and understanding, and so that people out there can come to know Jesus for themselves.
SING: We have bread and fishes, and a jug of red wine, to share on our journey with all of mankind.”
In our gospel reading today we learn some key things about Jesus, and some interesting things about ourselves. The feeding of the 5,000, plus Jesus walking on the surface of stormy Lake Galilee.
Just imagine if you’d been there in those days. He was doing amazing things. We read “Large crowds kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick”. His motive was not showmanship, but compassion. And when it was apparent that the large crowd was going to go hungry, Jesus took action. First he asks Philip where they can buy bread, but Philip’s answer is realistic, and not very hopeful: “Six months wages wouldn’t buy enough for each of them to get a little”. Then Andrew speaks up: “There’s a boy here who has 5 barley loaves and 2 fish”
You know the rest of the story: Jesus gave thanks to God, blessed the bread and fish, they shared it out, the 5,000 people ate their fill, and then the disciples gathered up 12 baskets full of the left-overs. Startling. Amazing.
And the people said: “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.”
Who is this man? The question is the same for us all 2,000 years later, and just as urgent and pressing. Consider again the healings, the miracles and extra-ordinary happenings. Imagine the atmosphere that was created when ordinary people were with Jesus. They felt accepted, welcomed and loved. He had charisma, but much more than that, he was the living evidence of a God who is smiling, forgiving and full of blessing and affirmation, a God whose nature is not severe and judgemental, but a God who is on our side, because he loves you, and he loves me.
SING: “What the world needs now is love sweet love, it’s the only thing that there’s just too little of,
What the world needs now is love sweet love, no not just for some but for everyone...”
What the world is actually facing now is political tension, politicians with over-inflated egos and the love of power. What we’re facing are the dangers of violent conflict, of climate change and extremes of weather; the reality of a burgeoning population and working out how we can share the resources of the world fairly.
Sing: What the world needs now...
It’s a laid-back, gentle melody but it’s expressing a life or death question.
How is unselfish love going to happen?
Brothers and sisters, dear friends, Jesus is the key, alive and at work among us. Where there is deceit and double-dealing he embodies trust and faith. Where you get things wrong he brings full-forgiveness. When you are at your wit’s end...his grace and peace will see you through.
He can do this because he is who he says he is. He does not lie.
He is the good shepherd. The light of the world. The resurrection and the life.
And finally. What shall I say for a final point, an enduring thought??
Back to the gospel story...think of the young boy offering his loaves and fishes. (Cockney accent) “Here you are Jesus, you can have these” It was ridiculous, such a tiny amount to address such a massive problem. But the little lad got it absolutely right in his instinct to give what he had, and trust that Jesus would do the rest. That’s a powerful guiding principle for each of us personally and together:
Simply offer to God what you have and who you are.
Offer yourself sincerely and wholeheartedly.
The result of that risk of taking God seriously is that he will bless you, surprisingly, amazingly, more than you expect.
That’s why I am not worried about leaving Whitegate /Lit Bud.
Sad of course, but not worried.
God has plans when the new Vicar eventually comes. Be open to changes, a new clergy personality, and new ways of doing things.
But God also has plans for the time in between. Vacancy sounds like emptiness, but God can fill it with lots of surprises and blessings. It certainly needs to be a time of willingness and faith, of looking to Jesus and offering like the little lad, for then the bread and fishes represented here will be multiplied and will be sufficient, and abundantly more, for all your needs.
Sing: With the wind in the willows and the birds in the sky,
There’s a bright sun to warm us wherever we lie,
For we have bread and fishes, and a jug of red wine
To share on our journey with all of mankind.
Yes, we have bread and fishes and a jug of red wine,
To share on our journey with all of mankind.”