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January 2016


31st January 2016

The Parish Churches of

St Michael & St Wulfad, Stone, with

St Saviour Aston by Stone

 

This week we reach the end of Sundays after Epiphany. Tuesday 2nd February is Candlemas Day: and the way that the lectionary works is that this is one of those pivotal moments in the year. Sometimes there are a few Sundays before lent, but with Easter being so early this year, in fact there is very little time before Lent begins

Candlemas Day: the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or even The Presentation of Christ in the Temple, it has three different titles. But each of them is simply focusing on a different aspect of the same Gospel. This is the Day Mary and Joseph bring their son to the Temple: here he is greeted by the aged Simeon and the Prophetess Anna, both of whom acknowledge that something of massive import is happening

This Temple is the third building. The first had been Solomon’s great sign of God’s presence with his people, but it was destroyed by the Babylonians. The Second was a poor affair, built by an impoverished people newly back from Exile. And the current building was King Herod’s attempt to curry favour with his adopted people, being magnificent in size and splendour

But there has always been a snag: somehow the people returned from Exile had always felt that the Temple wasn’t quite what it had used to be. Yes, they had done their best, but the presence of God in his Temple wasn’t what it had been in a former age.

And now God’s promise had come to pass. God had fulfilled his promise by coming to his Temple in the form of a small child. Simeon and Anna could see it. God’s promise had come true!

 

Ian Cardinal

24th January 2016

The Parish Churches of

St Michael & St Wulfad, Stone, with

St Saviour Aston by Stone

 

Just over 100 years ago, in 1908, the Pope declared that this period would be an “Octave of Prayer for Church Unity.” It’s an oddity that, at that time, there was no thought of involving Christians from other denominations! And it took until the 1920s for Protestant denominations to agree to a similar concept. Of course, being those times, they decided to celebrate it at another time of year……!

Times went by – and the effect of two world wars made people think rather harder about what unites us, rather than what divides. There were “Sword and the Spirit” Conferences between Anglicans and Roman Catholics in the early 1940s – although the powers that be remained very suspicious of the moves at that time. But in 1941 a Faith and Order Conference moved the dates so that Christians could share it together. From such came the World Council of Churches – and the current “Churches together “movements across the world are a direct descendant of these decisions

Of course there are many obstacles – and there have been few notably successful “mergers” of denominations down the years. Too much water has flowed under the bridge in the last thousand years to make things easy. But the fact is that things ARE very different now from what they were even a generation ago. The days when church leaders were reprimanded for agreeing to say the Our Father together have long gone – and quite right too!

For me, I trained for Ordination among Methodists, URC members as well as Anglican Ordinands – and we even spent time in the Roman Catholic seminary at Oscott. Since then there have been occasions when I have been called upon to speak at other denominations – and even participate (as far as allowed) at a Roman Catholic Mass. These things enrich our faith.

This Sunday we welcome our brothers and sister to a united service at St Michael & St Wulfad, to join in prayer for that day when “we shall be one” in Christ. Do come and join in

 

Ian Cardinal