You are herePewsheet Archive / January 2022

January 2022


30th January 2022

The Parish Churches of

St Michael & St Wulfad, Stone, with

St Saviour Aston by Stone

 

“But what is it for?” I imagine we have all had things like that – perhaps a gift, or something that we have seen in a shop. I remember particularly being given a new kind of device for removing corks from wine bottles that was given to my parents. Admittedly my Father was not the most practical person in the world, but nonetheless, we never did get it to work

This Sunday’s readings involve the Temple. Originally it was King David’s idea, although he never built it. It was his Son, King Solomon that made it one of the wonders of the ancient world. Even allowing for Old Testament measurements not being exact, it must have been a massive place. The idea was that it was there for the glory of God – and, indeed, a central place for all the tribes of Israel to come and worship

All very well and good, but two things went wrong. One was that the Kingdom split into two and the Northern Tribes ended up with a place of their own; the other was that the people began to think of the Temple as a totem pole. Nothing bad would ever come of them, because they had the Temple “where God lived” in their midst. In effect, it didn’t matter how they behaved, because God would not – could not – desert them

So the Temple came to grief – and was sacked by invaders. When the people came back to Jerusalem they rebuilt the Temple. But this Temple was not so grand – and it never quite had the same feeling as the former one. It was almost as it were waiting for the glory and the presence of the Lord to return.

One day he did! But not as they expected. This time, instead of a cloud of glory, he came as a tiny infant, brought by poor parents, in on the 40th day of his life. Unsurprisingly very few people noticed what was happening – but the truth was that this Temple was finally fulfilled – indeed, completed – by the presence of God

So perhaps the question for us this week is – are you fulfilled? Has your life been what it ought to have been? What are you for? Because God our Father has a design for you, too. It may not be what you wanted – and certainly not what you expected! But there again – our God is the God of surprises – and loves us dearly

 

Ian Cardinal

23rd January 2022

The Parish Churches of

St Michael & St Wulfad, Stone, with

St Saviour Aston by Stone

 

And so, once again, we pray for Christian Unity. But I wonder what you make of the whole concept? In recent years we have seen the USSR break up, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Sudan and other counties break into constituent parts – and we, as a Nation, have gone through Brexit from the EU. Mrs Thatcher once spoke scathingly about places that were artificial constructs: but our own nation is just the same – and the pressure remains for Scotland and even Wales and Ireland to become totally independent of Westminster!

But Jesus prayed that Christians should be one body! It would be nice to pretend that Christians were immune from the sin of so much schism – but of course, it would be totally untrue. From the great arguments that beset the earliest church, the truth is that we have pretended, all too often, that we know best; that we have it perfectly right in our own church; that we are therefore superior to any other kind of Christian faith

“The Church is a community of sinners and not a community of saints” – that’s a well-worn saying and remains as true today as in any other age. The fact is that we can get things wrong – and we would be foolish not to admit that both clergy and laity down the ages have been guilty of using the Church as their own personal power base. But there is also another underlying truth: however sinful and muddled the church may be, there are always some true saints amongst us. Each of these has pointed, down the years, to an ultimate truth. That truth is this – the nearer we are to Christ on the Cross, the nearer we are to each other. When the Church is at its most godly, it shines with the light of God’s kingdom. That light draws us all more and more closely together into God’s Kingdom

Maybe we will not see the Church reunited as it was intended to be, certainly not in a formal single living entity. Maybe, in some ways, that will not matter. What will matter is that we pray for and love one another, as Christ has loved us. This Sunday evening we are asked to pray together for that united witness in a broken, divided and decaying world

 

Ian Cardinal

15th January 2022

The Parish Churches of

St Michael & St Wulfad, Stone, with

St Saviour Aston by Stone

 

 

Dear Friends,

 

We are in ordinary time, but these few weeks after Christmas are a “season of epiphanies”. Last week in the Gospel we went to a Baptism. This week, we are attending a wedding! Being shown another dimension in our relationship with God. If we are sons and daughters of God, it is because we have married into the family.

The Bible actually begins and ends with a Wedding . It starts with the wedding of Adam and Eve in the Garden and finishes with the marriage supper of the Lamb. Throughout the Bible, marriage is the symbol of the covenant relationship God desires with his chosen people.

When Israel breaks the Covenant she is compare to an unfaithful spouse. But God promises to take her back, to “espouse”her to Him for ever in an Everlasting Covenant.

 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus performs his first public “sign” at a wedding feast.

Jesus is the Divine Bridegroom calling us to his royal Wedding Feast. By his New Covenant He will become “one flesh” with all humanity in the church.

By our Baptism each of us has been betrothed to Christ as a bride to her husband. The new wine that Jesus pours out at today’s feast is the gift of the Holy Spirit given to his Bride and body. The “Salvation” announced to the families of nations.

 

Nichola Abbott

9th January 2022

The Parish Churches of

St Michael & St Wulfad, Stone, with

St Saviour Aston by Stone

 

I remember having to set an essay on baptism for someone who was preparing to candidate for Ordination. They wrote well for the most part, but included the opinion that it was a shame that most baptism families only come as an excuse for a party! I had to remind them, gently, that they had included no evidence whatsoever that this was the case, and that they would receive a very low mark had they submitted such an essay on a training course at College

But what do you make of baptism? In this day and age we can celebrate a fair number of adult baptisms, as the sacrament is less of a “must” than it was for families. Someone once asked me if it were not unfair of us to put unknowing infants through the sacrament? But that’s missing the point. The question is really as to what we think God does at a baptism. And I think that this Sunday’s readings remind us that the answer is “rather a lot.”

When Jesus was baptised we know that mighty things were revealed: the heavens were opened and the Holy Spirit settled on him in all gentleness. The Father himself spoke and was heard to declare the true nature of his Son. Now, of course, we are not Jesus – but the Christian Church has taught from the earliest days of how people are admitted into the new Covenant and into the membership of Christ’s Church through baptism. The Spirit is no less given at our baptism than it was at the river Jordan

Naturally it can be a cause of sorrow when things are not followed through. Sometimes it can feel as though we have given a precious gift that is then thrown away instead of its being valued and treasured. Nonetheless that gift remains given – and it could be argued that we would be unfair NOT to give that gift to an infant, when it is freely available

This week we are taught to recognise Jesus at work – and reminded to value our own baptism. Polish it up; keep its flame burning brightly; keep praying, reading the Bible and receiving the sacraments. God loves us – and that’s the most important thing of all!