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2016


21st August 2016

The Parish Churches of

St Michael & St Wulfad, Stone, with

St Saviour Aston by Stone

Dear Friends,

We all know people or groups who seem to have an ingrained sense of entitlement or privilege, people who put themselves first without regard for the sensitivities or rights of others. Whether their behaviour derives from childhood experiences of over-indulgence or from some other source, it can be quite divisive and even destructive of family and workplace and community. Those who consistently put themselves first will often find themselves last in the sense that they are often simply tolerated rather than welcomed in most circles.

As Jesus makes his way from one town to another on his way to Jerusalem, “someone” puts a question to him. The question is about salvation: “Will only a few be saved?” or, more accurately, “Are only the few saved?” Jesus treats it as a rhetorical question that presupposes an affirmative answer. His answer could be interpreted as affirmative, even if it is a far cry from the expected response. Whilst the question comes from one person, Jesus’ response is “to them”. These people have shared table fellowship with him. Their insistence that they have eaten with him may suggest they are part of the crowd who has been following him from Galilee. They may even be those who objected to Jesus’ less than desirable table companions, the tax-collectors and sinners. They have heard his teaching: “You taught in our streets”. Jesus’ reply indicates that the tables have turned. It would come as no surprise to a Jewish audience to hear Jesus stating that the kin-dom belongs to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets. Jesus’ assertion that it also belongs to those who come from far and wide, “from east and west and north and south”, might be less than palatable to those who see themselves as “first” in the scheme of salvation.

Those who share in the banquet in God’s kin-dom, the “saved”, have prevailed in the struggle to enter through the “narrow door”. Entry is by no means restricted to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob: it belongs to all who hear the word of God and put it into practice. The inclusion or “salvation” of outsiders will cause grief among “evil-doers”. These evil-doers include those who have eaten with Jesus and who have heard his teaching without effect and who, consequently, have failed to commit themselves to the struggle to establish God’s reign of justice and peace and reconciliation. There is no privileged access to salvation on the basis of birth or race or any other contingency. While the “door” to salvation may be “narrow”, Jesus has already declared that it is open to all who hear the word of God and “hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance”. Nichola Abbott.

14th August 2016

The Parish Churches of

St Michael & St Wulfad, Stone, with

St Saviour Aston by Stone

 

We're not really into sport in our house, other than the Test series, of course. However, we got caught up in the excitement of the coverage of the synchronised diving from Rio, with its nailbiting finish, and the joyous achievement by our guys, Tom Daley and Daniel Goodfellow, in winning bronze medals. But all the divers displayed great courage, artistry, and, of course, synchronisation, as they jumped, sometimes backwards, off the 10m board. The Chinese, who were the eventual gold medallists, were absolutely together throughout their dives, which seemed, to our inexpert eyes, perfect.

But St. Paul, while encouraging us to work in teams, also uses the image of the human body to remind us to appreciate our diversity. 'If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? And if the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?' (1 Cor. 12: 17) We need to embrace our differences, rather than synchronise our similarities, so that the Church, the Body of Christ, can function at its greatest potential. We all need each other.

And our Epistle today, Hebrews 12, mentions the crowd of witnesses, cheering us on, rather like the crowd assembled in a vast stadium, as we journey through life. This includes the Communion of Saints, who, through their examples, give us excellent role models. But it also includes those around us who encourage us in our spiritual journeys. We give thanks for those we know and have known. And perhaps are challenged to be among that great crowd of witnesses, too, by encouraging those around us.

 

Jane Morris, Rev'd,

Curate.

19th June 2016

The Parish Churches of

St Michael & St Wulfad, Stone, with

St Saviour Aston by Stone

 

Wasting time with God

It may be that we are tired of hearing about it, but Thursday June 23rd will be one of the most important days in our life time – and in the life time of our children and grandchildren. Whether the United Kingdom votes to remain in the European Union or to leave, the consequences will be far – reaching and impossible to fully determine. We might ask for more information but the reality is that no one can be sure what is going to happen on June 24th and in the subsequent weeks and months. However we vote, we are stepping into an unknown future.

It is not the role of a Bishop to tell you how you should vote but it is my responsibility as a leader of the Church to remind you that you should vote and offer a Christian perspective to this crucial decision.

There will be many different opinions expressed in these last days leading up to the Referendum and it is important that we listen to all views and then reflect on them prayerfully, asking the guidance of the Holy Spirit as to how we should vote.

Prayer has been described as ‘wasting time with God’ and that is a very good description. When you are in love with someone you simply enjoy being with them – not necessarily ‘doing’ anything but just ‘being’ in their company. So it is with God. In prayer we meet God. We learn to see the world and other people through God’s eyes and we begin to see ourselves through God’s eyes too. We start to understand what it really means to be loved sincerely and unconditionally for ever.

When some of us help as volunteers at the Night Church in the centre of the night – clubbing district of Hanley, we often have young people requesting prayer – invariably for others (especially for their grandparents!) but sometimes for themselves. When they ask that we should ‘do’ the praying we always say that of course we will but invite them to join with us in praying too. The sad response is often that they could not possibly pray because they do not know how to do it!

However we vote on June 23rd we cannot be certain of the future we are passing to our children and young people but if there is one gift that we can give them that will always be of benefit to them, it is to know the value of prayer and how to pray.

+ Geoff

Full version of this article is available on the internet

6th March 2016

 

The Parish Churches of

St Michael & St Wulfad, Stone, with

St Saviour Aston by Stone

 

99th Bishop of Lichfield named

The Right Reverend Dr Michael Ipgrave has been named as the new Bishop of Lichfield.

He assumes responsibility for one of the Church of England’s largest dioceses, leading an episcopal team with the Bishops of Wolverhampton, Stafford and Shrewsbury.

Bishop Michael (57), the current Bishop of Woolwich in the Diocese of Southwark, will be the ninety-ninth Bishop of Lichfield, in a line going back to St Chad in the seventh century. He succeeds the Right Reverend Jonathan Gledhill, who retired last year.

In this personal welcome message to the Diocese, Bishop Michael says:

I’ve had twelve wonderful years in London but I am so looking forward to coming back to the Midlands. Lichfield is the mother church of the Midlands, and the city of St Chad, a man of great humility and profound Christian faith.”

 

The Bishop of Southwark, the Right Reverend Christopher Chessun, said “I rejoice that Bishop Michael Ipgrave has been appointed to the See of Lichfield. He will bring to his new role a heart for mission and a humble, gentle, yet purposeful manner which will be a blessing to the people of Lichfield Diocese. He will be much missed and we will all pray for him as well as the parishes and people of his new Diocese

 

28th February 2016

The Parish Churches of

St Michael & St Wulfad, Stone, with

St Saviour Aston by Stone

 

Maundy Thursday Eucharist

Bishop Clive invites:

 

"It is with joy and anticipation that I invite you to the Cathedral on Maundy Thursday, March 24, at 11.00 a.m. The service will provide us all, lay and ordained, with an opportunity to renew our commitment to the Lord’s service, as well as to receive oils blessed for use in our parishes.  

 

"It is an occasion when we have the chance to come together at a profoundly important moment in our Christian year, both to demonstrate our devotion to God and to show our fundamental unity as sisters and brothers in Christ.

 

"I very much hope that you will be able to make this your priority for the day and I look forward greatly to sharing in worship and fellowship with you."

 

As usual we shall be taking the Green bus to the Cathedral for this special occasion. There are just 13 places on the bus and you need to sign the list at the back of Church if you would like a place

 

21st February 2016

The Parish Churches of

St Michael & St Wulfad, Stone, with

St Saviour Aston by Stone

On the second Sunday of Lent, we move from Jesus' retreat to the desert and temptation by the devil to the glory shown in Jesus' Transfiguration. On the first Sunday of Lent, our Gospel always tells the story of Jesus' temptation in the desert. On the second Sunday, we always hear the story of Jesus' Transfiguration.

The Transfiguration occurs on a mountain in the presence of just three of Jesus' disciples—Peter, James and John. These are among the first disciples that Jesus called in Luke's Gospel. We recently heard this Gospel at Mass, on the fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Only Luke's Gospel, which often describes Jesus at prayer, indicates that Jesus is praying as his appearance changes to bright white. Luke indicates that the three disciples were sleeping while Jesus prayed. They will be sleeping again as Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane before his Passion and death. As they awake, Peter and the disciples see Jesus Transfigured and Elijah and Moses present with Jesus. Elijah and Moses, both significant figures in the history of Israel, represent Jesus' continuity with the Law and the Prophets. In Matthew's and Mark's Gospels, there is reference to conversation among Jesus, Elijah, and Moses, but only Luke's Gospel explains that this conversation is about Jesus' later accomplishments in Jerusalem. Luke describes this as his exodus, connecting Jesus' Passion, death, and Resurrection with the Israel's Exodus from Egypt. On witnessing Jesus' Transfiguration and seeing Jesus with Elijah and Moses, Peter offers to construct three tents for them. Having just awoken, perhaps Peter's offer was made in confusion. We also notice that Peter reverted from his earlier confession that Jesus is the Messiah, calling Jesus “master” instead. As if in reply to Peter's confusion, a voice from heaven speaks, affirming Jesus as God's Son and commanding that the disciples listen to him. This voice from heaven recalls the voice that was heard at Jesus' baptism which, in Luke's Gospel, spoke directly to Jesus as God's Son. In his Transfiguration, we see an anticipation of the glory of Jesus' Resurrection. In each of the reports of the Transfiguration, the disciples keep secret what they have seen. Not until they also witness his Passion and death will the disciples understand Jesus' Transfiguration. We hear this story of Jesus' Transfiguration early in Lent, but we have the benefit of hindsight. In our hearing of it, we anticipate Jesus' Resurrection even as we prepare to remember Jesus' Passion and death.

Nichola Abbott

14th February 2016

 

The Parish Churches of

St Michael & St Wulfad, Stone, with

St Saviour Aston by Stone

 

 

A personal note

On Tuesday this week, we received the shattering news that my brother, Martin, is now terminal with his Cancer and has been given 3 months to live. You may be aware that he has fought this since diagnosis in December 2014 and that we have been swinging up and down with him since then. Treatments have seemed to work and then not to complete the job. The last treatment was a savage chemotherapy and stem cell transplant in October, since when he has never entirely picked up strength

For me, personally, Martin is the last member of my close family, although I have some cousins that I rarely see. The last few years seem to have been very difficult, somehow.

We brought nothing into this world, and we take nothing out. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord”. How many times have I read these words at Funeral services? But I will not hide from you that this is devastating news for me and for my family. And I do, of course, ask you to pray, not only for Martin, his wife Janet and their grown up family, but also for Steph and me, and for our daughters.

We should have been away on holiday for half term this Sunday, but as I write this, it is entirely unclear as to whether or not we will be away or at home. Much will depend on the needs of Martin and Janet at this time

Thank you for your support and understanding

 

Ian Cardinal

7th February 2016

The Parish Churches of

St Michael & St Wulfad, Stone, with

St Saviour Aston by Stone

 

ST SAVIOUR’S CLEANING AND COFFEE ROTAS. None of us want to sit in a dirty church, and part of the quality of our welcome in Christ is being there at the end of worship with a hot drink and a smile: but both need volunteers urgently! Can you help? Please see Christine Burton

 

MAGAZINE DELIVERIES on the Lichfield Rd are needed. Can anyone help? Please contact Berwyn Babb 812921

 

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday – Wednesday 10th February. It’s one of the core moments of the Christian year, and for centuries has been accompanied with a service of Holy Communion, with the blessing and imposition of ashes. These aren’t any old ashes of course:- they are the remnants of last year’s Palm crosses, burned and ground into ash.

But although somewhat austere, the key notion behind Ash Wednesday is actually that of renewal. Yes, it’s about the stripping away of all the things that get in the way of our faith: but this is to allow the grace of the Holy Spirit to flow more freely. All too often we are unable to receive all that God intends for us, simply because our hands are too full of things that are actually unimportant

 

Let me quote a modern hymn for you:

Look at the birds in the air ‘

 the Lord said

They fly unhampered by care’

the Lord said

You will move easier if you’re travelling light

for you’re a wandering  vagabond race.

You’re the people of God ‘.

 

May Lent be a season of renewed faith and light for us all. See you in Church on Ash Wednesday!

 

Ian Cardinal

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