The Rector Writes

Dear Friends,

Back in the 90’s Arnold Schwarzenegger was trying to get away from his macho screen image and made some, pretty appalling, comedies the worst of which was called ‘Junior’. The premise of this film is that Schwarzenegger plays a research geneticist (I know…) who impregnates himself with an embryo to prove his new fertility drug will work. This is the single joke of the whole film, Arnie, pregnant! Such a thing is of course impossible, but we shouldn’t mock because this month we celebrate an equally miraculous pregnancy, that of Mary.

At the Visitation the Holy Spirit, we are told, overshadowed Mary, and she became pregnant, but more than that we proclaim that she became the Theotokos, the God-bearer or more usually the Mother of God. Some people struggle with this, the idea that God, the infinite, omnipotent God should enter the womb to be born; and yet, if we think about it, it isn’t that strange at all.

In the vision that John received in the book of Revelation Jesus proclaims, “Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.” In this Jesus proclaims it his will that he should enter into every single person who calls upon his name, who opens to him the door of their heart. Why do we find it strange to speak of Jesus the Christ living in the womb of one person when his stated aim is to live in the hearts of everybody?

And we can take this a step further for if we do open our hearts to him, if we allow him entry, then we too, like Mary, become Theotokos, God-bearers through whom Jesus is born into the world every day when we act faithfully and obediently, when we live his risen life.

This Christmas, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus to Mary 2000 years ago, let Jesus be born in our lives. Let us act in such a way that people may know that God is with us.  

Yours in Christ,
Ian.

Advent & Christmas Services

For full details please check the Services tab.

Children’s Nativity Service - Sun. 17th December at 10 a.m.

Each year the children present the Christmas story in their own unique way. This All-Age service is a celebration of the Nativity, and of the contribution the children make to St. Wilfrid’s church.

Nine Lessons & Carols - Sun. 17th December at 6.30 p.m.

The now traditional service of Nine Lessons and Carols was largely the result of two men, EW Benson who was Bishop of Truro who devised the service and Eric Milner-White who was Dean of King's College Cambridge and who introduced it there. The service at St. Wilfrid's will be followed by mulled wine and mince pies.

Family Crib Services - Christmas Eve at 2.00 & 4.00 p.m.

At our family Crib Service we hear the Christmas story told in an informal and at times amusing way. As we sing our favourite Christmas songs and carols the children make up our Christmas crib whilst clouds of frankincense and myrrh fill the air. A joyful Christmas service for the young and young at heart.

Christmas Communions - Christmas Eve 11.30 p.m., Christmas Day 8.30 & 10 a.m.

We have two sung services, a BCP service at 11.30 p.m. on Christmas Eve and a Common Worship service at 10.00 a.m. and a said service at 8.30 a.m. which is also BCP.

Lifebeat

I would like to thank everybody who has assisted at Lifebeat over the last few months, our music group, children and youth workers, caterers and not forgetting our prayer group that offers such spiritual support.

Our last Lifebeat of 2017 took place on Sunday 3rd December when we focussed on the celebration of Christmas. Lifebeat begins from 5.00 p.m. with a simple meal together followed by worship in which everyone participates. After 25 minutes or so there is occasionally testimony followed after which we split up into different age groups for Christian teaching. We have three groups for children, Pre-school and infants, juniors, and teens.

We then gather together again for prayer and a final song or two before joining in refreshments together.

Moving into January we shall return to our usual pattern of meeting on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month which means we shall meet on the 7th and the 21st. Do come and join us.

Lifebeat is a joint venture between Mobberley Methodist Church and St. Wilfrid C of E.

Messy Church

Our last Messy Church had a distinct Advent feel to it as we look at the story of the wise and foolish bridesmaids, some of whom were prepared and some of whom were not.

In November however, just when Advents about to start, we switch to the Last Supper and the words of comfort that Jesus gave his disciples and the promise that he would send the Holy Spirit to be their comforter. In the depth of his own worry and distress he still had concern for his friends.

December Messy Church
Saturday 16th
10.00-11.30 a.m.

January Messy Church
Saturday 27th
10.00-11.30 a.m. 
 

Make Straight the Way...

By the time you read this the long-promised work on the path to the west (tower) door will have been completed. The path will have been levelled, restored to its original width and re-laid. This will have been done respecting the three graves that exist along the length of the path.

We are also now in the final stages of approving a handrail along the path to the north door to prove some support over the gravestones there. The rail will be on the left as you approach the door and will incorporate a gate by the church wall to allow access to the cellar. In addition, at our church Spring-Clean each year we shall be treating the stones to remove moss that has accumulated over the winter and to inhibit further growth.

We are also having repair work done on one of the lych gate gates and also having the gate to the south graveyard remade as it had completely rotted away. We expect all these works to be completed by Christmas so everything should be back to its best.

The Feast of the Epiphany

There is a famous story about the Greek mathematician Archimedes who was trying to work out how to accurately weigh large and awkward shapes. Whilst thinking about this he got into his bath and saw that the water level rose, he realised that the volume of water his body displaced must be equal to the volume of his body. He was so excited by this that he ran naked through the streets of Syracuse shouting ‘Eureka’, ‘I have found it’.

This is as good an example of Epiphany as I can think of, that sudden revelation, what we might call a lightbulb moment, when we suddenly see and understand clearly. The foundation story of Epiphany is the arrival of the Magi when Jesus, and through him God’s plan for the world, was revealed to the gentiles. However, our understanding of Epiphany is left somewhat bare if that is where we leave it. Epiphany celebrates a number of different revelations, Jesus baptism for example when those stood nearby heard God’s recognition of Jesus as his own son. Sadly this is not something we normally celebrate here at St. Wilfrid’s as it is, somewhat ironically, usually replaced by the celebration of Epiphany itself (which we transfer from the 6th January to the nearest Sunday).

Another Epiphany event is the wedding at Cana of Galilee when Jesus performed his first miracle, turning water into wine. Wine which is so often used in the Old Testament as a symbol of God’s blessing and the coming in of his kingdom. We are told that after this event, for the first time, his new disciples believed in him.

And this is in truth the point of Epiphany, not that we should simply recognise Jesus nor even simply come to him but that we should really and truly see him and in seeing him believe in him. Believe that in this child we see God made visible; believe that in him we see the salvation of our souls, the salvation of the world; believe that in him we see God’s plan for his creation, his plan to draw all things created into a new and living relationship with him.

Seeing these things is our ‘Eureka’ moment, when we look into the manger and see not a baby but rather the infinite grace of God.

Feast of the Epiphany
Sunday 7th January

The Association of Church Fellowships

Thank you, Ian, from all the ladies at Mobberley fellowship for giving us such an entertaining afternoon, telling us all about Christmases past and how we have arrived at the Christmas we now accept as traditional.

Seeing the old Christmas cards of Father Christmas in his robes of blue or green, (before the Coca Cola advert showing this genial old man in his striking red robes) were really special. Now that Christmas is close upon us, and we can start the season of good cheer. So we would like to wish Ian and Scott and everybody in Mobberley a very happy Christmas and a joyous new year.

Next Meeting
Christmas Lunch
The Rajar, Town Lane
Wednesday 13th. December
1:00pm. reception for 1:30 Lunch 

Everyone made welcome
Pam Smith

Plough Sunday

 The feast of Epiphany, or “Twelfth Night”, marked the end of the mid-winter Christmas festivities and as such it also marked the end of twelve days of partying and celebrations. Plough Monday was back to work, but before work started the plough, often a communal one for the whole village, was brought to church to pray for a blessing on it and the work it would do. It was also common to bring in sacks of grain to ask God’s blessing on it also, that it might produce a rich and plentiful harvest. After the service it was taken (often with dancing) around the village and villagers were invited to make contributions to the cost of its upkeep and the upkeep of the Church that had blessed it.

We seek to retain at least a little of this tradition with a Plough Sunday service at which we bless a fabulous 19th century plough and also ask God to bless all the work of our hands in the coming year regardless of what we do, that his name will be praised in all that we do.

Plough Sunday
January 14th
All-Age Service 10.00 a.m.

Bell Ringing Taster Session

The bells at Mobberley church are more than a tradition; they have been rung continuously for 500 years, except for the war years. The six bells, although re-cast and altered in shape and size, are no doubt of the same metal which rang out the peals after the Battle of Crecy and Waterloo.

New members are urgently needed to continue this ancient tradition in calling the faithfully to prayer, and for weddings and funerals.

Why not come a long and have a pull! Everyone is welcome from the age of 12 years to . . . . .

You are invited to join the bell ringers on Saturday 20th January, 12pm to 2pm, when the bell tower will be open. Everybody welcome.

The Rector Responds

Q.  With all the divisions over women priests and now homosexual clergy isn’t the Church of England now hopelessly divided and no longer fit for purpose?

A.  I started at theological college in 1989, 5 years before women were finally ordained to the priesthood in the C of E. There were huge tensions at the time and the kind of sensitivities that can only exist when people with very differing views live cheek by jowl with one another. It was quite common for people to walk out of the college chapel if someone, inadvertently or otherwise, used what was perceived to be contentious or offensive language. In many ways things are far better now than they were then, in part it regretfully has to be said because some of those people opposed to women priests left the Church of England but also because the C of E has worked very hard at finding a way to accommodate those with very different and even opposing views. There is now a very lively discussion taking place about the place of homosexual clergy in the church. Now, there have always been homosexual clergy in the C of E, as there have been in all denominations. They conducted themselves under a shroud of deliberate blindness on the part of bishops who often appreciated the greater freedom they had in being able to post clergy who weren’t tied down by working spouses and school age kids. Increasingly however that deliberate blindness has been challenged by those on both sides of the argument. In 1991 the C of E produced a paper entitled ‘Issues in Human Sexuality’ that broadly ‘recommended’ openly gay clergy should take an oath of celibacy if they wish to remain in post. This statement of course failed to satisfy anyone, and the situation has rumbled on with the church over the last few years engaging in a process of ‘Conversations on Human Sexuality’. This is a very different and in many ways more heated discussion from that over the ordination of women. Twenty to thirty years ago the argument was one essentially about the authority of the Church of England, the current discussion is about the status of homosexuality which to some is a symptom of humanities fall and therefore sinful. To openly accept and approve of homosexuality is therefore not simply the church being arrogant but is the church colluding with sin and therefore falling away from the Body of Christ. Getting to the question then, yes, the C of E is divided, whether hopelessly or not we will have to see, but is it fit for purpose? We live in a world, in a country even, that seems increasingly divided, and divisions do not disappear overnight. Our society needs to find a way of recognising them, where possible respecting them, and finding ways of living with them, not shovelling our differences under the carpet even less crushing them. It is often from the tension of our differences that new growth and new ideas come. I hope and pray that our poor, argumentative, muddled little Church can give an example of how to respect and live with differences, however messy, whilst staying faithful to Christ’s teaching, valuing our fellowship and recognising that the things that unite us are greater than those that divide.

Ian.

St. Wilfrid's Church Diary - December

Sun. 10th       The 2nd Sunday of Advent
                      Said Holy Communion (BCP) 8.30 a.m. 
                      All-Age Christingle Service 10.00 a.m.
                      Choral Evensong (BCP) 6.30 p.m.

Mon. 11th      Monday Night Group 8.00 p.m.

Tue. 12th       PCC Standing Committee 7.45 p.m.

Wed. 13th      Communion at the Rajar 10.00 a.m.
                      Coffee Morning at the Rajar 10.30 a.m.
                      Association of Church Fellowships 1.30 p.m.

Thu. 14th      Doorway 8.00 p.m.

Fri. 15th        Choir Practice 7.30 p.m.

Sat. 16th       Messy Church Christmas Party 10.00 a.m.
                     Church Open 12.00 noon

Sun. 17th     The 3rd Sunday of Advent
                     Said Holy Communion (BCP) 8.30 a.m.
                     Children's Nativity Service 10.00 a.m. 
                     Nine Lessons and Carols 6.30 p.m.

Mon. 18th     Monday Night Group 8.00 p.m.

Tue. 19th      Juniors’ Nativity Service 6.30 p.m.

Wed. 20th    Communion at the Rajar 10.00 a.m.
                    Coffee Morning at the Rajar 10.30 a.m.

Thu. 21st     Doorway 8.00 p.m.

Fri. 22nd      Choir Practice 7.30 p.m.

Sat. 23rd      Church Open 12.00 noon

Sun. 24th     The 4th Sunday of Advent / Christmas Eve
                     Said Holy Communion (BCP) 8.30 a.m.
                     Choral Matins (BCP) 10.00 a.m.
                     Family Crib Service 2.00 p.m.
                     Family Crib Service 4.00 p.m.
                     Midnight Mass 11.30 p.m.

Mon. 25th     CHRISTMAS DAY
                     Said Holy Communion (BCP) 8.30 a.m.
                     Sung Holy Communion (CW) 10.00 a.m.

Sun. 31st      The 1st Sunday of Christmas
                      Said Holy Communion (BCP) 8.30 a.m.
                      Sung Holy Communion (CW) 10.00 a.m.
                      Said Evening Prayer (BCP) 6.30 p.m.

Church Diary for January 2018

Wed. 3rd       Said Holy Communion at the Rajar 10.00 a.m.
                     Coffee Morning at the Rajar 10.30 a.m.
Fri. 5th          Choir Practice 7.30 p.m.

Sun. 7th       The Feast of the Epiphany
                     Said Holy Communion (BCP) 8.30 a.m.
                     Sung Holy Communion (CW) 10.00 a.m.
                     Lifebeat 5.00 p.m.
                     Choral Evensong (BCP) 6.30 p.m.

Mon. 8th       Faith & Worship Group 7.45 p.m.

Wed. 10th    Said Holy Communion at the Rajar 10.00 a.m.
                     Coffee Morning at the Rajar 10.30 a.m.

Fri. 12th        Choir Practice 7.30 p.m.

Sat. 13th       Messy Church Preparation Meeting 10.30 a.m.
                     Church Open 12.00 p.m.

Sun. 14th     The 2nd Sunday of Epiphany / Plough Sunday
                     Said Holy Communion (BCP) 8.30 a.m.
                     All-Age Plough Sunday Service 10.00 a.m.
                     Choral Evensong (BCP) 6.30 p.m.

Mon. 15th     School Epiphany Service 9.10 a.m.
                     Monday Night Group 8.00 p.m.

Tue. 16th      PCC Meeting 7.45 p.m.

Wed. 17th     Said Holy Communion at the Rajar 10.00 a.m.
                     Coffee Morning at the Rajar 10.30 a.m.

Thu. 18th      Doorway 8.00 p.m.

Fri. 19th        Choir Practice 7.30 p.m.

Sat. 20th       Church Open 12.00 p.m.
                     Bell Ringing Taster Day 12.00 p.m.

Sun 21st      The 3rd Sunday of Epiphany
                     Said Holy Communion (BCP) 8.30 a.m.
                     Sung Holy Communion (CW) 10.00 a.m.
                     Lifebeat 5.00 p.m.
                     Choral Evensong (BCP) 6.30 p.m.

Mon. 22nd    Monday Night Group 8.00 p.m.

Wed. 24th    Said Holy Communion at the Rajar 10.00 a.m.
                     Coffee Morning at the Rajar 10.30 a.m.

Thu. 25th     Conversion of St. Paul 
                    Said Holy Communion (BCP) 7.00 p.m.

Fri. 26th       Choir Practice 7.30 p.m.

Sat. 27th      Church Open 12.00 p.m.

Sun. 28th    The Presentation of Christ in the Temple
                    Said Holy Communion (BCP) 8.30 a.m.
                    Choral Matins (BCP) 10.00 a.m.
                    Sung Holy Communion (BCP) 6.30 p.m.

Mon. 29th    Monday Night Group 8.00 p.m.

Wed. 31st    Said Holy Communion at the Rajar 10.00 a.m.
                     Coffee Morning at the Rajar 10.30 a.m.