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Pam's Paper Blog - March 2017

posted 27 Mar 2017, 11:22 by Richard Jones   [ updated 27 Mar 2017, 11:22 ]

Pam’s Paper Blog: 

Dear Friends,

In the month of March and we start thinking about spring and Mothering Sunday so our minds turn to family life. Families are the groups that God places all of us in for love and support through good times and bad. You can tell the strength of a family by how they deal with the difficulties we all face in life.

It’s when things go wrong we find ourselves asking those ‘What if?’ and ‘Why me?’ questions. We naturally wonder if we could have changed things; What if I’d done something different would these difficulties have been avoided? This can be very useful if it helps us learn from our mistakes but it can also be very debilitating if we’re dealing with things we cannot change like an illness or a death. So is it’s cousin, that Why has this happened to me? thought that make us feel singled out unfairly and keeps us hugging our hurts.

When things are going well and happiness seems ours it’s easy to believe in a loving God that cares for us. But when things are going badly it’s easy to believe God doesn’t care or has abandoned us all together. Or worse still, we stop believing there is a God at all. That’s when we need the love and support of our family, particularly our Christian family.

Sometimes we can have a genie view of God; that we rub our magic prayer book and he’ll grant us three wishes to spare us all troubles. That when danger comes he sends his magic carpet to whisk us off to safety.  But if God did make all Christians free of trouble all their lives then what use would they be to mankind? It’s only through dealing with our own troubles that we have any understanding of what others are going through in theirs and to be able to offer support.

This is why Mothering Sunday fits so snugly into Lent; the time we use to prepare ourselves for the festival of Easter. It’s at Easter that Jesus gives us his example of how he uses his innocent suffering for the benefit of those who put their trust in him. Now he is always there with us, in good times and in bad; part of our joy and sharer of our pain just like our physical family.

Perhaps a more useful question for us to get to when things are going wrong is ‘What next?’ We cannot change the past, we can only use it to make things better, usually for somebody else. It’s often as we reach out to help others that we find ourselves being healed along the way. So this Lent consider not giving things up but taking things on. Think about some small thing you can do to help another. You could babysit or visit an elderly neighbour or offer a friend a lift; simple things. Sometimes you can do a great deal with a simple smile and word of encouragement. If you want to be really serious about it then have a look at the 40 acts website for ideas. http://www.40acts.org.uk/

Let’s make a real difference in Lent this year,

 Pam Daunton


Pam's Paper Blog - February 2017

posted 4 Mar 2017, 08:47 by Richard Jones   [ updated 4 Mar 2017, 08:47 ]

Dear friends, 

As I settled down to write this month’s article for the magazine, the news was full of the tragic death of the two young school girls in Oldham who were knocked down crossing the road in a hit and run incident. I wonder if you assumed as I did that the driver would be a young man. This would have taken the tragedy to three lives as his would always be blighted by his own youthful recklessness.  Somehow the folly of youth is easier to understand and forgive.

But of course I was wrong. It fills me with anger and frustration that these two young cousins were apparently killed by someone old enough to know better; someone who had already been banned from driving.  These frustrating events create a desire in us to have the perpetrators locked up and the key thrown away. Do these people not understand the consequences of their action? Obviously not!

As Christians we’re asked to live by the rules that Moses brought down Mount Sinai two thousand years before Jesus lived; the ten commandments. These rules were once the heartbeat of our society, learnt by rote at school, but now they’re not that well known. Jesus summarised them into the ‘golden rule’:

‘In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets. Matthew 7 : 12 

In our modern justice system there is now a practise called restorative justice. This is used to help prisoners face the consequences of their crimes by listening to the feelings and effects their crime has had on the lives of those they have wronged. When a victim of a crime talks about how the crime has injured them and how they have had to adapt their lives afterwards it can be very powerful. It prevents the prisoner from ignoring the consequences of what they have done; it forces them to face their crime and helps them to be sorry. It is far better to challenge the attitude of a prisoner so they change their ways than it is to simply lock them up. Restorative justice has been found to be so successful it is now used routinely in schools to settle incidents that happen there.

Restorative justice is often talked about in terms of human dignity but it is really the use of this ‘golden rule’ of Jesus’. When we take that moment to ask ourselves how we would like to be treated in any set of circumstances. Then use that thinking to guide our own actions in the way we treat others it changes how we proceed in life. If we all used it wisely we would find we lived in a much more caring and safe environment. 

Pam Daunton

Pam's Paper Blog - January 2017

posted 5 Feb 2017, 00:34 by Richard Jones   [ updated 5 Feb 2017, 00:34 ]

Pam’s Paper Blog: 

Dear friends, 

The underfunding and crises of care for the elderly is very much in the news at the moment. People by and large are living longer. It is a mixture of medical treatments being so good that people don’t succumb to illnesses that would once have shortened their lives and our ability to stay fitter and healthier earlier whilst we are younger. But surely living longer is a good thing as long as it is a life of quality and not quantity?

But with this longer fitter existence has come a strange taboo about talking of death. There is this social unease about when it is polite to ask if someone is dying or not. In the press coverage of the crises of care for the elderly there is little discussion about the right to die. It usually centres on the inability of the NHS to fund us all right to the bitter end or the eye watering costs of care homes or the sad cases of neglect that occur.

As Christians we need to keep in tension two important truths. The first is that we are God’s temple. In I Corinthians Paul asks us this question. “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”1 Cor 6: 19,20. Each of our lives, long or short, is precious to God and he wants us to use it for his service. We should live knowing that God lives in a relationship with us that is special and important. That’s equally true when we are young as well as when we’re very old.

The other truth is that death is not the end. As Christians we know that Jesus shows us the way to his separate kingdom; the one we call heaven. That when we die we leave this world and move fully into the kingdom of God. Paul was so sure of this that he says in his letter to the Philippians:  “For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labour for me; and I do not know which I prefer. 23 I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better;”Phil 1: 21-23.

During these winter months many elderly people are cut off from others because we all tend to stay indoors at home more.  As Christians we need to let that Holy Spirit within us prompt us to phone or visit elderly friends sharing with them and caring for them. But also we should be ready to talk about that hope we have of heaven. Not in some bombastic thoughtless way but in the way Paul does. That we know that death is gain rather than an embarrassment.  

Pam Daunton

Pam’s Paper Blog - December 2016

posted 1 Jan 2017, 07:50 by Richard Jones   [ updated 1 Jan 2017, 07:50 ]

Dear friends,

Whatever possessed the United Nations to choose Wonder Woman as their ambassador to encourage women? I was quite incredulous at the decision, positively open mouthed. In one blow they must have offended such disparate groups as faithful Muslims and Western feminists in choosing such a Barbie doll idea. Never mind what it burdens our children’s self-image with.

This is not the first time the United Nations has chosen a fictional character to emphasise a desirable outcome with Winnie-the-Poo, for example, being chosen as an ambassador for friendship. But what does the unrealistic nature of super powers say to women across the world? Is being the best in human terms not enough? No, I’m with the female employees with my back turned and my arm raised.

Every Christmas we listen to the same story of a young woman’s obedience to God that enabled the incarnation. Mary was very young, unmarried and unprepared for what was being asked of her. But her decisions, and the faith that supported them, is an example to us all. Yet Mary too has been given a makeover with statues of a pretty white face and blue cloak. Often I find myself wondering what she was really like as I listen again to the Christmas story.

Our history is littered with great women, most of whom would not find their place on a catwalk. Women who defied the expectations of their age like Elizabeth 1st who ruled for 40 years; or Marie Currie who won two Nobel prizes for work on radiation; or Florence Nightingale who earned the right to serve soldiers as a nurse. All of them worked determinedly against the current of expectation and none of them were gifted by super powers.

Surely in the 21st century we expect more from women than a thin waist and fanciful abilities? We could wish them the political astuteness of Elizabeth 1st or the intelligence of Marie Currie; or the compassion of Florence Nightingale. But I think what is most useful to both men and women is an obedient faith in our sovereign Lord; it’s about as good as it gets humanly speaking; a faith that inspired Mary to say: 

‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
 for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.

Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him, from generation to generation. 

He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud

in the thoughts of their hearts.

He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; 

he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 

according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.

 Merry Christmas, Pam Daunton

Pam's Paper Blog - November 2016

posted 29 Nov 2016, 03:51 by Richard Jones   [ updated 29 Nov 2016, 03:51 ]

Dear friends, 

Samlesbury War Memorial Hall was awarded some lottery funding to research the names of those who had died in WW1 and are commemorated on the plaque there and in the local churches. It includes names of men who were both Roman Catholic as well as those who were Anglican from local parishes. It was a surprising mix of people with some having quite loose connections with Samlesbury.

As part of this research I looked at our parish magazine records for this period. We’d had our first magazine published just before the beginning of that war and it was a rather thin affair predominantly full of administration. What really did surprise me was how long it had taken them to use the magazine for spiritual matters. It’s not until 1916 that there was a list of men involved in the war to pray for. What was the church up to? Had it not cared until then?

Sometimes we are very guilty of missing the obvious. We believe sincerely in God and we trust Jesus to guide us and then forget about using this wonderful facility of prayer. Yet Jesus tells us:

And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” Matthew 21:22.

 So often we worry about things forgetting that we can use prayer to help us; forgetting that God’s will runs through all things in life, great and small.

  There is an initiative similar to the Alpha course that is available right now. It’s called trypraying: http://www.trypraying.co.uk/try-it . It’s aimed at people that ‘don’t do church’ because a recent survey showed that 1 in 3 people pray for others usually when they’re in dire circumstances. It’s a natural thing to reach out to God when you feel there is nothing else you can actually do. On the website there’s an app or a booklet to get you going.

 

 Yet as church members we’re also inclined to dismiss prayer in our private lives as if Jesus only listens to others more holy than us. Yet prayer should be a daily staple in our lives like breakfast and not just for when things aren’t going well. Last year I started writing my prayers down and even I have been surprised at how much has been answered. Now I find I start more of my prayers with a thank you rather than a please!

 

 War is such a pestilence on the face of the earth. Yet when we watch the news and look at pictures of Aleppo in Syria somehow it just doesn’t seem real; as if we’re looking at an old picture of WW2. But people are besieged in that city right now and we know about them, but feel powerless to do anything about it. Yet we can pray and it truly is not a waste of our time; it’s entering the war with God.

Pam Daunton.


Pam's Paper Blog - October 2016

posted 29 Oct 2016, 23:48 by Richard Jones   [ updated 29 Oct 2016, 23:48 ]

Dear friends,

All this week I’ve been humming the first line of that short hymn: Come, now is the time to worship; and It has had me thinking about what worship actually means. 

According to my dictionary worship is: To show profound religious devotion and respect to; adore or venerate (God or any person or thing considered divine.) But that is not particularly helpful is it? We know we come to church to worship God but what exactly do we mean by it?

I have a rather old book about taking collective worship in schools by John Bailey. As you’d expect he talks about the practical things that are necessary for a good assembly but he also makes a very key point. Good worship involves something out of the ordinary; that assemblies should be a special time which includes an opportunity for spiritual development. He expands this idea by talking about the importance of children being involved in their own collective worship.

It is that key idea of our own involvement in something special that matters. I don’t know about you but sometimes I come to church and my whole attention is somewhere else. I say the prayers and sing the hymns but I might as well not be there. Other times worship is so moving that it brings tears of devotion to my eyes. Certainly what is going on in our own lives will make a huge difference to our time in church. When we’re angry, hurt or heart- broken it can be very hard to feel near to God.

Likewise the quality of those prayers and hymns also matter in making our time in church special. Sometimes the construction of a service can be unhelpful to us. I’m not a big fan of singing those long psalms in Matins yet others find it deeply rewarding. The contents of a sermon can simultaneously inspire and offend different members of the same congregation. The construction of a service is a delicate balance that requires respectful preparation which avoids blandness.

I’ve lost count of the times that I’ve been part of a team leading a service and found that the whole is far greater than each individual part. In the bringing of small pieces by different people God seems to weave something much more special. Here, I think, we have the crux of the matter. True worship is when we come wholeheartedly to meet up together with Jesus who is always there waiting for us. When we come ready to listen, then act upon what we believe and follow him.

As Paul says in his letter to the Romans: Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Romans 12:1

We can all say amen to that! 

Pam Daunton

Pam's Paper Blog - September 2016

posted 29 Oct 2016, 23:45 by Richard Jones   [ updated 29 Oct 2016, 23:45 ]

Dear friends,

Are you like me and always find yourself buying far too much when you go food shopping? Sometimes I’m packing the food I’ve bought into the fridge thinking we can always eat it next week. Why don’t I just buy what I need and no more? Some people talk about lists being the answer but I just add to the list once I see something else I fancy. My main point of weakness is the special offer; especially if I’m getting one free! It’s all good marketing management, of course, but I despair with my weakness.
More recently this over purchasing brings on a severe attack of guilt since I watched Hugh’s War on Waste on Channel 4 earlier this year.  Apparently, as an industry we throw away a staggering third of the food that we produce in this country; quite often because it is misshaped or unsold within its sell by time. Also the average household throws away £700 worth of food annually. You can find out more at: https://www.rivercottage.net/war-on-waste 

Excessive waste wasn’t a feature of life in biblical times, avoiding starvation and drought was more the issue. I can’t see those unnamed women, who followed the disciples and prepared their food, worrying about the shape of their parsnips! Yet from the time of Moses, Yahweh has asked us to set aside time to thank Him for all He provides; the Jewish calendar contains the Feast of the Tabernacles and the Christian one Harvest & Rogation.

Respect for our earth has been an active part of the Judean/ Christian life and is now a scientific concern.  We ignore the pressure human beings put on our planet at our peril. All of us have to engage with our contribution to climate change and our use of its limited resources whether that involves us in simply recycling more or in a conscious decision to use less energy. All the NGO’s- such as Christian Aid- have campaigns about living in a fairer world where the consequences of climate change challenges our thinking about our energy use and resources. You only need to spend moments on the internet or looking in magazines/newspapers to find lots of practical ideas to use; there’s a new idea tailor made for each of us to take up.

It would seem to me that our Harvest celebrations should include something that changes our attitude for life rather than simply bringing a gift into church if we’re to take seriously God’s concern for our world. In the past I’ve made decisions to look for the tractor logo   to ensure I support British farmers or the fair trade mark to support those who live in poverty abroad. This is something that I stick to year in, year out. But what could this year’s annual Harvest gift include?

I could decide to put something from my shopping to go to Food Banks each week or compost our grass and peelings  so it doesn’t go to landfill; holiday in Britain so I don’t use planes; turn down the heating by a couple of degrees.
Please join me and find one thing that you can choose and stick to that shows respect for our earth that can be your Harvest gift for God. Then we can all use these lovely traditional words in praise of God: Thou crownest the year with thy goodness: and Thy clouds drop fatness. (From Common Prayer Ps 66:12)

Pam Daunton

(You might be interested to know that Recycling Lives is involved with sharing food with food banks for those who are in need in our locality. They also help vulnerable people back into work. http://www.fareshare.org.uk/lancashire-cumbria/)

Enid. July-August 2016

posted 4 Sep 2016, 04:17 by Richard Jones   [ updated 4 Sep 2016, 04:18 ]

Enid writes – 

The day I was asked to write for the UB magazines, I’d been preaching on St. Luke’s story of the Widow of Nain, and Jesus’ raising of her son.  It had reminded me of the time when there were teenagers in my family, and the inspiration I used to find in the story of St. Monica!  

St.Monica, celebrated on 27th August, was the mother of St.Augustine of Hippo, celebrated the day after on 28th.  (This is not Augustine of Canterbury, but the major theologian who - whether we now disagree with much that he wrote or not! - had an immense influence on the western Church.)  But 27th & 28th? Is the calendar reflecting what they say – that behind every good man is a better woman!?! 

Monica was born into a Christian family in what is now Algeria in 332AD, but she married a pagan who was a violent and unfaithful drunk.  On top of that, her disagreeable mother-in-law lived with them!  However, by patient persistence, she won them both over to Christianity.  It was Augustine, the eldest of her three sons, who caused her the most pain, rejecting her faith and enjoying an immoral lifestyle. 

Monica’s priest advised her to avoid conflict and argument, and to rely solely on praying for him.  He said, It is not possible that the son of so many tears should be lost. 

In 383AD, Augustine left secretly for Italy, but the widowed Monica followed him and became a disciple of St. Ambrose.  Three years later, Augustine was, at last, converted and baptised.  In his autobiographical book Confessions, he firmly attributed this to his mother’s example and prayerfulness.  Comparing his conversion to Jesus’ raising of the widow’s son, he wrote She never let me out of her prayers, that you, O God, might say to the widow’s son, ‘Young man, I say to you, arise!’  For this reason, this Gospel story is read on her feast-day. 

Remember St. Monica, and keep on praying for the people you worry about.

Rev'd Enid Briggs

Fr Roland - June 2016

posted 4 Jul 2016, 04:12 by Richard Jones   [ updated 4 Jul 2016, 04:12 ]

Dear Friends,

WHAT KIND OF CHURCH? 

 What kind of church do you want?  This is a difficult question, but, a very important one to ask, not just for the church today, but for the future church. 

 Everyone in the UNITED BENEFICE of MELLOR, BALDERSTONE & SAMLESBURY will be receiving two questionnaires which I hope will be taken seriously and answered and returned by a large percentage of residents in the communities. 

 Since the early church there has always been change...change in building design...  change in music and the way we conduct our worship, and that change still goes on today...BUT...I truly believe we are at a point in the life of the church that still falls behind in many ways and none more so than in our styles of worship. I grew up with a church that was three times on a Sunday using the 1662 Book of Common Prayer then came Series 1..2 & 3 now Common Worship...yet with all of these changes the church membership and people attending Sunday worship keeps on falling...WHY ? 

 One of the reasons being that the lifestyles of people have changed...the way we travel so easily today ...young peoples activities that take place on a Sunday… the list goes on. 

 Many who worship today are happy just `to stay as we are`… the question you then have to ask is...who replaces them when they have gone?  

 The answers that come back are very important and vital for the planning of the Church in the United Benefice. 

 If nothing is done and we just drift along then the future is bleak. PLEASE read and answer the questions honestly. 

 Is the church relevant or irrelevant ? 

Yours in Christ 

Fr Roland


Sister Sue - May 2016

posted 29 May 2016, 23:18 by Richard Jones   [ updated 29 May 2016, 23:18 ]

Dear Friends

 

“The road goes ever on and on down from the door where it began. And far ahead the road has gone, and I must follow if I can”

J. R. Tolkien in his epic works about Middle Earth placed these words in the mouths of his two hero Hobbits, Bilbo and Frodo Baggins. I have always thought that they express something of Tolkien’s understanding of his deep Christian faith as his tale about the adventures of the Hobbits are enclosed within a journeying motif.  On the one hand the physical journey of the characters as they play their individual parts, and on the other,  the greater journey of the tale itself which stretches from the beginning of time and on into the unknowable future.  Journeys and pilgrimages have long been ways in which Christians describe their understanding of their discipleship in remembrance of Jesus’ words to the fishermen – “Follow me!”

The faith pilgrimage can take many forms. Sometimes it can mean an inward spiritual pilgrimage; then again it can be a way of describing our living out of our faith throughout the ordinary daily round; and sometimes it can mean an actual physical journey for a limited time or to a new calling elsewhere. However we interpret it is a significant part of the Christian understanding that there is a good deal more to life and being a Christian than appears on the surface. Listening and obeying the words of Jesus “Follow me!” is a truly life, and heart, changing experience.

Over the past three years we have all been on the journey of our own individual pilgrimages and our corporate pilgrimage together as a United Benefice. As with all journeys there have been times when we have moved along smoothly and there have been times when the journey has been unsettling and challenging. That journey continues. As the United Benefice enters into a new stage of the journey it is important that the challenges of being God’s church in this place and being faithful witnesses of the Gospel be faced and necessary changes made in order that Jesus command to “make disciples of all nations…” be fulfilled.

The silver lining of being ill over these last weeks has meant I have had the opportunity to ponder on my own pilgrimage and have come to realise that for me that means an actual as well as spiritual journey. That has not been an easy decision to make and will mean some drastic changes as we believe that we as a Religious Community are being called to lay down paid employment and live by faith in order to develop a new ministry and open a small house of prayer where people can come for times of quiet space, prayer, or short retreats. We would greatly value your prayers for this project which will be based in the village of Tunstall situated just north of Lancaster and about 4 miles from Kirby Lonsdale. We would be more than delighted to welcome you to St. Joseph’s House at any time.

As the United Benefice steps out into the new phase in your pilgrimage together there will be changes, small and large, exciting and unsettling, welcome and unwelcome. And it will be important that all these changes are grounded in prayer and openness to God’s prompting. After all it is God’s church and God’s mission and God’s plan for the future. When I came to serve as your Vicar I strongly believed that this was God’s calling – and I have never doubted that belief. My time here has been shorter than I first envisioned but I am glad that I followed the call and am truly grateful for all the love and friendship I have experienced here and I shall continue to hold you in my thoughts and prayers.

“Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the Lord your God, who teaches you for your own good, who leads you in the way you should go.” [Isaiah 48, 17].

 

With every blessing for the future pilgrimage

Sister Sue.

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