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Monthly articles

  • Pam's Paper Blog - March 2017 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 ...
    Posted 27 Mar 2017, 11:22 by Richard Jones
  • Pam's Paper Blog - February 2017 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 ...
    Posted 4 Mar 2017, 08:47 by Richard Jones
  • Pam's Paper Blog - January 2017 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 ...
    Posted 5 Feb 2017, 00:34 by Richard Jones
  • Pam’s Paper Blog - December 2016 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 ...
    Posted 1 Jan 2017, 07:50 by Richard Jones
  • Pam's Paper Blog - November 2016 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 ...
    Posted 29 Nov 2016, 03:51 by Richard Jones
  • Pam's Paper Blog - October 2016 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 ...
    Posted 29 Oct 2016, 23:48 by Richard Jones
  • Pam's Paper Blog - September 2016 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 ...
    Posted 29 Oct 2016, 23:45 by Richard Jones
  • Enid. July-August 2016 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 ...
    Posted 4 Sep 2016, 04:18 by Richard Jones
  • Fr Roland - June 2016 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 ...
    Posted 4 Jul 2016, 04:12 by Richard Jones
  • Sister Sue - May 2016 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 ...
    Posted 29 May 2016, 23:18 by Richard Jones
  • John Hartley - April 2016 Dear Friends                 We know why the tomb was empty.  Mary Magdalene, Peter and John did not.   They were still living with awful memories of Good Friday.   It was on that day that their world came to a stop – the end of life as they had known it.   They must have been confused when they looked into the tomb and found it empty.   In a short space of time Peter and John made some sense of their discovery and, as we read in the Gospel, ‘they saw – and believed’.                For her part Mary Magdalene was too wrapped up in her grief to think clearly.   ‘They have taken away my Lord’.   To her Jesus was dead.   The bottom had fallen out of ...
    Posted 29 Apr 2016, 00:06 by Richard Jones
  • Sister Sue - March 2016 Vicar's LetterAt the beginning of February 2016 the vicar made this announcement which had to be read in the three churches within the benefice''Dear Friends,As I am still on sick leave I have asked the Churchwardens to make the following announcement.When I was installed as Vicar I said that I had no “agenda” other than the one stated in the Covenant that the Churchwardens and I signed at the beginning of the life of the United Benefice. “God’s people in these parishes now commit themselves to working together with their Vicar to build the United Benefice of Balderstone, Mellor and Samlesbury in order to reach out in love and generosity to our neighbours and ...
    Posted 28 Mar 2016, 11:03 by Richard Jones
  • Sister Sue - February 2016 Dear Friends,What troubled times the Anglican Church seems to be going through. And what a poor witness to the Gospel we are making to the world. It is with real sadness that I view the intransigence that has characterised the discussions of the Anglican Church and the damage that this has coursed to individual Anglican brothers and sisters; indeed how this has then put their lives in danger.  Of course we could always say that that has been the way of the Church throughout our 2,000 year history as we can see so clearly from the writings of Luke in the Acts of the Apostles, and in Paul’s letters to his early Christian communities.  And a close ...
    Posted 26 Feb 2016, 09:58 by Richard Jones
  • Sister Sue - January 2016 Dear Friends,             What is prayer? A question that can either be answered very, very simply or requires a large amount of explanation; and both approaches to the answer would be right. For prayer is at one and the same time something very basic but is also the greatest of all mysteries. Bishop Stephen Cottrell describes prayer as: “…think of God as the great Lover who longs to communicate his love to his people.”            The great poetic meditation on Creation that we know as The Book of Genesis describes God as someone who desires to communicate, to have a relationship, whose great love overflows into the creation of the universe abundant with life, animals, plants, and human beings. And the Christian ...
    Posted 7 Feb 2016, 00:04 by Richard Jones
  • Sister Sue - December 2015 Dear Friends, When I was a child, admittedly as my nephews and nieces inform me, was a long time ago (!) you could tell it was getting close to Christmas by the way the people greeted each other. Strangers would pass each other and call out a cheery “All the best!” Customers and shop staff would end each transaction with a similar greeting or a bright “Merry Christmas”.  Now I’m sure that things weren’t all hunky dory even back then but nevertheless people at least made an effort to relate to the spirit of the season and attempted to be friendly, if only for a little space of time. As time has past, and the preparations for Christmas begin ...
    Posted 30 Dec 2015, 02:44 by Richard Jones
  • Amma Sue - November 2015 Dear Friends “Remember, remember the fifth of November…”  so begins the old rhyme, and November certainly seems to be the month to remember; beginning as it does with All Saints and All Souls and moving on to Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday.  Coupled with the growing shortness of days this can make November seem the saddest month of the year, which is perhaps why all too soon we will be concentrating on Christmas (something that many retailers have been doing since the summer!).  Nevertheless, even though it brings a sense of sadness it is good to remember those who have gone before us, those whom we love but see no longer; as Ecclesiastes reminds us: “For everything there is a ...
    Posted 25 Nov 2015, 08:34 by Richard Jones
  • Amma Sue - October 2015 Dear Friends Over the last few weeks I have had, for me, the rather strange experience of doctors’ and hospital appointments. Not being someone who ‘does’ sickness I have found this a very humbling, and at times  frustrating, experience as I have been brought face to face with the fact that no matter how hard I may wish it to be my body isn’t completely under my control! I am very grateful for all the expertise that has been so much in evidence from both the medical professionals and the ancillary staff at medical centres, hospitals and clinics. So often the NHS comes in for a lot of ‘stick’ from all sides; from the government, through the press and ...
    Posted 1 Nov 2015, 01:54 by Richard Jones
  • Amma Sue - September 2015 Dear Friends "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2), such was Juliet’s plaintive cry as she pondered Romeo’s family name.Names, or at least titles, have been much on my horizon over the last couple of months. At the beginning of June, having served my five year term of office, I stood down as superior of the Order of the Companions of Martha and Mary; and so Sister Judith became Amma Judith as she was formally installed as the new superior. So now I revert to simply “Sister”. (Don’t worry I shall still answer to Amma Sue!) However ...
    Posted 6 Oct 2015, 08:43 by Richard Jones
  • John Hartley - July-August 2015 Dear Friends                Do you have a favourite holiday destination ?    Mine is the little village of Umhausen in the Austrian Tyrol, about a 30 minutes drive from Innsbruck. Situated about 3000 feet up in the Oetztal Valley, surrounded by mountains, it is idyllic for me.   I could live there tomorrow.   However, my family tells me it is too late to uproot now.   Fortunately we are going there at the end of August, continuing a tradition we began about 25 years ago.                The word ‘holiday’ is derived from ‘holy-day’ – a day being set apart for religious observance.   In times past the holy days – the great feast days of the Christian Church – were the only holidays enjoyed by working people.   Even today ...
    Posted 28 Aug 2015, 02:03 by Richard Jones
  • Amma Sue - June 2015 Dear Friends As I write this I am beginning to wonder whether or not we shall have a summer at all! Hopefully by the time you read this we will be enjoying the sunshine of long June days. Whatever the weather may be we shall of course be approaching the longest day, which, depending on your temperament is something to rejoice in or a marker that the countdown to winter has already begun. I remember in a previous parish being greeted by an old farmer, each mid-summer with the words “Well Vicar, t’longest day. Soon be winter.” The seasons of course progress whatever the weather bringing both times of celebration and times of remembrances, good and bad. During ...
    Posted 8 Jul 2015, 04:18 by Richard Jones
  • Amma Sue - May 2015 Dear Friends The Lord be with you.  And also with you. These are the opening words of the Common Worship Eucharist and we find them echoed in a slightly different way in the Book of Common Prayer offices of Morning and Evening Prayer as they are placed later in the services just before the prayers. However, they are much more important that a simple hello or a prelude to the daily collects. For these words express just what our relationship with God and each other means.  They are words of blessing from priest to people and from people to priest, and remind us that Church is not limited to the ordained and/or the licensed but in fact the Church ...
    Posted 2 Jun 2015, 09:09 by Richard Jones
  • Amma Sue - April 2015 Dear Friends April sees the beginning of Spring and also the end of the financial year!  Tax returns are now all in and the calculations have been made, by the time you read this we will have had a new Budget set by the Chancellor and the Election Campaign is in full swing; so it seems that even the staid and boring subject of financial planning has taken on the shade of spring-green! It is of course tempting to think that all this financial and business planning has little to do with our spiritual lives – but God of course isn’t confined to those bits that we label “religious” but is concerned with all aspects of our lives, even ...
    Posted 1 May 2015, 08:12 by Richard Jones
  • Amma Sue - March 2015 Dear Friends By the time you read this we shall be well into Lent, which means plenty of time to have decided what we plan to “give up”; and of course find that we haven’t managed to do any of the Lenten things we promised ourselves we would do this year! Don’t despair and just forget all about it though. It’s not the length of time that matters  - or even what you do – Lent is about deepening our relationship with God. And Lenten disciplines are meant to be an opportunity for refreshing and replenishing our discipleship. A character in one of my favourite books describe Lent as “a spiritual spring cleaning” and I find myself saying “hear ...
    Posted 11 Apr 2015, 08:23 by Richard Jones
  • Amma Sue - February 2015 Dear Friends,“Stop the world I want to get off!” – a heartfelt cry that can be found on the lips of all of us from time to time as life seems to be getting busier and busier. Far from providing the utopian future of ‘time saving machines’ and ‘paperless     offices’ technology and IT seem rather to have created even more pressure with instant messaging, emails and texts; while mobile phones mean that even on   holiday there is no escape from the cares and toils of the modern world. Which is not say that technology has not made much of modern life easier and healthier but it is the abiding weakness of humanity that inextricably mixed into the benefits we always ...
    Posted 10 Mar 2015, 08:50 by Richard Jones
  • Amma Sue - January 2015 Dear Friends Another year is coming to an end.I feel her tug at my calendar;I can sense her insistent movement.I can hear her call to cross over.Something in me wants to hold on,to gather all the good things close to me.A part of me that yearns for securitykeeps encouraging me to grasp it all.The firefly flicker of God’s graceare enough to embrace the unknown.A surge of powerful surrendertakes over all my looking back,and ever so gently and hopefullyI risk the road of another new year.                                     Joyce Rupp “The Road of Life” 1992These are just some verses of a poem by Joyce Rupp OSM, and are ...
    Posted 27 Jan 2015, 07:56 by Richard Jones
  • Amma Sue - December 2014 Dear Friends A few years ago I was invited to preach at a Mothering Sunday service. Similarly to our own traditions, the parish had arranged for small posies of flowers to be given to the children in Sunday School so that they could then give them to their mothers, grandmothers, aunts etc. Dutifully the children marched into church after Sunday School and handed over their flowers. Except for one little girl who determinedly stamped up the aisle to the vicar and presented him with the flowers; “Who are these for?” he asked, and with all the withering contempt of a six year old, she replied, “Jesus’ mummy of course!” Suitably chastened he placed them on the altar in the Lady ...
    Posted 31 Dec 2014, 02:51 by Richard Jones
  • Amma Sue - November 2014 Dear Friends,Why do we keep changing the colour of the altar frontal, the lectern fall, the vicar’s stole and the burse and veil over the chalice? A question that I have often been asked, and not only by confirmation candidates either! Human beings are not just “heads on legs” but have at least five senses (and possibly more!)  It’s a fact that the Church has appreciated for a very long time – centuries in fact; that’s why churches have such things as stained glass windows, banners, statues, carvings and beautiful kneelers.  Indeed God has from time to time given some very detailed instructions about how to build and decorate places of worship.  In the Book of Exodus ...
    Posted 5 Dec 2014, 00:46 by Richard Jones
  • Amma Sue - October 2014 Dear Friends Did you know that there are about 80 million Anglicans worldwide? That the Church of England has a membership of 25 million and that about 2 million of them attend church every Sunday? That the Northern Province, of which we are a part, has a total of 12 dioceses? That our own diocese has 253 churches? That our deanery of Whalley now has 29 churches? Taken all together that’s an awful lot of Christian sisters and brothers (and that’s not taking into account our sisters and brothers of other denominations!) When we take a look at the wider picture then we can see that there’s so much more to being part of the Church than ...
    Posted 27 Oct 2014, 10:26 by Richard Jones
  • Amma Sue - September 2014 Dear FriendsI do enjoy crosswords.  Not I hasten to add the really clever ones that require you to follow complex cryptic clues; despite many attempts these remain quite beyond my capacity and I end up agreeing with that old Monty Python sketch – “doctor, my brain hurts!”  I’m afraid that I only aspire to those which my on line newspaper calls “Quick.”  I’m sure you are all familiar with them they’re the ones where the answers are usually simply different words meaning the same or similar things, or are test of your general knowledge asking for the capital city of a particular country for example.  Contrary to their title I usually find the ones on line are ...
    Posted 30 Sep 2014, 02:21 by Richard Jones
  • Amma Sue - July/August 2014 Dear Friends “Wanted, Christians, seven days a week and no holidays!” so declared a poster outside the church not far from where my parents live. I’m not sure whether it sounds like a great adventure or a hard slog! Something of both I’m tempted to say. But that’s what being a disciple of Christ is all about – being a Christian doesn’t stop at the church door on Sunday morning (or evening). Being a Christian is a life-long commitment; truly seven days a week and no holidays. I was once approached by someone in another parish (far away from our United Benefice) who complained about the fact that he was expected to pay for his parish ...
    Posted 7 Sep 2014, 00:06 by Richard Jones
  • Amma Sue - June 2014 Dear Friends  Teach us, Good Lord to serve you as you deserve. To give and not count the cost; to fight and not heed the wounds; to toil and not to seek for rest. To labour and not to ask for any reward except that of knowing that we do Your Will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.  So goes the prayer of that great soldier of Christ, St Ignatius of Loyola the founder of the Society of Jesus or the Jesuit Order as it is more generally known.  This prayer has been much in my mind recently as we celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the ordination of women to the priesthood in the Church of England. As someone who ...
    Posted 8 Jul 2014, 09:21 by Richard Jones
  • Amma Sue - May 2014 Dear Friends,“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”  So wrote the 14th Century Anchoress Julian of Norwich whose feast day we celebrate on the 8th of May.  Who was Julian of Norwich?  The fact is nobody really knows, the exact days of her birth and death, even her real name are lost in the mists of time. All we can say with any confidence is that she was an Anchoress, a woman who had chosen to live a solitary life of prayer and mediation attached to the Church of St Julian in the city of Norwich and that she was well known in her own day as ...
    Posted 5 Jun 2014, 09:44 by Richard Jones
  • Amma Sue - April 2014 Dear Friends,“Holy, holy, holy week, there to make the clergy weep!”  So sang my friend as we sat together over lunch one Holy Saturday.  Over the years since being ordained I have come to understand just what he meant, for I too have always found Holy Week to be a very trying and tiring experience. And from conversations I’ve had with other folk whether ordained or not there is certainly an air of tiredness and even slight depression around this particular time in the Church’s calendar. So why should such a familiar and annual event have this effect on people?  What’s so different about this particular religious festival?Well, I think that it’s because during ...
    Posted 9 May 2014, 09:03 by Richard Jones
  • Amma Sue - March 2014 Dear Friends,In St. Benedict’s Rule he lays down the stipulation that each Lent all the monks must be given a spiritual book and are required to read it through without missing out any chapters or passages. For someone like me who, given half a chance, would spend most days with their nose in a book, this sounds more like heaven than any Lenten discipline! While for others this sounds like hell. I’m sure that both these points of view were as much in evidence in Benedict’s monastery as they are in most local churches today. What was perhaps as important, or even more important, about Benedict’s stipulation for Lenten reading was the fact that the ...
    Posted 2 Apr 2014, 10:24 by Richard Jones
  • Amma Sue - February 2014 Dear Friends, Money makes the world go round – or so the song from Cabaret tells us. And like it or not money plays an important part in all our lives and has done since the days when we ceased to exchange goods and services for other goods and services; even ‘ us religious maniacs’ who have taken a vow of poverty have to think about money and finances! I’m not someone who naturally enjoys dealing with issues of property and finance and I am always very pleased when someone else leaps in to sort them out. That’s why I am enormously grateful to all three treasurers for offering to take on the task of dealing with the accounts for ...
    Posted 6 Mar 2014, 01:14 by Richard Jones
  • Amma Sue - January 2014 Dear Friends,  At this the darkest time of the year, its good for our well-being to keep times of celebration, something that had been known by our ancestors from time immemorial; and so it is, at that this time of year has a long history of festivals designed to celebrate light, the sun, and joy.  For our pagan ancestors such celebrations were part of strategy to “call the sun back” and so bring light and growth and health back to defeat the darkness and the cold.  For Christians of course this is the time of year when we celebrate the coming into the world of the Son of God who brought life and health to a humanity that had ...
    Posted 9 Feb 2014, 06:48 by Richard Jones
  • Amma Sue - December 2013 Dear Friends,It’s that time of year again – “Christmas time, mistletoe and wine!”  A time for giving and receiving and no doubt just like at the Vicarage there have been many leaflets and brochures landing on your door mat suggesting this and that present, or offering this and that bargain, or new item of furniture being promised for delivery by Christmas.  Sometimes all this buying and selling can seem to rob Christmas of all its fun and its deeper meaning.  It’s easy to lose sight of what Christmas really is Christ’s-Mass; the time when we can especially give thanks to God for the greatest gift of all, Jesus himself. Of course the giving and receiving of ...
    Posted 3 Jan 2014, 01:57 by Richard Jones
  • Amma Sue - November 2013 Dear Friends,It seems to be all go as we begin to enter the Advent season and the run up to Christmas!  I’m sure that at this time of the year there are many of you who are also feeling that the pace has speeded up after the summer break; Keat’s praise of autumn as a “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” seems something of a joke in our busy 21st century as autumn usually signals a return to the frenetic activity of our everyday life.  How easy it is in all the activity to put our spiritual life on hold “until we have more time.”I’m told that John Wesley once wrote in his diary ...
    Posted 9 Dec 2013, 09:32 by Richard Jones
  • Amma Sue - October 2013 Dear Friends,The 10th of October 2013 is scheduled to be a day of great celebration for us here in Blackburn as Archdeacon Julian Henderson will be consecrated bishop at York Minster and just under 10 days later he will be inaugurated as the new Bishop of Blackburn at our Cathedral. The 10th of October is also a special day in the calendar of the Church in these Islands as this is also the feast day of Paulinus, the first bishop of York.Paulinus was among the missionaries sent by Pope Gregory the First to evangelise the Anglo-Saxon peoples and he arrived in Kent in the year 604. In 625 he travelled with Aethelburga the king of Kent’s ...
    Posted 5 Nov 2013, 09:40 by Richard Jones
  • Amma Sue - September 2013 Dear Friends,I was interested to read recently that a market research survey revealed that over 40% of the population said that they prayed, with about 1 in 6 people claiming that they prayed at least once a day. It chimes in with some of the research conducted by other organisations and academic researchers which show that certainly in the British Isles over three-quarters of the population say that they believe in God.  Which seems to be going against the received wisdom that our society is becoming more secular.  It seems to me however that far from becoming more secular, society is becoming more spiritual. It’s just that for significant numbers of people regular organised worship is not ...
    Posted 11 Oct 2013, 10:21 by Richard Jones
  • Amma Sue - July/August 2013 Dear Friends,Sister Judith and I are in the process of building a web site for our Order, it’s an interesting project and one not without its frustrations as we attempt to understand how to input, delete and change the information we want on it. I must admit that my primary motivation for undertaking the task was to attempt to follow the advice we have received from a number of people that we should make it as simple as possible for people to find out information about the Order of the Companions of Martha and Mary.However, the other day attempting to research how other religious orders have constructed their web sites I was fortunate enough to come across ...
    Posted 15 Sep 2013, 01:36 by Richard Jones
  • Amma Sue - June 13 Dear Friends,Families can be funny things!  They can be the most loving, caring and supporting foundation for our lives, and as the Marriage Service says, the family is the place “in which each member…in good times and bad, may find the strength, companionship and comfort” they need to “grow to maturity in love.”  Yet, at one and the same time they can be the most frustrating of relationships.  Thankfully for most of us our experience of family life is positive and affirming; but sadly for others they can be damaging, even dangerous. Nevertheless, they shape and form us in our journey through life.  As my grandmother used to say, “You can choose your friends, but you can’t ...
    Posted 28 Jul 2013, 00:39 by Richard Jones
  • Amma Sue - May 2013 Dear Friends,“The Spring is sprung, the grass is riz…” as the Bronx poem I learned at school has it.  And despite the lengthy wintry cold all the signs point to the fact that the Spring has indeed sprung and the earth is once again burgeoning with life; it’s the annual miracle that familiarity takes so easily for granted.  But the earth and its annual cycle are very special and intimately linked with our own well being. In the second of the two accounts of the creation story, in chapter two of the Book of Genesis, we read that when God created humankind, God used earth.  Indeed the Hebrew word for earth is adamah so the early editors were ...
    Posted 9 Jun 2013, 00:12 by Richard Jones
  • Amma Sue - April 2013 My dear friends,May I begin with a huge THANK YOU for your welcome and to everyone who came to the Induction and Installation Service on the 12th March. It was a very special occasion made more so by being able to inaugurate the United Benefice at the same time.  The Churchwardens’ choral speaking was particularly impressive as they, in unison, read the Letter of Intent for the United Benefice before signing it; especially as they had had no time to rehearse before the service! Another thank you also goes to them for all their efforts in organising all the details over invitations, parking, and overseeing the catering. Thanks to Graham Tipper and Jim Saunders for sorting out the Order ...
    Posted 7 May 2013, 12:49 by Richard Jones
  • Fr Rowland - March 2013 My dear friends,What a lovely feeling it is to know that this will be my last magazine letter that I have to write which I have done for the last 18 months. It is good to be able to hand over the job to Sue as she becomes your new Parish Priest from March 12th. This month leads us through Lent and the Passion to Easter, but, there are some very important dates on the way, and I would like to devote my letter to one of them namely March 17th the FEAST of ST PATRICK. a favourite of mine. (one of many) and maybe a saint with a message for Sue and her ministry with you. `Jesus said ...
    Posted 2 Apr 2013, 01:46 by Richard Jones
  • Fr Rowland - February 2013 My dear friends, I find myself writing this letter on the 5th of January before flying out to South Africa to visit my niece and sister, and having just past through Christmas and yet to celebrate the EPIPHANY realise that I am having to think about LENT as Ash Wednesday falls on FEBRUARY 13th. LENT for me, like Advent is a season of preparation and a Time for Reflection. Jesus spent forty days in the desert, reflecting and praying. The desert may be a harsh place, but it is an ideal place for reflection and prayer. This desert experience came at a crucial moment in the life of Jesus, a time of great awakening. It would be impossible to exaggerate ...
    Posted 26 Feb 2013, 07:32 by Richard Jones
  • Fr Rowland - January 2013 My dear friends, JANUARY 1st THE NAMING OF JESUS...HALLOWED BE THY NAME Another year has gone and a New Year begins.......where does the time go? Almost a century ago, there was a Chinese man, living in China, who became a Christian. He tried to tell the people in the place where he lived about Jesus. On one occasion, they laughed at him, used foul language about the Jesus he worshipped, tied his hands together behind his back and strung him up on a high pole. When he was eventually taken down he was visited by his Bishop who found him crying. `The pain must have been terrible,` he said. I`m not crying because of the pain,` he ...
    Posted 31 Jan 2013, 01:49 by Richard Jones
  • Fr Roland - December 2012 Dear Friends,Christ the Light of the World Many of you know by now how I hate to see Christmas celebrated too early BUT I do understand the reasons like for example in schools, but as Christians we must not forget the importance of the four weeks of ADVENT preparing us for the great festival of the Incarnation. I also realise the need for a Christmas message in this month’s magazine. It may come as a surprise to some to learn that the actual date of Christ`s birth is unknown. December 25th was chosen by Rome around the year 300AD. Why this particular date ? Going back a long time, before artificial light was invented, the season of winter ...
    Posted 6 Jan 2013, 08:42 by Richard Jones
  • Fr Roland - November 2012 Dear Friends,NOVEMBER 1st THE FEAST OF ALL SAINTS.............HOW TO IMITATE THE SAINTS As a lifelong fanatical Preston North End supporter like many who support other teams I would hazard a guess that all will have their heroes. I for one make no excuses for saying that for me it was Tom Finney and as boy and grown man he was a Saint, daft I know but true. When the legendary Bill Shankley retired as manager of Liverpool Football Club, Bob Paisley was appointed to succeed him. Realising that it would be a hard act to follow, the soft-spoken, retiring Paisley at first refused the job. Finally, after a lot of persuasion, he agreed to accept it. It ...
    Posted 29 Nov 2012, 09:25 by Richard Jones
  • Fr Roland - October 2012 Dear Friends,The end of September and the early parts of October see many churches and church schools celebrating Harvest Festivals when we give thanks for the bounty of the earth and also thanks for those who manage the land and fish the seas, and it is very important that we do so. With this in mind I want to make my letter for this month a reflection upon the `Importance of the Word`. How many words were spoken to us when we were young. How many seeds were dropped into the soil of our minds during the springtime of our lives. Those words came from our parents and from many others. We heard words of greeting and welcome, words ...
    Posted 9 Nov 2012, 08:20 by Richard Jones
  • Fr Roland - September 2012 Dear Friends,How time flies when the summer break comes for many of us, but now its that time of year when our children return to school, start school for the first time, move onto secondary education and some leaving home to go onto university, and the best of luck to all of them. But who can forget the magical moments of the Olympics (not including the closing ceremony music) and Para Olympics, a time when young people from all over the world meet, compete and share lifes experiences. WHY can’t it be always like that .. neighbours in harmony and love in its widest sense. Jesus said, 'You must love your neighbour as yourself.' Only when we accept ourselves ...
    Posted 15 Oct 2012, 11:27 by Richard Jones
  • Fr Roland - July & August 2012 Dear Friends, DOES GOD TAKE A HOLIDAY? The time has come at this point in the calendar when many of us will be thinking of a holiday, a break. Holidays are a time for recreation. Some people will be going abroad, maybe just to relax on a pleasant sunny beach or enjoying activities of a more strenuous nature. Those with families who do not go abroad making sure that their children get out for a romp in the open air. There are many forms of holiday, many forms of recreation, but let us look at that word; if you split it in two you realize that it means re- creation, or making ourselves afresh. Those who have any leisure time ...
    Posted 2 Sep 2012, 04:19 by Richard Jones
  • Fr Roland - June 2012 My Dear Friends At the end of May and the start of June we move through the church seasons from the end of Easter, into Ascension, Pentecost and Trinity, with Confirmation on Sunday 10th June. I would like to us to see this as a miracle time of change, not only for those to be Confirmed but also for ourselves.After Pentecost the apostles were changed people. It is a mistake to think that the change came about in an instant. It had to be a gradual thing, a process. It was a growth process, set in motion by the action of the Holy Spirit, and growth happens gradually. Though we are dealing with a mystery, that doesn`t mean ...
    Posted 8 Jul 2012, 05:54 by Richard Jones
  • Fr Rowland - May 2012 My Dear Friends The month of May for me always heralds in two important events Ascension Day and my Birthday but let us just concentrate on Ascension Day! On Ascension Day Jesus withdrew his physical presence from his disciples. But physical absence does not mean the end of presence. The ascension of Jesus is his liberation from all restrictions of time and space. It does not represent his removal from the earth, but his constant presence everywhere on earth. Physical presence isn't everything. In fact, it can sometimes actually get in the way of intimate communicaton. Many of our dissapointments in life are caused by the fact that seeing and touching do not always create the closeness we seek ...
    Posted 2 Jun 2012, 09:27 by Richard Jones
  • Fr Rowland - April 2012 My dear friends,EASTER SUNDAY WITHOUT GOOD FRIDAY?????? Dear friends, Viktor Frankl spent three years in Auschwitz. He survived though his wife and family perished. He tells how one day shortly after the liberation of the camp he went for a walk through the country towards the market town a few miles from the camp. The meadows were full of flowers. Larks rose singing into the sky. There was no one to be seen for miles around. There was nothing but the wide earth and sky, the singing of the larks, and the freedom of space. He stopped, looked around him, and then up into the blue sky. Then he went down on his knees to give thanks to God ...
    Posted 30 Apr 2012, 08:38 by Richard Jones
  • Fr Roland - March 2012 Fr Roland - March 2012 My dear friends, Witnessing to Christ in public. Do you ?????When will the church stand up and acknowledge its belief in God and loyalty to Him.On Palm Sunday Jesus' desciples openly acknowledged their belief in him and loyalty to him. What made their display of support all the more praiseworthy was the fact that it was carried out in the teeth of bitter opposition from the Pharisees. When some Pharisees came to Jesus to protest he said "If they kept silent, the very stones would cry out"There are occasions when a public demonstration is called for. This was one of them. It was the only time that Jesus accepted something akin to hero-worship ...
    Posted 6 Apr 2012, 01:01 by Richard Jones
  • Fr Roland - February 2012 My dear friends, FEBRUARY 22nd ASH WEDNESDAYDay of fasting and abstinence. At the end of this month once again we enter the season of LENT. Ash Wednesday is a day when we can fast - either from all food or some - and abstain from overt pleasure and whatever we consider is at variance with the observance. But witnessing for Christ as his ambassadors should be on our daily schedule at all times. We may have decided to give up something for Lent, such as sugar, chocolate, drink (G&T) or something more exotic. The absence of these may focus our minds on the season, or narrow our waistlines somewhat. But unless we use the time and money saved by these ...
    Posted 4 Mar 2012, 00:52 by Richard Jones
  • September 11 The Vicar writes . . . I WAS TALKING to a member of the congregation the other day about the famine in East Africa."It isn't that I don't care", she said defensively: "It's that I can't. I've run out of caring. I've realised that caring isn't enough. I have to do something to make a difference.' And I can't do anything about famine or genocide, or Third World debt, refugees, or child labour. It's a hopeless task for one person, and I'm tired. After years of struggling with justice and peace issues. Getting people even to listen, let alone contribute, is becoming harder and harder, and I've just about had enough ...
    Posted 4 Sep 2011, 12:31 by Richard Jones
  • July & August 11 The Vicar writes . . . Do you care about drains?    I was reading a book called The 77 Habits of highly ineffective Christians by Chris Fabry. It is a humorous book. But at the same time it tells us some very serious and fundamental truths about both Christianity and, more particularly, ourselves.     As I thought about what Fabry was saying, I was reminded of a pithy quotation from Henry Scott Holland (he’s the chap who wrote the poem, ‘Death is nothing at all’).     Holland, who was particularly interested in the relationship of Christianity with the social problems of his day said, “The more you believe in the Incarnation, the more you care about drains”.     You see, Holland knew that the ...
    Posted 5 Jul 2011, 10:13 by Richard Jones
  • June 11 The Vicar writes . . . DOESN’T INSPIRATION come from the most unusual places? I was reading an article the other day by a man called Damon Rogers. Nothing unusual in that, but Damon is a prisoner awaiting execution on death row in California, and this is the story he told.     “One day a father and his rich family took his son on a trip to the country with the firm purpose to show him just how poor some people can be. They spent a day and a night on the farm of a very poor family.     When they got back from their trip, the father asked his son, ‘How was the trip?’ His son answered, ‘Very good dad!’ The father asked ...
    Posted 30 May 2011, 00:23 by Richard Jones
  • May 2011 The Vicar writes . . . WHY CAN’T CHRISTIANS HAVE FUN? One of the most common objections to Christianity is that it restricts the enjoyment of life’s pleasures.     It’s a very personal objection and usually one that’s expressed with passion. People feel that religion is a threat to their lifestyle and a judgement on their behaviour.    I’ve actually heard the argument expressed in two different ways. In one, the main objection seems to be that Christians are killjoys who follow a God who punishes those who enjoy themselves. The other way that the objection is raised is when people claim that Christians are hypocrites, who say that they are loving and caring, but in practice are just as ...
    Posted 30 May 2011, 00:16 by Richard Jones
  • April 2011 The vicar writes .  .  . H ave you noticed just how many people only seem to be able to see problems?   No matter what you’re talking about, no matter what you’re doing, things are never right, there’s always going to be a problem.       I was reading a book the other day and one of the things the author said has stuck in my mind.  He wrote:  “I live with a stronger hope for the possibilities that lie within things or situations or people”.       And I was struck just how the idea of hidden possibilities demonstrates the way that Jesus looks at people.  You see, Jesus doesn’t only see what a man or woman is; he focuses on what ...
    Posted 30 Mar 2011, 10:33 by Richard Jones
  • March 2011 The Vicar Writes ... IT COMES TO US ALLThat moment when we look in the mirror and see ourselves as if for the first time.  We wonder where all those creases came from and if we’re a woman, we probably rush for the Oil of Olay.  And then, gradually, reason takes over, and we tell ourselves that we haven’t really been confronted with our faded youth, but rather with the signs of a new, mature identity.  Wisdom and experience have drawn all kinds of interesting designs on our faces.  Love and hate, joy and bitterness, sweetness and sourness; it’s written there for all to see, the choices we made, the inner attitudes that motivated us, the ...
    Posted 30 Mar 2011, 10:23 by Richard Jones
  • February 2011 The Vicar writes . . . I LOVE WATCHING. NATURE programmes on TV. - A couple of weeks ago I was watching a programme about a man who has dedicated his life to studying geese. At the end of the programme the man said that from his observation of the birds he had learned 5 lessons that had served him well over the years. As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an "uplift" for the bird following. By flying in a "V-shaped" formation, the whole flock adds 71 percent greater flying range than if each bird flew alone. Lesson 1: People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier because they are ...
    Posted 30 Jan 2011, 11:15 by Richard Jones
  • January 2011 The Vicar writes . . . I BELIEVE that the Church is moving into some very exciting times. Sometimes it’s going to be difficult and even quite trying, but I also believe that we need to have courage and to trust that God will lead us by his Spirit. To anyone who takes an interest in church affairs it must be fairly obvious that we’re entering the ‘age of the laity’ in the church. I think that God has had enough of a clerically dominated church, and there are signs that he has begun the process of giving the church back to the people. It’s not going to be easy. Probably the biggest obstacle is that many bishops and clergy ...
    Posted 3 Jan 2011, 10:03 by Richard Jones
  • December 2010 The Vicar writes . . DO YOU REMEMBER the excitement of Christmas Eve when you were little? The letter to Father Christmas, the feeling of unbearable tension, the desperate attempt to keep awake that always failed? Do you remember waking up on Christmas morning to the bulging stocking or pillowcase with its odd projecting shapes? Do you remember when you had children of your own - creeping in with their presents, their joy in the morning in the gifts they got and gave? Do you remember the people who used to share our Christmas happiness and who are no longer with us? Do you remember? - The Ghost of Christmas Past is never far away at this time of year. Do you remember? Of ...
    Posted 12 Dec 2010, 00:59 by Richard Jones
  • November 2010 The Vicar writes ....I’m very sad to have to report to you the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who had been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as knowing when to come in out of the rain; why the early bird gets the worm; life isn’t always fair; and maybe it was my fault. Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don’t spend more than you earn) and reliable parenting strategies (adults, not children, are in charge). His health began to deteriorate rapidly ...
    Posted 30 Oct 2010, 00:12 by Richard Jones
  • October 2010 The Vicar writes .... I WAS OUT WITH SOME FRIENDS the other week. And as we chatted, playing in the background was the song, '1 have a dream', by the famous Swedish group' Abba' . As part of the chorus, they sang "1 believe in angels", and one of my friends said, "You reckon you're a God person. Do you believe in them?" So 1 thought I'd pass on the question to you. "You're all God people. Do you believe in angels?" Angels are generally accepted to be a group of spiritual beings whose primary function is to praise God continually, and in addition, they act as God's. messengers, the 'go-betweens' when God wants to communicate with ...
    Posted 2 Oct 2010, 01:28 by Richard Jones
  • September 2010 The Vicar writes . . . IF YOU WERE TO ASK PEOPLE what they thought Christians did I’m willing to bet that among the most common answers would be that we pray, study the Bible and talk together about God. And, of course, they’d be right. We do all of those things. But when read the Bible in our services the only person who gets to talk about it and how it affects our daily lives, is me. And when we pray it’s generally in the form of intercessions. And in any case, because of the nature of our worship it’s of necessity all a bit formal and structured. Now I’m not suggesting that there’s anything wrong ...
    Posted 26 Aug 2010, 13:52 by Richard Jones
  • July & August 2010 The Vicar writes.......  Just about everybody has heard of Mr. Micawber. He was the eternally optimistic character in Charles Dickens' novel David Copperfie1d who was always down on his luck and spent quite a bit of time in the debtors' prison. Luckily, he wasn't a depressive like me but an eternal optimist. Ever hopeful that "Something will turn up!" But we probably remember him even more for the financial advice he gave to David Copperfield. "Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds, nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery!" Well I'm sure that if you regularly attend our Annual Parish Meetings and especially if you're ...
    Posted 9 Jul 2010, 01:56 by Richard Jones
  • June 2010 The Vicar writes.....  I’M WRITING THIS in the middle of May and I’m beginning to get quite excited about our holiday in just a couple of weeks time. And thinking about holidays reminds me of the story of the family in the 1950’s who were so poor that their children just didn’t know what a holiday was. Things got so bad that one day the father of the family told a friend that they’d give absolutely anything to be able to emigrate to America and start over again. Without saying a word to the family, the friend entered a competition in their name, and won tickets for a 10 day cruise to New York. Well ...
    Posted 9 Jul 2010, 01:57 by Richard Jones
  • May 2010 The Vicar writes..........No sooner do we get over Christmas than adverts for holidays appear on television and Easter eggs appear in the shops.       All too soon it’s Easter, and if we haven’t done already, we’re planning our summer holiday, and as soon as that’s planned, let alone enjoyed, we all begin looking forward to Christmas once again.  Everywhere we look we’re urged to look forward to the pleasures of the future.  Today doesn’t matter.  We’re exhorted to “Buy Now!”, and these days the “Pay Later” has moved further and further into the future because they hope that by then we’ll have forgotten about it and they’ll make even more ...
    Posted 9 Jul 2010, 02:31 by Richard Jones
  • April 2010 The Vicar writes   KEPT VERY SAFE under lock and key in a shrine in a town in India is a tooth reputed to have belonged to Buddha, founder of the Buddhist faith.  Thousands flock to see it as a visible reminder of their great leader and teacher.        But hunt, dig, and sift as they might, no-one ever found any mortal remains of Jesus.  Possibly the closest we ever came to having a relic like the Buddha’s tooth was the shroud of Turin, but that was proved to be a very cleverly made fake.        The point I’m making is that on Easter Sunday, Jesus rose from the dead.  It was God’s seal of approval that Jesus’ work ...
    Posted 7 Jul 2010, 01:35 by Richard Jones
  • March 10 The Vicar writes ..... WE ALL KNOW THAT LENT is a time for reconciliation, but all too often our good intentions fizzle out. In today’s fast moving world, we are faced with pressure all our lives.  In work there are goals to be met, targets to be attained. Our family commitments demand our attention, and our social lives take up an awful lot of space.  We’re always looking for the quick fix solution to any problem.  It’s so easy to allow ourselves to be conned by our society’s insistence on a need for instant gratification.  And even if we suffer inner turmoil caused by the many unresolved issues in our lives, we still hope that an antidote ...
    Posted 5 Mar 2010, 09:33 by Richard Jones
  • February 10 The Vicar writes .  .  .WHEN I WAS LITTLE just about the only thought on Ash Wednesday was of how many pancakes I’d eaten the day before. The only other question I can ever remember being asked was ‘What are you giving up for Lent?’ and as far as I can recall, my answer was always ‘Chocolate’. I never really understood why I had to go without it for six weeks of the year. But it seemed to be the expected thing to do and it earned approval of both my parents and my Sunday School teacher. Mind you, I’m not quite sure if I ever succeeded for the whole of the six weeks.I was well into adulthood ...
    Posted 25 Jan 2010, 09:48 by Richard Jones
  • January 10 The Vicar writes .  .  . Now that we’re into a new year, here at Mellor church you’ll soon begin to hear talk about fundraising and how, soon after Easter we’ll be holding a Stewardship Campaign.  It’s necessary to have one of these every now and again because we all tend to forget over time, just how much inflation has risen and also, although many of us might not be quite so ready to admit it, how much our income has gone up too.        And it’s all too easy to easy to forget that our Church has just the same inflationary pressures as we do and that our giving, as a proportion of our available income has ...
    Posted 28 Dec 2009, 10:26 by Richard Jones
  • December 09 The Vicar writes . . . ONE OF MY FAVOURITE Christian singers is the American, Don Francisco.  He writes all his own songs.  Every one of them has a Christian message, and whenever I listen to him he seems to have an uncanny knack that in each of his songs, the message is always just for me.       One of my favourites is a song which describes someone trying to help a bird that’s got an injured wing.  In its fear, and desperation to get away, it causes itself even more injury and harm rather than allowing itself to be picked up, healed, and released once again into freedom.       I’d been listening to the song recently, when Judith told me how ...
    Posted 25 Nov 2009, 01:09 by Richard Jones
  • November 09 The Vicar writes.....   As soon as the Harvest Festival Service is over , my thoughts, if they haven't already, turn towards Advent and Christmas. But there's one other major event in church that has to be considered first. The second Sunday in November, this year it's the 8th, is Remembrance Sunday and because it still has greater than average significance for a great many people, it still requires a good deal of preparation. This year I'm due to be taking the service at Mellor and so I need to phone round to find out what we do for the Last Post & the Reveille. And I also need to begin to study the possible Bible readings and to ...
    Posted 25 Nov 2009, 01:10 by Richard Jones
  • October 09 The Vicar writes ……   In spite of how it may seem, new beginnings are never easy are they? Whether it's a new school, new job, a new home or a new church. It's difficult to leave behind old friends, familiar places, things you're used to, and to move into new areas - areas of uncertainty where you have to find your way all over again and to establish new contacts and make new friends.   Most of you by now will know that that's exactly what Judith and I are looking forward to. It's only seems like a few days ago that it was formally announced that on the 2nd October I'll become the new ...
    Posted 8 Jun 2017, 07:36 by Richard Jones
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