A REMINDER that Bramhall Parish Church will offer glad thanksgiving for the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen at the celebration of the Eucharist at 11am, tomorrow, Sunday 3rd June 2012 (please note the time – our usual three celebrations will combine for this special day). Festal lunch will follow – and there’ll be lots and lots of jelly and ice cream! All assured of a right royal welcome.
Report to the Annual Parochial Church Meeting of Bramhall Parish Church
RESTORATION, renovation and resurrection works have continued in and around our Church buildings in the past year and the works for repointing the Lantern Tower are beginning at the time of our APCM 2012. I am enormously grateful to churchwardens of the recent past, and to those of the present who, together with the PCC and its finance and buildings committee, continue to facilitate works that both maintain and enhance our “house for the Church”. We’ve been very fortunate to have been served by Architects John Prichard, Chloe Maher and Rebecca Gilbert-Rule.
I am also grateful for the ministries of my priest colleagues, Fr David Stoter and the Reverend Ann Hyde. We wish Ann Godspeed as she embarks upon new work at St Martin Low Marple from next month. Sterling service has been given and great works accomplished by Churchwardens Ralph Luxon and Sue Taylor, Ann Walker as PCC Secretary & Graham Knight as Treasurer, our Parochial Church Council, Readers, pastoral team, sidespersons, administrator, sexton, musicians, vergers, florists, gardeners – and by the faithful lives and deeds, in so many areas of church life, of very many members of the church family.
New ministries particularly
Once again I warmly thank and pray God’s continued blessing upon each and all who have responded to Christ’s call to love and service in this place in the past year. (Electoral Roll Officer Frank Bennett reports 470 committed Christians on our Roll at this 2012 Annual Meeting – and 450 persons not on the Roll were present at a St George’s Day service this afternoon, following in the footsteps of 200+ worshippers present this morning. Around 200 names appear on the various lists and rotas for our various ministries of service).
It has been an especial joy to encourage the seeking and discernment processes in the lives of ordinands Paul Deakin (Mirfield College of The Resurrection), Tracy Ward (Diocesan Foundations for Ministry Course and newly appointed Chair of our Pastoral Committee) and Rachael Elizabeth Hunt (hoping to read Theology from September 2012). Their early preaching has been widely appreciated and acclaimed. We’re also delighted to be sponsoring the priestly formation of Franco Asili in the Diocese of Newala, Tanzania.
Newala, Children, Youth & the Arts
Our parish’s link with the Diocese of Newala continues to develop. Part of the development and ministry of our children and youth work, guided and encouraged by leaders Jill Elston, Yvonne Hope and their team, has involved real engagement with the issues facing life in Tanzania, alongside the development of a very popular and delightful puppet ministry. Association with the Chester Diocesan Arts and Faith network and most recently with artists Wendy Rudd and Stephen Raw have brought blessing, benefit and enormously important vision.
Deeper nearness to God
I continue to thank God for the Resurrection faith, hope and love that are source and sign of warm welcome to those newly born amongst us, whilst also bringing comfort to us all in times of personal illness or other need, and when we have commended the loved ones who have entered into the deeper fullness of Divine presence. May each of us in this world aspire to a deeper nearness to God – our hope and our inspiration, our joy and our crown.
The wind of God’s Spirit
So: works of restoration, renovation and resurrection have also continued in and around our personal and corporate spiritual lives. The wind of God’s Spirit blows amongst and between us and so we grow and change and live to say: “To God be the glory.”
New life – thank you, Colin & Hazel
WHAT A GLORIOUS Resurrection celebration we’ve shared in Bramhall today! – so many people to thank, as always, all of whom made their contribution to our Worship by way of preparation, cleaning, sprucing, hours and hours of service order preparation, Newala linking, sourcing Fair Trade Easter Eggs, (and distributing and eating them), providing transport and encouragement, music (thank you for your glorious composition, Caitlin) and other artistic gifts, drawing families and friends together, remembering the sick and the suffering, presence, prayer, puppeteering (Double Act – you’re not only lovable, you’re also a bunch of geniuses) and praise.
Surrexit Dominus Hodie. The Lord is Risen Today – in The Heart of God and in and through countless millions of witnesses to the Life of God within all of us. Yesterday and today the Word of God is “Let there be light”. And there was light, and there is light, and there will be light. That’s how it is that we’re able to wish the entire created Universe a richly happy and blessed Easter.
St John Chrysostom (c.347-407) preached a sermon, the Reverend Ann Hyde reminded us at 8am, about that great Resurrection for which Jesus of Nazareth was willing to surrender his own life that it might be forever proclaimed: that great Resurrection in which
not one dead remains in the grave.
We who shall live together in all eternity are called today and every day to begin living resurrection with every other child, woman and man upon earth NOW. And as love’s surety we’ve been given tomorrow’s bread and the “new wine of the kingdom” today. So we sing and shout and leap and love for joy, “Hooray!” – though we’ve probably used the more ancient “Alleluia!” today.
God’s doors are opened wide. In the fullness of God there’s no need for closed doors – no need for a door to keep in the warmth, no need for additional security, or draught exclusion, or protection from heresy, or difference – on the outside or on the inside. No tomb on earth is to remain sealed.
No matter the size of the stone seal at the door, the loving, compassionate, welcoming and sustaining Word of God – with or without the help of the pious or the preacher – will roll the stones and the walls of division, false piety, self-satisfaction and suspicion away. Joy, sheer and perfect and unadulterated joy filled the heart, soul, mind and body of the beloved Mary Magdalene. “I’ve seen the Lord!” she said, never, ever, to be separated from his tender embrace again, nor he from hers. Jesus would ascend to the Father. And as he returned to the embrace of God so Mary – and you and me – came to be given pledge and healing feeling – sacramental sign of tender touch, indeed the tenderest possible embrace, on the inside!
God’s alive so we’re alive! Really alive! Happy, happy, happy Easter!
CHESTER DIOCESAN Arts and Faith Network are bringing together a great team for a Creative Play Day here at St Michael & All Angels Bramhall on Monday 19th March. Please click the image above for a poster and here for a booking form.
Artist Dee Rollinson will lead a lovely messy hands-on session on sculpting from the hand; Cheshire Poet Laureate of 2006 Andrew Rudd will guide another session on writing from the hand; Textile artist Wendy Rudd will lead smudging from the hand (see her Windsails at St Michael’s); and poet Jan Dean will wrap the day up with some reflections.
Materials, lunch and refreshments will be provided. Parking’s easy. SatNav SK7 2PG. The Arts & Faith Network’s aim is to foster friendships and creative encouragement across the Diocese.
Booking is required, please. Some photos of last year’s Breathing Space at the studios of Sculptor Stephen Broadbent are here. Don’t think twice. No previous experience necessary. Download the booking form. See you there … or rather, here!
I’VE BEEN SHIVERING at the sight of winter photos taken across Eastern Europe. We’re not used to what I’ve thought of as the distinctive freezing fog of other regions and “Russian Hats”. But our Bryan Goodwin here looked decidedly Russian a day or two ago and the snow, ice and fog around St Michael’s this morning earned a warm “congratulations” for those who’d braved the 8am celebration. “Ne’er cast a clout till May is out” my grandfather used to say. But we’ve been kidded! A mild Christmas and early garden flowers in bloom led our thoughts along green pastures. I wonder if we’re about to be kidded some more? Where are my gloves …
Salisbury Cathedral Font – photo/rachaeleliz
GREAT MEETING with our church architect this morning. The need for church maintenance and development appears to be never ending. Ours is a large complex (though not quite a Salisbury Cathedral – above). And the need can become either a long-term irritant or a long-term blessing. Our buildings can be thought of as long-term liabilities or long-term grace and witness. I’m among the first to admit that the Church fails in her responsibilities when blindly holding on to elements of the past that are patently redundant, and massive drains upon financial and other reserves. But others of our church buildings are literally sanctuary for souls, and their proper maintenance and an ongoing creativity within them is, I think, a spiritual responsibility.
Salisbury Cathedral, begun by St Osmund in the 1200s didn’t need a new twentieth century baptismal font, a fabulous work of art in itself, but what a glorious witness to “living water” it now is, and how extraordinarily the great space, and others like it, moves thousands to re-member, to think upon ancient telling of the glory of God. That’s how I think about the joint tasks of maintenance and creativity in Bramhall – actually the maintenance does need the creativity – so that living water keeps flowing. There’s a cost involved, of course, not least in terms of the need for “expensive and expansive” imagination. But he who gave us living bread and living water was prepared to pay the cost of the provision with his life. And he asked us to remember.
CHRISTMAS worship at Bramhall Parish Church is a joy, and you’re invited to be a part of it. Please be assured of a warm welcome wherever you’re from, whether you’re a day old or 100 years old, whether you’ve been before or not. St Michael & All Angels Bramhall is a home beside the road for any of God’s children who wish to make it so. Bring yourself. Bring friends and family. Bring openness and peace with you. And you’ll find all those gifts surrounding you.