In this edition of Triangle
A Christmas Message
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her. Lk 1:38
I have always found this statement by Mary to be interesting and encouraging. Prior to the very first Christmas, Mary received the visit by the angel Gabriel – sent by God - to prepare her to make herself available to become the mother of the Saviour. Very simply she declares that she is indeed available for this task. ‘Here I am, Lord.’
It is probably not an angel who will confront us this Christmas but the question is much along the same lines – God has a task for each one of us, individually and also together. Can you say ‘I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said’. May your will, O God, become known and done. ‘Here I am, Lord.’
I am used to having a busy time at Christmas – part of the job for me – but true for every one of us all in some way or another. There is the time also to take a break and to reflect on the year that is past. We can look back over the year and say thank you for many things. For me at the end of 2009 I cannot say enough how thankful and appreciative I am to God for the completed work of reordering at St.Michael’s Church. It’s a fantastic job! Indeed the danger for me now is to spend far too much time in there admiring the place and its new facilities.
I need now more than ever to answer that question ‘What is that you want now, Lord?’ It is very exciting to live in Madeley at this time with all the new buildings and facilities opening up in Madeley Centre. Madeley, Sutton Hill and Woodside are all changing – and the churches of every denomination are at the heart of it because of the location of our buildings, and because we live here.
Perhaps this Christmas we can echo Mary’s approach as we thank God for her willingness to do what he asked in becoming the mother of Jesus. We can look out those heavenly tasks that God has up his sleeve for us. Only we can do them – and we will find great joy as we do so. Are you available for God? Can you say - ‘Here I am, Lord.’? It’s at Christmas that Jesus says exactly the same to us – ‘Here I am’!
A very happy Christmas to you.
Rev.Henry Morris - Vicar of Madeley
Sat 19th December
Carol singing in Madeley Centre
St. Michael's Church
Sun 20th December
Christmas Family Communion
*please note time.
Sutton Hill Church
Sun 20th December
Letter from Kuwait
Travel has been the main feature of our lives since last I wrote. Navina travelled to India to act as interpreter when two members of the church went to equip and train workers in orphanages. Whilst there she became an unexpected guest speaker at a women's conference when the planned speaker was unable to come! This was followed by a trip to Egypt for the Provincial Synod. George Lings was there speaking on Fresh Expressions and whilst sitting at lunch with him I discovered he knew my father. Michael Fitzgerald (former interfaith advisor to Pope John Paul II) spoke on relating to Islam. It was a fascinating few days with colleagues from as far as Libya, Jerusalem, Yemen and Tehran.
I then travelled alone to be with my family in the UK for the funeral of my god daughter. It was a deeply sad time as we said farewell to a young woman who left behind a bonny baby boy. During the same period, Navina’s uncle in India died unexpectedly. Death has left a trail of grief but in the midst of it we are reminded that we are a resurrection people.
Back in Kuwait we await the arrival of a new Chinese pastor and his wife who may take on a long term role with our Chinese congregation. Pray that the LORD will guide them. Several of our Chinese leaders are moving on from Kuwait. One of the ladies is going to Singapore Theological College to train for the ministry and one of the men has just been appointed the coach to the British Olympic Diving Team! Timothy, the Fiji prisoner, has now been deported home, and Simon from UK still faces another trial in December, having been found guilty at his last trial. He was sentenced to 9 months in jail – which is precisely the prison term he served for the offences he was found innocent of! It is all very convoluted. I have just received an appeal to help 36 Filipino prisoners who were dumped in jail by their employer with possibly absconding charges.
We rejoice at the formation of a small youth group in our home – the enthusiasm of the young people is great and we pray they will be encouraged in their faith.
As a family we are facing some uncertainties about our continued ministry in Kuwait. This year we moved Rianne from her old school to a new one and we were extremely pleased to see that she had topped all her classes and all her teachers were very pleased at the way she had settled in. Her maths teacher has been brilliant and she is making steady and good progress in it. We are finding gaps in Benjamin’s progress at school. He and Kathryn are still at the old school. Ideally next year we would like them to join Rianne, but at the moment this is not financially possible. So we are seeking for the Lord to show us a way forward. We are praying through the issues of whether to move back to England or wherever God leads us and we ask for your prayers too.
Andy’s health remains steady, but Navina injured her feet over the summer holidays. The physiotherapist who is attending to her hopes to see her walking without a limp. Praise the Lord! One of the ligaments was over stretched, hence Navina may possibly end up with some discomfort if she spends a lot of time on her feet. She is just grateful to be able to walk.
Thank You again for partnering with us in ministry. We value your prayers and support and concern for us as a family. When times are hard thoughts of you encourage and motivate us and your faithfulness in partnering with us is a constant source of inspiration and joy.
Andy, Navina, Rianne, Benjamin and Kathryn
The twelve days of Christmas
You may have wondered about the origins of the familiar song that starts, On the First Day of Christmas my true love gave to me…. Is it nonsense or not? Well, according to a Christmas traditions book that Hazel and Jan looked in, it is biblical. How, you may ask, when it talks of geese a laying and maids milking? Let us enlighten you.
On the first day… a partridge in a pear tree, supposedly represents Jesus and the cross on which he died.
Two turtle doves…the old and new testaments.
Three French hens…the trinity.
Four calling birds…the four gospels.
Five gold rings…The first five books of the bible, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy.
Six geese a laying… The 6 days of creation.
Seven swans a swimming…The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Eight maids-a-milking…Eight beatitudes-the blessings mentioned in Matthew Chapter 5.
Nine ladies dancing…Nine fruits of the Holy Spirit as in Galatians Chapter 5.
Ten Lords-a-leaping…The ten commandments
Eleven pipers piping…Eleven disciples, less Judas.
Twelve drummers drumming…brings us to the reason for the carol in the first place-a reminder of the twelve points of belief that make up the Creed.
Hazel Shipman and Jan Holt
Pause for thought at Christmas
Throughout a long and distinguished teaching career (well, long, at least!) not once did I receive ‘an apple for the teacher’.
At this time of each year, however, I did receive many cards from students and, as these were unsolicited, without threat or coercion on my part (honest!), I was both deeply humbled and extremely grateful. Such kind gestures at least reflected a realisation on their part that Christmas was important to me.
Examination of the imagery and messages depicted in most of these commercially produced cards, led me to wonder, however, whether the real significance of Christmas had been lost. Many expressed ‘seasons greetings’ and / or ‘festive wishes’ but direct reference to the birth of Christ was not usually evident. I even received one wishing me a ‘Happy Winterfest’! That the birth of Christ should be marginalised, sometimes to the point of exclusion, saddens me. Christmas is ‘Christ’s mass’, a celebration of the birth of Christ: God incarnate.
God did not merely acknowledge our human frailties, nor merely empathise, but became one of us in Christ. In so doing God not only revealed his nature to us but, through the ultimate death and resurrection of Christ, offers us, in all our weaknesses, redemption, salvation and reconciliation.
What a wonderful revelation and gift to all who seek with an open and contrite heart! How can we marginalise or dilute the essential significance of Christmas?
In extending felicitations, every good seasonal and festive wish, together with best wishes for a ‘Happy Hogmanay’, I wish you, most of all, a truly blessed and fulfilled celebration of Christ: a truly meaningful ‘HAPPY CHRISTMAS’
And now...Food for thought
The Men's Breakfast Club, which has been held every first Saturday in each month since January, is known by a variety of names 'The Cholesterol Club' being the most infamous. As a general rule, Men's Breakfast Clubs normally invite a gentleman, who has done something (or said something!) notable, to talk about his experiences; our speakers, by contrast, have been all 'home-grown' and we certainly haven't suffered because of it. To be more precise, it would be more accurate to say that we have been really blessed by it. We've had a healthy wide ranging mix of interesting talks ranging, from someone's testimony, to topics such as showing pinks or carnations. Numbers tend to vary but we normally have between 10-20. Attending a breakfast club for many men is a gentle, non-threatening way to meet together, discuss both secular and spiritual topics, and simply to enjoy one another's company over a good, traditional English breakfast. Ours, in this regard, is no-exception.
St Michael's Fellowship Programme of Events
February - March 2010
The King Charles Tankard Talk
Life in Nepal
Fellowship meetings are held in St Michael’s Church unless otherwise stated and commence at 2.30 pm.
All are welcome
Tea, coffee and biscuits are available afterwards.
Dates for your diary
Sunday 13th December 6.30pm Parish Party at St Michael's
Saturday 12th December
Eroica Camerata Concert
Wednesday 3rd February
Saturday 15th May
Please look in the weekly notices for details of another Quiz nioght, an attic sale, pastoral care roll bring and share...and more.
Thank you to all who have contributed to this edition of Triangle. The closing date for articles for the next edition will be announced in the church notices. Please pass to your church representative:
Woodside: Angela Handley, Sutton Hill: Anne Koe, St Michael’s: Hazel Shipman. Or if possible e-mail: triangle(at)tf7.org.uk