Compass is the name of St.Mary's Parish magazine. It is published at the beginning of every month and is distributed throughout the Parish by a band of volunteers.
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Articles from our February 2020 Magazine
Sylvia Griffiths Writes
Many years ago, I worked among young people in schools, for a Christian organisation called Scripture Union. On one occasion I was asked to speak to a class of 9 year olds about my job. I said I was a missionary but I wanted them to guess what country I worked in. I described it to them:-
'The country is a small island. Many of the natives worship a little ball of fire in the sky. When it appears, they strip off and lie in silent adoration. Some of the natives worship a weed. They roll it up and set fire to it. It doesn't seem to matter that this weed might eventually kill them – their worship is in the pleasure it gives as they watch it burn. Others worship a lump of metal on wheels. As often as possible, they are out polishing, cleaning and lovingly patting it, making sure that this lump of metal is brighter and shinier than that of their neighbours.... and so I went on.....'
It was some time before they realised that my mission field was Britain. I believe that Britain is a mission field. Many accepted Christian values have long since gone and few know anything of the Christian faith. I once asked a class of 15 year olds what they knew about Jesus. 'He was born in the bulrushes' was one answer and another said that she had been given a cross with a little man on it, but did not know who the little man was. Shocked as I was at first, I soon realised that these answers were not the exceptions. We had a generation growing up who knew nothing about God, Jesus or the Christian faith. Yet, if ever a country needed Jesus, surely it is ours. We face a frightening future with our gun crime, marriage breakdown, child abuse, financial worries, climate change and so on - and many people admit to a lack purpose, direction, stability and security.
It faces us with 2 questions. The first is that of 'Why?' There can be no doubt that society has changed. Many of us in the older generation will remember our own childhoods where home, school and church worked together to give a Christian education....prayers at our mother's knee; donning our best clothes on a Sunday for church; school giving us a good Christian education through RE and school assemblies. We now live in a very different world. The second question is more difficult. What might we do about it? Perhaps the responsibility lies with us!
I want to offer two suggestions:-
First of all, for those of us who go to church, I believe we must take seriously our responsibility for the children and their parents with whom we already have contact. Do we see them as a real gift from God? Are we praying regularly for them? Are we praying for those who work with them? Secondly, what might we do for those who never come through our church doors? We can, of course, get involved in our local schools as parent-governors or classroom-helpers. This way we can be a Christian influence in their lives. But I also know of one group of mums, who, once a fortnight, when they have dropped their children off at the school gates, get together for half an hour to pray for their children. I also know of another elderly lady who, when the children pass her house on their way to school, prays for them as she watches them from her window.
Perhaps God might be calling us to something like this for the sake of the next generation.
Arnold Food Bank
A Big Thanks From The Food Bank
You are so kind and generous! Very many thanks to the people of ARNOLD, and especially of SAINT MARY’S CHURCH for all you have donated towards the work of the Food Bank in the run-up to Christmas. The amount of donations which have been given so freely and kindly has been astounding. At times during the two weeks before Christmas it was difficult to keep pace with the boxes and bags of donations arriving at the Food Bank; we almost ran out of space to store it all.
The churches and schools in Arnold are all consistently generous. But so too are shops and many firms, and organisations like councils, and meeting groups and many individuals. Here, in the porch at Saint Mary’s, after a week-end it has become quite normal to find a large number of bags spilling over onto the floor beyond the collecting boxes on the bench. Thank you so much for this.
The Trussell Trust, which is the organising authority for Food Banks, estimate that in the last six months of 2019 over 8,200,000 emergency Food Parcels have been distributed in the country to people in crisis, and that this figure has leaped by 23%. This figure actually believes that more than a third of the parcels went to people with children. 36% of the people requiring emergency aid have been because of low benefit income; 18% due to delays in providing benefit, and 16% because of changes to benefits being paid. The average weekly income of households at Food Banks is around £50 after paying rent; one in five families have no money coming in at all before being referred for emergency food; and it is thought that 94% of people who come to Food Banks are estimated to be destitute. At the moment, people moving into the Government’s benefits system have to wait at least five weeks before obtaining benefit. It is to be hoped that our new Government will appreciate these difficulties and do something positive about the situation.
In the meanwhile, much appreciation to you all for your support.
The Beatitudes: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’
‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.’ (Matthew 5:9).
H.G. Wells wrote of Mr Polly, ‘he was not so much a human being as a civil war.’ A lack of peace in our lives reflects the lack of peace in our families, community and nation.
In this beatitude, Jesus calls us to be peacemakers by overcoming conflict and bringing unity to relationships. This is very different from being a peacelover! It calls for hard work, patience and a willingness to understand the disagreement. We also risk misunderstanding and rejection by those we’re trying to help. This brings a much-needed perspective to the current Brexit debate!
What perspective does a follower of Jesus bring to peacemaking? Jesus says we will ‘be called children of God’, because we demonstrate the family likeness of the ultimate peacemaker. On the cross Jesus has enabled us to have peace with God (Romans 5:1) and broken down the walls of hostility between people (Ephesians 2:14). To be a peacemaker starts by recognising that God ‘has reconciled us to Himself through Christ’ (2 Corinthians 5:8).
Our mission is to implore people to ‘be reconciled to God.’ (2 Corinthians 5:20). This is the only true path to inner peace, as it is rooted in the reality of peace with God.
We are also called to bring peace between people, especially in the local church. It’s easy to avoid doing anything because we want a peaceful life! It means confronting situations where relationships have broken down and bringing people together in unity of heart and mind. The role of peacemaking is never easy; it cost Jesus His life and will undoubtedly change us: ‘reconciliation takes place when two opposing forces clash and somebody gets crushed in between.’
How Armistice Day began, 100 years ago
It was 100 years ago, on 11th November 1919, that the first Armistice Day (now Remembrance Day) was marked in the UK. King George V had issued a proclamation calling for a two-minute silence at 11:00am to remember the members of the armed forces who lost their lives in the line of duty.
The two-minute silence was in fact adopted from a South African idea that had spread from Cape Town through the Commonwealth in 1919. The first minute was dedicated to those who died in the war, and the second to those left behind – families affected by bereavement and other effects of the conflict.
The Cenotaph was erected temporarily in Whitehall for a peace parade for Armistice Day in 1920. After a tremendous nationwide response, it became a permanent structure, and in the following years war memorials were created in other British towns and cities.
In 1939, the two-minute silence of Armistice Day was moved to the nearest Sunday to 11th November, so that it would not conflict with wartime production. This tradition continued after World War II – Remembrance Sunday is still marked with a national service, and by special services in most churches throughout the country and beyond. Americans mark Veterans Day instead.
‘Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ (Matthew 5:10).
Somebody once described a Christian as one who is ‘completely fearless, continually cheerful and constantly in trouble.’ Living the life that Jesus presents in the Beatitudes will not necessarily make us universally popular. We must be prepared for opposition, insults and ridicule or even worse. Of course, persecution is the daily experience for Christians in many parts of our world today.
Jesus didn’t tell us to seek persecution, but He did say that when it comes, we should regard it as a blessing:
Firstly, because we are identifying with Jesus: If we identify as fully as we can with Jesus, then we will experience suffering like Him. It is ‘because of me’ (v11) we are opposed or criticised.
Secondly, it shows our faith is genuine: To suffer for our faith is typical of God people, ‘for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.’ (v12).
Thirdly, because of our reward in heaven: we will not lose out in the future, as Jesus reminds us that ‘great is your reward in heaven’ (v12).
To what extent do we suffer for being a Christian at work, with our friends or family? Although we don’t seek it, Jesus describes suffering as authentic Christian experience.
We might like to ask these questions as we reflect on this:
How many people with whom we have contact know that we are a Christian?
How far are we helping to give them a true picture of what Christianity is about?
How far do we demonstrate the presence of Jesus in our daily lives?
If we were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict us?
Medicine for the heart
Over 80 years ago I sat next to my mother at a pantomime – ‘Cinderella’, I think. It was alright, if a bit too full of dancing for my taste. But suddenly we were in a kitchen where the royal supper was being prepared. And wonderfully and gloriously, everything went wrong. Food took to the air, custard pies ended up on heads and faces. Apparently, I laughed so much that I fell off my seat. I had encountered the magic of comedy; the sheer joy of laughter. What we call a ‘sense of humour’ is a priceless and unique gift of our creator to the human race.
The Bible tells us to ‘weep with those who weep’, true – but also to laugh with those who laugh. In modern times that has often meant an experience shared with millions of others on radio or TV.
This month marks the 50th anniversary of the first broadcast of Monty Python’s ‘Flying Circus’ which was a landmark event in broadcasting comedy. It wasn’t situation comedy like ‘Dad’s Army’ or ‘Are You Being Served.’ Monty Python was a true child of the 1960s, a confident, cheeky reflection of contemporary society. No, it wasn’t ‘Dad’s Army’ but it was just as funny in its own way.
Some of our favourite lines from Monty Python:
“He’s not the Messiah – he’s a very naughty boy.”
“Alright, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?”
“What did he say?”
“I think it was, ‘blessed are the cheesemakers’.”
“This parrot is no more! It has ceased to be! It’s expired and gone to meet its maker! This is a late parrot! It’s a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed it to the perch, it would be pushing up the daisies! It’s run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible! This is an ex-parrot!”
“Have you got anything without spam?”
“Well, spam, egg, sausage, and spam – that’s not got much spam in it.”
Black Knight: “Tis but a scratch.”
King Arthur: “A scratch? Your arm’s off!”
Maybe you also have some favourites!
Like all of God’s gifts, a sense of humour can be misused. Satire can be cruel and negative. Just as the laughter of seven-year-olds in the playground teasing a boy they claim has got, say, big ears.
Humour should be about or with, but never at people.
Last altered on 31 October 2019