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Articles from our March 2020 Magazine
Vicar Margaret Caunt Writes
Lent- a season of hope and promise
The origins of words are endlessly fascinating. At least, they are for me. It would seem that our English word for ‘Lent’ derives from the Anglo Saxon word ‘lencten’ which means ‘Spring-time’. I like that. It conjures up images of buds bursting like small green spears from twiggy trees, of daffodils pushing up through the ground piercing the air with their delicate , nodding look at me beauty: it hints at lengthening days and warmer sunshine; it evokes the
delicious smell of the first cut of new -mown grass.
‘Lent’ is a glorious word, filled with promise and hope. Promise and hope, however, are not sentiments that radiate from the often predictable and dispiriting sermons and parish magazine articles that so often begin with the disheartening open phrase: ‘Dear Friends, Lent is with us once again….’ The effect of which can deaden the heart. Why? Because one strongly suspects the message will be that Lent is all about taking on something extra, signing up to extra group meetings, even more introspection and subtle breast-beating, and probably encouragement to give up something pleasurable!
Of course, careful and honest self-appraisal is never wasted. And, of course, confession, penitence and awareness of our fallenness are to be taken seriously. But if the word ‘Lent’ refers to Springtime, might it not contain a suggestion that we should also use the time to reflect on the mysteries of new life, of the endless beauty of the Creation, of the sheer joy of new beginnings, of the presence always of hope, and especially of the utter and inexpressible glory of the Resurrection?
Spring- time is the new life with which God in His grace refreshes our souls. It is the time and the place where heaven itself steals quietly into our souls helping to remake us. And that requires of us patience and a kind of willing-to-be surprised attention, in which self is forgotten and the renewing beauties of the Creation and the throat -catching challenges of God’s Word can make themselves deeply at home in our hearts and in our communities.
One of the truths about Lent is that it exists to give us the assurance that God indeed makes all things new, and whilst Spring-time is not quite with us yet in all its fullness, it is most certainly on its way. There is an old Easter hymn that reminds us of this by J.M.C Crum called ‘ Now the Green Blade Riseth’.
During Lent we prepare ourselves and wait with hope for love to come again, ‘like wheat that springeth green’
May God refresh you as you reflect upon His hope, promise and glory.
‘Vicar’ Reverend Margaret Caunt
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 Church Tower
Seeing the tower of Saint Mary’s shrouded in scaffolding reminded me that this very large structure of our parish church which we can tend to take for granted has been standing for about six hundred years. Being so tall it is very exposed to all kinds of weather, and inevitably needs regular repair and attention to enable it to continue to stand upright!
Only a few months ago the tower of a church in the south collapsed; hence the urgency for us to ensure that our tower survives intact.
When a primitive church was first constructed in Arnold, perhaps in Anglo-Saxon times, it would have been a very simple wooden building, used not only for
worship but also for defence against attack from the marauding Vikings and other gangs living and moving around in the great forest of Sherwood.. If there had been a tower it would possibly have been as a lookout for signs of danger. After the Norman Conquest primitive wooden church buildings began to be re-built in stone, as Arnold almost certainly was. But it was not until about 1315 when John de la Launde came from Leicestershire as vicar that the origins of the stone building that we know as Saint Mary’s appeared.
The lower part of the stone tower, now shrouded in scaffolding today, may date from about 1450. A bell, or one or two bells, may have been installed to call people to worship, but also for warn the locality of danger. About 1630 the tower was heightened, and we know that by 1797 there were three bells hanging there. In 1868 there was need for a major restoration of the whole structure of the church, including the tower, which now contains eight bells.
When Spring comes
By the Rev Tony Horsfall of Charis Training.
By the Rev Tony Horsfall of Charis Training.
‘See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land.’ Song of Songs 2:11-12
March is the month that I associate with the coming of Spring, my favourite time of the year, and such a relief after the darkness and gloom of Winter. This
verse beautifully describes the joy that most of us feel as the days begin to brighten, and Nature starts to awaken once again. These words also speak to us about a new season in life, one that is filled with hope and expectation. Sometimes we experience the darkness of winter in our lives – maybe in the form of depression, bereavement, chronic illness, family difficulties, financial problems and so on. These long winter months of the soul may seem to last forever. Our joy disappears, our energy dissipates, our mood is low. A thick black cloud hangs over us and it seems as if the sun will never shine again.
Then we have this reminder that no season lasts for ever. The cold grip of Winter gradually thaws and gives way to warmer days. The sun does shine again, and the temperature rises. Birds sing and flowers blossom. The sap rises. Love is in the air. And in the spiritual realm the same happens. Eventually we will enter a new season of the soul. Joy returns and life gets back to something like normality. No darkness lasts for ever. We experience our own awakening, a kind of miniresurrection. We start to feel alive again, to see possibilities and to dream again.
In the depths of Winter, we can look ahead to the certainty of Spring. Faith enables us to believe that the winter of the soul will soon be past as well. In the
darkness we choose to hope in God.
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