Parish Magazine September 2020

As the Parish magazine is not being published on paper, we are publishing extracts on this page throughout the month.  The latest extracts will be at the top of the page.  Scroll down for earlier articles.

5th Sept: Laurence Giustiniani the saint who knew how to help a beggar

 

You are walking down the road when a beggar approaches you for money. What do you do? If, instead of giving money, you buy him/her coffee or a meal, then you are in good company: you are following in the steps of the first ever Bishop of Venice.  

 

Laurence Giustiniani (1381 – 1455) was born of a noble Venetian family, but he chose the austerity of the Augustinian monastery of San Giorgio on island of Alga. He became a priest in 1406, Prior in 1407, Bishop of Castello in 1433 and then in 1451 the first ever Bishop of Venice.

 

By then, Laurence had seen a lot of human nature, and was wise as well as good. Frugal in his private life, and happy to help the poor, he made sure that he gave wisely as well as generously. Hence the poor who came to him for help were given food and clothing - but only very occasionally small amounts of money. Bishop Laurence also devoted himself to peace-making and other pastoral work, for which his contemporaries held him in high esteem. As he lay dying on a bed of straw, very many clergy, laity, beggars and destitute folk came to grieve: he was greatly respected and loved. Wise giving and peace-making – Laurence’s example still shines true today. 

 

6th September:  Captain Allen Gardiner – founder of SAMS

 

Captain Allen Gardiner is a saint for anyone who refuses to give up on their calling. For this courageous and indominable man founded what became the South American Mission Society, though he sacrificed his own life in the process. 

 

Gardiner had not started out to be a missionary. Born in 1704, he had left Berkshire to embark on a naval career which took him to Cape Town, Ceylon, India, Malaysia and China. But the death of his first wife in 1834 caused him to turn back to Christianity. He left the navy and became missionary.   

 

With his second wife, Elizabeth, Allen Gardiner felt called to South America. But from 1838 onwards he faced implacable opposition from the authorities there, both secular and religious. His efforts to evangelise among the Chilean Mapuches - which included a family journey of 1000 miles overland by pack mule from Buenos Aires to Santiago and Concepción - met with hostility. So, in 1842 he settled on the Falklands, and tried to reach the Patagonian Indians. By 1844 he had founded the Patagonian Mission, because no other British Christian society felt able to take on responsibility for his work.  

 

Next, Gardiner reached out to the Bolivian Indians of the Gran Chaco. But again, he was repulsed. So, he then decided on a bold attempt to evangelise the Indians of Tierra del Fuego. 

 

He tried to raise the funds for a 120-ton schooner, which would have provided him with a secure base near Picton Island. But in the end, he could only manage two 26-foot launches, the Pioneer and Speedwell.Nevertheless, in December 1850 Gardiner and six other men sailed to Picton Island. But again, nothing went well.  Fierce weather, Indian hostility, a series of errors and logistical problems led to disease and finally disaster. By March 1851 the group had had to flee for their lives. They sailed eastwards to Spaniard Harbour, a bay at the mouth of Cooks River. Here they waited in vain for fresh stores to arrive, and by September all six men had died of starvation.  

 

Gardiner's journal, water-damaged but readable, was found in his hand the following year by the crew of HMS Dido, and includes the plea to God, "Let not this mission fail", and this prayer:

 

"Grant O Lord, that we may be instrumental in commencing this great and blessed work; but should Thou see fit in Thy providence to hedge up our way, and that we should even languish and die here, I beseech Thee to raise up others and to send forth labourers into this harvest…”

The work of the South American Society in the subsequent 160 years and the growth of the Anglican Churches of South America are God’s answer to that prayer. Gardiner had to face many failures in his life, but his solid, resolute faith is an inspiration.

As Harvest and the theme of fruitfulness approaches, Joe Warton of the LICC considers the effect of the Holy Spirit on our lives. You can find more inspirational articles at https://www.licc.org.uk/ Word for the Week.

 

The Spirit of Fruitiness

 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-25)

 

It was quarterly review time for Max, a personal banking manager. He sat opposite his area manager, cup of tea in hand, as shoppers pootled along the High Street below.

”So”, the area manager began, “How do you feel things have been going since we last met?” 

 

“Pretty good,” answered Max. “I’ve definitely been feeling calmer at work; you know, less stressed… I guess more at peace with myself.

 

“I’ve noticed that too,” she responded. “You do seem calmer; less irritable. I’ve not really heard you complain about anything. Can I ask why you think this is?” 

 

That conversation happened just a few months ago, and Max was able to share how he’d recently become a Christian, and what a difference God was making in his life. When God’s Holy Spirit makes Himself at home within us, our lives change. St Paul calls this ‘the fruit of the Spirit’.

 

Fruit is a great metaphor. The fruit of the Spirit isn’t something we stick onto the outside of our lives, like baubles on a Christmas tree. Rather, it flows out from us, as we soak up the nutrients of God’s Word and His holy presence. We cannot force out this spiritual fruit by tapping into our inner resources or by trying harder. This really is about God changing us, as we ‘keep in step with the Spirit’.

 

Healthy fruit is a sign of a healthy tree, and it shares its harvest with the surrounding ecosystem: birds, insects, Homo sapiens, and even our mortal enemies, wasps… Paul has already shown us how sin dehumanises and robs us of life, but the Spirit makes us more like Christ, the most fully alive human of all. And when we are like Him, it’s good for everyone. 

 

Fruit brings blessing. It’s a manifestation of the life of God’s kingdom, bringing the sweetness of His presence to the people and places where it’s tasted. In that way, it furthers God’s mission. The fruit in our lives is a signpost to the life-giving God.

 

So today, do not hide your fruit under a bowl! Instead, put it out on the table, that people may taste your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

 

Dogs can mean better-behaved children

 

Is your child naughty?  Consider getting a dog.  

 

A recent study has found that children who grow up with a dog are far more likely to be willing to share and help others.

 

Researchers at the University of Western Australia in Perth have found that young children who live with a dog and who frequently interact with family members who interact with the pet dog are far less likely to be naughty or uncooperative.

 

Small children who are taken for a dog walk with their parents and siblings at least once a week even show a 30 per cent drop in being naughty and disruptive, and a 40 per cent drop in falling-out with friends.

 

“Dogs help children learn about responsibility and unconditional loyalty. But they can also help with language development and verbal skills, while promoting trust and empathy.” Say the researchers.  Their study was published in the journal Paediatric Research.  

 

All in the month of September

 

It was 400 years ago, on 6th September 1620, that 102 English Puritans (now known as the Pilgrims) set sail aboard the Mayflower from Plymouth, for a new life in America. After a perilous journey they landed in what is now Provincetown Harbour, Cape Cod, Massachusetts on 11th November. They had intended landing in Virginia, but were unable to reach it because of heavy seas.

 

The voyage of the Mayflower changed US history…. There is a graphic to go with this article.

 

Celebrating 400th anniversary of the voyage of the Mayflower

 

If we find it difficult to cross the Atlantic just now, it was even worse 400 years this month. On 6thSeptember 1620, 102 determined Puritans climbed on board the Mayflower and set sail from Plymouth. They had 30 crew to steer them across 3000 miles of open, perilous ocean.

 

Those Puritans, or ‘Pilgrim fathers’, could never have dreamed that their journey would become one of the most influential in world history. Their courage and purpose for the voyage would help shape the very history and culture of the USA.

 

The Pilgrim fathers themselves were in search of religious freedom and a new life. Years before they had rejected the Church of England, due to its Roman Catholic past, and in 1608 they had moved to Holland, where they could worship freely. But life was very hard there, and so the New World beckoned to them. 

 

They had originally intended to use two ships, but the Speedwell sprang a leak shortly after sailing, and so they crowded as many as possible into the Mayflower. After a long and difficult 10 weeks at sea, they reached America, but could not reach their intended destination, Virginia, because of heavy seas. They finally landed in Provincetown Harbor, Cape Cod, Massachusetts on 11th November.  

 

That presented the next great challenge: the bitter, harsh winter of Massachusetts.  Half of the Pilgrims perished that first winter, of hunger and cold. Without the help of the local Indigenous peoples to teach them food-gathering and other survival skills, all of the colony would probably have perished. 

 

After months of hard work, by the ‘Fall’ of 1621 the tiny colony had its first harvest. They celebrated this great achievement with their new Indigenous friends. It became Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims had been convinced that God wanted them to go to the New World.  They wrote: "We verily believe and trust the Lord is with us, and that He will graciously prosper our endeavours according to the simplicity of our hearts therein.” 

 

The Mayflower was one of the earliest pilgrim vessels, and so became a cultural icon in the history of the United States. This year, until coronavirus put a stop to things, many celebrations in the USA, England and the Netherlands had been planned.

 

Coronavirus has caused innumerable problems, not least that of further pollution…

 

Now even more plastic

 

There is growing concern in the Government, among campaigners, and among scientists over how coronavirus has sparked an increase in single-use plastics. 

 

Not only are millions of disposable masks and gloves now ‘out there’, but there has been also a huge increase in disposable cutlery, sachets and containers.

 

One study by UCL estimates that in the UK alone, if every person used a single-use face mask every day for a year, it would create an additional 66,000 tonnes of contaminated waste, and 57,000 tonnes of plastic packaging.  

 

Two environment ministers, Lord Goldsmith and Rebecca Pow, have said: “We are actively thinking across the Government and NHS whether we can safely reuse PPE and we are aware of other countries who have begun looking at the potential to decontaminate and reuse it.” 

 

Scientists warn that it could take up to 500 years for polypropylene face masks to degrade. Meanwhile, according to some estimates, 129billion masks and 65billion plastic gloves are being used each month worldwide.

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1st September:   St Giles of Provence - helping those damaged by life

 

St Giles was an immensely popular saint in the Middle Ages, and no wonder: he was the patron saint of cripples.  In those days, there were many people who, once injured, were never really whole again. Even today, a serious injury – either physical or mental or emotional, can leave us damaged for months, years or even longer. At such times, we, too, find inspiration in others who, though also damaged by life, have not been overwhelmed.

 

St Giles was probably born in Provence, southern France early in the 7th century. The 10th century Legenda Aurea(Golden Legend) tells us he lived as a holy hermit deep in the forest of Nimes, near the mouth of the Rhone. A hind, or Red Deer, was his only companion. Then one day, while out hunting, King Wamba spotted the deer, and pursued it. The hind fled back to St Giles for protection. King Wamba shot an arrow which missed the deer but pierced the saint who was protecting it. Thus the king encountered the saint. The saint’s acceptance of his injury, and his holiness greatly impressed the king, who conceived a great admiration for St Giles.   

 

In the end, much good came out of the original harm of the encounter, for the king then built St Giles a monastery in his valley, Saint-Gilles-du-Gard. The little monastery was put under the Benedictine rule and became a source of blessing for the area roundabout. In later years, St Giles’ shrine would become an important pilgrimage centre on the route for both Compostela and the Holy Land, as well as in its own right.

 

There is a further story connected with St Giles. Another legend tells how an emperor sought forgiveness from him for a sin so terrible he dared not even confess it. While St Giles said Mass, he saw written for him by an angel the nature of the sin in question. But his prayers for the emperor were so efficacious that the letters naming the sin faded away. As Christians, we know that the Bible urges us to pray for others, no matter how hopelessly bad they seem, because Christ’s mercy and forgiveness are extended to everyone who truly turns to Him and repents.

 

No wonder then, that St Giles, the crippled saint who helped others find wholeness with God, became patron saint of cripples, lepers and nursing mothers. In England 162 ancient churches are dedicated to him, as well as at least 24 hospitals. The most famous of these are St Giles in Edinburgh and St Giles in Cripplegate, London. In art, St Giles is represented as either a simple abbot with staff, or protecting the hind, or saying the Mass, and thus interceding for the emperor.

 

2nd September:  St William of Roskilde - standing up for social justice

 

Here is a saint for anyone who thinks Christian leaders should stand up for justice – even at the risk of angering secular powers.  

 

It all began when William was an English priest serving as chaplain to Canute, king of England, (1016-35), who decided to visit Scandinavia. William went along, and was so shocked by the ignorance, idolatry and superstition that he stayed on to help preach the Gospel. Eventually he became bishop of Roskilde (Zeeland), working tirelessly among the people as a beloved pastor.  

 

But William’s main challenge came in his determination to improve the conduct of the king, Sweyn Estridsen. The king had had some criminals killed without trial and in a church, violating sanctuary. William then forbade him to enter the church next day until he was absolved from the guilt of shedding blood unjustly. Courtiers drew their swords, and William showed himself ready to die. Instead, Sweyn confessed his crime and donated land to Roskilde church as a peace-offering. Thenceforward, until the king’s death, Sweyn and William worked together to foster Christianity in Scandinavia.

3rd September:  St Gregory the Great – the pope who saved the ‘angels’

 

Pope Gregory never called himself ‘the Great’, but instead ‘the Servant of the Servants of God’. Nevertheless, Gregory was one of the most important popes and influential writers of the Middle Ages. The son of a very rich Roman senator, he left the service of the State upon his conversion as a young man. Gregory then sold off his tremendous estates to found six monasteries in Sicily and a seventh in Rome, and gave generously to the poor. He became a monk and adopted an austere lifestyle. But he was destined to be a frustrated monk, because successive popes kept appointing him to jobs with major public responsibilities.  

 

Christians in England owe him a great deal. When Gregory came across some English slaves for sale in Rome, he asked who they were, and was told, “They are Angles.” Moved with compassion for these humiliated and despised men, he replied, “They are not Angles, but angels!” He wanted to lead a band of missionaries to England to evangelise the Angles, but then plague broke out in Italy, and during this time he was elected Pope.  

 

Reluctantly he accepted, and then sent to work to deal with the crises facing Christendom: plague, floods, famine, and a Lombard invasion. But busy though Gregory was, he did not forget the Angles. He sent Augustine to England, and so indirectly became the apostle of the English.

 

4th Sept:  St Birinus – apostle of Wessex.  Died 650

 

Did you ever feel that God was calling you to do something big for Him, even though you were not quite sure of the details? If so, Birinus is the saint for you.

 

He was a French Benedictine monk who in 634 was made a bishop at Genoa, and sent by Pope Honorius 1 to extend the evangelisation of England. (Augustine had arrived in Canterbury about 35 years before.)

 

Birinus landed at Hamwic, near Southampton. His original plan was to evangelise Wessex and then penetrate up into the Midlands, where no preacher had ever yet reached. But Birinus soon found the West Saxons so pagan that he decided to concentrate just on them.

 

Birinus had little to help him become the apostle to Wessex. So, he simply used what he did have: his own two feet and his voice. He wandered around preaching at every opportunity, trusting in God to help him. And He did: Birinus became known and respected, and soon a big breakthrough occurred: for political reasons the King of Wessex, Cynegils, wanted to convert to Christianity, and he asked Birinus to help him. 

 

So Birinus instructed and baptised King Cynegils, who was then able to marry the Christian king of Northumbria’s daughter, Cyneburg, and in due course Birinus baptised their family as well.

 

In return, Cynegils gave Birinus the town of Dorchester (upon Thames) to be his diocesan see. It was a perfect location: a Romano-British town right on a road and a river, in the midst of a populated area.

 

During his 15 years as Bishop of Dorchester, Birinus baptised many people and built churches all over the area, with the king’s blessing.  

 

Before he died in 650, Birinus dedicated a church at Winchester. It was a glimpse of the future: for Winchester’s growing importance made it inevitable that in time it would also become the ecclesiastical centre of the kingdom.

What’s in your hand?

 

September is usually the time when we get back to our normal routines after the summer break. With the current coronavirus pandemic, it’s very different this year! However, it is still a good time to consider how God can use us to make a real difference in our workplace, school, family, friends and community. He equips us with everything we need to make His love known. 

 

When God gave Moses the job of bringing the Israelites out of Egypt, He asked the question, ‘What is in your hand?’(Exodus 4:2). Moses was holding his staff, which represented his livelihood (what he was good at); his resources (his flock represented his wealth) and his security (which God was asking him to lay down). God asks the same question of us: What has God given you? Our gifts, temperament, experience, relationships, mind, education can be used in the work God has given us to do. How will we use them to make a difference in the places where He calls us to serve Him?

 

John Ortberg, in his book It All Goes Back in the Box, speaks of Johnny, a 19-year-old with Downs syndrome. He worked at a supermarket checkout putting people’s items into bags. To encourage his customers, he decided to put a thought for the day into the bags. Every night his dad would help him to prepare the slips of paper and he would put the thoughts into the bags saying, ‘I hope it helps you have a good day. Thanks for coming here.’ A month later the store manager noticed that Johnny's line at the checkout was three times longer than anyone else's! People wanted Johnny's thought for the day. He wasn’t just filling bags with groceries, he was filling lives with hope!

 

What has God given you that will help and encourage others?

Some observations out of the coronavirus crisis…

 

When you wear a tight mask around your face, a hat, a face shield, a gown, two pairs of gloves, and something to protect your shoes, it is a totally different (nursing) thing; and, as nurses, you have to stay in that side room or unit for 12-and-a-half hours. It is really draining physically. You…can’t even go to the loo because your patients are terribly sick. They are on maximum (life support), so you can’t take your eyes off that monitor. – ITU nurse on the reality of nursing in PPE

 

Churches need to proclaim a better vision for the economy after the pandemic. Our economy is underpinned by the flawed assumption that people find their fulfilment through individual consumption: the more you have, the better your life will be. – Simon Perfect, researcher for Theos  

 

Those who have found God in digital church may want to keep God there rather than discover transforming participation in the Body of Christ….  We need to find creative new ways of combining physical gathering with the virtual. - Canon Mark Collinson, Principal of the School of Mission Winchester Diocese.

 

No donations are coming in. Everybody is at home, and the last thing they expect is charities … sending emails asking for money. But at the same time, we have projects to run, staff to pay…– director of a humanitarian charity

 

History books will inevitably tell the story of a virus that swept the world in 2020. But it is up to us what that story will look like. Either… the story of a virus that … showed up the weakness, selfishness and frailty of people… or how people responded with their best, how the virus was a medical but not a social tragedy.  – Canon Will Hughes, Vicar of Petersfield, Portsmouth Diocese.  

 

All in the month of September

75 years ago on 2nd September, Japan surrenders unconditionally on board USS 'Missouri', bringing to an end World War Two.

 

25 years ago, on 3rd September 1995 that the auction site eBay was founded (as AuctionWeb).

On 4th September 1870, Emperor Napoleon III of France is deposed after defeat at Sedan and the Third Republic is declared

Why has my father brought me here?

 

Why has my father brought me here?

Upon this mountain top so high?

And why do I behold a tear,

Within my father’s loving eye?

 

Where is the lamb for sacrifice

To lay upon this altar wood?

And where the funds to pay the price?

I can’t see how this will do good.

 

Why am I so tightly bound?

My eyes are wrapped – I cannot see!

I’m tied to wood, my heart does pound!

Oh why has he forsaken me?

 

Can it be my father’s plan

As he takes up that awful knife

That I should be the special lamb?

The sacrifice be my own life?

 

I hear a voice call “Abraham!

“Don’t harm the lad! I hear your prayer!

“The sacrifice should be that ram

“Caught in a thicket, over there!”

 

“And you have not withheld your son,

“Despite your love, your father’s pride!

“You have this day My blessing won,

“And, like today, I will provide.”

 

Why has our Father brought us here?

Upon our troubles harshly tied?

So far from all that we hold dear?

Just trust in Him, He will provide!

 

By Nigel Beeton

 

St James the Least of All

 

The Rev Dr Gary Bowness continues his letters from ‘Uncle Eustace’…

On church towers, rock cakes, scaffolding and the merits of confirming bats

 

My dear Nephew Darren

We are finally about to start repairing our medieval church tower. Would that we still paid medieval prices for having it done; there would be a degree of satisfaction in giving the builders a hogshead of ale and 10 sheep once the work was completed. I would even be prepared to throw in an Indulgence, sparing them 100 days in purgatory (the architect probably claiming 15% of them for himself).

After several endless jumble sales, coffee mornings – where we were obliged to eat Mrs Jarvis’s rock cakes (many of us would have been happier to make a substantial donation to the fund provided we didn’t have to eat them) – sponsored events (Mr Peat has yet to return, five years late, from his sponsored cycle ride across the Sahara – but fortunately, we had his sponsor money collected before he departed) and a substantial loan from the bank that makes the National Debt seem trivial (and has the same probability of being repaid), we are now able to begin. The only sponsored event I regretted not having was paying to have Lady Trotter remain silent for a month. Even sponsoring her to keep quiet for half an hour would have been pleasant.

We received a substantial donation from a local manufacturer. It was suggested that as a sign of appreciation we advertise their products from the top of the tower – until it was gently pointed out that they produce nuclear warheads. I would have had no objection; knowing that council members possessed tactical nuclear weapons would make discussion at meetings rather brisker.

Scaffolding has now been erected around the tower, with the first 20 feet covered in sheet metal in order to stop the Young Farmers, after refreshing themselves at their Tuesday meetings in the pub, from trying to see who could be the first to reach the top. Personally, I suspect it is to stop the more athletic members of the Ladies’ Guild from attempting the same feat. 80-year-olds these days can have fearsome energy and determination.

Fulfilling current safety regulations, there is now a security cordon around the tower of approximately 10 square miles. “Lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone”? These days, a dashed foot would involve court proceedings and damages of several million pounds.

Inside the church, the organ has had to be covered in polythene sheeting in order to protect it. Parish relations were somewhat strained last week when our deputy organist, Mrs Ffrench, while playing for Evensong, overheard me refer to the large bag on the organ and got quite the wrong impression.

The greatest inconvenience will be caused to our population of bats, but if it dissuades them from flying into church so much the better. The only other possibility is to get them all confirmed; we will then never see them inside church again.

Your loving uncle,

Eustace

 

Has lockdown damaged your eyesight?

 

Are you suffering from ‘coronavision’? It is perfectly possible.

 

Lockdown led to many of us staring at our television or computer screens for long periods of time. And that could have strained our eyes, warns the College of Optometrists.

 

By this summer one in five adults in Britain had reported a deterioration in their eyesight. Symptoms include blurred vision, difficulty in focussing, and red or painful eyes.  

 

As one optometrist explained: “Working from home, video calls with friends and family, watching more TV, time spent looking at your phone – all that screen time adds up.

The good news is that this is unlikely to cause any permanent harm to your vision.”

 

Nevertheless, the College urges people to get their eyes checked if they feel on-going discomfort. They also advise that when you are looking at a screen, you rest your eyes every 20 minutes, blink regularly, use eye drops, position yo

 

Smile-lines for September

 

As Party Conference season begins and the US Presidential election draws closer:

 

Are politicians the oldest profession?

 

A surgeon, an architect and a politician were arguing as to whose profession was the oldest.  Said the surgeon: “Eve was made from Adam’s rib, and that surely was a surgical operation.”

 

“Maybe,” admitted the architect, “but prior to that, order was created out of chaos, and that was an architectural job.”

 

“But,” the politician pointed out in triumph, “somebody had to have created the chaos in the first place!”

© 2018  St Stephen's Church, East Hardwick