Wonderful News ! It was announced in both churches on Sunday 28 May 2017 that The Reverend Michael Boag, currently of the Parish of Upper Coquetdale, Northumberland will be joining us as Rector.
Michael, who originally hails from New Zealand, is currently Rector of Upper Coquetdale (near Newcastle) a parish of six flourishing churches in three districts covering 180 square miles of remote rural Northumberland.
Leading a team of three clergy, he is governor of two church schools, trustee of two local charities, and chair of the local neighbourhood planning development group. He is chair of the local Royal British Legion and Police Force.
Michael has a choral background as Succentor at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, organising singers, organists, and the Royal Household and ensuring that traditional Anglican liturgy was offered to the very highest standards.
The churchwardens are happy he is right for Worth Parish and are really delighted that he accepted. We welcome Fr Michael to our Parish and look forward to his Ministry.
Please join us at his licensing by Martin, Bishop of Chichester, on Monday 2nd October 2017 at 19.30 at St Nicholas’ Church, Worth, RH10 7RT.
It is strange that sometimes we can come across the word ‘Epiphany’ in the text of a newspaper article, such as ‘It was then I had an epiphany moment’.
The Greek word Epiphany means “showing forth” or “manifestation”.
The story of the visit of the Magi to the infant Jesus is intended to demonstrate or show forth that Jesus is for the whole of human kind. So to have an “epiphany moment” is a way of saying, to use a more day to day expression, that “the penny dropped”. It is a realisation, a sudden awareness of something important that had previously been hidden.
The story of the wise men adorns our Christmas cards and is the subject of some favourite carols. But what about everyday life? What about 2017? Can we be instruments of Epiphany moments for other people in helping them to see Jesus Christ not as a figure of history but a presence in our day to day lives?
Our task is to “show forth” Christ whenever and however we can by acts of love and consideration for other people.
Epiphany Blessings to you all for the New Year!
Those parishioners who were at the Special Parochial Church Meeting last night will have heard me announce that I shall be moving to a new role in September. That role is as the Canon Steward at Westminster Abbey and the announcements can be found by following these links:
It has been a wonderfully rich time being a parish priest here in Crawley and I am deeply grateful to all of you who have supported my family and me in so many ways in the past five years. There will be time over the coming months for me to express that gratitude in person – and I do hope you will be able to come to the ‘farewell’ on 4th September. That farewell is likely to be for both the Burston and Ball families as, following my departure, Steve will be assigned a new training incumbent. For 4th September, we are planning a Parish Eucharist at St Nicholas at 10.00 a.m. followed by lunch on the Rectory lawn.
Our move comes at an exciting time for the parish as we work to deliver the vision expressed in our Parish Plan, Growing Through 2016 and 2017. The energy and commitment that so many of you have already displayed to taking forward that vision of growth in Christ, re-imagining ministry and serving the common good is a huge encouragement to both Steve and me as we focus our efforts on supporting and enabling you to flourish during this time of change and, of course, some uncertainty .
The decisions taken yesterday about seeking an early appointment to the Associate Vicar post, exploring the appointment of a families and children’s worker and the possible revision of parish structures in response to the Crawley Review are all elements that should help to enhance the mission of the church in this time and place – but it is your contribution, individually and collectively, using your God-given gifts, that will be decisive for the future.
Wishing each of you every blessing in that shared endeavour,
This week, in between appointments that could not be changed, Anthony and I have been together for last three days, surrounded by all the amazing ideas that people floated at the Vision Day – alongside the nine main priorities that were identified on the day. We have talked, reflected and prayed into these as we have attempted to write a plan that does justice to these ideas and can be implemented by us all.
A phrase I read in the past, that came back to me at this time, was that Churches must do these three things; honour the past, negotiate the change of the present and build for the future. And that is what I believe the plan (that will be revealed in the coming month) seeks to do. But a plan is just a plan. A plan for a church needs the Holy Spirit, the advocate, helper and counsellor, whose sending we celebrate this Sunday in our readings.
For Peter and the disciples things were changing pretty quickly as fear turned to courage. They held onto their experience of Jesus’ life as they built for the future. And as our reading from Acts points out, the Holy Spirit doesn’t just fill a few selected leaders, but the Holy Spirit fills us ALL. May we build on the momentum from Everyone is Welcome, the Vision Day and our new plan.
Have you every missed a bus or train for which you were waiting because you were so engrossed in doing (or thinking about) something else? This week, I read an Advent meditation by Paula Gooder – a theologian for whom I have considerable affection and respect. She wrote about two kinds of waiting: an active waiting that demands we are alert, with our senses finely tuned to what is going on around us, looking keenly for the signs of the arrival of that for which we wait; and a passive waiting that is simply about the passing of time, with senses dulled or focused on something else.
Advent is supposed to be the former, but too often we can become so engrossed in getting ready for Christmas (writing cards, buying presents, planning and cooking meals …) that when the great feast comes – that moment when we celebrate God becoming flesh amongst us – we are so tired, or bored or still so focused on those preparations that the moment passes us by. Let’s not let that happen to us. Rather let us follow the example of Elizabeth and Mary in our gospel reading.
Here two pregnant women, Elizabeth who has waited almost too long for her pregnancy and Mary who bears the long-awaited Messiah. As they meet their dynamic, active waiting gives over to a deep recognition (shown by John’s leaping in the womb) of God’s blessing. And, significantly, that recognition flows out into praise.
Paula’s prayer is mine too: “may each one of us experience this kind of Advent waiting: a waiting that ends not in a whimper of exhaustion, but in joyful recognition and praise of him for whom we wait.
Every blessing for the rest of Advent and a joyous Christmas when it comes,
Liz fears this word in our house. It comes out of lips at the meal table in our kitchen or we are just about to go out as a family or in mid conversation in a coffee shop. I do it sub-consciously (but occasionally consciously). It signifies to Liz and the girls that I have had enough of waiting and this is the time for action. Right! Time to leave a meal table and get on. Right! Time for us to actually try to leave the house somewhere near to the time we actually agreed we would (I live in a house of girls!) or Right! I have just done my mental to-do-list in my head and unless the day has 36hrs I need to get going.
That is how it feels to me as I enter the season of Advent. Right! Here we go – time for action – if I thought I was busy before Advent then just wait for the next few weeks. There will be lots of ‘Rights!’ My very summarised to-do-list looks like this
- lots of services
- six School Nativities
- advertise this and that
- last Alpha meal/talk
Oh and Christmas, buy presents, work out what we are eating and write cards! The pew sheet just isn’t big enough. I think if Jesus returned, as described in Luke this week, I might, if He was lucky, find a slot in my list (but way down the bottom). All these things are important but are they the most important and what should I be saying “right” to?
In Advent, we should be giving ourselves space and time to prepare for the birth of Jesus. The Advent Quiet afternoon on 5th December is much needed time and space in order to re-evaluate my to-do-list, so I can focus on the most important aspect of life in Advent or any other season – my relationship with God through his Son with the power of his Holy Spirit.
I’d like to start on this, the last Sunday of the Church’s year, with a huge thank you to all those who were involved in offering hospitality and otherwise supporting our guests on the Pilgrimage2Paris last weekend. The comments posted on social media gave a very positive image of the parish. And that, perhaps, is a link into some reflections from my own ‘pilgrimage’ last week in Egypt where time and again I was struck by the way in which the Christian community (about 10-15% of the Egyptian population) lives out its faith through service to “neighbour”. Projects to provide education, medical services, micro-loans, relief of poverty, refugee assistance abound and are offered to all, irrespective of faith tradition, in the midst of challenging (and often discriminatory) circumstances . One of my colleagues on the pilgrimage said that he had come expecting to find a church “needing us” and instead came away challenged and encouraged by what we saw. The phrase from the Alpha talk I had given just before leaving that– “we are not saved by good works, we are saved by grace, but we are saved for good works” kept coming to mind. And the Coptic Church’s service (“good works”) seems to be borne out of, or has itself produced, a remarkable blessing. The church next to where we were staying regularly had over 100 coming for daily Morning Prayer followed by Eucharist (1.5 hours!); one church dug out of the rock in the “garbage city” on Cairo’s outskirts has 6,000 (really!) for their Thursday evening bible study; 40 years ago monastic life was dying out with only a few hundred monks – now there are over 15,000 … and all in context where “mission” is amongst those who are already Christian. You can imagine my prayer for the impact of yesterday’s Holy Spirit Day on our parish life !