Why are you a Christian? There are many possible answers to that question. But one, surely, has to be that Jesus is alive and, in one way or another, a present reality to you. If he is merely a dead prophet – like Mohammed, incidentally – then he may be revered as a wise teacher, but you cannot believe in him, you cannot find him a present help. There are at least two reasons for accepting that Christ is alive. One is implied in what I have just said, our personal experience of him through prayer, worship etc. The other, however, is objective. Quite obviously, someone who ilved 2000 years ago is normally long dead and, in most cases, forgotten. It is our faith, and a faith supported by clear evidence within the bible, that Jesus did die, but that he was miraculously raised from the dead. This is what we celebrate at Easter.
I find it very helpful when people tell me others they would like prayers to be said for. Obviously, I don't always know, especially if it's a family member or friend who lives away. And it's a delight to be able to record a prayer which has been answered! A lot of us have been concerned for Jo Taylor during her treatment and, happily, she now has a clean bill of health.
The Book of Common Prayer states that “every confirmed member of the church shall communicate at least three times in the year, of which Easter is one”. There is, frankly, little evidence that the occasional attendee any longer feels an obligation to make their communion at Easter. But I do hope that those who do come to church more regularly will make that special effort to be there on April 8th. Maybe you are going away? That's more and more common (and why not?). But, wherever you are, you can still go to church and I hope that you will. This is easy enough in the UK (Jo Taylor, for example, found herself in St Albans Abbey last Christmas rather than in Wentworth), but even abroad there may well be a church nearby. If you are travelling a distance, why not tell me where you are going and I will try to find out if there is an Anglican church in the area (this is particularly common in Europe and the USA). Sometimes there isn't, and when that happens Sylvia and I quite often go to the local parish church and, because we know the structure of the service, we can follow it even though we may not speak the language. We got a warm public welcome from the priest once! Don't forget, though, if you end up in an RC church you aren't really supposed to receive communion.
I hope that the new(ish) hymn books are proving acceptable. We may occasionally go back to the old red books as there are some hymns there which were not reprinted in the new ones, but overall we should be able to settle with the one book from now on. One or two people have asked, “But whose is the name In memoriam inside the cover?” Well, of course, since they were obtained from Barnby Dun parish near Doncaster the names apply to people there. If you had a name inside one of our older sets of books and you'd like to have that transferred I am sure that will be possible. We can ask Stephen Clapham to produce some suitable labels. If you'd like a name inscribed, please tell me in writing. A £1 donation would cover any costs and would also go towards the (very reasonable) price of the replacement books. Just a thought.
Another bit on names. As well as devising new forms of service the Church also has a new Calendar (a church calendar is a listing for Sunday, saints days, special festivals etc.). Usually the old, Prayer Book, one and the new version don't differ. Easter is Easter, whatever. But there can be confusion, one being the Sundays after Easter. The BCP starts with No. 1, the new version, describing them as Sundays of rather than after Easter, starts with No. 2. So Harley and Wentworth are on slightly different tracks here! And, do you remember? When I came back four years ago I said that Wentworth couldn't call its communion service 'Family' Communion, as we didn't get any children. Now we do, of course, and if people want to go back to the original description, do say. I think that Harley ought to use it anyway, as we always have children present there, so I'll try to remember this when compiling the magazine. Rather a boring paragraph, I know! But it is really encouraging to be able to say that both our churches now are places where both parents and children feel comfortable. Theirs is the future, and we ought to be smoothing their way.
Around June I shall achieve a grand total of ten years as Vicar of Wentworth, six years in the early 1990s and four years since 2008. Anything over that will be a record for me, as my longest previous spell was a decade at Woodhouse on the edge of Sheffield. This might have made a suitable occasion to retire, but the Bishop has asked me to stay a little longer. He has also invited me to become Assistant Area Dean for Wath. Some (not all) other deaneries have such posts and I shall be exploring with the new Area Dean, Andy Brewerton, the Vicar of Kilnhurst, what I might usefully do. It is something of an honour to be invited.
At the Parish AGM later in April one or two new members may be elected to the PCC. If that turns out to be you, maybe you'd be interested in the evening session advertised below. As it says, longer standing members would be welcome as well. Just let me know if you want to go, but as soon as possible after the AGM.
As a service to our readers we reprint below a circular about breast cancer Do please read, mark, learn and digest.
Finally, may I give especial thanks to Ruth Mangham for editing the magazine? It is a great help to me, not least because I can never get booklet pages in the correct order! Ruth has had a lot of worry and extra work recently because of her husband Peter's problems with his second knee replacement, but the magazine has still been produced on time. Many thanks.
With best wishes,