Under the great west window of the (new) church of the Holy Trinity, Wentworth, the following inscription is carved in stone:
”THIS CHURCH IS ERECTED FOR THE WORSHIP OF ALMIGHTY GOD IN MEMORY OF THEIR FATHER AND MOTHER BY THE CHILDREN OF CHARLES WILLIAM EARL FITZWILLIAM K.G. BORN MAY 4 1786 DIED OCTOBER 4 1857 AND MAY HIS WIFE WITH PRAYER THAT THOSE WHO WORSHIP HERE MAY LIKE THEM LIVE AND DIE IN THE FAITH OF CHRIST”
The newly erected church was consecrated on July 31st 1877, and this year the anniversary of that event falls on a Sunday. It is therefore a good year for us to revive the ancient and laudable custom whereby the anniversary of a church’s consecration is observed as a special day of thanksgiving for all the blessings which both regular worshippers and the wider community have received through their church building.
This annual celebration is called the Dedication Festival. It is often confused with the Patronal Festival or Feast of Title. That is because the saint, mystery, holy place or object after which a church is named (e.g. St Peter, The Holy Trinity, The Holy Sepulchre, The Holy Cross), is also referred to as
In a Christmas Day broadcast in one of those years which included one of her landmark wedding anniversaries the Queen recalled a conversation she’d had with one of her Archbishops of Canterbury. She’d asked him what he thought about sin. “Well ma’am,” he said “I’m against it.” The Queen went on to say that if anyone were to ask her what she thought of marriage, her answer would be equally straightforward; “I’m for it.”
On both subjects Our Lord says very much the same thing. On marriage he goes back to first principles. He quotes from the second chapter of Genesis, the chapter in which God declares that it is not good for man to be alone: “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” For human beings, made in the image of
Less than sixth months ago, Christmas - the celebration our Lord’s leaving the heavenly realm in order to live among us here on earth - attracted the largest congregations of the year. What a wonderful surprise it would be if Ascension Day – the celebration of his return in triumph to his heavenly Father – were to be observed with equal enthusiasm. It certainly deserves to be, for it is from our ascended Lord, free of all constraints of time and space, that we receive the gifts of Holy Spirit. As he said to his disciples: “It is expedient for you that I go away.”
Falling, as it always does, shortly after the annual meetings at which churchwardens and parochial church councillors are elected, Ascension Day assures us that God will always provide his Church with the spiritual resources its members need in order to fulfil their calling; and there is plenty of evidence that he does so in the often sacrificial commitment shown by those ‘whose hearts God has touched.’ In my experience that has been particularly true of churchwardens.
Here in Wentworth, Jim Gelder, who has decided to stand down after no fewer than twenty-three years in office, is a prime example. Two months older than the queen, he moved into the village
In 1864, when he was just thirty years old, Sabine Baring-Gould, the author of ‘Onward Christian soldiers,’ wrote a fine hymn which has been dropped from most, if not all, modern hymn books. It begins:
”On the resurrection morning, soul and body meet again No more sorrow, no more weeping, no more pain.”
The resurrection morning he was referring to was, of course, the moment of our entry into the life of the world to come. As a man of his time, when life expectancy was short and death was all around, the hope of everlasting life which has been given us through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the
By the time you read this the daffodils which line Church Drive should be in full flower - heralds of Easter, now less than four weeks away. In the early Church, Easter was the principal occasion for baptism. Throughout Lent adult candidates would receive instruction in the faith in preparation for the great event, which would begin after nightfall on Easter Eve. A vigil of prayer, readings and exhortations would lead to baptism and the laying on of hands, and would culminate shortly after daybreak in their receiving their first Communion at the first Eucharist of Easter Day.
Easter always has been, and always will be, most important festival in the Christian year – a time when all communicant members of the Church will want to receive the sacrament. That includes those who are prevented by sickness or disability from attending a service in church, so please let me or Redz know if you would like communion to be brought to you at home. I would also like to hear from
The wife of clergyman (now deceased) I once knew used to call a particular day in every month ‘black Monday.’ It was the day he had to make himself sit down in front of a blank sheet of paper and write his piece for the parish magazine. I know the feeling.
To make matters worse, by a strange coincidence the day on which I find myself writing this has been dubbed ‘blue Monday’ by the media. It’s supposed to be the day in the year when people are at their lowest ebb - depressed after so many short days, the miserable weather, seasonal ailments and post-Christmas debt.
Things can only get better! But although we’ve got spring to look forward to it often seems to a long time coming. February can be a pretty dismal month – and we can’t all escape to sunnier climes - so here’s some sound advice on how to deal with low spirits from a
In the days leading up to Christmas the comment I heard more than any other was “I’ll be glad when it’s all over!” That’s hardly surprising. The so-called “season of goodwill” can be exhausting and as the TV soaps never fail to remind us, can strain relationships to breaking-point. It’s no wonder that so many people can hardly wait to get back to normal.
But to imagine that a return to normality signifies the end of Christmas would be to misunderstand its message completely. The Word was made flesh (incarnate) not to pay us a flying visit but to dwell among us; to be God-with-us (Immanuel) in every aspect of our ordinary, everyday lives. The tradition of observing a forty day long Christmas season, embracing the
Ring, bells, ring, ring, ring!
Sing choirs, sing, sing, sing!
When he comes,
When he comes,
Who will make him welcome?*
Wentworth doesn’t need any lessons in welcoming. Chris and I have been on the receiving end, so we know. Bells, singing, lavish and friendly hospitality to visitors from some of our former parishes and – as if that wasn’t enough – a pie and pea supper! Thank you all so much. We have greatly appreciated your kindness.
It’s quite a season for welcomes. Advent Sunday is the first day of a new Christian year, and the re-telling of ‘the old, old story of Jesus and his love’ begins once again. We hear it in the Bible passages appointed to be read in church Sunday by Sunday, so I hope