Whether we like it or not, the Millennium is coming - this, of course,
is the Millennium edition of the Prestbury Parish Magazine! I feel I should
say something about this momentous event, but I have to admit that (like
many) I’m tired of it before we even get there! Can we not just let it
happen and pretend it is like any other New Year?
I sense that it isn’t quite that easy this year. The ‘Millennium-hype’
has been enormous and although we might like to pretend it isn’t happening,
I feel that we must claim it for Christ. To be quite definite that of
course it is good to enjoy ourselves, to celebrate, to mark it in a special
way that we will remember, but that primarily, as Christians, we do all
these things because of the truth of the Incarnation. The Word became flesh
and dwelt among us.
The Millennium is a God-given opportunity for us publicly to celebrate
the reality of His greatest gift to His people - His only Son. Some of us
will do that in both our Churches on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Our
church bells will join the bells of hundreds of churches across the country
in ringing out the Good News. We will all still make our resolutions, but
perhaps this year they will centre on our own relationship with God - one
of the Millennium slogans of the Churches Together in England is ‘A new
start with God’.
And also, do not forget that our celebrations do not finish at the New
Year but carry on into the year 2000 as we join together at Cheltenham Town
Hall on 20th January and at Cheltenham Racecourse on Saturday 10th June.
However you celebrate the anniversary of Our Lord’s birth this Christmas
and New Year, may God be at the very heart of your celebrations and may He
bless you and all those you love as you journey into the New Millennium.
The General Committee Meeting of Churches Together in Cheltenham, held
on 1st November at Gas Green Baptist Church, was mainly concerned with
plans for celebrating the Millennium.
We have the opportunity to make prayerful preparation during the Advent
Meditations, at the Old Priory next to St Gregory’s church, on the four
Fridays from 26th November to 16th December at midday. Light lunches will
be available afterwards.
New Year’s Eve will be marked by an act of worship outside the Municipal
Offices from 11.30pm to midnight. (The Inner Promenade is to be cordoned
off to traffic that evening).
The Celebration for Christ in the Town Hall on January 20th from 7.30
till 9.00pm will be a festival of music, drama and dance, with a massed
choir including members of our two choirs. Bishop David, the Bishop of
Clifton, senior nonconformist ministers, the MP for Cheltenham and the
Mayor of Cheltenham have all accepted invitations. The guest speaker will
be Michael Taylor, formerly Director of Christian Aid.
There will be ecumenical study groups in Lent. Details later.
The Good Friday Passion Play will be staged in different locations in
Cheltenham, starting in Sandford Park and moving through the town to
Imperial Gardens. Members of several churches will be joined by some
professional actors. Our Prestbury team, with their considerable
experience, are giving practical help and advice.
Finally, on June 10th 2000, there will be a great party on Cheltenham
Racecourse, in our parish, from 10am to 10pm, for people of all ages. There
will be music, workshops, debates, buskers, seminars, quiet areas for
meditation, acts of worship, massed choirs, jazz bands, bistros, bars and
restaurants, exhibitions, street theatre, a praise tent, a youth rally and
more besides. Do please join other Christians in Cheltenham and
Gloucestershire to celebrate our Lord’s birthday in a joyful manner.
Christ our Future
Father all-powerful, creator
of all things, judge of the living and the dead, you have raised our
Lord Jesus Christ from death to life, resplendent in glory as the King
of all the ages.
Open our hearts to Christ who is our Future; free the whole world to
rejoice in his peace, to glory in his justice, and to be made new in
the power of his love, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy
Spirit, one God for ever and ever.
Do you have children at primary school? For something more long-lasting
than most New Year resolutions, consider this course for parents of 5 to 12
year-olds. It will be led by ACCORD, an organisation sponsored by the
Diocese of Gloucester, which runs courses and workshops.
Whom is it for?
- The course is for all parents, whether they are single, in broken or
mixed families or happily married. Your friends and neighbours will be
What does it cover?
- Why children are naughty and how we react
- What children are really saying and how we listen
- How we discipline - imposed or by agreement?
- How talking helps living together
What will I get out of it?
- The course provides a great opportunity for getting together with
others, learning together, sharing experiences, supporting each other and
generally increasing confidence in coping.
What does it involve?
- Attending four 2-hour sessions and trying out new ideas.
What will it cost?
- Most of the cost of the course is borne by the diocese (one of the
things our Parish Quota pays for). The book for the course is free to
borrow or is available, price £5, for anyone wishing to buy it.
Date and time?
- Tuesday evenings, from 11th January to 1st February 2000.
- St Nicolas’ Church Room, Swindon Lane (plenty of parking).
- Come at 7.15 for coffee and a prompt start to the session at 7.30.
Don’t wait until after Christmas to decide. We need to be assured of a
viable group if planning is to go ahead! If you want to know more, get in
touch with Fr Michael or Beryl Elliott.
On Saturday 22nd January 2000, many of the couples who will be married
in our Parish during the coming year, will meet with the clergy for a
preparation day. As well as the practical arrangements for the day
itself, we will also spend some time considering marriage - the promises
the couples will make to one another and the implications of those
If you are a married couple who feel you could share some of your
thoughts and experiences about married life, (and could join us on the
day), please speak to Fr. Michael.
Sometimes when we are urged to look forward, as we are from so many
fronts over this millennial period, it is perhaps also valuable to look
back to our roots and foundations. As I write the confirmation has just
taken place in Gloucester cathedral of ten of our church family. It was a
lovely service and well supported by a good number of our members. During
the service my thoughts wandered back to my own confirmation in Kent and to
the preparation I myself had gone through. I have an idea that we were
taught about the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion but I was blowed if I
could remember any of them. And although I've been privileged to be
involved in the preparation course for some of the newly confirmed (unless
I missed that particular meeting) I don't think that the 39 articles, as
such, remain high on the topics to be covered! I wondered if I am alone in
my forgetfulness, or if it might be interesting for others who were brought
up on the Book of Common Prayer to reconsider these over a period of time.
And for the newly confirmed who may not have easy access to a BCP to be
made aware of them. So dear Editor your intriguing November quiz question
was a catalyst.
1. Of Faith in the Holy Trinity
There is but one living and true God, the everlasting, without body,
parts, or passions; of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the Maker, and
Preserver of all things both visible and invisible. And in unity of this
Godhead there be three Persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; the
Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
A Prayer for the Third
This prayer was written by Anna Crompton of
Ipswich High School, Suffolk. It was one of dozens of entries submitted
by secondary schools and colleges throughout the United Kingdom.
- Dear Lord our heavenly Father,
- At the dawn of a new millennium,
- In a world of darkness give us your light,
- In lands of war and prejudice grant us peace,
- In a world of despair give us hope,
- In a world of sadness and tears show us your joy,
- In a world of hatred show us your love,
- In a world of arrogance give us humility,
- In a world of disbelief give us faith.
- Give us courage to face the challenges of feeding the hungry,
- clothing the naked, housing the homeless and healing the sick.
- Give us the power to make a difference in your world, and to
protect your creation.
- Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
CHURCHES TOGETHER IN CHELTENHAM
TOWN HALL 20th JANUARY 2000 AD
Come and join us for our Millennium Celebration
for the Churches of Cheltenham on Thursday 20th January, 2000 AD
from 7.30 p.m. to approx. 9 p.m.
A festival of music, drama and dance with
opportunities to reflect of the People of God through the ages.
Guest speaker: Michael Taylor, formerly
Director of Christian Aid, with the massed Millennium Choir and
contributions from local Churches and Schools.
Tickets from the Town Hall (01242-227979)
after mid November. Reserved seats, £5 each (10% discount for ten or
more) Children and students £2. Full price tickets (no concessions)
available from Wesley Owen Bookshop. Most of the proceeds will go as a
special millennium gift to charities supported by
Churches Together in Cheltenham.
Get your tickets soon! Make a group booking
for your Church and share in this great Celebration!
Church Contact:- Paddy Spurgeon
This month’s pet belongs to Amy.
Squeak is my pet guinea-pig, he is four years old and his colour is
ginger. In the daytime he lives in his run on the grass and at night time
sleeps in his hutch.
I think he really enjoys his food so much because he is the biggest
guinea-pig that I have ever seen.
Guinea-pigs have to eat lots of vitamin C, so I give him fresh fruit and
vegetables, and special guinea-pig food.
by Amy S (aged 9)
So much against Him
So much against Him from when He was born;
No cot by the fireside, comfy and warm.
So much against Him when fleeing the land;
Something a baby would not understand.
So much against Him, a carpenter’s son;
Knowing He was really God’s Holy One.
So much against Him, to manhood He grew;
Aware He’d leave all the family He knew.
So much against Him when He had left home;
Commissioned by God the country to roam.
So much against Him, no fixed abode;
Mocked by some people when God’s word He sowed.
So much against Him, so misunderstood;
Even though everyone saw Him do good.
So much against Him, yet God was right there;
As God is for us because He does care.
If there’s much against you, sit down and pray,
and draw near to Him on this Christmas Day.
© Eddy Berry 1995
Used with permission.
What does the fourth picture represent?
Anthony Smith has sent me an interesting article on the fourth picture
As I usually sit in the ringers’ pew behind the
font I have often looked at this fourth panel on the font and for a long
time I did not properly understand it.
As the use of the Latin words "fides", "spes" and "caritas" on the other
panels illustrates, the designer expected his readers to have studied
classical languages. Despite the use on the font of the English (or Latin)
alphabet, "synagoga" and "ecclesia" are Greek words and not till I did the
Open University course on ancient Greek a few years ago did I understand
the intended meaning. In my opinion the panel is contrasting "before" and
"after" Jesus’ teaching.
Both Greek words are already recorded in the works of classical authors
long before the New Testament was being written and had at that time rather
similar meanings of "gathering", "assembly" or "congregation". Both words
have subsequently evolved into modern English words, but with meanings
sufficiently altered as to be inaccurate as translations of either the
classical or the new testament Greek.
"Synagoga" (sunagwgh) is used in the gospels
of the places of public worship used in Jesus’ own earthly lifetime and
"ecclesia" (ekklhsia) in the epistles of the
gatherings of those accepting Jesus as God’s son. This seems to be the
contrast being made in the panel - on the right "before Jesus’ teachings
were made" and on the left "after Jesus’ teachings are accepted".
Since the moon shines by reflected light, the moon in the panel is
presumably intended either to remind us that the prophets told of God’s
inspiration through their own humanly frail mouths, or else perhaps to
remind us that Moses’ face was shining after he talked with God on Mt.
Sinai. The sun, on the other hand, shines by its own light and is
correspondingly intended either to remind us that the gospels record Jesus’
own words or else to remind us of the Transfiguration.
Finally the trees. At first I thought we had a contrast between timber -
useful but dead - and a living tree. But on a recent trip to Oxford I was
reminded as the bus went past the Inn for All Seasons of the previous
design of their inn-sign and I now think we have on the font a tree in
winter, the time of waiting, being contrasted with a tree in spring, the
time of regeneration.
The other three represent Faith, Hope and Charity.
Fides is facing south, Spes north, and Caritas
Photos by Brian Wood
Traditionally, how many buttons would there be on a clergyman’s cassock?
Why that number?
Sue Read had the same idea that I did and reckons there are 39 buttons
on a clergyman’s cassock, representing the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion
of the Church of England. (Do our clergy recite the articles every time
they do their cassocks up?) How many buttons are left undone? Fr Stephen
says the bottom one; why? just in case there is one article you don’t quite
agree with! Of course most modern cassocks have far fewer buttons; others
do have 39, but with fewer buttonholes, most of the buttons being
decoration (or for reciting the articles).
Then Fr Paul pointed out that some cassocks in other denominations also
have 39 buttons, which surely have nothing to do with C of E articles of
religion. He suggests they represent the lashes which Jesus received (John
19:1). It does not say how many lashes, but it is likely to be the standard
punishment of ‘forty lashes minus one’ described by St. Paul in 2
So who gets the prize?
This will be the biggest Millennium event to be held in
Gloucestershire and is taking place on our own doorstep - Cheltenham
Racecourse - on Saturday 10th June 2000. All the Churches of
Gloucestershire are being encouraged to support what is being described as
‘a huge party to celebrate 2000 years of Christianity’. We are being
promised something for everyone throughout the day and hope that as many of
you as possible will book the date now!
Fr. Stephen and Fr. Michael have been involved in some of
the organisation which has been going on for well over a year. Other help
is required and we expect lots of requests from the organisers. Currently
they are looking for stewards and hope that we can provide one (or more)
group of six people with a leader.
If you would like to be a steward at Pentecost 2000 on
Saturday June 10th, please speak to Fr. Michael.
Advance Notice - Children's Holiday Activity
We are hoping to stage a three-day holiday club for
children of the Parish during the first week of the summer 2000 holiday.
This is a mammoth event and requires much planning and many hands. If you
are interested in lending a hand, or would like more information on the
project, please contact me by the end of January.
Rockers’ Half-Hour - Silver Jubilee Reunion
We are considering a reunion next summer to celebrate 25
years of Rockers’ Half-Hour. Please mention this to any former Rockers you
know, and ask them to contact me with their present address. Please also
let me know any addresses of Rockers who have moved away from Prestbury, so
that I can send details. I hope as many as possible will be able to come to
the reunion. I also hope to compile a ‘Where are they now?’ list of all the
Historic Churches Cycle Ride
The sponsor money for St. Mary’s has now been collected
and amounts to £506.50. A further £161.50 was collected for St Nicolas'.
Half goes to the Gloucestershire Historic Churches Trust and half to our
own Fabric Funds immediately.
Parish Quiet Day
Despite lots of publicity and Fr. Tim Raphael to lead it,
the Quiet Day on 20th November was very poorly attended. The Education and
Nurture sub-committee will be reflecting on the day and would welcome any
feedback or comments. These can be given to either Fr. Michael or to Beryl
For all those who lead our intercessions and for any who
would like to, but do not know what is involved:
Please join us for a morning workshop on
Saturday 29th January 2000
at St. Nicolas’ Church
Further details to follow
Carol Singing for Christian Aid
When? Saturday 18th December 1999
Where? Sainsbury’s, Tewkesbury Road.
What time? 4.00pm - 5.00pm
We look forward to seeing you there!
on Saturday 4th December at Fenwick Lodge Nursing Home,
East Approach Drive, from 10.30 am to 12.00 noon. There will be
refreshments, cake stall, bric-a-brac, tea and mince pies. All are welcome.
The money raised will be for the patients’ amenity fund.