SOMETIMES it all seems chaotic. It seems as though all the pieces strewn
around are not even from the same jigsaw. Often in life things just do not
seem to fit together neatly.
At times the Celebrate! service can seem like that too. In
September and October the themes for the services have ranged from a focus
on the football team to a celebration of marriage, from a service led by
Rockers pre-school group to thanksgiving for harvest. Each Sunday has been
varied and very engaging, but does it all hang together?
On further reflection the apparently random themes all seem to find a
connection in the idea that God is in every part of our lives. We have the
chance to meet and serve God through sport, through our care for the young
and vulnerable, through our everyday relationships and in our response to
all that God has given us, the list could go on and on.
We live in the world of the neatly packaged sound bite; it is tempting to
want to find everything ‘in order’, including, and possibly especially,
within the Church. I have sympathy for Naaman (2 Kings 5). He expects God in
the grand and dramatic and is very close to passing by on the other side
rather than finding healing in the ordinary. Our God is not a God who is
found ‘somewhere else’; our God is present in the ordinariness of the here
Yes, life is confusing and often disjointed, yet we find hope in Jesus’
coming to earth and embracing all the brokenness of being human. The song
‘God in My Living’ talks about God being there in our hurting and in our
healing. We follow Jesus; his journey did not end at the brokenness of the
cross, but went on to the transformation of the resurrection. A great taste
of this Life which Jesus brings was found in the joyful sharing together at
Sidmouth (not just the ice creams!).
As always with Jesus it can never stop with ‘just me’. If God is in my
Living then he is also in the living of those around me, so if others
suffer, then it affects God and myself. Our response to the suffering of
others often starts with small steps. Two such small steps are being taken
by Celebrate! and Prestbury & Pittville Youth. Celebrate! are
together taking on the sponsorship of a child through World Vision – helping
to bring the basics to the child and the surrounding community. PPY are
running an Alternative Fashion Show (details elsewhere in this magazine)
part of which focuses on ‘fair trade’ clothing – why not share together in
that great evening?
It has been such a privilege to share over the past months in many
special moments of people bringing what they have to offer in worship. One
treasure for me has been the Rockers’ prayer: ‘Jesus, may I walk your way,
in all I do and all I say.’ Amen.
On Friday 2nd November there will be a Said Requiem Mass at 10.30am in St
Mary’s during which there will be a time of commemoration of the departed.
At 7.30pm in All Saints’ there will be a Team-wide Sung Requiem Mass for the
departed which will also include a time of commemoration of the dead.
Please use the lists available in all three churches to add the names of
those you wish to be remembered. If you will be attending a particular
service and would like to hear the names you have added read there, please
ensure that you have recorded them on the correct list.
All Saints’ Patronal Festival
A Patronal Festival should be a significant occasion in the life of a
church. As we celebrate the Feast Day of the patron (or patrons) after which
the church is named, we also celebrate the lives of all those who have
contributed in any way to the worshipping life of the church through the
years. We also celebrate with thanksgiving the life of faith which is shared
by those who worship in the church today.
These significant occasions are also significant times when we can join
together with our brothers and sisters from across our Team Ministry.
Worshipping in a larger gathering of people reminds us that we are part
of the wider church and we share our faith with many others. I do hope that
as many of you as possible will join the people of All Saints’ for their
Patronal Festival on Sunday 4th November at 10.30am. Two Sunday Club groups
will be run during the service, for the under-8s and for the 8s and over.
On this Sunday there will be no services at 9.30am in St Nicolas’ or
11.00am in St Mary’s. There will be said services at 8.00am in both
churches. Please do ask one of the Churchwardens if you would like help with
transport to All Saints’.
On Sunday 11th November there will be an Act of Remembrance during the
9.30am sung Eucharist at St Nicolas’. In Prestbury village we will gather as
usual at the War Memorial at 10.45am for the Act of Remembrance, which will
be followed by the Sung Eucharist in St Mary’s.
At 3.30pm on 11th November in St Mary’s there will be a Memorial Service
for those who have been bereaved during the past year. We invite the
families of those for whom we have conducted a funeral to attend this simple
service of prayers, readings and hymns. During the service there will be an
opportunity to light a candle in memory of a departed loved one. Anyone is
very welcome to attend this service.
CONGRATULATIONS and welcome to Jenny Newman, Lynda Hodges, Stephen Wilson
and John Petchey, who have all received the Bishop’s permission to be
‘Eucharistic Ministers’. They will take turns to administer the chalice at
the 8am Eucharist on Sundays.
READING the lessons in church is one way in which individuals can bring
their own abilities to enrich our shared Worship.
- Are you already on the reading rota?
- Perhaps you’re a bit nervous, but would like to be involved.
- Would you appreciate some tips to improve your public speaking skills?
On Saturday 10th November, Rachel Murray will be sharing her expertise at
All Saints’ Church and inviting us to have a go. If you would like to take
part, please contact Jennifer Swinbank or E-mail
jenswinbankbeeb.net. There is
a limit of 12 people for this event, but Rachel will be happy to run another
similar session at a later date if this first event is over-subscribed.
The Team-wide Education and Nurture Group met in September to reflect on
recent events and to plan the forthcoming programme up until 2008.
Activities for children and young people had been prominent during the
Summer, beginning with the successful ‘Going Up’ Ascensiontide event at Up
Hatherley, whilst our own ‘Parables Activity Day’ and ‘360° Active’ holiday
project had attracted young people from across the North Cheltenham Area. A
large group had also camped at the racecourse for the duration of the
Work is in progress to produce guidelines for those who lead
Intercessions in our Team and a morning offering encouragement and advice to
current and prospective Lesson Readers will be held at All Saints’ in
Later in November, Father Brian Torode from St Stephen’s Tivoli will
present a one-off evening event at All Saints’, ‘Pilgrimage and Medieval
Gloucester’, one of a number of events involving people and churches from a
wider area, which also includes Maz Allen’s Taizé workshop in October and
the Advent Sunday Iona Workshop at Holy Name Hall in Prestbury.
It has not been possible to hold a Quiet Day this Autumn, so we are
hoping to re-schedule that event for May 2008. As we began looking into next
year, it came as something of a shock to discover that we will barely have
recovered from our Team-wide Epiphany carols before we find ourselves in
Ash Wednesday falls on 6th February; so we need to begin to identify
House Group Leaders, along with hosts and hostesses, for the 2008 Lent
Course. Do please contact one of the Education Group if you can help:
Karen Winder or Jennifer Swinbank at All Saints’
Colin Holman at St Mary’s
Margaret Compton at St Nicolas’
This fantastic evening is on Saturday 10th November at 7.30pm at
St Nicolas’, doors open 7pm. It will include a focus on fair trade and
ethical fashion, worship led by young people and much more. Tickets are
available from PPY reps (Adults £3, Family £6, Concession £1.50, Children
£1). Do join us to share in this gala event and help raise money for
Prestbury and Pittville Youth and awareness of issues around fashion.
Being in the Chill is really fun! It has plenty of benefits including:
there are plenty of fun sports to take part in; there is cool video games
and online access. There are friendly and approachable leaders and friendly
You can always find something interesting to do and there is always
something going on! Our themed nights go from pizza making to ‘alternative’
fashion night! We also have a trip out each term. Some of these have
included: laser tag, ice skating and more! We always have loads of fun and
every trip has been a complete success and everyone always wants to go
Going to youth club is always the highlight of the week for all its
members and leaders and we all always have a really good time! And that’s
what our youth club’s all about, having a good time! Put it more simply
OUR YOUTH CLUB ROCKS!!!!!!!!!
Jordan, Josh, Luke & Sam
I liked doing the Taizé workshop and finding out about it. The music was
really jazzy and quite easy to sing once you got the hang of it.
Rowan, aged 7
We learned to sing in four parts. I was a soprano and my dad was tenor.
We sang the songs a few times, at first it was a bit difficult but then it
got easier and it sounded really nice with everyone singing together. I
think we should have more workshops like this because it was very good.
Freya, aged 9
On Sunday evening we were privileged to take part in a Taizé Service at
St Nicolas’. The Church was lit by candles, which created a wonderful
atmosphere. It was interesting to look at the choruses as we sat down,
written in a variety of languages, some in Latin, French, German and
English, others in something quite different. It brought home the
universality of the song and praise.
Soon we started singing with an accompaniment of guitar, flute and piano
and variations of the three. It was easy to sing as with the repetition you
could soon pick up the tune and the words and join in praise to God. It made
you realize that is what we have been made for.
Rev Maz Allen, who led the service, told us about the Taizé Community and
different aspects of the life. Her energy and love for this approach to
worship encouraged us as we listened and joined in. We also had times of
prayer and a time of silence where each person was able to spend time
communing with God.
Great! Looking forward to the next one…
John and Anne Nicholson
On Sunday 2nd December at Holy Name Hall Churches Together in North
Cheltenham will be holding another worship workshop and joint evening
service. This time the style of worship will be Iona and the afternoon
workshop will be led by Alison Adam from Worship Works. The cost of
the workshop and shared tea will be £4. The workshop starts at 3.30pm and
the service at 6.30pm. All are welcome to join in with all or part of this
event and to try the Iona experience for themselves.
WHEN IS it that you realise that life as a chaplain will never be quite the
same again? Perhaps it’s the first taste of beetroot ice cream at a formal
dinner or maybe sitting to have lunch by candlelight in the Fellows’
Dining Room because it’s a gloomy day and they’ve never got round to
installing electric lighting. Then of course it could be the first time you
have to explain to a new Chinese student with barely any English precisely
what eucalyptus foam is before they eat it and that no, it’s not exactly
traditional British cuisine. The sandwiches at our staff meetings in
Fr Michael’s kitchen seem a very long way away indeed!
Life so far in Cambridge has been wonderful but frantic and as I write
this, I’ve just about emerged from the mêlée that is the first fortnight of
term unscathed but with very little sleep. Being a chaplain is a curious
role as you don’t quite fit anywhere. I am in the college but not of it and
so can meander from conversations putting the world to rights with Professor
Sir Maurice Wilkes (who practically invented the computer) one moment to
consoling a lost and anxious Fresher the next, stopping in between to
discuss the length of the grass for the First XV rugby match with our
groundsman, Keith. It does sometimes take one from the sublime to the
ridiculous, like the other evening when I went from having to defend my
thesis to a retired Fellow over a glass of 1945 Chateau d’Yquem (I think
I’ve got that right but let’s just say there was a certain frisson among the
cognoscenti when it was announced it had been decanted in honour of the new
Master) via a quick change into something resembling school uniform to being
served mysterious green and brown cocktails from plastic vats in the middle
of a dance-floor and festooned with glo-sticks at the Back to School Ent.
All in all, marvellous fun and getting right to the heart of what I think
being a priest is about – being where people are and just pointing gently in
all we do and say towards God and his love for his world.
Chris and the girls have also settled in well to Cambridge life. Bethany
loves her new school and her new teacher (though apparently she’s not as
good a dancer as Mrs Tandy), while Sarah has found a playgroup where she
gets to do lots of painting and play-dough so she’s very happy. They both
love the swing you so kindly gave them and it was the first piece of
furniture I had to assemble on our arrival here – always important to get
the priorities right! I’ve heard fabulous reports of the St Nicolas’
consecration celebrations and was sad not to be able to come myself but
you’re still very much in my thoughts and prayers, especially when I look at
the wonderful icon of the Trinity you gave me which now has pride of place
in our dining room.
Love to you all and I’m sure there may be more news from Cambridge anon
when Frances twists my arm.
September tea parties proved very popular: Marion Godden held open house all
day in Limber Hill and a succession of guests dropped in to chat and consume
home-made goodies, while in Prestbury village Barbara and Bob Lyle kindly
offered their hospitality at tea-time, with cakes baked by a team of
volunteers organised by Margaret Waker. Many thanks to Marion, Margaret,
Barbara and Bob and everyone who supported these enjoyable occasions.
Altogether £400 was raised for Christian Aid.
A pre-Christmas Fair will be held at Holy Apostles’ Church Hall, London
Road, on Saturday 3rd November from 11am to 2pm. There will be stalls,
coffee and lunches. We are asked to contribute produce, groceries or
Christmas gifts. We would be grateful if you put suitable goods into the box
in St Mary’s or St Nicolas’ or get in touch with one of us. Thank you.
Ashman (St Mary’s) &
Paddy Spurgeon (St Nicolas’)
Most of you will remember, better than I do, that we always used to have
some drama groups in the parish – namely the St Mary’s Players and St
Nicolas’ Amateur Dramatic Society (SNADS). It would seem, of late, that
these are not very often resurrected and I have been asked if I would
consider bringing such an activity back into the Parish.
We now have an excellent venue in the new Prestbury Hall in Bouncers
Lane, thanks to the hard work put in by the Trustees, and it would be great
if we could put it into use from time to time. I would not want to encroach
on the WI drama group that already puts on a Christmas event, but thought
that maybe a spring and/or autumn show of some kind would work. Perhaps if
you are interested you would contact me and if there is enough interest to
make it worthwhile I would then call a meeting of all interested parties.
We are looking for people to join the bell ringing band at St Mary’s.
Bell ringing is an English activity with over 400 years of history: you
would help to maintain this traditional skill which is a service to the
Church. It’s a very sociable activity that families can enjoy together.
You do not have to be strong; being able to count is all the maths you’ll
need and you don’t need to be good at music.
You’ll need to be able to join us on Tuesday evenings for our practice,
and, a few months later, when you have learnt to ring, on Sundays, when we
ring for service. Children should be twelve or over: we’d prefer if children
learnt with a parent.
We are holding an open evening from 8.00pm until 9.00pm on Tuesday 20
November, when you can meet us and find out more. We’ll then run a
beginners’ course for those interested, four lessons, each about an hour
Any queries to bellsprestbury.net
David Lynch and Jenni Scruton
Many of us in the Parish are now of a ‘certain age’ which means we are on
a fixed income. This means that we cannot always increase our planned giving
when asked. However, there is another way in which our churches can benefit
from your generosity. Have you ever considered leaving a sum of money in
your will to the church? This can be small or large and would make the
difference to our funds that perhaps we cannot make in our life-time. If you
would like to know more I have the necessary details and would be glad to
talk to you if you so wish.
O LORD, you have searched me and known me. You know
when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away.
Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from
In your book were written all the days that were formed for
me, when none of them as yet existed. How weighty to me are your thoughts, O
God! How vast is the sum of them! I try to count them – they are more than
the sand; I come to the end – I am still with you.
Psalm 139:1-2, 7, 16-18 (NRSV)
How many of you have stood in a wide open space at night, where the only
light comes from the myriad stars? I don’t know about you, but it certainly
makes me feel very insignificant and at the same time awestruck that in a
very tiny way I too am part of God’s amazing Creation.
This psalm confirms that God is always here; he knows each one of us
intimately, and has done so since before our very existence! Whether we
accept this or turn our backs on him makes no difference, his love for us
will always be there.
Like the stars in the night sky, the grains of sand on a beach that you
sift through your fingers are too many to count, and yet God knows them all,
and nowhere is too far, too high, too deep for him to reach us. The point is
that we have to want to be found, the responsibility is ours. God is here,
but if we don’t make the effort to search for him, or if we try to hide from
him, then the ‘connection’ just won’t happen!
Perhaps the way in which we hide from God, or turn our backs on him has
changed over the millennia since this psalm was written, so that nowadays it
is such things as our busyness, our social activities, the million and one
things that can take up our time, so that Sunday mornings end up being the
only time that we find space to worship God, and then only if there isn’t
the shopping to do or a football/cricket/rugby match to play in or watch.
But even then, every so often for a small instant, through a chord of music,
a thing of beauty or a smile on the face of a stranger, God reminds us that
he is here, that it only takes an instant to turn back to him, to follow the
path he has set out for us to follow.
In Ephesians 2 v 10, Paul says, ‘For we are what he has made us, created
in Christ Jesus for good works which God has prepared beforehand to be our
way of life.’
God has a plan for each of us, He sent his son Jesus Christ as a guide
for us, but it is up to each one of us, to use the gifts He has given us.
Jesus himself says, in John’s gospel, (ch 14 v 11), ‘Believe me that I am
in the Father and the Father is in me, but if you do not, then believe me
because of the works themselves.’ By believing in God and being open about
our belief, we are beginning to do the ‘good works’ that he has set out for
Basically, the powerful message that comes to us across the ages is, ‘You
can run, but you can’t hide!’ Instead, why not find a quiet place somewhere,
preferably outdoors, and just sit and marvel at the beauty that is God’s
Creation, worship him in your own way and in your own time, and let him come
fully into your life.