Some may have noticed recently that the period from 1st September to the
festival of St Francis (4th October) is being given a new name. We are being
encouraged to think of the whole month as Creationtide with an emphasis on the
biblical stories of creation. The purpose is to embrace and extend the themes of
Harvest Festival and give them a deeper and longer lasting impact. The hymns and
songs and the social activities of the traditional Harvest Supper are all
included. But our growing sense of the wonders of the universe, which have been
so movingly explored on television by Brian Cox and others, fill out and enlarge
Christians affirm and teach that the Creation itself is a major clue in any
understanding of God. God may be more than the universe but he is never apart
from it but within all there is, both the visible and the invisible. Thus
Creation itself has been called God’s primary sacrament because it reveals and
expresses who he is and what his intentions are for each person made in his
image. The material world which science investigates, hopefully always with
care, reverence and humility, does not simply reflect God’s glory but is itself
glory and glorious, which Christians treat with the utmost seriousness and
For a good number of years now this time of the year has been used by
Christian Aid and local churches to underline the need for responsible
‘stewardship’ of all these God-given resources. They are for the use of every
human being, not just a few. Looking not all that far ahead, many foresee the
stark truth that human resources are limited and human needs are becoming
greater than the human race has ever known before. Will there come a time when
there is not enough to go round? Some speak apocalyptically of famine and global
That disturbs us. Yet the Christian vision remains firm. God’s will and
providence can be trusted. ‘While the earth remaineth, seed time and harvest,
and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease’
(Genesis 8:22). A huge challenge rests on each person. The message is quite
clear. Together we are responsible for sharing what we have been given. Together
we have to find ways to sustain one another in our global community. It is a
costly and demanding task. To discharge it we need the same level of total
commitment and self-giving for others which Jesus made actual on the cross. The
protection of creation and the promotion of sustainable lifestyles are gospel
tasks for every created being. Esther de Waal standing in front of one of
Ireland’s great high crosses, with fantastic sculpture and carving, describes
‘the central O, like the circle of the globe, holding in tension the two arms of
the cross, creation and redemption’. Both are equally present in the death and
resurrection of Christ.
Every time we recite prayers at the eucharist we declare:
Yours, Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the splendour,
and the majesty, for everything in heaven and on earth is yours.
All things come from you, and of your own do we give you.
Let us welcome and enjoy Creationtide then – a time to be more aware of all
God gives and the responsibilities we have, especially when we pray for our
daily bread and give thanks for what we receive from the generosity and love of
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Bring a friend to one of our special Harvest services on Sunday 2nd
October (usual times of 9.30am at St Nicolas’, 8.00, 9.30 and 11.00 at St
Mary’s). Blank invitations are available in church for you to fill in the time
of the service you want to invite someone to.
Instead of the evening service on Sunday 2nd October there will be a
concert by the Gloucester Cathedral Choir in St Mary’s. This will be at the
slightly earlier time of 6pm. Free entry, retiring collection for
Cathedral Choir funds.
On Tuesday 4th October at 6pm in St Mary’s Church our celebrations
continue with Harvest hymns, an informal Ploughman’s Supper and an auction of
the fruit and vegetables which have decorated the church. Any profit made during
the evening will be donated to the appeal for Famine Relief in East Africa.
On Saturday 8th October at 7.30pm there is a Harvest Barn Dance and
Ploughman’s Supper in St Nicolas’ Hall. Tickets £8.
Meeting of the Waters
The Amazon River at Manaus is incredibly wide: it is almost hard to grasp
that it is a river, and that it still has nearly a thousand miles to go before
it reaches the Atlantic. In total it is about 7,000 kilometres long and is fed
by many tributary rivers, each with its own eco-system. Once it reaches the
Atlantic Ocean the water flowing out colours the sea water for several hundred
miles. Bearing this in mind it is quite amazing to find wide white sandy beaches
along the side of the river close to Manaus.
Sandy beach beside the River Amazon near Manaus
The river floods every year beginning in January and reaching its highest
levels in June/July. These levels can vary but generally rise eight or nine
metres. The waters then start to go down again. This obviously affects the way
much of the vegetation grows and also has a serious impact on the people who
live by the river, not only in the type of housing they choose, but because if
the river levels rise too much they have to move to higher ground complete with
all their belongings and their animals. Some who are not prepared lose
everything. Some areas can also become unreachable in the ‘dry’ season.
One of the three largest tributaries is the Rio Negro which starts in
Colombia and ends at Manaus, where it meets the Solemois River. The river we
know as the Amazon has many different names on its journey from the Andes, and
only becomes the Amazon River at Manaus, after the ‘meeting of the waters’.
The Rio Negro is almost black in colour (as its name suggests) because of the
minerals and vegetation that grow in it. It has very high acid levels which mean
that any plants and fish that are found in the river have had to adapt to
survive and the vegetation is far less than in other rivers. It is slow moving
and the water is quite warm. At Manaus it meets the Rio Solemois which is much
faster moving, colder and denser, the water is a light muddy brown. (I described
it to someone as the difference between a black coffee and a milky coffee!) When
the two rivers meet the two colours run alongside each other and are quite
clearly seen; this is called ‘The Meeting of the Waters’.
Dark and light water flowing alongside each other
Gradually they merge and the lighter, denser colour of the River Solemois
slowly covers the dark waters of the Rio Negro, and that is the next stage of
the Amazon River!
Kaphiridzinja Cottage is owned and run by the Diocese of Upper Shire
(pronounced Shiree), one of the four dioceses in Malawi. It is situated on the
lake shore with a sandy beach and safe bathing. This was our base for six
Wednesday was our first day at Nkope, a local village where we were to help
with repairs and painting over the next four days. There is a local health
centre/hospital working under St Martin’s Hospital at Malindi a little further
south. Their main function is to provide maternity care for patients who are
admitted at about eight months in their pregnancy and await labour at the
hospital. This is because of the long walk to the hospital which often takes
more than a day and it would be too late once contractions had started. There
are also general wards but at the time of our visit these were empty because
there were no drugs to treat patients once the diagnosis was made. Patients
often have to be sent on to St Martin’s Hospital and as there is no transport
they walk. They are charged a fee which in no way covers the cost of treatment
and as a result the hospital often cannot purchase drugs.
After our introduction we were put to work. Chris and I were sent to work
repairing mosquito netting on the windows of a nurse’s house. Others went to
paint a teacher’s house under the guidance of the local painters whilst the
younger members spent their time teaching the local children games with the kit
that we had brought with us. Amy brought art materials and held classes which
the children enjoyed. They do not have any toys and the schools do not have the
money to spare so any gifts that we brought were eagerly accepted by the
teachers. It is a very strict rule that whenever a gift is given it should
always be handed to the responsible adult and not the child so that they realise
that it is for all and not an individual.
The village has a school for blind children who should have been on holiday
but they stayed to meet us and on Friday afternoon we were entertained by their
choir following which we presented gifts to them, the junior school and the
Mothers’ Union. Blindness often renders a child an outcast in their home village
and being in a special school becomes home to them so often they do not want to
go back to their villages during the holidays. We finished the work on their
teacher’s house and by the Saturday she was able to move back in from her yard
where she had been living with all her belongings.
Roger views the empty pharmacy
To be continued.
In July Roger spent several days in Malawi with the charity MACS.
The Lord therefore
said to Solomon, ‘Because you have done this and have not kept my covenant and
statutes as I commanded you, I will tear the kingdom from you and give it to
1 Kings 11:11 (New English Bible)
Over the past weeks the Wednesday Bible Study Group has been delving into the
Old Testament. This part of the Bible can be even more complex and puzzling than
the New Testament, so it is helpful to study the text in the supportive
atmosphere of a group.
For those keen on history, the Old Testament provides some interesting
insights into the ancient world, but what is its relevance for Christians today?
In the Old Testament we have the story of God working through imperfect human
beings to prepare the way for the salvation of mankind through Jesus Christ. It
also gives us a background to the customs and culture of the Jewish society in
which Our Lord lived and worked.
These were the scriptures Jesus knew. When Jesus expounded the scriptures,
for example, on the road to Emmaus or in the upper room, it was to these
writings He was referring.
It is also these writings which the author of 2 Timothy had in mind when he
wrote ‘Every inspired scripture has its use for teaching’ (2 Timothy 3:16 New
The particular book of the Old Testament we have been studying is The First
Book of Kings. Although much has changed since this was written, human nature
remains much the same, and it is possible to pick out themes which are relevant
to us today.
Probably the main message of 1 Kings, and indeed much of the Old Testament,
is about remaining faithful to God. Time and time again the people of Judah and
Israel are seduced by the gods of the surrounding tribes and start to take on
the idolatrous ideas and customs of those around them. What are the false gods
of the society which surrounds us? Money, power, possessions, celebrities? You
can probably think of several others. It is so easy to let them take the place
of God in our hearts. The First Book of Kings also shows us that the worship of
false gods is not just a problem for young people. Consider what happened to
At the beginning of his reign Solomon put God’s work first. He built a great
temple for the Lord in Jerusalem and unselfishly he asked God for wisdom so that
he could govern justly. However, towards the end of his life he faltered and
relaxed in the sumptuous extravagance of his palace with his multitudes of wives
and concubines. Many of the wives came from the neighbouring tribes and Solomon
started to worship their gods. Did Solomon think he had done enough for the
Lord? Did he think it was time to retire and enjoy himself, and to forget about
all those tiresome rules and restrictions? Clearly God did not think so.
Reading this story can remind us that there is no retirement from a Christian
life and that we must continue to love and serve the Lord until he calls us
home. Then, by God’s grace, we can rest in peace.
The Wednesday Bible Study Group is now moving on to look at the letter to the
Colossians. Come and join us.
Sunday 2nd October at 6pm
A short concert by
Gloucester Cathedral Choir
Directed by Adrian Partington
Organist: Ashley Grote
Come and hear the Choir in the setting of
St Mary’s Church, Mill Street, Prestbury
Programme to include works by Byrd, Dering, Parry, Parsons,
Swayne and SS Wesley
The concert is free with a retiring collection for Cathedral
The concert will replace the usual service of Evening Prayer
A Family Harvest Celebration
Tuesday 4th October - 6pm
St Mary’s Church, Mill Street
- Favourite Harvest Hymns
- Ploughman’s Supper
- Sale of Fresh Produce
Proceeds in aid of Famine Relief in East Africa
Please come along to St Nicolas’ Church Hall on Saturday
8th October at 7.30pm for the Harvest Barn Dance. We will have the Bandy
Coots playing and John Boucher as caller. Tickets are £8 to include a
Ploughman’s Supper, with a bar available. Why not bring your friends with you?
On Friday 14th and Saturday 15th October at 7pm CHADS (our
CHurches Amateur Dramatic Society) is presenting another varied
performance, this time to raise money for STEPS, a charity helping children born
with hip and walking-related problems. We have decided to support them this year
one of our church members has a delightful baby granddaughter who was born with
a hip condition and because of this most of her life has been in plaster from
her trunk right down to her feet. She is the sweetest-natured baby imaginable,
and yet has undergone a lot of invasive surgery to try to help the situation.
The STEPS charity, as well as helping with the purchase of special equipment
such as car seats, walking aids etc, also offers enormous support to parents of
children with lower limb problems, and we feel it important to help a local
child who is one of our own church family.
Please come and support us in this event – you will have a
lovely evening of good honest entertainment followed by cheese and wine, all for
only £6 per ticket. These will be available soon at all three churches. By
supporting our show you will know that all of your ticket money will go to the
charity as we have again been fortunate to obtain sponsorship to cover our
McKenzie on behalf of all the members of CHADS
St Mary’s Bakestall
The proceeds from last month enabled us to send £20 to
Practical Action. Thank you all for your generosity in both baking and buying.
This month’s stall is after the 11 o’clock service on Sunday 16th October
and we invite the A-F team to supply the cakes. If you would like to join
our baking teams, please have a word with one of us.
Margaret Waker and Linda Matthews
He spoke to them in Parables
An Education and Nurture Quiet Afternoon on Saturday 22nd
October at St Christopher’s Warden Hill, beginning at 12.30pm with a
Bring-and-Share lunch. Short reflections will be led by Fr Michael and Deacon
Jennifer, with ample opportunity to reflect on the Bible passages depicted in
the beautiful stained glass windows designed by Thomas Denny.
After a break for tea and cake, the afternoon will conclude
with a short, informal act of worship. We look forward to being joined by
members of all churches in the Team; please sign up on the lists in church.
Prestbury Mothers’ Union
Our next meeting is on Tuesday 25th October at 7.30pm
at St Nicolas’ Church. Our speaker will be Fr Stephen Eldridge and his topic is
‘From Blue to Black’. Intrigued?! Do come along and find out more! All are very
McKenzie, Branch Leader
Fauré Requiem – All Souls’ Day (2nd November)
St Mary’s Prestbury, 7.30pm
As part of the service for the Commemoration of the Departed
on All Souls’ Day, the combined choirs of St Mary’s and St Nicolas’ will be
singing Fauré’s Requiem, with Jerry Spence at the organ and David Smith
conducting. Singers from the parish are warmly invited to come along to swell
the ranks – rehearsals will be at St Mary’s from 8.15 until 9pm on Friday
evenings. If you have your own copy please bring it, but music will also be
available for those without.
C4 Children’s Choir – ‘Silent Night’
C4 Children’s Choir are now recruiting for their Christmas
musical – SILENT NIGHT. All children Yr R and above who like to sing and act are
invited to join us at our rehearsals in Prestbury United Reformed Church, Deep
Street on Friday evenings.
Please contact Revd Maz Allen on email@example.com for more
Women’s World Day of Prayer – March 2012
The women of Malaysia have produced the 2012 service, based on
the theme ‘Let Justice Prevail’. The new edition of the WWDP magazine contains
information about Malaysia including the Lord’s Prayer in the national language
and a page of Malaysian cuisine.
Do join us at the local Preparation Seminar on Thursday 3rd
November at the Elim Christian Centre, Parkend Road, Gloucester, starting at
10am. Day cost is £2; bring a packed lunch, but tea and coffee are provided.
Contact Margaret Apperley by 30th October (usual tel. no. 01452 413104, but
during October, 01452 522712) to book a place.
Bible Study Groups
‘Study at Six’ on Tuesday evenings meets twice a month; please
contact Deacon Jennifer for details. The Wednesday morning group in Prestbury
meets weekly; contact Fr David for more information. If you would like to meet
for bible study and fellowship on a different day, please let one of us know and
we may be able to start another group.
I achieved my aim of swimming 2.5 km (100 lengths of a 25m
pool) in aid of The Ethiopia Link Charity maintaining an Ethiopian Orphanage and
I would like to say a huge thank you to all those who so generously sponsored
me. The amount raised was £345.