Branching Out - Spring 2017
Letter From The Manse
On Mondays I have started to work from the office at Wisewood, when I am available without appointment between 9am and 12noon. Amongst doing school assemblies, admin, preparation… and drinking tea with the cleaning team, I have been using the time to pray in church, especially to pray for the community in which Wisewood is placed. This time of prayer has developed in the past few months into creating a prayer space in the corner of the foyer, so that other people can join in with prayer across the week. This was partially because I wanted something people could join in with and partially because I enjoy making creative prayer stations. The idea for a prayer space came from the Prayer Spaces in Schools initiative to create reflective spaces for children and young people within the school environment. These spaces in schools are broadly Christian and run by groups from churches, but the activities are to enable children and young people, no matter what their beliefs, to explore life’s questions, spirituality and faith in a safe, creative and interactive way. It is a space for children and young people to explore on their own and draw their own conclusions. It is not a way of trying to make them come to church.
The resources and prayer ideas offered by Prayer Spaces in Schools are great and you might have noticed I’ve used a number in Sunday services already (like Fizzy Forgiveness, when we used vitamin C tablets that fizz as a way of letting go our prayers of confession). I have also used a number of these across the last few months in the prayer space in the foyer.
During the past few months we have had prayers to think about Harvest and autumn. We had a remembrance wall during November and the names of those we remembered during the Memorial service were added. During December we had a Christmas tree for prayer requests and snowflakes to remind us we are unique and special. In January there were prayers to take away to bless our homes for Epiphany (as in some traditions houses are blessed to mark the visit of the Wise Men). This month there are prayers to help us think about how much God loves us and our love for our neighbour. The pictures illustrate the prayer spaces from the past few months. I’m even beginning to plan next month’s which will be prayers for during Lent and to help us prepare for Easter.
These spaces are not created for just children and young people to use, but are there for everyone who comes into the building. It is a space anyone and everyone is welcome to use as often as they need. My hope is that even a couple of minutes using the prayer space could give people the space they need either to themselves or with God. I’m always aware how busy our lives are and how hard it is to find time to ourselves and to find time to pray. So perhaps next time you are in church, take time to pull up a chair and make use of the prayer space and spend time with God. Or, if you aren’t able to come into the building, please look at our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/wisewoodmethodist) where I post pictures of the prayer space as I update them. Also, I am always happy to add responses and prayers to the prayer space from messages received via Facebook.
If you would like more information or have a suggestion you would like to see in the prayer space, please let me know.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! This is our usual greeting to friends and family but not necessarily appropriate. Merry? Happy? – could be wide of the mark. When I was a lad you would hear people greet each other with ‘Compliments of the Season’, much safer. For instance my own Happy New Year was interrupted on Jan 5th when I fell off a chair (don’t ask) and broke six ribs. Don’t worry, I’m getting back to normal slowly.
Musically speaking, I don’t know how much you are into Mozart, but in 2016 a new box-set of 225 CD’s of his music was issued. Can you imagine how you would tackle listening to that much Mozart – even if you’re very fond of his work?
2017 sees the 150th anniversary of the birth of Toscanini, the Italian conductor. Something of a child prodigy, he was accepted into the Royal School of Music in Parma at the age of nine, where he became a gifted cellist. He made his conducting debut at the age of 19 in Rio de Janeiro with Verdi’s ‘Aida’, conducting from memory. He worked in Italy in Turin and at La Scala, Milan, where he was appointed Musical Director in 1898, conducting many operas – all from memory.
By the end of his long career, he had conducted 117 different operas and nearly 500 other concert pieces, concertos etc. He was appointed Musical Director of the New York Metropolitan Opera from 1908 – 1915. He was a small man but very energetic and gifted with a phenomenal memory and whichever orchestra or opera cast he led, they were ‘persuaded’ by this fiery Italian to give more than their best. Back at La Scala in the 1920’s and on tour in Europe, he continued to amaze listeners with his musical brilliance. On tour in the 1930’s he was guest conductor of the newly formed BBC Symphony Orchestra and then back in America in 1937, a new orchestra – the NBC, was created for him to operate specifically in radio broadcasting.
Toscanini fully embraced the power of the radio in getting music out to the general public and this aspect of his career is immeasurably important. At the same time, his recording career flourished and carried on until he retired in 1954 at the age of 87. He died 3 years later. Toscanini was a colossus in his field and his influence on music, radio and recording is his permanent memorial.
A Cautionary Tale
Be sure, when standing on a chair
It isn’t very safe up there
And if the thing should topple over
You’re lucky if you land in clover
More likely you will break a rib
Or two or six, I tell no fib.
So if you’re thinking you might do it,
Forget it or you’ll surely rue it.
Gift Day - Sunday 19th March 2017
Please mark Sunday 19th March in your diaries as this is our 2017 Gift Day. We were hoping to raise further funds for improvements to the church sound and projection systems, together with some refurbishment of the front of our worship area but we recently had a visit from the Fire Authority.
They gave us quite a list of changes necessary to meet their requirements which will involve some expense. This obviously is higher priority after which we can concentrate on our wish list.
So, as I leave those thoughts with you, I ask you to consider your giving very prayerfully to help continue the mission of our church.
Thank you and God Bless.
A Ghost on Wadsley Common?
The winters of 1812 and 1813 were very snowy and this was a problem for the small number of people living in a few remote cottages on Wadsley Common, amongst whom were Lomas Revill and his wife Mary. Lomas was gamekeeper to the lord of the manor and it wasn’t unusual for him to arrive home after dark. On the 30th December Mary had a visitor female friend who left her cottage early the same evening. Mary was now alone. She fell asleep.
The following day, New Year’s Eve, visitors arrived at the cottage from Wadsley village but when they entered they found Mary lying on the floor in a pool of blood. She had been murdered. Outside the cottage there were large footprints in the snow, leading up to the top of the crags and into a cave but there were no footprints coming out! Lomas was found in his gamekeeper’s hut. He wasn’t in a good state as he had been drinking heavily in one of the village pubs the previous night. Did he murder his wife? Did he stay in the gamekeeper’s hut all night? No one knows but after this traumatic discovery Lomas’ behaviour became rather unusual although it had previously been noted as being a little strange, particularly on New Year’s Eves. Some thought he suffered from depression.
The following New Year’s Eve was again a very snowy one. Lomas appeared to have gone missing and, unusually, hadn’t been seen in any of the pubs. So a group of Wadsley men went to his remote cottage and found him hanging in an outbuilding. He was dead. A rusty blood coated knife and some blood covered gaiters were found in his cottage. Consequently many villagers assumed he had killed Mary and it was said that Mary’s ghost was sometimes now seen on the common.
For a considerable time after the event some Wadsley people were reluctant to walk over there in the dark and especially on New Year’s Eve. Over time most of the few cottages on the common became empty and fell into decay. I am glad I wasn’t aware of this tale in my childhood when many youngsters, including myself, frequently visited Wadsley Common, climbing trees, playing games and also exploring some of the many small caves on Loxley Edge.
On Sunday 28th November we held our Shoebox service which was conducted by Mrs Joan Bugg, who spoke about sharing with and loving and caring for others. Joan used the shoeboxes as an example and referred to the things that the church does for other people including the knit and chat group who knit for various charities throughout the year, including of course shoeboxes.
This year we sent 102 shoeboxes and a wide range of fillers including 49 sets of hats, scarves and mittens, 44 hats, 17 pairs of mittens, 17 scarves, 12 toiletry items and 9 other items.
If you were present at the service you may have seen a large brown box. This contained approximately 750 stationery items donated by our stationery suppliers Universal Office Products (which is owned by Steve Manley).
This year we were able to send a donation of £221.57. This was made up of personal donations, proceeds of the stable (which the young people made during the service) and proceeds from the sale of knitted items. This money will be used to help cover transport costs.
I would like to thank everyone who contributed in any way whatsoever to achieve this splendid result. I am sure the children of Swaziland (the destination for our shoeboxes) will appreciate your gifts.
Thank you once again for your tremendous effort.
Readings in the New Testament
We continue to read in Matthew 22. Verses 15 to 22 give yet another instance of Jesus being put on the spot by the Jewish leaders. As I have said before, probably we are seeing one of the pressing questions of the day, one that would be put to anyone regarded as influential.
We can imagine them waiting for the answer. Will Jesus acquit himself well, or make a fool of himself, even expose himself to arrest by the authorities?
The answer Jesus gives is very clever. Who would dare to reject His advice? This was probably the best answer they had had from anyone and they had no response to it. They had to manage in a Roman world, they still had to value and follow the word and guidance of God.
We too have a similar conflict in life. We are not under threat of physical punishment, but we have a difficult path to weave between the pressures of everyday life and customs and the Christian life. Most of the time we have no great difficulty in managing this state of affairs, but sometimes the challenges are immense, and probably more pressing for the younger members of our church family.
How separate does God expect them to be from the world in which they live, from the challenges of life at school, at university, at work and socially. Read verse 21, if God is not rejected or opposed by our actions, then perhaps we have greater latitude than we sometimes think. There are many ways of being a Christian, as we see in everyday life both here and around the world. Jesus gives very few direct statements as to His followers’ actions, but He never contemplates their breaking of the two great commandments, ‘Love God totally and always, and Love your Neighbour as yourself’. Whenever faced by a dilemma as to our behaviour, this is our guide. Will God be still loved and am I loving my neighbour?
Verses 23 to 33 present yet another popular area of argument. The Jewish leaders were divided into Pharisees and Sadducees. They had many areas of agreement but also of difference. Here we have one, rising from the dead. The Sadducees rejected the idea, the Pharisees preached it. What they do is invent a rather improbable situation of the woman who outlives seven of her husbands, all brothers. The question for the Sadducees is, who will be her husband in heaven?
The law stated that in the event of a husband dying childless, his wife was ‘left’ to his brother so that the first child could be regarded as that of the dead man and the inheritance of land protected. (I am not going to say anything about the word I placed in inverted commas, except that it indicates the status of women at that time. They were the property of the husband and could be ‘left’ just like any other property).
Jesus deflects the question by reference to the patriarch of Judaism and stating that God is for the living and therefore our concern also should be for the living. We have our memories of those we have lost. We try to follow the word of God and the teachings of Christ in that we honour parents, partners, friends and all those we have lived with and loved.
My Great Grandma
This year in early February
My great grandma was 105
As she often says to us,
I can’t believe I’m still alive!
Her name is Elsie Pix
She is very kind and small
I will soon be bigger than her
Even though I’m not that tall.
Great grandma used to love to dance
And I think it did her good
She has always been fit and healthy
And would still be dancing, if she could.
The world has changed completely
Through her long and happy life
4 children, 7 grandchildren, 9 great grandchildren
And twice a wife.
The great Titanic sank
When she was 2 months old
Who would have thought she’d still be here
To us she is pure gold.
Poem by Bethan Killeen