Magazine - Summer 2018
Letter From The Manse
As I write this, we are in the midst of what feels like a difficult time in our church family. Over the past few months there have been a number of people that have been ill, at home and in hospital. As I write this, I’m taking a break from preparing for a number of funerals we have this month. This seems like a sad place to start our magazine, but it would feel wrong not to write about it as, although these are sad events, they are still part of the life of our church and our community.
In these past few months, I have been in admiration of the care and love you have shown to those who have been ill, their families and friends and to one another. In these challenging times, you have made me very proud to be your minister and sharing with you the pastoral care element of my role has been a privilege. So thank you for caring for one another, especially if you think it goes unseen, because it doesn’t. Ultimately, pastoral care I believe is what the church family is for, to care for one another and for those around us in all parts life. Pastoral care shapes our life together, not only in caring for those who are ill or those who are struggling, but in being together and alongside each other through highs and lows of our life.
A phrase in methodism that is used to explain this aspect of our life together is ‘watching over one another in love.’ This phrase comes from the early class and band meetings, when groups of methodists gathered together to support one another in their lives with God and to hold one another accountable. Today, ministers are charged to watch over one another in love at their ordination and as ministers we offer that similar support to each other. Watching over each other in love means checking that someone is ok, making sure they are getting their holidays (a regular conversation in staff meetings around this time of year is about holidays!), meeting up for a coffee and supporting one another through all aspects of our lives not just ministry.
This phrase ‘watching over one another in love’ to me sums up best where we are in the life of our church at the moment, as we seek to offer love, care and support to each other in many aspects of our church life. So, we continue to journey together and as I was charged at my ordination 3 years ago, I pass the charge on to you that… “these things are your common duty and delight. In them you are to watch over one another in love.” (From the Ordination of Presbyters).
At this time, families who have been bereaved, people who are poorly or struggling and people who are offering care, please know you are in our thoughts and prayers. I also pray that God may help and bless each one of us, as we continue to journey together. At this time in the life of our church, I offer this prayer to you. It was one I found in my Nan’s bible after she died and one with which I ended her funeral. It has been a prayer I have found helpful and comforting in these past few months:
May the Lord be with you to protect you, before you to guide you, behind you to guard you, beside you to hold you and within you to save you.
May his light shine, near you to serve you, around you to cheer you, towards you to help you, beyond you to lead you and upon you to teach you.
May his love grow, about you to shield you, without you to keep you, throughout you to calm you, beneath you to lift you and above you to bless you.
May you know His peace, not just today, but always.
I’m writing this in early July, after 3 weeks of dry, sunny, hot weather with more promised and with the World Cup and Wimbledon added to the mix, how shall we survive? By the time you read this you’ll know the answer. It’s no good worrying about something we can’t change. Enough about the weather, what about music?
I enjoyed some concerts at the recent Bradfield Music Festival with international musicians alongside more local participants – excellent quality in an outstanding venue. The Prom concert season is also with us. Seven weeks of amazing music in the Royal Albert Hall and all brought to us on radio with some on TV. There will be celebrations of centenaries, special dates, new work, old works, some forgotten works, soloists, choirs, conductors and orchestras from near and far, in the world’s biggest jamboree – wow!
One centenary that will be celebrated is the 100th anniversary of the death of Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry. Born 27 February 1848, he died 7 October 1918. Who you may ask? Well everybody will know ‘Jerusalem’ set to words by William Blake which will be sung at the Last Night of the Proms in September. You will also know the tune ‘Repton’ set to our hymn ‘Dear Lord and Father of Mankind’. Also the Coronation anthem ‘I was glad’ composed for Edward VII’s coronation in 1902 and used at all subsequent coronations.
‘Blest Pair of Sirens’ is well known to most choral groups and there are many more pieces including 5 symphonies, orchestral suites, chamber music and especially songs, mainly set to words of English poets. His influence on English music was immense. He was taken up by George Grove, first as a contributor to Grove’s massive ‘Dictionary of Music and Musicians’ in the 1870’s and 1880’s, then as professor of music at the Royal College of Music and later as Head of the College. His influence on many other composers such as Ralph Vaughan Williams, Gustav Holst, Frank Bridge and John Ireland was profound. Elgar learned much of his craft from Parry’s articles in Grove’s Dictionary and so the list goes on.
Parry died on 7 October 1918 and his compositions and influence on English music live on in this centenary year.
In July Rev’d Katie was part of a team of volunteers who led a Falcon Camp at Hagg Farm, not far from Ladybower. The camp was to give a group of young people an opportunity for a weekend with plenty of adventurous activities, to spend time together and to begin exploring big questions of life and faith.
So on the Friday afternoon we set off from Mount Tabor Methodist Church, with a mini-bus of young people, for a busy fun filled weekend!
Friday night was spent getting to know each other, through food, games and a campfire (with plenty of marshmallows to toast!). Saturday the young people did activities led by Hagg Farm instructors of abseiling and rock climbing, followed by a night hike once it had gone dark. On the Sunday morning we went on a 5 mile trek with a stop at Fairholmes for drinks and snacks – Katie’s legs have only just recovered from trekking up some very big hills! Once we had lunch on the Sunday afternoon we headed back to Sheffield.
We had a great weekend together and we were really proud of the young people we took away. A big thank you for everyone who prayed for the leaders, the young people and the whole camp!
We are hoping to run more camps next year around the same time in July. If you are interested in volunteering or have a young person who may be interested in going, look out for more information in the new year or get in contact with Katie.
I’ve had a glimpse of the future…
A recent stay in hospital has given me much food for thought. At 73 I was one of the youngest patients in a 6-bed ward for men in the Northern General Hospital. At first hand I witnessed grown men reduced to bedwetting, being fitted with practical, yet undignified incontinence pads and succumbing to childlike behaviour. Never have the words of the melancholic Jaques in “As You Like It” burned so deeply in my mind.
“Last scene of all that ends this strange eventful history
is second childishness and mere oblivion.
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.”
I saw bodies that had once ran and jumped for the sheer hell of it, that had made love and worked hard to provide for their families, giving way to a decay caused by age and lifestyles. I was being given a glimpse of the future and I didn’t like what I was seeing.
My natural inclination is to be optimistic about things and my jaundiced view, possibly enhanced by Morphine, worried me. I soon realised that my negative response had been generated by self-pity. A self pity brought about, not only by my own plight, but also by the expected, but sudden, death of a close friend. I was wading into Bunyon’s ‘Slough of Despond’ and it wouldn’t do.
Christians are promised “life in abundance” and I’ve always thought this promise to be applicable both before and after death. My interpretation of abundance has meant the receiving of God’s grace and gifts and to passing them on to others. My ‘abundance’ increases with its depletion. So where was the ‘abundance’ in Northern General’s ward, Firth 8?
Well, I saw it in the good humoured response and care given by the staff, who dealt with patients’ pain and difficult behaviour with both compassion and a determination to maintain the patient’s dignity. Some of the staff may have been Christians, others not, but God has filled all of us, with few exceptions, with His love. I saw it in my fellow patients as they sought, more often than not, to manage their situation. I experienced it when my son offered to wash and shave me – a scenario preceded by his comment “dad, you stink!” This role reversal took me by surprise; what I had done for him in his ‘spring’ he was now doing to me in my ‘autumn’. A sudden thought; autumn has its own beauty.
The ‘abundance’ was there in the love and support that Joan and I received from family and friends here at Wisewood for which we say ‘thank you’.
Jaques’ description of the final years of our lives is only partially correct. It is not “mere oblivion and sans everything”. As Christians we have an ongoing faith that tells us that the best is yet to come; that an even greater abundance awaits us and that in the meantime we should give away the abundance we already have.