Growing in faith and discipleship A Letter from Bishop Paul October 2017 <p>Bishop Paul issued a letter to the congrgation of St Mary's on the morning of Sunday 6th October regarding the proposal to establish two new parishes out the the present City Parish. In particular he addressed the vision for St Mary's.</p> <p>This letter can be found in the St Mary's section of this website under the section 'Changes to the Parish 2017'.</p> Fri, 13 Oct 2017 14:42:59 +0200 Refugee women meet to grow and cook food together at All Saints' Church <p><strong>Refugee women meet to grow and cook food together at All Saints' Church</strong></p> <p>A group of asylum seeker and refugee women and children have been growing and cooking food at a monthly meeting at All Saints Church in Nottingham since January.</p> <p>Members of the group are all women who are, or have been, seeking sanctuary and they hail from all over the world from countries such as Nigeria, Uganda, Pakistan, Iran, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Lebanon and Libya, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, Gambia, Eritrea, Sudan, Malawi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.</p> <p>The session pictured here includes 21 women and 12 children. The group was initiated by the co-ordinator of the Rainbow Project, Dianne Skerrit, in partnership with The Revd Christopher Harrison, vicar of All Saints, St Peter’s and St Mary’s in the city centre. Funding is provided by the Rainbow Project on a very small budget and the building/facilities and some items have been donated by All Saints Church.</p> <p>Dianne says: “When they meet on the first Thursday of each month they have a sub-group who have planted vegetables and herbs, and much joviality and wonder occurs due to not being able to understand why plants don't grow quickly as they would in a warmer climate, and also how the water lingers on the top. They actually hope to reap a crop, the corn looks very healthy, but an iota of faith is needed for some of the other vegetables.”</p> <p>“Each month a different person prepares and cooks a delicious meal, usually explaining the recipe and its origin. The meal begins with a prayer in which everyone joins in, the group is very diverse in many ways; it's multi-cultural /multi faith and all ages and abilities are welcome.</p> <p>“It offers an opportunity to share stories about lives that have been left disjointed by the war, and it’s nice to see the smiles on people’s faces, when they have arrived so broken. Traumatic experiences have left damaged families at home and abroad … the best stories are of the welcome and appreciation the people of Nottingham have offered them, the support from the Rainbow Project and the enjoyment of this Project and All Saints group. Most women attending have a deep sense of faith and hope, which is usually their only asset...”</p> <p>Other experiences the women have enjoyed recently include a trip to Attenborough Nature Reserve, sponsored by Holy Trinity Church, Southwell.</p> <p>To find out more about this group and how to join or support them contact Dianne Skerritt on 07917674680.</p> <p><a href="">Photos</a> taken at All Saints Church show the group, preparing a meal, and the women planting and tending the crops.<br/><br/></p> <p> </p> <p> </p> Wed, 17 Aug 2016 10:41:39 +0200 Lent Talks 2016 <p><strong>Lent Talks 2016</strong></p> <p>St Peter's will once again host a series of Lent Talks on Thursday lunchtimes.  More information can be found <a href="">here</a>.</p> Tue, 09 Feb 2016 14:30:38 +0100 How the Church responds to poverty <p><strong>The Vicar’s letter</strong><br/><em>Rev’d Christopher Harrison considers how the Church and everyone in it should respond to the challenges of poverty</em></p> <p>We are fortunate, in this parish, to have a long tradition of supporting those in need around the world, in particular through the work of our Overseas Committee. This has typically included donations to agencies such as Christian Aid and CMS (Church Mission Society), as well as contributions to charities that work in specific fields such as the African Prisons’ Project, the Mission Aviation Fellowship, and the Children at Risk Foundation which works in Brazil (see the article in this magazine). We have also responded well to emergencies such as the Haiti and Nepal earthquakes.</p> <p>Whilst aid such as this is important, the Church at large has always stressed the need to focus on the root causes of world poverty, and on all the factors which contribute to degrading and demeaning conditions of life. This was the thinking that led to the growth of the Fair Trade movement, which in turn led to an increased awareness of the need for a more just framework for world trade as a whole, which would allow poorer countries to enjoy greater opportunities for economic growth through trade. In the period immediately prior to the year 2000, the Jubilee Debt Campaign drew inspiration from Biblical principles of debt forgiveness to enable the writing off of considerable amounts of unrepayable debt for some of the poorest countries of the world. Since then, the spotlight has increasingly shifted to the effects of climate change on the poor, and the effect that tax avoidance by multinational companies can have on the developing world.</p> <p>The Church has also long realised that conditions within the poorer countries themselves sometimes need to be addressed. This has led Christian Aid and similar aid agencies to campaign against corruption, the inadequacy of rights for women, and discrimination against minorities – not that these problems are limited to developing countries, however. It has become increasingly clear that transfers of money alone are not sufficient, and that factors such as healthcare, education, human rights and the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes, both national and local, are also essential if poverty in the developing world is to be significantly reduced.</p> <p>All of the above is largely the accepted wisdom within overseas aid charities, and also the mainstream Churches. How successfully, though, are we keeping up with the rapidly changing political and economic situation in today’s world? We are, today, faced with a range of new challenges for which solutions are far from obvious. The power of the global financial institutions to exploit their market position, and the inadequacy of effective regulation over many of these, has been highlighted by the massive fines recently imposed on those who have colluded in the fixing of exchange rates and interest rates. There is wide and increasing inequality between the richest and the poorest countries of the world, as well as growing inequality within many countries, both developing and developed. Growing desertification and rising sea levels, as global temperatures creep upwards, is threatening the livelihoods of communities least able to cope with these.</p> <p>The latest, and perhaps the most demanding challenge for us, however, is how to respond to the migrant crisis which is affecting not just southern Europe but the developed world as a whole. The abhorrent methods used by the so-called Islamic state in its quest for a new Caliphate have resulted, as we all know, in incalculable sufferings for millions of people. The systematic persecution of Christians and other minorities is very much part of this. When we see those who have lost everything knocking at the door of Europe, seeking refuge, we are torn between a desire to offering sanctuary and our awareness that our societies are already highly stretched in their capacity to cope with new incomers. As far as tacking the root causes of such migration are concerned, moreover, it is incredibly difficult to conceive of any form of international intervention which would have a realistic chance of success. Military action, for example, might actually exacerbate the problems and give an excuse for even stronger antiwestern sentiment.</p> <p>We have moved, in this article, from the well-trodden arguments about addressing world poverty to the huge complexity of today’s international situation. The urgent need for clear and decisive thought and action is heightened by the fact that the problems are on Europe’s own doorstep; and that if we in the Churches really care about the needs of our sisters and brothers who are in the most extreme difficulty and need, we have to respond with great generosity of heart and spirit, as well as in material terms. Are we like the rich man, in the parable told by Jesus, who simply ignored the poor man at his gate and whose hardness of heart was rewarded by an eternity in hell? And how would we feel if the tables were turned and we were the asylum seekers risking everything in a perilous boat journey, pleading for safety and a new start when we had lost everything that was precious to us?</p> <p>There are times, I believe, when we have to put self-interest aside and simply open our hearts, minds and our societies to people who have been through horrendous suffering, or who have absolutely nothing left to live for in their country of origin. For such people, the decision to leave will not have been taken lightly, but will have been an absolute last resort. It is relatively easy to raise money for people living in poor societies thousands of miles away; but can we offer the hand of friendship to those in the most acute need when it actually involves offering hospitality ourselves?</p> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 11:08:55 +0200 Lent Talks 2015 <p><strong>Lent talks - 'Issues for our time'</strong></p> <p>Thursdays at St Peter's church, Nottingham NG1 2NW (next to M &amp; S)</p> <p>- <strong>26th February:</strong> Rev Keith Hebden: Fossil fuels, banks, conflict and non-violence</p> <p>- <strong>5th March:</strong> Professor Peter Bartlett: Institutions and the elderly: does law have a role?</p> <p>- <strong>12th March:</strong> Dianne Skerritt and Sara Palacios Arapiles: Diversity, immigration and asylum</p> <p>- <strong>19th March:</strong> Rev Christopher Harrison: Whither Europe?</p> <p>- <strong>26th March:</strong> Paul Bodenham (Christian Ecology Link): Climate change and other environmental challenges</p> <p>A light lunch will be available from 12.00, with the talks beginning at 12.30.<br/><br/>ALL WELCOME</p> <p> </p> <p> </p> Wed, 04 Feb 2015 13:20:40 +0100 Harvest Festival 5th October <p>THE PARISH OF ALL SAINTS', ST MARY AND ST PETER, NOTTINGHAM</p> <p><strong>Harvest Festival Services<br/><em>with launch of</em><br/>Giving Renewal Programme</strong></p> <p><strong>Sunday 5th October 2014</strong></p> <p><br/>Guest speakers:</p> <p>All Saints' (10.30am)<br/>Canon Nigel Spraggins<br/>Chief Executive, Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham</p> <p>St Mary's (10.45am)<br/>Canon Michael Arlington<br/>Chairman, Diocesan Board of Finance</p> <p>St Peter's (10.4am)<br/>Colin Slater MBE<br/>Radio Commentator and Member of General Synod</p> <p>You are invited to bring contributions of food which can be donated to Emmanuel House to support its work with rough sleepers.</p> <p>Please make every effort to attend these services, and to consider how you can respond to the Giving Renewal Programme.</p> <p>OUR GIFTS, GOD'S HARVEST</p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> Wed, 24 Sep 2014 13:48:27 +0200 Inheritance <p><strong>Inheritance - First night review</strong><br/>“We saw the opening night of Riding Lights’ ‘Inheritance’ in Halifax Minster on March 14th; it’s now touring nationally, reaching St Mary’s on April 5th [7.30pm].<br/>What can we say? It’s powerfully crafted and superbly acted. In an interview, playwright Bridget Foreman says her aim is to create drama that ‘sharpens our understanding, or reveals to us things that we’d never noticed before’. ‘ Inheritance’ certainly achieves this: Jesus debates the old v new order, Jesus fights inequality and injustice, Jesus offers physical and psychological healing. The play gets right under the skin of the challenges he faced and resonates sharply with our own times.<br/>We travelled a long way to see ‘Inheritance’; we were amply rewarded. Do join us in St. Mary’s, Saturday 5th April at 7.30."<br/><em>Paul and Deborah Sibly</em></p> <p><br/><strong>A Riding Lights Passion Play for 2014</strong><br/>St Mary's Church, Nottingham<br/>Saturday 5th April, 7.30pm</p> <p>Tickets: £10 / £5 (U16s) / student standby at the door £5, from:<br/>The Parish Office, St Peter’s Square NG1 2NW (cash/cheque only) 0115 948 3658 /<br/>Classical CD, 10 Goose Gate, NG1 1FF tel. 0115 948 3832<br/>Nottingham Tourism Centre, 1-4 Smithy Row, NG1 2BY tel. 08444 775678</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>About Riding Lights</strong><br/>Riding Lights Theatre Company is one of the UK’s most productive and long-established independent theatre companies. Founded in York over 30 years ago, partly through the initiative of a city-centre church, the company continues to take innovative, accessible theatre into all kinds of communities far and wide.  Our aim is to create unforgettable, entertaining theatre which challenges us all to examine the world we inhabit and the ways we live amongst each other. While the company’s roots are in a christian ethos, our work is open to everyone, using faith as a springboard to explore all aspects of life.</p> Tue, 18 Mar 2014 13:17:02 +0100 Reflections on 25 Years of Ministry <p><strong>Rev’d Christopher Harrison looks back on the contrasting parishes that he has served in since his ordination </strong></p> <p>Last month it was twenty-five years since I was ordained as a priest. This has prompted me to think back over the past quarter century, which seems to have raced by.</p> <p>My first five years were spent as a curate in the inner city of London, at St George’s church, Camberwell. This was a parish notorious for having, at the time, what were said to be the highest levels of crime in the country. Our church had longstanding links with Trinity College, Cambridge, and was in fact the current manifestation of what used to be the ‘Trinity College Mission’. This was set up in the late 1800s as part of a response to the severe deprivation which characterised much of south and east London, and whose legacy can be seen even today. In the late 1980s and early 1990s we were greatly energised by the controversial ‘Faith in the City’ report, which followed the riots of the early 1980s and made the Church of England give fresh impetus to meeting the needs of those who lived in poverty. Indeed Canon Eric James, known for his radical theology and controversial broadcasts, and for spearheading ‘Faith in the City’, was a previous vicar at St George’s. A curate can of course push the limits more than a vicar can, and perhaps my best example of this was taking a group of ten lively teenagers to Africa to rediscover their roots, which resulted in them being evicted from an outward bound course for drug abuse.</p> <p>Five further years in South London, at Christ Church and St Paul’s, Forest Hill, gave me the opportunity to face the challenges of an old and expensive Victorian church. We attempted to restore it to viability, but unfortunately my successor found that the task was too great, and the church became a good example of how a clever architect can cram a large number of flats into a once holy place. I learned much about the detail of Anglo-Catholic ritual, even though this went beyond what I was totally comfortable with, and the congregation often looked back fondly to the time of a previous vicar who was to become the Bishop of Chichester.</p> <p>A return to my Derbyshire roots then followed. The Bishop of Derby must have rapidly concluded that five pretty village near Ashbourne were not stretching me sufficiently, as I was soon made Rural Dean (and Rural really meant rural, as my responsibility consisted of an additional fourteen delightful village churches in addition to the beautiful and historic church of St Oswald, Ashbourne). Many colleagues thought that sustaining five parochial church councils across the parish was a mistake, but in reality these were each splendid groups of committed church members who took on most of the responsibility of looking after their churches. Rural ministry has plenty of opportunities for building up churches and becoming immersed in village life, and I was reminded that communities still can be a great source of mutual support and neighbourliness, when much of city life is now very different from this. I even once presided over a service of blessing for the Dovedale Sheepdog Trials. As Rural Dean, I had to manage a twenty per cent cut in numbers of clergy across the Deanery, which was almost impossible to achieve. I was also asked by the Bishop to chair a diocesan group which reviewed the formula for calculating the parish share as applied to each parish, but thankfully I left before the results were put into practice.</p> <p>During this time I became the co-ordinator of the Derbyshire Churches’ partnership with the Church of North India. This brought opportunities to host visitors from India, and to learn from a Church which traces its origins back to the apostle St Thomas, who is said to have reached South India in the middle of the first century A.D. It also meant visiting India both as leader of groups and as an individual, and experiencing the life and ministry of the Church of North India and the warmth and hospitality of its people. <br/><br/>Then, after the Bishop of Derby had been repeatedly saying that I should aim for something bigger, came the move to Nottingham. Since arriving here in February 2009 we have consolidated the integration into one parish, and I have tried to both nurture the three congregations as well as maintaining and developing a vision for the parish as a whole. Inevitably, however, in spite of all one’s efforts, much time tends to be spent behind the scenes helping to resolve issues and problems that arise, and giving support to individuals and trying to ensure that the many levels of committee structure within our parish function as well as they should. I am delighted with the developments at St Mary’s, and the successful installation, earlier, of the new organ at St Peter’s, as well as the other enhancements to that church which have taken place. I hope that we can do something similar, in whatever way is possible, at All Saints, in association, perhaps, with the 150th anniversary of its foundation next year. <br/><br/>Our diocese and parish face some big challenges in the coming years, as we consider cuts in clergy numbers. We do, however, have a great team, both clergy and lay, in this parish, and I hope and pray that we can meet these challenges effectively. The Church of England has not had a good press in recent years, for various reasons, and I hope that we can keep our distance from some of the more depressing aspects of this, notably on the matter of women bishops and unfriendly attitudes towards homosexuality. I strongly believe that there is a very important place in this diocese for a parish like ours, which places a great emphasis on openness, social justice, diversity, inclusiveness and a non-dogmatic approach to theology. For at the heart of Christ’s teaching is the principle of love for God and neighbour – and ‘neighbour’ means ‘everyone’, whether you happen to like them or not. Over twenty five years of ordained ministry nothing has changed my total belief in this, and in the reality of th risen and ascended Christ, active within his Church through the Holy Spirit – but only if we open our hearts and our doors to Him, and don’t simply pay lip service while thinking that we know better.</p> Fri, 30 Aug 2013 15:12:59 +0200 What Does The Bible Tell Us About Women Bishops? <p><strong>Rev’d Canon Jack Higham suggests that the Bible must be used with caution in the debate about women bishops but concludes that the underlying message is clear</strong></p> <p>‘She [the daughter of Herodias] went out and said to her mother, "What shall I ask for?"</p> <p>"The head of John the baptiser," she answered’ <em>Mark 6.24</em></p> <p>‘Jacob served seven years for Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.’ <em>Genesis 29:20</em></p> <p>In the midst of a historic debate in the Synod on women bishops the stories of Herodias (Mark 6:14-29) and Rachel (Genesis 29) present us with two very different pictures of women. Herodias - vengeful, vindictive, ruthless, manipulative; Rachel - gentle, patient, hard-working and loving. But before we're tempted to apply those categories to the debate on women bishops, we have to look at the men: Herod - lustful, foolish, proud and yet weak, and Laban, Jacob's uncle, who seems at first to act honourably (although demanding his nephew work seven years for his daughter's hand does seem excessive) but is later revealed to be deceitful. He arranged that the wedding should be in the evening, after it was dark, so that he could substitute his other daughter Leah for Rachel, a fact which Jacob only discovered the next morning when it was too late. When Jacob expostulated, his uncle told him he would have to work another seven years if he wanted Rachel, and he was told for the first time that the custom of the land required the elder daughter to be married first - so Laban is doubly deceitful and highly dubious. It was probably this Biblical story that influenced church law which until very recently required all wedding to be before 8am and 4pm (IE the hours of daylight in winter).</p> <p>We would probably find that Jacob comes out of the story well, in that he patiently puts up with all this chicanery but there's a sly detail inserted into his story. We're told that Jacob's interest was aroused when he ‘saw Rachel, the daughter of Laban, his mother's brother and Laban’s sheep,’ - the implication is that his motive was not so pure and he's a bit of a gold digger.</p> <p>So in the end the only male character who comes out of either story well is John the Baptist who has his head chopped off for telling the truth.</p> <p>Curiously this story was a comfort to Henry VIII who, like Herod, had married his deceased brother's wife. There are conflicting Old Testament texts on this subject - one saying it is contrary to God's will and the other saying God requires it so that your dead brother can have heirs or children as heirs.</p> <p>Henry VIII had been given a papal dispensation to marry his dead brother's wife because such unions were forbidden by canon law. But when he wanted to marry Anne Boleyn he developed a convenient scruple based on this text and Leviticus, and when he wanted later to get rid of Anne Boleyn he followed Herod's precedent by beheading the offending party. All of which suggests that it is dangerous to apply Biblical texts directly to situations in modern life. If you look hard enough, you can often find a text to support the view which you have come to on other grounds.</p> <p>The debate on women bishops has been bedevilled (if I may use the expression) by such selective use of scripture. The Evangelicals oppose women bishops because St Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians "I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ and the head of a woman is her husband.” Paul (or perhaps a follower) reiterates this in Ephesians: "For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church." Paul is reflecting the views of his own day, and he clearly met with some opposition because he adds, "If any one is disposed to be contentious, we recognise no other practice" (note his use of the royal "we").</p> <p>Yet, on the other hand, Paul writes in Galatians, “In the church there is neither Jew nor Gentile, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” <br/><br/>Hence my point about the way scripture has been used. We have to try to get the whole sense, the central message, while recognising, as Paul does elsewhere, that we see through a glass darkly and we have the truth in earthen vessels.</p> <p>To my mind and to the large majority of our Church, the issue of women bishops is straightforward. The suitability of a candidate must be tested and the quality of their ministry and leadership abilities carefully assessed, but their gender is irrelevant. We need the leadership of the best bishops that can be found, and to double the pool from which they are drawn can only be for the good.</p> <p>But at the same time the Church needs to respect the scruples of those from both wings of our church who, on grounds of conscience, feel unable to accept the episcopacy of women. Anglicanism has always been a broad church from its beginnings, holding to people of widely different theologies. We have also generally been a tolerant church, accepting in our midst people with whom on a variety of issues we disagree.</p> <p>And what I don't like just now is the intolerant attitude of some of the proponents of women bishops who almost seem happy to eject their opponents from our communion. If our broad Anglican church cannot handle these conflicts, what hope is there for any other church? There are wise heads in the synod who see that some Anglican fudge may well be necessary. It's not neat and tidy. It may seem contradictory but we've coped with flying bishops for 20 years, and it ought not to be beyond the wit of Synod to find a way of keeping everyone on board while at the same time bringing the reform which a clear majority favours.</p> <p>Perhaps the key message is the all embracing love of God and the realisation that we're all sinners yet God loves us all and forgives us all. If the Synod can think in those terms, then surely a God of love will guide us all to loving one another in spite of our differences.</p> Fri, 30 Aug 2013 15:11:27 +0200 Banking on a Decent Meal <p><strong>Peter Hoare looks at the work that NG7 Food Bank is doing in Nottingham</strong></p> <p>All three of our churches now have boxes for contributions from members of the congregation to the NG7 Food Bank, which operates in the Sumac Centre on Gladstone Road in Forest Fields. Donations are taken weekly to a collection point and passed to the Food Bank, which distributes food every Friday to people in serious and often unexpected need. Recipients have to be referred, by one of a selection of social agencies, which has the added benefit of making sure people are in touch with appropriate support groups, and avoiding the growth of a “dependency culture”.</p> <p>I visited the Sumac Centre in February and talked to some of the Food Bank volunteers, including Jo Thorpe whose article appears below, together with an account by one of the volunteers who work with her. The sense of purpose was very evident, but the atmosphere was relaxed and welcoming, and I was impressed by the range of food available.</p> <p>There are at least 12 other Food Banks in and around Nottingham, many of them run by the Trussell Trust, a nation-wide Christian charity which operates to serve real need as effectively as possible. It is clear that the need exists, and is likely to become much greater as changes in welfare provision begin to bite.</p> <p>Please continue to help by bringing nonperishable food contributions to church - they can be left in the labelled boxes on Sundays or given to the vergers during the week.</p> <p><strong>The story so far</strong> By Joanne Thorpe (organiser at NG7 Food Bank)</p> <p>The NG7 food bank began as a result of discussions between many local people, faith groups and local public and voluntary agencies. In NG7 it is recognised there is a high number of families where children are reliant on free school dinners, and providing food especially during the school holidays is more of a struggle for these families. Anecdotal evidence from advice centres, charities and local activists indicated that people often walked across the city to Hope Nottingham’s food bank in Beeston to access food. These factors influenced the decision to trial the food bank over the school summer holiday period, starting in July 2012. Fridays were chosen as our distribution day to ensure people wouldn’t be without food over the weekend.</p> <p>Fundraising by Djanogly Community Cohesion project (CoCo) and the Sumac Centre meant we had a small financial resource supported by massive motivation and enthusiasm. We wanted the food bank to be accessible to those who needed us most, also to reach a diverse range of people. For these reasons we allocated a number of referral places to the main advice centres in the city, alongside referral arrangements with Children’s Services, charities and voluntary groups working with asylum-seekers/refugees and with A8 nationals (from EU “accession states”). Since opening we have fed over 600 people with usage now averaging over 30 people per week.</p> <p>Our ‘Fill a Box’ scheme began in July 2012 and has developed sufficiently to enable us to continue without draining our small cash reserves. It is often a humbling experience to witness the ongoing generosity of the many people, organisations, and faith-communities that donate food.</p> <p>To support the continuation and expansion of the work we have recently submitted funding bids and are awaiting the results. Currently the cost of a weekly food parcel (3-4 days) for one person is £6.90, made up of a range of staple foods including bread, butter, soup, a range of fresh and tinned vegetables, milk, pasta, rice and sugar. We add a selection of special items - cooking oil, packet rices and sauces, biscuits, chocolates, fruit juices etc. Thank you for your continued support.</p> <p><strong>The view from a volunteer </strong>By Eshe, aged 16</p> <p>Friday’s food-bank whirlwind begins with us all carrying large amounts of tins, packets, jars, cartons, bags, boxes. The food is then laid out on the tables with numbered cards which match the different food items. Sometimes people arrive before the food’s ready but that’s fine because they often like to help out too or they are happy to make themselves a drink and wait. Once people begin to arrive, we take it in turns to take them round and let them chose their own food items. I think it is important that people get to pick their own food as it means they get a choice and they will definitely use what they take. I always tell people (if they have a cooker) to take porridge not cornflakes as porridge goes further. We like to cook a meal for people and volunteers to have and this gives all of us a chance to get to know each other and feel togetherness.</p> <p>Once 2 o’clock comes we begin packing away which is always easier as there is less food. I enjoy seeing the tables empty of food and know this has been worthwhile.</p> <p><strong>How you can help</strong></p> <p>Please continue to help by bringing nonperishable food contributions to church - they can be left in the labelled boxes on Sundays or given to the vergers during the week.</p> Wed, 10 Apr 2013 14:17:03 +0200 Church of England General Synod Vote on Women Bishops <p><strong>Church of England General Synod Vote on Women Bishops</strong></p> <p>The Church Council of the parish of All Saints, St Mary and St Peter, Nottingham, wishes to make known its profound sadness in relation to the rejection of the draft legislation which would have enabled women to become bishops in the Church of England. Considerable efforts have been made to provide for those who oppose this change, and it is iniquitous that the persistence of blocking tactics should prevail over the wishes of the huge majority of members of the General Synod as a whole who are in favour of the proposals.</p> <p>The Church Council deplores the inability of the Church of England to legislate for something whose theological rationale is overwhelming, and presses for a successful outcome to this impasse to be achieved at the earliest opportunity.</p> <p>The parish of All Saints, St Mary and St Peter, which covers much of the city centre of Nottingham, has for many years campaigned for a Church of England which is inclusive in the fullest sense. It has been served by women priests since the earliest days of women's ordination.<br/><br/>For further information contact the parish office.</p> <p> </p> Thu, 22 Nov 2012 12:01:26 +0100 Difficult Times Ahead <p><strong>Rev’d Christopher Harrison considers what the continuing economic crisis means for all of us and asks what the role of the church should be</strong></p> <p>As I write, at the end of July, summer seems finally to have arrived – although of course we must not be too complacent as to how long it might last. The Olympic Games are about to begin, after a long build up, and these will be the latest in a series of special events and celebrations which have created a truly festive atmosphere for our nation in recent months.</p> <p>I wonder, however, as we enjoy the combination of sun and sport, when the worrying national and international economic realities which have never really gone away will resurface. The British economy has failed to show any significant signs of revival in recent months; the parlous state of the Southern European economies continues to put huge strain on the Euro’s future, and some very difficult decisions about the European economy cannot be avoided indefinitely. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that standards of living for many people in our country and in the western world generally will continue to decline for some time.</p> <p>But perhaps it is no bad thing that we should come to realise that we cannot take unlimited economic growth for granted. Jesus warned on many occasions of the perils of worshipping money and wealth, and of putting these before God. This was both because God desires us to put him first in our lives, as God is the source of all true blessings, and also because the attractions of money and wealth do not always bring enduring happiness. Indeed, these can all too easily foster selfishness and greed, as well as a sense of superiority towards those who are less well off. Those who are fortunate enough to be able to earn large sums of money should realise the responsibility this brings for putting something back into society and the economy, rather than just indulging themselves in all the material benefits which become possible.</p> <p>It is arguably now time for a new and concerted effort for the people of this country to invest in the society and economy of the future. We have placed too much emphasis on short term financial reward, and on spending now while paying off the resultant debts later. As a Church and parish, we should be doing what we can to encourage such an ethos in society, while also ourselves investing in the future of our churches’ mission and ministry. This is one reason why we are undertaking the project to install a new floor, as well as underfloor heating, at St Mary’s. It should also motivate us to ensure that we take good care of the fabric of our churches more generally, including making a serious effort to deal with the leaks and other problems affecting St Mary’s roof. Alongside this, however, as the society and economy of this country come under increased pressure, we must also stand ready to respond to the likely consequences and casualties, notably those who will come in search of help and support, material as well as spiritual. Jesus did not discriminate between rich and poor in those he came to help and to serve, and we should do likewise. We should be true to our vision of being a Church and parish where all are welcome and all can be included, which mirrors the picture of God’s kingdom – heavenly and earthly – which was painted by Jesus. The coming months and indeed years are not likely to be easy for our city and country. Let us pray that God will show us how we can respond best to the challenges which will face us.</p> <p> </p> Fri, 03 Aug 2012 15:10:47 +0200 A letter from Bishop Paul <p>A letter from Bishop Paul to the diocese can be found <a href="">here</a>.</p> Mon, 16 Jul 2012 10:56:50 +0200 Words of Faith <p><strong>40. Resurrection - <br/></strong><strong><br/></strong>“The claims of Jesus Christ, namely his resurrection, have led me as often as I have tried to examine the evidence to believe it as a fact beyond dispute”.<em> Lord Caldecote, former Lord Chief Justice of England</em><br/><br/>“Perhaps the transformation of the disciples of Jesus is the greatest evidence of all for the resurrection”. <em>John Stott</em></p> <p>“Although we have complete salvation through his death, because we are reconciled to God through it, it is by his resurrection, not his death, that we are said to be born to a living hope”. <em>John Calvin</em></p> <p>“So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body”.<em> St Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15.42-44</em></p> <p><strong><br/><br/>39. Cross - </strong></p> <p><strong><br/></strong>“Twas I that shed the sacred blood; I nailed him to the tree; I crucified the Christ of God; I joined the mockery. Of all that shouting multitude I feel that I am one; And in that din of voices rude I recognise my own. Around the cross the throng I see, mocking the Sufferer’s groan; Yet still my voice it seems to be, as if I mocked alone”. <em>Horatius Bonar</em></p> <p>“In the cross of Christ God says to man, ‘That is where you ought to be. Jesus, my Son, hangs there in your stead. His tragedy is the tragedy of your life. You are the rebel who should be hanged on the gallows. But lo, I suffer instead of you and because of you, because I love you in spite of what you are. My love for you is so great that I meet you there, there on the cross. I cannot meet you anywhere else. You must meet me there by identifying yourself with the one on the cross. It is by this identification that I, God, can meet you in him, saying to you as I say to him, My beloved Son’.” <em>Emil Brunner</em></p> <p>“The cross is seen as the saving act of Christ, but even more than this, it is seen as the final place of reconciliation between God and humanity”. <em>Calvin Miller</em></p> <p><strong><br/><br/>38. Death - </strong></p> <p>Death, be not proud, though some have called thee Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so; For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow, Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me. From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be, Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow, And soonest our best men with thee do go, Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery. Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men, And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell; And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then? One short sleep past, we wake eternally, And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die. <em> John Donne</em></p> <p>“Through the half-open door in one room of the huts I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer, before taking off his prison garb, kneeling on the floor praying fervently to his God. I was most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer. At the place of execution, he again said a short prayer and then climbed the steps to the gallows, brave and composed. His death ensued after a few seconds. In almost fifty years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God”. <em>Prison doctor, describing Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s death</em></p> <p>“The waters are rising, but so am I. I am not going under but over. Do not be concerned about dying; go on living well, the dying will be right”. <em>Last words of Catherine Booth, wife of Salvation Army Founder William Booth</em></p> <p>“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” <em>St Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15.55</em></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>37. Salvation - </strong></p> <p>“God just doesn’t throw a life preserver to a drowning person. He goes to the bottom of the sea, and pulls a corpse up from the bottom of the sea, takes him up on the bank, breathes into him the breath of life, and makes him alive. That’s what the Bible says happens in your salvation”. <em>R. C. Sproul</em></p> <p>“Salvation is wholly of grace, not only undeserved but undesired by us until God is pleased to awaken us to a sense of our need for it. And then we find everything prepared that our wants require or our wishes conceive; yea, that He has done exceedingly beyond what we could either ask or think. Salvation is wholly of the Lord and bears those signatures of infinite wisdom, power and goodness which distinguish all His works from the puny imitations of men. It is in every way worthy of Himself, a great, a free, a full, a sure salvation”. <em> John Newton</em></p> <p>“We must not suppose that if we succeeded in making everyone nice we should have saved their souls. A world of nice people, content in their own niceness, looking no further, turned away from God, would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable world”. <em>C. S. Lewis</em></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>36. Communion - </strong></p> <p>“It is the duty of every Christian to receive the Lord's Supper as often as he can ... The first reason why it is the duty of every Christian so to do is because it is a plain command of Christ. That this is his command, appears from the words of the text, "Do this in remembrance of me …" A second reason why every Christian should do this as often as he can, is, because the benefits of doing it are so great to all that do it in obedience to him; viz., the forgiveness of our past sins and the present strengthening and refreshing of our souls ... The grace of God given herein confirms to us the pardon of our sins, by enabling us to leave them. As our bodies are strengthened by bread and wine, so are our souls by these tokens of the body and blood of Christ. This is the food of our souls: This gives strength to perform our duty, and leads us on to perfection. <em> John Wesley</em></p> <p>"Lord Jesus, Who in the Eucharist make your dwelling among us and become our travelling companion, sustain our Christian communities so that they may be ever more open to listening and accepting your Word. May they draw from the Eucharist a renewed commitment to spreading in society, by the proclamation of your Gospel, the signs and deeds of an attentive and active charity”. <em>Pope John Paul II</em></p> <p>“Our lives must be woven around the Eucharist ... fix your eyes on Him Who is the light; bring your hearts close to His Divine Heart; ask Him to grant you the grace of knowing Him, the love of loving Him, the courage to serve Him. Seek Him fervently.” <em>Mother Teresa</em></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>35. Palms - </strong></p> <p>When fishes flew and forests walked, and figs grew upon thorn, some moment when the moon was blood then surely I was born.<br/>With monstrous head and sickening cry and ears like errant wings, the devil's walking parody on all four-footed things.<br/>The tattered outlaw of the earth, of ancient crooked will; starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb, I keep my secret still.<br/>Fools! For I also had my hour; one far fierce hour and sweet: there was a shout about my ears, and palms before my feet.<em><br/>The Donkey, G. K. Chesterton</em></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>34. Church- <br/><br/></strong></p> <p>“We must cease to think of the Church as a gathering of institutions and organisations, and we must get back the notion that we are the people of God”. <em>M. Lloyd-Jones<br/><br/></em>“The Church is a society of sinners - the only society in the world in which membership is based on the single qualification that the candidate shall be unworthy of membership”. <em>Charles C. Morrison<br/><br/></em>“Nobody worries about Christ as long as he can be kept shut up in churches. He is quite safe inside. But there is always trouble if you try and let him out”. <em>G. A. Studdert Kennedy<br/><br/></em>“I believe in the Church, one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church; and nowhere does it exist”. <em>William Temple<br/><br/></em>“Congregational life, wherein each member has an opportunity to contribute to the life of the whole body those gifts with which the Spirit endows him or her, is as much of the essence of the Church as are ministry and sacraments”. <em>Lesslie Newbigin</em></p> <p><strong><br/><br/>33. Trinity - </strong></p> <p>“Think of the Father as a spring of life begetting the Son like a river, and the Holy Spirit as like a sea, for the spring and the river and the sea are all one nature. Think of the Father as a root, of the Son as a branch, and of the Spirit as a fruit, for the substance in these three is one. The Father is a sun with the Son as its rays and the Holy Spirit as heat”. <em>St John of Damascus</em></p> <p>“If you speak of ‘light’, then both each Person of the Trinity is light and the Three are one light. If you speak of ‘eternal life’, so each of Them is likewise, the Son, the Spirit, and the Father, and the Three are one life. So God the Father is Spirit (John 4.24), and the Spirit is the Lord (2 Cor. 3.17), and the Holy Spirit is God. Each Person is God by Himself, and together the Three are one God. Each One is Lord and the Three are Lord”. <em>Symeon the New Theologian</em></p> <p>“What does it profit you to enter into deep discussions concerning the Holy Trinity, if you lack humility, and are thus displeasing to the Trinity?” <em>Thomas à Kempis</em></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>32. Holy Spirit - </strong></p> <p>“Every time we say, ‘I believe in the Holy Spirit’, we mean that we believe that there is a living God able and willing to enter human personality and change it”. <em>J. B. Phillips</em></p> <p>“Life in the Spirit is … to be a ceaseless personal response to the call and claim of Jesus in each new situation by the individual disciple from within the Christ-centred fellowship”. <em>John V. Taylor</em></p> <p>“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s holy ones in accordance with His will”. <em>St Paul, in Romans 8. 26,27</em></p> <p>“All of us who have received one and the same Spirit, that is, the Holy Spirit, are in a sense blended together with one another and with God. For if Christ, together with the Father’s and his own Spirit, comes to dwell in each of us, though we are many, still the Spirit is one and undivided. He binds together the spirits of each and every one of us, and makes all appear as one in Him. For just as the power of Christ’s sacred flesh unites those in whom it dwells into one body, I think that in the same way the one and undivided Spirit of God, who dwells in all, leads all into spiritual unity”. <em>St Cyril of Alexandria</em></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>31. Incarnation - </strong></p> <p>“Maker of the sun, he is made under the sun. In the Father he remains, from his mother he goes forth. Creator of heaven and earth, he was born on earth under heaven. Unspeakably wise, he is wisely speechless. Filling the world, he lies in a manger. Ruler of the stars, he nurses at his mother’s breast. He is both great in the nature of God, and small in the form of a servant”. <em>St Augustine of Hippo</em></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>30. Christ - </strong></p> <p>In Matthew, Christ is King of the Jews.<br/>In Mark, He is the Servant.<br/>In Luke, He is the perfect Son of Man.<br/>In John, the Son of God.<br/>In Acts, He is the Ascended Lord.<br/>In Romans, the Lord our Righteousness.<br/>In 1 Corinthians, Our Resurrection.<br/>In 2 Corinthians, Our Comforter.<br/>In Galatians, the End of the Law.<br/>In Ephesians, the Head of the Church.<br/>In Philippians, the Supplier of Every Need.<br/>In Colossians, the Fullness of the Godhead.<br/>In 1 Thessalonians, He comes for His Church.<br/>In 2 Thessalonians, He comes with His Church.<br/>In 1 Timothy, He is the Mediator.<br/>In 2 Timothy, the Bestower of Crowns.<br/>In Titus, our Great God and Saviour.<br/>In Philemon, the Prayer of Crowns.<br/>In Hebrews, the Rest of the Faith and Fulfiller of Types.<br/>In James, the Lord drawing nigh.<br/>In 1 Peter, the Vicarious Sufferer.<br/>In 2 Peter, the Lord of Glory.<br/>In 1 John, the Way.<br/>In 2 John, the Truth.<br/>In 3 John, the Life.<br/>In Jude, he is Our Security.<em><br/>In Revelation, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Lamb of God, the Bright and Morning Star, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. James Hayes</em></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>29. God - </strong></p> <p>“O Thou who art! Ecclesiastes names thee the Almighty. Maccabees names thee Creator; the Epistle to the Ephesians names thee Liberty … the Psalms name thee Wisdom and Truth; John names thee Light; the Book of Kings names thee Lord; Exodus calls thee Providence; Leviticus, Holiness; Esdras, Justice; Creation calls thee God; Man names thee Father; but Solomon names thee Compassion, and that is the most beautiful of all thy names”. <em>Victor Hugo</em></p> <p>“God does not give us everything we want, but He does fulfil all his promises … leading us along the best and straightest paths to Himself”. <em>Dietrich Bonhoeffer</em></p> <p>“An impersonal God - well and good. A subjective God of beauty, truth and goodness, inside our own heads - better still. A formless life-force surging through us, a vast power which we can tap - best of all. But God Himself, alive, pulling at the other end of the cord, perhaps, approaching an infinite speed, the hunter, king, husband - that is quite another matter. There comes a moment when the children who have been playing at burglars hush suddenly: was that a real footstep in the hall? There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion ("Man's search for God!") suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that! Worse still, supposing He had found us? <em>C. S. Lewis, "Miracles"</em></p> <p>“‘Personal God’ does not mean that God is ‘a person’. It means that God is the ground of everything personal … He is not a person, but He is not less than personal”. <em>Paul Tillich</em></p> <p>“If God created us in His image we have certainly returned the compliment”. <em>Voltaire</em></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>28. Kingdom of God - </strong></p> <p>“There is no point in us travelling abroad to find the kingdom of heaven, or crossing the sea in search of virtue. As the Lord has already told us, God’s kingdom is within you”. <em>St Anthony of Egypt<br/><br/></em>“To want all that God wants, always to want it, for all occasions and without reservations, this is the kingdom of God which is all within”. <em>F. Fenelon<br/><br/></em>“Let the proud seek and love earthly kingdoms, but blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God”. <em>St Augustine of Hippo<br/><br/></em>“I will place no value on anything I have or possess unless it is in relationship to the kingdom of God”. <br/><em>David Livingstone<br/><br/></em>“There can be no kingdom of God in the world without the kingdom of God in our hearts”.<em> Albert Schweitzer<br/><br/></em></p> <p><strong>27. Holiness - </strong></p> <p>If on our daily course our mind be set to hallow all we find, new treasures still of countless price God will provide for sacrifice. The trivial round, the common task, will furnish all we ought to ask; Room to deny ourselves - a road to bring us daily nearer God. <em>John Keble</em></p> <p>“People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated”.<em> D.A. Carson, For the Love of God, Cited in "Reflections," Christianity Today (July 31, 2000)</em></p> <p>“Make sure that you let God's grace work in your souls by accepting whatever He gives you, and giving Him whatever He takes from you. True holiness consists in doing God's work with a smile”. <em>Mother Teresa of Calcutta</em></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>26. Hell - </strong></p> <p>“When the Church does not clearly teach the doctrine of hell, society loses an important anchor. In a sense, hell gives meaning to our lives. It tells us that the moral choices we make day by day have eternal significance; that our behaviour has consequences lasting to eternity; that God Himself takes our choices seriously. When people don't believe in a final judgement, they don't feel ultimately accountable for their actions. There is no firm leash holding back sinful impulses. As the book of Judges puts it, there is no "fear of God" in their hearts, and everyone does "what is right in his own eyes." The doctrine of hell is not just some dusty, theological holdover from the unenlightened Middle Ages. It has significant social consequences. Without ultimate justice, people's sense of moral obligation dissolves; social bonds are broken. People who have no fear of God soon have no fear of man, and no respect for human laws and authority”. <em>Chuck Colson</em></p> <p>“I willingly believe that the damned are, in one sense, successful, rebels to the end; that the doors of hell are locked on the inside”. <em>C. S. Lewis</em></p> <p>“Where will you be sitting in eternity – smoking or non-smoking?” <em>Anonymous</em></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>25. Heaven - </strong></p> <p>“Heaven wheels above you, displaying to you her eternal glories, and still your eyes are on the ground”. <em><br/>Dante Alighieri</em></p> <p>“He that asks me what heaven is, means not to hear me, but to silence me; He knows I cannot tell him. When I meet him there, I shall be able to tell him, and then he will be as able to tell me; yet then we shall be but able to tell one another. This, this that we enjoy is heaven, but the tongues of Angels, the tongues of glorified Saints, shall not be able to express what that heaven is; for, even in heaven our faculties shall be finite”. <em> John Donne</em></p> <p>“There is no need to be worried by facetious people who try to make the Christian hope of "heaven" ridiculous by saying they do not want ‘to spend eternity playing harps.’ The answer to such people is that if they cannot understand books written for grown-ups, they should not talk about them. All the scriptural imagery (harps, crowns, gold etc.) is, of course, a merely symbolic attempt to express the inexpressible. Musical instruments are mentioned because for many people (not all) music is the thing known in the present life which most strongly suggests ecstasy and infinity. Crowns are mentioned to suggest the fact that those who are united with God in eternity share His splendour and power and joy. Gold is mentioned to suggest the timelessness of Heaven (gold does not rust) and the preciousness of it. People who take these symbols literally might as well think that when Christ told us to be like doves, He meant that we were to lay eggs”. <em>C.S. Lewis</em></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>24. Blessedness - </strong></p> <p>Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.<br/>Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.<br/>Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.<br/>Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.<br/>Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.<br/>Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.<br/>Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.<br/>Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.<br/>Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.<em><br/>Matthew 5. 2-1</em></p> <p>“Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing”. <em>1 Peter 3.9</em></p> <p>“Temporal blessings are not definite marks of divine favour, since God gives them to the unworthy, and to the wicked, as well as to the righteous”. <em>C. H. Spurgeon</em></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>23. Grace - </strong></p> <p>“Grace is what God gives us when we don’t deserve, and mercy is when God doesn’t give us what we do deserve”. <em>Anonymous</em></p> <p>“Cheap grace is not the kind of forgiveness of sin which frees us from the toils of sin. Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate. Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods … Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must the asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life”. <em>Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship</em></p> <p>“Blind as we are, we hinder God and stop the current of His graces. But when He finds a soul permeated with a lively faith, He pours into it His graces and favours plentifully; there they flow like a torrent which, after being forcibly stopped against its ordinary course, when it has found a passage, spreads itself with impetuosity and abundance”. <em>Brother Lawrence</em></p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p><strong>22. Knowing God - <br/></strong></p> <p>“What were we made for? To know God.<br/>What aim should we have in life? To know God.<br/>What is the eternal life that Jesus gives? To know God.<br/>What is the best thing in life? To know God.<br/>What in humans gives God the most pleasure? Knowledge of himself”.<br/><em>J. I. Packer</em></p> <p>“When we speak of knowing God, it must be understood with reference to man’s limited powers of comprehension. God, as he really is, is far beyond man’s imagination, let alone his understanding. God has revealed only so much of himself as our minds can conceive and the weakness of our nature can bear”.<br/><em>John Milton</em></p> <p>Disciple: But how shall I comprehend this Ground of the Soul (i.e. God)?<br/>Master: If thou goest about to comprehend it, then it will fly away from thee; but if thou dost surrender thyself wholly up to it, then it will abide with thee, and become the Life of thy life, and be natural to thee.<br/><em>Jacob Boehme</em></p> <p>“The people who know God best are those who least presume to speak of Him”.<br/><em>St Angela of Foligno</em></p> <p><strong><br/><br/>21. Wisdom</strong> -</p> <p>“Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men”. <em>St Paul, in 1 Corinthians 1.22-25</em></p> <p>“God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that can be changed, and the wisdom to know the difference”. <em>Reinhold Niebuhr</em></p> <p>“True wisdom is gazing at God. Gazing at God is silence of the thoughts”. <em>St Isaac the Syrian</em></p> <p>“You can’t access wisdom by the megabyte. Wisdom is concerned with how we relate to people, to the world, and to God”. <em>Edmund P. Clowney</em></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>20. Revelation</strong> -</p> <p>“The world’s best geographer cannot show us the way to God, and the world’s best psychiatrist cannot give us a final answer to the problem of our guilt. There are matters contained in Holy Writ that unveil for us that which is not exposed to the natural course of human investigation”. <em>R. C. Sproul</em></p> <p>“Instead of complaining that God has hidden himself, you will give him thanks for having revealed so much of himself … Two kinds of persons know Him: those who have a humble heart, and who love lowliness, whatever kind of intellect they have, high or low; and those who have sufficient understanding to see the truth, whatever opposition they may have to it”. <em>Blaise Pascal</em></p> <p>“All visions, revelations, heavenly feelings, and whatever is greater than these, are not worth the least act of humility, being the fruits of that charity which neither values nor seeks itself, which thinks well, not of itself, but of others. Many souls, to whom visions have never come, are incomparably more advanced in the way of perfection than others to whom many have been given”. <em>St John of the Cross</em></p> <p>“The Bible, as a revelation from God, was not designed to give us all the information we might desire, nor to solve all the problems about which the human soul is perplexed, but to impart enough to be a safe guide to the haven of eternal rest”. <em>Albert Barnes</em></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>19. Truth</strong> -</p> <p>“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth”.<br/><em>Jesus, speaking to the disciples at the Last Supper (John. 16.13)</em></p> <p>“Our society finds truth too strong a medicine to digest undiluted. In its purest form, truth is not a polite tap on the shoulder, it is a howling reproach. What Moses brought down from Mount Sinai were not suggestions but ten commandments”. <em> Ted Koppel</em></p> <p>“If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth – only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair”. <em>C. S. Lewis</em></p> <p>“We must never throw away a bushel of truth because it contains a few grains of chaff”. <em>Dean Stanley</em></p> <p>“You don’t tell deliberate lies, but sometimes you have to be evasive”. <em>Margaret Thatcher</em></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>18. Doubt</strong> -</p> <p>“A person may be haunted by doubts, and only grow thereby in faith. Doubts are the messengers of the Living One to the honest. They are the first knock at our door of things that are not yet, but have to be, understood. Doubts must precede every deeper assurance, for uncertainties are what we first see when we look into a region hitherto unknown, unexplored, unannexed”. <em> George Macdonald</em></p> <p>“Our English word ‘doubt’ comes from the Latin dubitare which is rooted in an Aryan word meaning two … To believe is to be ‘in one mind’ about accepting something as true; to disbelieve is to be ‘in one mind’ about rejecting it. To doubt is to waver between the two, to believe and disbelieve at once and so to be ‘in two minds’”. <em>Os Guinness</em></p> <p>“Those who insist on being sure about everything must be content to creep along the ground and never soar”. <br/><em>J. H. Newman</em></p> <p>Doubt sees the obstacles, faith sees the way;<br/>Doubt sees the darkest night, faith sees the day;<br/>Doubt dreads to take a step, faith soars on high;<br/>Doubt questions, “Who believes?” but faith answers “I”. <em>Anonymous</em></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>17. Faith</strong> -</p> <p>“Faith is being sure of what we hope for and being certain of what we do not see”. <em>Hebrews 11.1</em></p> <p>“Faith ... is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods. For moods will change, whatever view your reason takes. I know that by experience. Now that I am a Christian I do have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable: but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable. This rebellion of your moods against your real self is going to come anyway. That is why Faith is such a necessary virtue: unless you teach your moods "where they get off," you can never be either a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro, with its beliefs really dependent on the weather and the state of its digestion. Consequently one must train the habit of Faith”. <em>C S Lewis - Mere Christianity</em></p> <p>“Faith untried may be true faith, but it is sure to be little faith, and it is likely to remain dwarfish so long as it is without trials. Faith never prospers so well as when all things are against her. When a calm reigns on the sea, spread the sails as you will, the ship moves not to its harbour; for on a slumbering ocean the keel sleeps too. Let the winds rush howling forth, and let the waters lift up themselves, then, though the vessel may rock, and her deck may be washed with waves, and her mast may creak under the pressure of the full and swelling sail, it is then that she makes headway towards her desired haven. No faith is so precious as that which lives and triumphs in adversity. Tried faith brings experience. Faith is precious, and its trial is precious too”. <em>Charles Spurgeon</em></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>16. Patience</strong> -</p> <p>“If they try to rush me, I always say, "I've only got one other speed - and it's slower." <em>Glenn Ford</em></p> <p>“The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it”. <em>Arnold Glasow</em></p> <p>“True patience is to suffer the wrongs done to us by others in an unruffled spirit and without feeling resentment. Patience bears with others because it loves them; to bear with them and yet to hate them is not the virtue of patience but a smokescreen for anger”. St. Gregory the Great</p> <p>“We must wait for God, long, meekly, in the wind and the wet, in the thunder and lightning, in the cold and the dark. Wait, and He will come. He never comes to those who do not wait”. <em>F. W. Faber</em></p> <p>“Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we consider blessed those who persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance, and have seen what the Lord finally brought about”. <em>The letter of James 5. 10-11</em></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>15. Peace</strong> -</p> <p>“Do not let your peace depend on what people say of you, for whether they speak good or ill of you makes no difference to what you are. True peace and joy is to be found in God alone. He who is neither anxious to please nor afraid to displease men enjoys true peace”. <em>Thomas à Kempis</em></p> <p>“The real differences around the world today are not between Jews and Arabs, Protestants and Catholics, Muslims, Croats, and Serbs. The real differences are between those who embrace peace and those who would destroy it; between those who look to the future and those who cling to the past; between those who open their arms and those who are determined to clench their fists”. <em>Bill Clinton</em></p> <p>“We are not at peace with others because we are not at peace with ourselves, and we are not at peace with ourselves because we are not at peace with God” <em>Thomas Merton</em></p> <p>“Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”. <em>St Paul’s letter to the Romans, 5.1</em></p> <p><br/><strong>14. Compassion</strong> -</p> <p>“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity”. <em>St Paul’s letter to the Colossians, 3. 12-14</em></p> <p>“The best exercise for strengthening the heart is reaching down and lifting people up”. <em> Ernest Blevins</em></p> <p>“Compassion means that if I see my friend and my enemy in equal need, I shall help both equally. Justice demands that we seek and find the stranger, the broken, the prisoner, and comfort them and offer them our help. Here lies the holy compassion of God”. <em>Mechtild of Magdeburg</em></p> <p>“The value of compassion cannot be over-emphasised. Anyone can criticise. It takes a true believer to be compassionate. No greater burden can be borne by an individual than to know that no-one cares or understands”. <em> Arthur A. Stainback</em></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>13. Gratitude</strong> -</p> <p>“He had a rose in his hand and marvelled at it. ‘A glorious work of art by God,’ he said. ‘If a man had the capacity to make just one rose he would be given an empire!’ But the countless gifts of God are esteemed as nothing because they're always present. We see that God gives children to people, the fruit of their bodies resembling the parents. A peasant is said to have three and four sons who look so much like him that they're easily mistaken for one another. All of these gifts are despised because they're always present”. <em>Martin Luther, Table Talk</em></p> <p>“Be thankful for the smallest blessing, and you will deserve to receive greater. Value the least gifts no less than the greatest, and simple graces as especial favours. If you remember the dignity of the Giver, no gift will seem small or mean, for nothing can be valueless that is given by the most High God”. <em>Thomas à Kempis</em></p> <p>“Let me be thankful, first, because he never robbed me before; second, because although he took my purse, he did not take my life; third, because although he took all I possessed, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed”. <em>Matthew Henry, meditating on the theft of his wallet</em></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>12. Listening</strong> -</p> <p>“God gave people a mouth that closes and ears that don't, which should tell us something”. <em>Author unknown</em></p> <p>“Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. They do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking where they should be listening. But he who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God, either; he will be doing nothing but prattle in the presence of God, too. This is the beginning of the death of the spiritual life, and in the end there will be nothing left but spiritual chatter and clerical condescension arrayed in pious words... never really speaking to others …” <em>Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together</em></p> <p>“God is our true Friend, who always gives us the counsel and comfort we need. Our danger lies in resisting Him; so it is essential that we acquire the habit of hearkening to his voice, or keeping silence within, and listening so as to lose nothing of what He says to us. We know well enough how to keep outward silence, and to hush our spoken words, but we know little of interior silence. It consists of hushing our idle, restless, wandering imagination, in quieting the promptings of our worldly minds, and in suppressing the crowd of unprofitable thoughts which excite and disturb the soul”. <em>Francis Fenelon</em></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>11. Love </strong>-</p> <p>I asked God to take away my pride and God said, "No." He said it was not for Him to take it away, but for me to give it up. I asked God to heal my disease and God said, No." He said, "Your spirit is whole, your body is only temporary. Through your afflictions you will learn to help others who also suffer." I asked God to grant me patience and God said, "No." He said that patience is a by-product of tribulation. It isn't granted, it's earned. I asked God to give me happiness and God said, "No." He said that He gives blessings, happiness is up to me. I asked God to spare me pain and God said, "No." He said, "Suffering draws you apart from worldly cares and brings you closer to me." I asked God to make my spirit grow and God said, "No." He said that I must grow on my own, but He will prune me to make me fruitful. I asked God if He loved me and God said, "Yes." He said, "I gave my only Son who died for you. You will be in heaven someday because you believe." I asked God to help me love others as much as He loves me and God said," Ah - finally you understand!"  <em>Author Unknown</em></p> <p>“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails”.<em><br/>St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. 13:4-8</em></p> <p>“Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up save in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket--safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable”. <em>C. S. Lewis</em></p> <p>“I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.” <em>Lauren - age 4</em></p> <p> </p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>10. Selfishness</strong> - </p> <p>“It is well to remember that the entire universe, with one trifling exception, is composed of others”. <br/><em>John Andrew Holmes<br/><br/></em>“Religion should never become the subject of selfishness, yet I fear some treat it as if its chief end were personal spiritual gratification. When a man's religion totally lies in saving only himself and in enjoying holy things for himself, there is a disease within him. When his judgment of a sermon is based on the one question, "Did it feed me?" it is a swinish judgment. There is such a thing as getting a swinish religion in which you are yourself first, yourself second, yourself third, yourself to the utmost end. Did Jesus think or speak in that fashion? Contemplation of Christ Himself may be carried out so as to lead you away from Him. The recluse meditates on Jesus, but he is as unlike the busy, self-denying Jesus as any can be. Meditation, unattended by active service in the spreading of the Gospel among men, well deserves the rebuke of the angel, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven?’" <em>Charles Spurgeon<br/><br/></em>“The centre of trouble is not the turbulent appetites, though they are troublesome enough. The centre of trouble is in the personality of man as a whole, which is self-centred and can only be wholesome and healthy if it is God-centred”. <em>William Temple<br/><br/></em>“The person who is furthest from God is the one who thanks God he is not like others”. <em>William Barclay</em></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><br/><br/><strong>9. Forgiveness</strong> -</p> <p>Corrie Ten Boom tells of a time she learned an important aspect of spiritual growth. It was 1947 and she had just finished speaking of God's forgiveness to a group in a small German church. The audience was still haunted by memories of war. Yet the message they heard that day brought a sense of hope. They could forgive those who treated them so cruelly and go on with life. As the service concluded, Corrie noticed a heavyset man coming toward her. Instantly, she remembered him. He had been a guard at the concentration camp where she had been imprisoned. "I know God has forgiven me for the things I did," he said. "But I would like to hear it from your lips. Will you forgive me?" "It was the most difficult thing I had ever had to do," she writes. "I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. A healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes. 'I forgive you, brother!'"</p> <p>“Forgiveness does not mean ignoring what has been done or putting a false label on an evil act. It means, rather, that the evil act no longer remains as a barrier to the relationship”. <em>Martin Luther King Jr</em></p> <p>“Scarcely any law of our Redeemer is more openly transgressed, or more industriously evaded, than that by which he commands his followers to forgive injuries”. <em>Samuel Johnson</em></p> <p>“Nobody ever forgets where he buried a hatchet”. <em>Kin Hubbard</em></p> <p> </p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>8. Confession</strong> -</p> <p>“Almighty and most merciful Father, we have erred and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done, and we have done those things which we ought not to have done; and there is no health in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare thou them, O God, who confess their faults. Restore thou those who are penitent, according to thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesu our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake, that we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, to the glory of thy holy Name”.  <em>The General Confession, Book of Common Prayer</em></p> <p>“If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins, and purify us from all unrighteousness”. <em>1 John 1.19</em></p> <p>“Confess your sins, not those of your neighbours”. <em>Author unknown</em></p> <p>“The confession of our failings is a thankless office. It savours less of sincerity or modesty than of ostentation. It seems as if we thought our weaknesses as good as other people's virtues”. <em>William Hazlitt</em></p> <p>“In confession ... we open our lives to the healing, reconciling, restoring, uplifting grace of Him who loves us in spite of what we are”. <em>Louis Cassels</em></p> <p> </p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>7. Humility</strong> -</p> <p>“It is not the glorious battlements, the painted windows, the crouching gargoyles that support a building, but the stones that lie unseen in or upon the earth. It is often those who are despised and trampled on that bear up the weight of a whole nation”. <em>John Owen</em></p> <p>“Said the senior devil to the junior devil: ‘I see only one thing to do at this moment. Your patient has become humble; have you drawn his attention to the fact? All virtues are less formidable to us once the man is aware that he has them, but this is especially true of humility. Catch him at the moment when he is really poor in spirit and smuggle into his mind the gratifying reflection, "By Jove! I'm being humble", and, almost immediately, pride at his own humility will appear”.<em> C. S. Lewis, in The Screwtape Letters</em></p> <p>“What we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has settled on the organ of conviction, where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself but undoubting about the truth. This has been exactly reversed”. <em>G. K. Chesterton</em></p> <p>“Humility is a virtue that all men preach, none practice, and yet everybody is content to hear. The master thinks it good doctrine for his servants, the laity for the clergy, and the clergy for the laity”. <em>John Seldon</em></p> <p>“Don’t let your head get too big – it will break your neck”. <em> Elvis Presley</em></p> <p> </p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>6. Satan</strong> -</p> <p>“Do not mock the Gospels and say there is no Satan. Evil is too real in the world to say that. Do not say the idea of Satan is dead and gone. Satan never gains so many cohorts, as when, in his shrewdness, he spreads the rumour that he is long since dead. Do not reject the Gospel because it says the Saviour was tempted. Satan always tempts the pure - the others are already his. Satan stations more devils on monastery walls than in dens of iniquity, for the latter offer no resistance. Do not say it was absurd that Satan should appear to our Lord, for Satan must always come close to the godly and the strong - the others succumb from a distance”. <em><br/>Fulton John Sheen, in ‘The Eternal Galilean’</em></p> <p>“Satan watches for those vessels that sail without convoy”. <em>George Swinnock</em></p> <p>“‘Sit down at my gaming table’, says Satan. ‘Here are some interesting prizes: your earthly estate, your life, your liberty’. Now you must agree, those things are good and lawful. But here is Satan’s gimmick: he expands the rules of the game so that if you play for him, you will certainly violate the irrevocable and unchangeable laws of God. If you cannot have good things by plain dealing but must resort to sleight of hand, you know that the prize is counterfeit and will turn to dung in your hands … You may think you have won a game or two, but when the game is over, you will find yourself bankrupt”. <em>William Gurnall</em><br/><br/>“Let us act with humility, cast ourselves at one another's feet, join hands with each other, and help one another. For here we battle not against pope or emperor, but against the devil, and do you imagine that he is asleep”? <em><br/>Martin Luther</em></p> <p> </p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>5. Temptation</strong> -</p> <p>“I cannot keep birds from flying over my head, but I can keep them from building nests under my hat”. <em>Martin Luther</em></p> <p>“Never think we have a due knowledge of ourselves till we have been exposed to various kinds of temptations, and tried on every side. Integrity on one side of our character is no voucher for integrity on another. We cannot tell how we should act if brought under temptations different from those we have hitherto experienced. This thought should keep us humble. We are sinners, but we do not know how great. He alone knows who died for our sins”. <em><br/>John Henry Newman</em></p> <p>“It is not we who overcome the world in our own strength. We do not have a power plant inside ourselves that can overcome the world. The overcoming is the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. There can be a victory, a practical victory, if we raise the empty hands of faith moment by moment and accept the gift. This is the victory that overcomes the world. God has promised, and the Bible has said, that there is a way to escape temptation. By God’s grace we should want that escape”.<em><br/>Francis Schaeffer</em></p> <p>"To tempt another is worse than to sin thyself. When you tempt, you do that which you cannot undo with your repentance." <em>William Gurnall</em></p> <p>“Learn to say "no." It will be of more use to you than to be able to read Latin”. <em>Charles Haddon Spurgeon</em></p> <p> </p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>4. Sin</strong> - <br/><br/>“Sin is believing the lie that you are self-created, self-dependent, and self-sustained”. <em>St Augustine of Hippo</em></p> <p>“Sin is the missing of a target, a wandering from the path, a straying from the fold. Sin is a hard heart and stiff neck. Sin is blindness and deafness. It is both the overstepping of a line and the failure to reach it - both transgression and shortcoming. Sin is a beast crouching at the door. In sin, people attack or evade or neglect their divine calling. Above all, sin disrupts and resists the vital human relation to God”. <em>Cornelius Plantinga</em></p> <p>“Some psychological and sociological conditioning occurs in everyone’s life, and this affects the decisions they make. But we must resist the modern concept that all sin can be explained merely on the basis of conditioning”. <em>Francis A. Schaeffer</em></p> <p>“In weighing our sins let us not use a deceitful balance, weighing at our own discretion what we will, and how we will, calling this heavy and that light; but let us use the divine balance of the Holy Scriptures, as taken from the treasury of the Lord, and by it weigh every offence, nay, not weigh, but rather recognise what has already been weighed by the Lord”. <em>St Augustine of Hippo</em></p> <p>“May God's grace give you the necessary humility. Try not to think - much less speak - of ‘their’ sins. One's own are a much more profitable theme! And if on consideration, one can find no faults on one's own side, then cry for mercy: for this must be a most dangerous delusion”. <em>C.S. Lewis</em></p> <p>“Sin wouldn’t be so attractive if the wages were paid immediately”. <em>Author unknown</em></p> <p>“Few sinners are saved after the first twenty minutes of a sermon”.  <em>Mark Twain</em></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><br/><br/><strong>3. Fasting </strong>-</p> <p>“Do you fast? Give me proof of it by your works. If you see a poor man, take pity on him. If you see a friend being honoured, do not envy him.</p> <p>Do not let only your mouth fast, but also the eye and the ear and the feet and the hands, and all the members of our bodies.</p> <p>Let the hands fast, being free of avarice. Let the feet fast, by ceasing to run after sin. Let the eyes fast, by disciplining them not to glare at that which is sinful.</p> <p>Let the ear fast, by not listening to evil talk or gossip. Let the mouth fast from foul words and unjust criticism.</p> <p>For what good is it if we abstain from birds and fishes, but bite and devour our brothers?</p> <p>May He who came to the world to save sinners strengthen us to complete the fast with humility. Have mercy on us, and save us, O Lord”. <em>St John Chrysostom</em></p> <p>“Fastings and vigils without a special object in view are time run to waste”. <em>David Livingstone</em></p> <p> </p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>2. Prayer</strong> -</p> <p>“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances”.  <em>St Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5.17</em></p> <p>“The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words”.<em><br/>St Paul in Romans 8.26</em></p> <p>“When I apply myself to prayer, I feel all my spirit and all my soul lift itself up without any care or effort of mine; and it continues as it were suspended and firmly fixed in God, as in its centre and place of rest”. <em> Brother Lawrence</em></p> <p>“That prayer has great power that a person makes with all her might. It makes a sour heart sweet, a sad heart merry, a poor heart rich, a foolish heart wise, a timid heart brave, a sick heart well, a blind heart full of sight, a cold heart ardent. It draws down the great God into the little heart; it drives the hungry soul up into the fullness of God; it brings together two lovers, God and the soul, in a wondrous place where they speak much of love”.  <br/><em>Mechtild of Magdeburg</em></p> <p>“Pray inwardly, even if you do not enjoy it. It does good, though you feel nothing, yes, even though you think you are doing nothing. For when we are dry, empty, sick or weak, at such a time is your prayer most pleasing, though you find little enough to enjoy in it. This is true of all believing prayer”.<em> Mother Julian of Norwich</em></p> <p>“The Western Church has lost the prayer stamina of the mission churches in Asia, Africa, South America, Indonesia, and those of the underground Church in many parts of the world. Yes, we are good organisers, but poor pray-ers”. <em>Paul E. Billheimer</em></p> <p> </p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>1. Lent</strong> - <br/><br/>“Lent is the time for trimming the soul and scraping the sludge off a life turned slipshod. Lent is about taking stock of time, even religious time. Lent is about exercising the control that enables us to say <strong>no</strong> to ourselves so that when life turns hard of its own accord, we have the stamina to say ‘yes’ to its twists and turns with faith and hope ... Lent is the time to make new efforts to be what we say we want to be”.<em><br/><br/>from The Rule of St Benedict: Insight for the Ages<br/>Sister Joan Chittister</em></p> <p>What should I give up for Lent?</p> <p>- Give up resentment and become more forgiving<br/>- Give up hatred and return good for evil<br/>- Give up complaining and become more grateful<br/>- Give up pessimism and become more hopeful<br/>- Give up worry and become more trusting<br/>- Give up anger and become more patient<br/>- Give up pettiness and become more noble<br/>- Give up gloom and become more joyful</p> <p><em>from Lent: Discovering joy in a solemn season<br/>Father John Catoir</em></p> <p> </p> <p style="text-align: center;"> </p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>This series presents forty words for meditation during Lent. You are invited to reflect upon one word each day, maybe also joining the discussion sessions which will take place after the 11.00 service of Holy Communion on Thursdays at St Peter’s. There will also be three evening discussion sessions, which will be advertised separately.</em></p> <p> </p> Sat, 07 Apr 2012 13:14:43 +0200 60th Anniversary of the Accession of Queen Elizabeth II <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Sermon preached before the Lord Lieutenant during choral evensong at St Mary’s, Nottingham on 5th February 2012 by Rev Stephen Morris.</em></p> <p>I should like to make my own small tribute to the Queen on this significant anniversary (some of which can be found in Nottingham in Faith, February 2012) and then go on to highlight and discuss the prominence and status of the Church of England in the light of her vows.</p> <p>Like most people in the U.K., I can’t remember any other head of this state and even those who can will probably feel that this reign of 60 years marks the most stable (for some even the only stable) fact of public life since the years of austerity and recovery following World War II. It has been a period of massive change to social, economic, technological and educational expectations; to science, travel and music; from the end of Empire to establishment of the EU; a broadening of ‘Faith’ to ‘Faiths’; Suez and ‘the bomb’ to 9/11 and Afghanistan and a constant swell of anti-institutional individualism and globalisation all overseen by a dozen Prime Ministers.</p> <p>Neither can we remember the Queen actually putting a foot wrong. No gaffs, no discourtesies, no signs of lack of respect; nothing, physically, verbally nor on screen. True, there were the most difficult days following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Who else would have allowed the general public to tell them how to negotiate the trauma of violent death in the family and, with such dignity, negotiate that as well? Without complaint.</p> <p>This is not to state that the case for democratic monarchy is conclusive. However, it does demonstrate the enormous value to that case of having a monarch who has done so much so well at home, across the Commonwealth and around the world. A monarch who has so publicly declared and kept to her faith and ours, while managing to show a welcome degree of inclusivity towards other faiths and cultures: she deserves tribute because it would not have come easily to everyone. Indeed, as the Queen herself acknowledges, it is the fruit of a God-given grace. We live in days of skepticism towards institutions and, particularly, privilege. It is an age in which public figures and so-called celebrities seem to be lionised merely for us to enjoy their fall. It is often easier to mock and undermine those who are leaders of nations and communities than to do as the New Testament recommends which is to pray for them. Her Majesty was prayed for at her Coronation in Westminster Abbey and, in one way or another, has been prayed for ever since. It seems good to continue to pray for her on this Jubilee of 60 years, collectively to thank God for her devoted service. May every one of us, like the Queen, be so inspired in living up to our own calling.</p> <p>At her coronation in 1953, following the promise to govern the peoples of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth nations according to their respective laws and customs, the Archbishop asked the Queen the following questions:</p> <p>“Will you, to your power, cause Law and Justice, in Mercy, to be executed in all your judgments . . . maintain the Laws of God and true profession of the Gospel . . . maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law . . . maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine, worship and government thereof, as by law established in England, and will you preserve unto the Bishops and Clergy of the Church of England, and to the Churches committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges, as by law do or shall appertain to them or any of them?” The Queen replied, “All this I promise to do.” and proceeded to the altar and signed the oath.</p> <p>I make no qualifications to my words of thankfulness and indeed admiration for what the Coronation service describes as the Queen’s Christian ministry. But I must address the reality that every institution has changed since her accession and none more so than the Church of England - as has the context in which we minister that ‘Gospel of God’. 1950s, post-war Europe experienced quite a swelling of church attenders and sympathizers partly because it was regarded as something of a bastion against the recurrence of fascism, communism and other perceived threats as well as offering a return to the comparative peace and stability of life pre-war. But much of what lies behind the questions asked by the Archbishop is not only about establishment; it is also about privilege.</p> <p>It happens to be my experience and conviction that the teachings of the Christian Gospel, as mediated by the Church of England, have long provided great benefit to the democracy, tolerance, development and prosperity of this nation. But it can easily be argued that sometimes that has not been true. Sometimes it has been privilege which has been pursued rather than the humble obligations that are essential to avoid neglecting or abusing the Church’s role as part of the Establishment. We are called to be salt and light for the Gospel of love. If we are no longer salt or light then, according to our Lord Himself, we are not fit but to be thrown out and trodden underfoot.</p> <p>So, it is not difficult to find on Google the expression of surprise that Her Majesty’s vows are so explicitly Christian or to find comments that such promises, reinforcing privilege, could/should not be required again. It seems to me that if future repetition of the Coronation Vow is challenged, it would be justifiable for the Church to argue in its favour but only on the explicit basis of servanthood rather than of privilege; as a facilitator of the common good (including those of other faiths) rather than of advantage or prestige; as Christ’s advocate for the poor and marginalized rather than for its own comfort. To be an Established Church is not our automatic right, never to be challenged, so perhaps our prayer should be that the Church is of such value to the nation that it is worthy of the privilege.</p> <p>And it’s great to be able to say there are some wonderfully sacrificial ministries, lay and ordained, even in our own City and County. There are imaginative and productive initiatives which are often, and best, carried out ecumenically and sometimes with interfaith and secular participation. This very moment, just such an initiative, the Nottingham Winter Shelter, is supporting some very vulnerable people just down the road at St Saviour’s in the Meadows as it has done for the last 3 winters. Indeed, the historic rootedness of the Church of England - and even its very establishment, at least in the hearts and minds of more people than is usually supposed - mean it is often accorded trusted status by those of other folds. It also, frankly, has more historic resources to facilitate ecumenical and inter-faith work as a consequence of its embeddedness in English life and culture. Its members make it the largest volunteer community in the country who contribute extensively to more work with young and old people than any other, partly because it is so rooted in every parish.</p> <p>For all that, the Church has a mission and some of it is unpopular. In fact, if it isn’t sometimes unpopular, then it isn’t carrying out the prophetic role of its Master, Jesus, who called people to repentance and to radically altered priorities and ways of life. Prophetic roles do not guarantee popularity or votes and therefore, in democracies, need to be weighed, heeded and honoured for their own sake. True, there is always a risk, shown time and time again, that prophets can be tamed by Establishments and the Church must guard against that. But there will always be prophets and it may be better for everyone that they be given access and be heeded for their loving wisdom as of right, that is, from within a democratic Establishment, rather than from outside where they can become mascots and martyrs for more sinister causes.</p> <p>A principal purpose of having a constitutional monarch is to prevent anyone else being head of state. In much the same way, if the Church of England were not Established and able to represent Faiths in our plural society, are we prepared for what may take its place?</p> <p>May God bless Her Majesty in her continuing Christian, princely ministry and the Church whom she has promised to defend; may all those whose task is to serve both her and God find strength, courage and wisdom to do so in all godliness, love and peace.</p> <p>Thanks be to God. Amen.</p> <p> </p> <p> </p> Mon, 06 Feb 2012 13:38:22 +0100 Glorious Accession <p>As I write (mid January) there is a serious debate between London and Edinburgh about the Scottish Nationalist Party’s intention to hold a referendum on the subject of independence and the future of the United Kingdom. This necessarily involves discussions about all sorts of issues including currency, defence and sovereignty including, obviously, the Sovereign.</p> <p>On Sunday 5th February 2012 our churches will be commemorating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and there will be a civic ceremony that evening in St Mary’s. We are slightly premature, the actual day being the Monday 6th.</p> <p>I have often thought that Accession Days must be bitter-sweet events for the Queen since they necessarily mark the death of her late, lamented father, King George VI. Elizabeth II will be only the second monarch in the country to have achieved this sixty year landmark, first achieved by Victoria in 1897.</p> <p>Like most people in the U.K., I can’t remember having any other head of state and even those who can will probably feel that this reign of 60 years marks the most stable (for some even the only stable) fact of public life since the years of austerity and recovery following World War II. It has been a period of massive change to social, economic, technological and educational expectations; to science, travel and music; from the end of Empire to establishment of the EU; a broadening of ‘Faith’ to ‘Faiths’; Suez and ‘the bomb’ to 9/11 and Afghanistan and a constant swell of antiinstitutional individualism and globalisation overseen by a dozen Prime Ministers.</p> <p>Neither can we remember her actually putting a foot wrong. No gaffs, no discourtesies, no signs of lack of respect; nothing, physically, verbally nor on screen. True, there were the difficult days following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, but who else would have had to allow the general public to tell them how to negotiate the trauma of violent death in the family and, with appropriate dignity,negotiate that as well?</p> <p>This is not to state that the case for democratic monarchy is conclusive. However, it does demonstrate the enormous value to that case of having a monarch who has done so much so well. A monarch who has so publicly declared and kept to our faith, while managing to show a welcome degree of inclusivity towards other faiths and cultures, deserves tribute because it would not have come easily to everyone. Indeed, as the Queen herself acknowledges, it is the fruit of a God-given grace.</p> <p>We live in days of scepticism towards institutions and, particularly, privilege. It is an age in which public figures and so-called celebrities seem to be lionised merely for us to enjoy their fall. It is often easier to mock and undermine those who are leaders of nations and communities but the New Testament recommends praying for them. Her Majesty was prayed for at her enthronement in Westminster and, in one way or another, has been prayed for ever since. It seems good to continue praying for her on this Jubilee of 60 years and collectively to thank God for her devoted service. And may each one of us, too, be inspired,</p> Thu, 02 Feb 2012 14:18:32 +0100 Lighting up the darkness this Christmas <p>It was deeply saddening to read recently that thieves had stolen Derby City Council’s Christmas lights, worth around £20,000, just before they were due to be put up in the streets. How, one asks, can anyone be so cynical as to commit such a crime? One wonders, moreover, how the thieves expected to be able to realise the value of the proceeds from their nefarious crime –who would want to buy a lorry load of Christmas decorations?</p> <p>One can all too easily, however, allow such events to overshadow the value and importance of Christmas. It is, of course, the time when we celebrate the coming into the world of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, born into an outlying province of the Roman Empire some two thousand years ago. However preoccupied we become with preparing for Christmas Day itself, with all its traditions and customs, this high point of the Christian year should always bring us back to God’s wonderful gift of Jesus to the world. It is a time of light in darkness, hope amidst gloom, new beginnings and a new birth.</p> <p>For some, however, Christmas can be a time of stress and pressure. There will be many this year who find that they cannot afford to do all that they would wish to do, maybe feeling that they are letting their families down by not being as generous as they would like. Those who are likely to be on their own may be especially vulnerable, as well as those for whom the images of happy families celebrating around the Christmas tree leave them feeling disconsolate and left out.</p> <p>So how can the spirit of Christ truly dwell in our hearts this Christmas time? Maybe by reminding us to look out for those who are not especially excited by the prospect of Christmas, because they feel that they have nothing which they can look forward to. Perhaps Christmas can encourage us to give some time to those whom others tend to ignore. Or, possibly, we might see Christmas as a time for rebuilding bridges within our families and communities, trying to forgive and forget when this would help relationships to grow strong again, and looking for a fresh start when aspects of our lives need renewal.</p> <p>At the centre of Christmas lies a birth – not just any birth, of course, but the birth of a child who was to embody total love and compassion, wisdom, understanding, and forgiveness. Jesus brought all these aspects of God to the world in a new way, and, through his Holy Spirit, bequeathed them to all who wish to follow in his footsteps. Of course we often fail to live according to these principles, but the Christmas message reminds us that even if we have strayed far from God, the love of God has reached out to all people in such a way as to offer everyone a route back to God.</p> <p>May this Christmas time be truly blessed for you all.</p> Mon, 28 Nov 2011 12:12:43 +0100 The Promised Land <p><strong>Ahead of a visit by the Acting Dean of Jerusalem Cathedral to St Peter's in October, Christopher Harrison considers whether peace between Israel and Palestine will ever be possible</strong></p> <p>In the mid-1980s, I visited Israel. Alongside the deeply moving experience of visiting some of the holiest sites in the world, where Jesus himself had walked, one encounter stood out in particular. Three small Arab boys, sitting by the roadside in Jerusalem, asked me if I was a Christian. When I said that I was, they replied, 'We're Muslim. Same God'. I was so delighted with this spontaneous expression of a desire for mutual religious understanding, in the face of many centuries of conflict between Jew, Arab and Christian, that I didn't dream of bringing up our theological differences.</p> <p>Where, I wonder, are those boys now? Have they been radicalised as the tensions between the West and the Muslim world have grown more severe? Have they become victims of the deepening separation between Israel and the Palestinian territories, symbolised most vividly by the wall which Israelis generally refer to as the security fence, and Palestinians as the racial segregation wall? And what about their Jewish counterparts? Such children have grown up in homes where family memories of the Holocaust are no doubt still vivid, and have lived with the constant anxiety caused by the possibility of suicide bombs or similar acts of destruction.  Politicians have long wrestled with the seemingly intractable problems which arise from the clash between the security needs of the Israeli people and the Palestinian people's quest for a land of their own. Sadly, in the Western media we tend to hear more about the things that divide them, and the acts of violence, than about the signs of hope which do exist. There is in fact a growing number of initiatives which bring Israelis and Palestinians together, such as a support group for those who have lost family members in the troubles, joint commercial ventures, and the orchestra founded by Daniel Barenboim which includes both Jews and Arabs. In this complex arena the Church also plays its part. Christians in Israel-Palestine are very much in the minority, but contribute to initiatives of peace and justice as well as ensuring that their own voice is heard in the wider political and religious debate.</p> <p>On Sunday 16th October, the acting Dean of Jerusalem Cathedral, Canon Hosam Naoum, will be the preacher at the 10.45 service at St Peter's, as part of a visit to our diocese by a group of Christians from the diocese of Jerusalem. Do make an effort to come and hear him; there will also be a question and answer session with him after the service, for those who have attended other churches. If you cannot be there on that day, there is an open meeting at Nottingham University with Canon Naoum and his colleagues on Wednesday 12th October at 5.30 pm (B63 in the Law and Social Sciences Building). </p> <p>We must never conclude that peace is impossible. Thirty years ago, South Africa was deeply divided; the Berlin Wall was still standing; and Northern Ireland remained in the grip of sectarian violence.  In all of these places, the Church played an important role in planting the seeds of peace and helping these to grow and bear fruit. Let us therefore keep praying for the peace of Jerusalem, and support those who are in the front line in working to bring this about.</p> Wed, 28 Sep 2011 17:11:08 +0200 Bible Study Course <p><strong>Bible Study course - The Gospel of St Matthew</strong></p> <p>On Tuesday 18th October at 7.30pm in the chapter room at St Mary's Church there will be an introductory meeting of a new Bible Study course, which will look in depth at St Matthew's gospel over the next twelve months or so. We will use the commentary by J. C. Fenton. All are welcome to attend - please read the gospel of Mark (yes, Mark, not Matthew - yet!) before the first meeting, to prepare for a discussion on the origins and nature of the gospels. The course will be led by Christopher Harrison and Clarence Rickards. All welcome.</p> <p> </p> Wed, 28 Sep 2011 16:55:13 +0200 Who ever said "charity begins at home"? <p>I wonder if you can tell where in the Bible each of these quotations comes from? In fact none of them comes from the Bible - at least in the form given above. St Paul wrote that ‘the love of money is the root of all evil’ (1 Timothy 6.10) - which is very different from attributing all evil to money. ‘Gentle Jesus, meek and mild …’ is the beginning of a hymn by Charles Wesley, the first verse of which became a popular prayer for children. Incidentally, it is wrong to associate meekness with weakness, at least in the Biblical meaning of the word; meekness means, rather, the ability to suffer with patience, and to keep one’s strength under control. ‘Charity begins at home’ sounds as if it could come from the Bible, but in fact is first found in the writings of the Roman author Terence, in the 2nd century A.D. Dickens wrote ‘Charity begins at home, but justice begins next door’ (in ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’). When the second part of this proverb is omitted, the phrase becomes a very tempting excuse for limiting our generosity to those who are close to us, which is not Biblical at all.</p> <p>I mention these three examples because they remind us that for most of us, our knowledge of the Bible is quite sketchy and patchy. This year, the Church commemorates the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, the so-called Authorised Version. This was the culmination of a huge effort in scholarship which was designed to improve both the accuracy of translation from the original Hebrew and Greek texts, and to create a literary work which would endure. It rapidly became part of our nation’s cultural heritage, and has inspired and edified worshippers, as well as the population at large, since its earliest days. If you attend the 8.15 am service of Holy Communion on Sundays at St Peter’s, you will hear the King James Bible read; while it isn’t always easy for the listener or reader of today to understand the more obscure passages, the dignity and nobility of the language nevertheless continues to shine out strongly.</p> <p>All the same, the beauty and majesty of the language of the Bible are not enough. In this anniversary year, there is a strong move to encourage Christians - and indeed others - to read the Bible afresh, with a new desire to understand it and become more familiar with it. When we hear only two or three - often unconnected - extracts from the Bible in our church services, it is hardly surprising that we don’t get the full picture. The Bible is said to be the most read book in the world - but is it one of our own most read books? Why don’t you try, for example, to start by reading one book of the Bible from beginning to end - maybe a gospel, or one of the less complex letters of St Paul, such as Galatians or Philippians. You will suddenly gain a new understanding of the flow of scripture, and of the ways some of the key aspects of Christian belief - such as love, faith, and forgiveness - are described. You will also see how the core belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, following his sacrifice of himself for the sins of the world, underpins the whole of the New Testament and is its most unique element. As you begin to read the Bible afresh, you are likely to find it speaking to you in new ways. Or rather - you will find that through scripture God speaks to you in new ways. The Bible, if we take it seriously, has a habit of resonating with our daily lives, of giving us gentle - or not so gentle - nudges about how we deal with the challenges which face us all. If we allow it to do so, it will help us to find new meaning and purpose - and there is always more we can do to love God and our neighbour (the socalled Golden Rule, drawn originally from the teachings of Moses, which Jesus set at the heart of his teaching).</p> <p>So while some everyday phrases sound as if they are from scripture, but aren’t, there are plenty more authentic scriptural references which have become part of our language, and, by doing so, have helped to shape our society: the Good Samaritan, the Prodigal Son, the difficulty of getting a camel to go through the eye of a needle, and so on. Why not, therefore, in this anniversary year, discover anew the riches of the Bible, setting yourself the challenge of going more deeply into it and engaging with some of its complexities? For the Bible is not a mere rule book; some of its teachings do need to be re-analysed and re-presented in ways which take account of today’s society, and that task is often hard.</p> <p>But if we make the effort, we find that hidden truths become clearer. As we come to understand more of the ancient words and concepts of the Bible, more pieces of the jigsaw fall into place; and then life itself soon becomes more understandable, more rewarding, and more joyful - as God, through Christ, is increasingly revealed in splendour, glory and love.</p> Fri, 04 Feb 2011 14:21:46 +0100