Thursday, December 22, 2016

Say Yes - Mary, Joseph, the Shepherd and the Kings did!

As we start a new year it is natural to look back so we can look forward. I think God has gradually been putting in foundations over the last few years, preparing the base in the Benefice for growth. We have listened and responded, not always getting it right initially but we seemed to have arrived where God has wanted us, with weekly mission activities based at Balby and monthly alternative worship at different times and days at Wadworth. Bishop Peter is coming to take a service at 6pm on the 26th February at St John the Baptist, Wadworth to celebrate the formation of the Benefice. The service will be followed by a faith supper.

We arrive at the start of a new year having been through the wonderful celebration of the birth of Jesus. I am particularly struck this year by the response of people in the story to the call of God. Mary, apparently unprepared to be a mum yet she says yes to the call of God to be the mother of Jesus. The the rough and ready Shepherds called by God to go to Bethlehem to find a new born King.The Magi, called by God via a star to find a long promised King who will change everything, John the Baptist called by God to prepare the way for Jesus, to do something different, commences an act of repentance - water Baptism, the chance to change the direction of your life. John challenges everyone to answer God’s call to change, to respond.

Some may be asking “What about St Katherines, Loversall?” well there are some emerging ideas to do a center of pilgrimage and festivals. More will follow as more information becomes available. There are also a number of facilities improvements that need to be thought through at Loversall to make the church fit for use in the 21st century.

God calls us to participate, to be part of the body of Christ, to join in God’s mission, His plan for this Benefice. What is God calling who to do?

Perhaps you may be interested in helping at the “Cups and Cake” coffee shop where we provide free drinks and a variety of refreshments between 10 and 12 on a Tuesday. Many come who are hungry, just glad that someone will talk to them and help them. It is become a place of physical and spiritual refreshment for many.

Perhaps you may be interested in helping at St Johns Community Friendship Group on a thursday between 10am and 3pm. Its a great place where we are tackling one of the great problems of the 21st century - loneliness. Loneliness makes mental health worse, makes people feel isolated. Perhaps you have some ideas to widen what we can offer.

We need help with youth work. Both getting young people to events in Bessacar but also long term about setting up groups locally. We also have an opportunity to help Balby Carr secondary school with a mentoring program. Worth Unlimited is a Christian Youth Work charity and they offer training to enable volunteers to mentor young people in school who have problems. Can you spare 2 hours a month? Is God calling you to this work?

Perhaps you feel God is calling you to do something else, perhaps you want to start a group, well come and talk to the vicar!

Christmas is a great celebration of the birth of Jesus, and God called many to participate, we know about them because they said YES, can you say YES? God may have called others in the Christmas story, but we don’t about them because they didn’t respond. Don’t be a non responded and miss the adventure that God is calling you to - participate! Say YES to God and be part of the adventure.

Alun

Monday, October 24, 2016

Remembering

Like many I am increasingly concerned about the continuation of the conflict in Syria, now in its fifth year, longer than WW1 and also WW2. I fear for the syrian christian church and continuing persecution. The syrian church is not unique of course in being persecuted, that is why we gather every Wednesday at 2pm in St Katherines to pray for the persecuted church. The continuing search for the 200 girls from Chibok in Nigeria, the continuing problems in Iraq and Sudan and many other countries. It is of vital importance that we remember and pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Remembering IS important, and we still commemorate the WW1. November sees a hundred years since the end of the carnage of the Somme but there were still two more years before the conflict ended. It was a conflict that was only really suspended, as 20 years later europe exploded  as Hitler’s armies rampaged across the continent.

This year we also remember the 75th commemoration of the attack on Pearl Harbour and America entering the WW2. It is 50 years since Mao’s cultural revolution in 1966 and 25 years since the first invasion of IRAQ by America and its allies.

Remembering is essential, I wonder how we will remember the conflict in Syria, and the refugee crisis.  As ever, on the 11th November we remember and Remembrance Sunday is on the 13th  November.

Some of you have been remembering the older liturgy from the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) and are yearning after the old services. Some also prefer the words of old hymns as found in Ancient and Modern. The question is - how many and how many would come to a service? Which day and time would be best? Which service would we do; Matins, Evensong or Holy Communion?  When we did have Evensong it was very poorly attended. During the 350th celebrations of the BCP in 2012 a number of BCP service were held which again were very poorly attended. So if you would like see the return of BCP services and would attend then please tell me what dates, times and services are best.

Remembering is not just about not forgetting, it is more positive than that, Jesus implicitly urges us to remember during the last supper:

Then he broke it in pieces and said, "This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me." In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this to remember me as often..."

Remembering is good for us, it helps us, Jesus knew this, that is why these words are so important to us. Everytime we celebrate communion it is gives us the chance to remember everything that Jesus has done for us. In that moment it is also a chance to remember what is is important to us.

During November come and join us and remember….

Alun

Friday, October 7, 2016

Harvest Time

We start our Harvest celebrations on Sunday, 16th October. 

This will start a week  of celebrations with schools joining us in our churches. 


There will be a bring and share  harvest lunch just after the Balby service at around 12:15 on Sunday 16th October please bring and share! ALL welcome

THIRD@4PM

16th October 4pm Wadworth Church


An informal service involving crafts and different ways of praying and saying sorry for all ages, this time the theme will be on: Harvest


On a Tuesday morning at Balby church we are meeting people who are hungry and cannot afford to feed themselves. This year we are asking you to give at Harvest the following which will help those most at need. If you cannot bring them to church then either bring them to the Vicarage or on a Tuesday morning at Balby. Supermarket own brands are ideal: Instant porridge, Cup Soups, Mug shots, Instant noodles and Pot noodles


We will continue to support Doncaster Foodbank and any items not suitable for distribution via Balby will go to the food bank. Fresh produce will be distributed via the Homescarr Centre at Armthorpe.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The false god Economy

It has been a very interesting few weeks in politics in this country which has and will have an effect of the lives of each and everyone who lives here. One of the characteristic parts of the debate was the focus by people on the economy and immigration. 

As I listened to more and more heated debate around these subjects I began to think that economy has become the false God of this generation. If you examine the language that is being used around economy then it is very similar to the language used around and Old Testament God. For example 
we don't want to do anything to upset the economy as if it is some mythical creature 
we have to keep doing things to keep the economy on our side so we can prosper
we don't wanna do that it might upset the economy. 
And of course we all have to make sacrifices - jobs, livelihoods - even lives are sacrificed as we must not spend too much on the NHS as it might upset the god economy.

In short - nothing must be done to upset the god economy. 
The god economy has it's own high priests - economists.
And of course the god economy has temples to worship in - for example banks, building societies and areas of commerce like Meadowhall.

The interesting thing was, that for the first time in a very long time people disregarded the false god economy. Many ignored the dire warning of impending doom. I suspect largely that for all their sacrifices, the god economy had done nothing for them. Perhaps people have started to rumble that economy really is a false god - that offers much and delivers little.

Of course the false god economy will increasingly fail to satisfy because our expectations become ever higher. The bar for what we want as a basis for living goes up, so although we may be classed as poor in this country we are rich by global standards.

The false god economy strives on scarcity - because scarcity gives value - immense value. 

If we look to God - the one true God - we see a different way of living - one that cares for everyone, does not seek scarcity but seeks abundance because then everyone can have it, value is not in profit but in provision. This is a way of life that makes sure all flourish not just an elite who benefit from good education and privilege. 

This means that if we want to glimpse God’s Kingdom here on earth we need to change our mindset, stop worshiping the economy and consider how we can always be generous with our time, money, talent and not seek profit or gain but seek to help to build up to see others flourish. 

This is the way of the Kingdom. An extreme example is the early church that when faced with food shortage, all would fast until there was sufficient for all. No one eats until we all eat.

As we enter a time of rest during August let us pray about how we live and can we change how we live so we see ever more of God’s kingdom. Let us stop worshiping the false god economy and turn again to the one true God. 


Alun

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

It may be July but we are already looking forward to September

Having spent some months talking about our Mission Action Plan (MAP) we have reviewed what we have done and what we planned to do. We have also prayed and discussed about  things that may need to be added to the MAP I am greatful to all who have contributed.. We can now publish a revised MAP this summer with some things that that we hope to achieve this year. Starting in September on the third Sunday of each month will be an all age service at 4 o'clock in the afternoon.  We will have some crafts, a bible story and some worship followed by refreshments. It is for all ages ages. We need volunteers to help set up and be at the service to help with crafts and refreshments. if you are interested in this then we will be having a meeting in AugustThrough the Crossways Mission Partnership, we know have a  youth worker, Annabel Stott,  who started work in June.   On the second Sunday of the month we need to encourage  our young people  to a service specifically for them at 4pm on the second Sunday of the month at St Francis Bessacarr.  Are you interested in working with our youth? Please speak to Alun if you are interested. Perhaps come along and see how Saint Francis in Bessacarr organise their youth work. Also beginning  in September is  a resource  to  pregnant mothers and mothers with young children.  We have combined with Balby  Children Centre to put togetherness a program of eight rolling talks - so once we have completed the eight talks we will start again. Topics will be e.g  being pregnant, giving birth, breast feeding, parenting in the early years, bonding with children, how your child should grow.  This will happen at 1:30 pm on a Tuesday and are open to all pregnant mothers  at any time during their pregnancy. Play specialists from the children centre will be on hand so if you have an older child who is not at school or nursery there will be somewhere for them to play during the sessions for mums to be able to listen. Refreshments will be available in a different part of the church, so there is a place to have a chat before or after the sessions.We will have a  toy table and also a baby clothes table.  If you have any toys to donate or any at baby clothes to donate then please bring them to the vicarage in Wadworth or Balby church on a Tuesday morning. We are also looking for volunteers take charge of the baby clothes table and toy table - could this be you?Now many would argue that this is provided by the National health service but if you had tried  to access antenatal classes recently in Doncaster you will find that it's not easy and are you are often referred to a paid for service offered by the NCT. We are trying to offer free access a vital service that is accessible and local.I am reminded of part of the Prayers of St Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)

Christ has no body now, but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth, but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which he looks
With compassion on this world.

In Christ alone my hope is found


Alun


Friday, May 27, 2016

A very busy June............

There will be mounting excitement as you read this for the Wadworth Village  Gala on 5 June. The day begins with a  church service at 10 o'clock and will be in commemoration of the Queens 90th birthday please come along to give honour to her majesty.   we are encouraging people and children to come dressed as one of the decades in the Queens life. So that means you could come dressed in platforms from the 70s, something psychedelic from the 60s,  or in a military uniform from the 40s or something from the roaring 20s. There will be a prize for the best person dressed representing a decade decade after the church service. The service will be for all ages with something for everyone. 

After the service the gala will get underway over on the memorial field. Something new this year with that that will be a talk from Sue Clifton on the history of Wadworth  and that will take place in church at 12:15 and 3pm and also we have the author Gervais Finn talking in church from 2 PM.  There is also a poetry competition for children at Wadworth school which will be judged by Gervais Finn. Entries will be displayed in church. We also hope to have some photographs in church showing Wadworth through the ages.

Once the gala has finished attention will swing towards the church garden party which takes place on  Saturday, 25 June at 2 PM in the church grounds.  Please come and support this venture which is taking place for many many years now. More details elsewhere in the magazine.

Also in June,  the third of our memorial  services take place, and this time it will be “Fathers and Memories”. Earlier in the year we had  “Carols and Memories” and “Mothers and Memories” This will be a time  to remember Fathers who are no longer with us and also for Fathers to remember children that they miss.  This service will take place at Saint Katherine's Loversall at 6pm 19th June. You do not need an invite so please come and join us if this will be of comfort or interest to you.

On 1 July this year all are welcome as we commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the Battle of the Somme at 7:30pm in the evening at Wadworth church. Earlier at 7:29am in the morning we will be at the Memorial in Wadworth to blow whistles at 7:29am, followed by a short reflection. On 1 July 1916, Officers blew the whistle as a signal to the men to go over the top. 57,000 British servicemen lost their lives on the first day of the battle of the Somme.  Church will be open for the remainder of 1 July and through the day you are invited to come and join us reflect on what happened and through the day we will light 141 candles representing the 141 days that the battle lasted. 

Returning for a moment to Her majesty, in her Christmas message in 2000 she said the following:

“For me, the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide 
a framework in which I try to live my life.” 
Queen Elizabeth II, December 25th, 2000

If you rejoice in the Queen and what she represents perhaps you too should think about how she lives her life and her majesty’s reliance on the teachings of Jesus Christ. The best why to learn is join us as often as possible at one of our services. There is a programme elsewhere in the magazine. We would love to see you.

Alun

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

To EU or not to EU that is the question!

Some say you should not mix politics and religion. Yet Jesus was a political prisoner - executed for no other crime than upsetting the authorities and their wealth and power base. The following appears in Matthew, Mark and Luke:

The religious leaders wanted to arrest Jesus because they realised he was against them but they were afraid of the crowd, so they left him and went away. Later the leaders sent some Pharisees and supporters of Herod to trap Jesus into saying something for which he could be arrested. 

“Teacher,” they said, “we know how honest you are. You are impartial and don’t play favorites. You teach the way of God truthfully. Now tell us—is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay them, or shouldn’t we?”

Jesus saw through their hypocrisy and said, “Why are you trying to trap me? Show me a Roman coin,and I’ll tell you.” When they handed it to him, he asked, “Whose picture and title are stamped on it?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
“Well, then,” Jesus said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.”
His reply completely amazed them.

Some parts of our society needs to hear these words and hear them loudly.

Growing up in a welsh valley mining village gives you a particularly red colour to your political views. In fact the local MP held the largest majority in the country at the time. My parents were solid labour voters but the family also had some tories from the farming side of the family and at family get togethers there was always a good and very lively political debate. 

I remember as a teenage in the 70s one of the profound debates that took place in our family and in the community was whether we should be in the Common Market as it was known then - European Union (even the name change is interesting) as it is known now. There was essentially two opposing views, those  advocating yes because of the economic advantages and those advocating no because it took decision making even further away from the people. If you already have a view that decisions are already taken a very long away in London then Brussels is even further away. One of the things you certainly feel in a welsh mining village is distance from the decision making process. Taking it further away was a real issue.  

This time around the quality of the debate has been poor and it has been characterised by fear. This deeply worries me. In John’s first letter it says

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”

I have not heard one positive reason for leaving or staying in the EU! All i have heard is dire consequences if we stay in or dire consequences if we stay out. This profoundly worries me - have we lost the art of real political debate? 

I am not going to tell you how to vote but all i ask is you vote positively Yes or No because you are voting for something not against something.

During May we have our annual 10 ten days of prayer between Ascension Day and Pentecost - the programme is yet to be finalised this year as it is part of a national campaign “Thy Kingdom Come”

“Jesus Christ calls every person to follow him. As Christians it’s our duty and joy to share that invitation. That’s why the Archbishops of Canterbury and York are inviting every church in England to join a week of prayer this Pentecost, from 8-15th May — let’s pray for every Christian to receive new confidence and joy in sharing this life-transforming faith.”
Wadworth Gala (5th June) approaches fast and this year it is to be a celebration of the Queen’s 90th birthday. If you remember i asked for old photos of Wadworth to tell the story of Wadworth over the last 90 years. The response has been very poor so can I urge everyone to have look - lets paint an historical picture of Wadworth for the Queen. The Gala will start with a church service at 10am and why don't you come dressed from one of the decades during the Queen’s life. 

If I can find them i will be wearing my platform shoes from the 70’s. You have been warned.


Alun

Monday, March 28, 2016

Mission Action Plan revisited

Some of you will remember and perhaps have got fed up of me talking about the Mission Action Plan (MAP) for the parish. As part of the plan we put together in 2014, we recognised that we did not have the resources to all the things we wanted to do or we thought God might want us to do in the parish. We have been praying for additional help since 2014 and towards the end of last year some of you may have met Revd Liz Strafford at some of our service.  

I am very grateful for the warm welcome that has been given to Revd Liz Strafford as she has begun working with us in the anglican churches in Wadworth, Loversall and Balby. Liz arrives as an answer to prayer at an exciting time after we have completed the facilities improvements in Wadworth church, and we start to plan for the next stages of parish life. Myself, Liz, and our lay ministers Jane and Russell met and we have identified a number of additional services we can introduce that are inline with our Mission Action Plan:

  1. Every Monday at 8:30am we have already started meeting at Wadworth church for morning prayer, this is a time of extend prayer for the parishes and the wider world
  2. One Sunday a month I will not be rushing off from Wadworth to do the 11am service at Balby so I can be available at Wadworth for longer to chat to people. 
  3. From 22nd March we will be introducing a a weekly service for Healing and Wholeness after the coffee shop on a Tuesday at St John the Evangelist, Balby around 12:15. This will be a service that gives us time and space to reflect about ourselves, seek prayer, receive anointing, prayer for healing and wholeness in our local communities.
  4. After Easter, from Wednesday 6th April we will restarted the mid-week Holy Communion service at St Katherine’s Loversall but in the afternoon at 2pm. Again this service will have a focus on praying for the persecuted church. This service will run weekly until harvest when we will assess whether it is feasible to run during the winter months.

Another part of the MAP was to form a Mission Partnership with other churches to share resources and to work together on children and youth work. As a parish we have been exploring working with St James, Doncaster; St Francis, Bessacarr and of course St John the Evangelist, Balby. We hope to call ourselves the Crossways Mission Partnership and we are fully supported by the Sheffield Diocese. We have been successful in applying to the Diocese for a youth worker who will be partly funded by the diocese for three years.

Initially this person will get to understand the existing youth work at St Francis (Franky’s) and then to develop a similar set up first with St James and St Johns in Balby (JJ’s) and then in Wadworth. We hope to be able to take our young people to St Francis in the first instance to see how their youth club and service works. Perhaps you may be able to help with transportation? We also need to raise money to pay for our part of the funding of the youth worker. More details of this will follow, but wouldn’t it be great if we can set up something for you people hear in Wadworth and Balby? I always hear people say there is nothing for young people to do, well this a chance to get behind a project that is deliberately setting out to provide something for young people.

And finally a great big thank you for all of you who supported the Lent Project so generously again this year. It is greatly appreciated.


Alun

Friday, March 18, 2016

Mothers, Memories and Easter

Some of you may remember we held a Carols and Memories service in December which was well received by those you attended so we can going to hold another one in March. But Vicar you cannot sing carols in March I hear you say! And we are not going to do so - instead we will be singing some hymns as we have a services “Mothers and Memories” at 6pm on the 5th March at 6pm at St john the Evangelist Balby. This will be a Time for Mothers with memories and a Time for those who wish to remember their mums. In addition to some hymns we will read some poetry and have some bible readings. Yes everyone will have a chance to light a candle and yes we will read out names - you can give us the names as you arrive. You don’t need an invite just turn up. Those remembered can have died recently or a long time ago.
Talking about death, dying and funerals raises big questions that we need to face at some point, but it’s sometimes hard to talk to family and friends.
The Church of England has been helping people think about these questions for centuries. GraveTalk is a café space, organised by a local church, where people can talk about these big questions. The conversation is helped along by GraveTalk conversation cards – 52 questions covering 5 key areas.
GraveTalk is a café – so there is always tea and cake. You are then invited to sit at tables with three or four others. The GraveTalk cards will be on the tables, and each group picks a question and uses it start a conversation. It doesn’t matter if you only use one question – or work through all of them! The purpose is to talk and listen.
Light refreshments are offered throughout the event, which lasts about an hour, or longer if needed. We are holding a Grave Talk on Tuesday 29th March at 2pm in St John the Evangelist. All welcome no invite necessary.

Our Lent Project is well under way and this year we are doing something new on Good Friday. Brenda and Michael are going to walk from St Katherine’s Loversall to St John the Baptist, Wadworth carrying water with them on the way to highlight the plight of children having to carry water long distances in Africa. Please sponsor them as they do this as we raise money to help bring water to the village in Kigezi. We want to make this a family event so we would love you to turn up at 11:30am at St Katherines. We are going to make some banners and some crosses, sing some songs and then see Brenda and Michael on their way to Wadworth. We would love you to join in walking with them and taking your banners and crosses. When we get to Wadworth we can all have a drink and finish with a Good Friday Service, using your banners and our crosses we have made.

Also as part of our Lent project we have Afternoon Tea 2pm - 4pm   on Friday 11th March in the  Village Hall  and an Easter Market on Saturday 19th March at 10am - 12 noon  in  St John’s, Wadworth.

Easter Sunday is on the 27th March and we celebrate at 9am Wadworth and 11am Balby.We are having a Bring and Share lunch at around 12:15 after the service at Balby. All Welcome.

What we celebrate on Easter Sunday changes everything, and whoever we are, Easter can change us, if we let it. This year immerse yourself in the Easter story, perhaps to remind yourself of the basis of your faith, perhaps to strengthen your faith or perhaps to see why others believe so strongly. Come if you are curious or doubting. Don't let other decide for you - come listen, experience and decide yourself.

Alun

Friday, February 12, 2016

Good bye Christmas hello Lent

We will be taking advantage of the some of the splendid windows within church for our celebration of Candlemass on Wednesday 3rd February at 7:30pm. We will use the window which depicts the readings used at Candlemass together with the window that depicts the stoning of St Stephen to bring a freshness to a traditional service. Many old prayers will be used in a contemporary service as we preserve tradition but try new  ways.  The new spaces created in Wadworth Church as a result of last years facilities improvements will help us move around church from window to window, also using the space under the bell tower and in the sanctuary. 

The following Wednesday 10th February we meet again in Wadworth church for our Ash Wednesday service as begin Lent and focus on the cross of Good Friday. Ash Wednesday is a great time to start a spiritual self examination. Are you right with God? Do you focus too much on yourself and not enough on others? This is the time to think about such questions and others.

In between the Wednesdays on Sunday 7th February at 6:30pm we have our monthly Something Different  service For those who are seeking something different from a church service. We start with home made Cakes and drinks and then move into a period of praising God. The theme is linked into a secular song “If I’d know you were coming I’d have baked a cake”. We finish with some more praise & some prayers. Individual prayers for healing are available at the end of the service.”

Later in the year the Queen celebrates her 90th birthday. As part of the Wadworth Gala on 5th June we are looking to produce a collection of photos of Wadworth illustrating the 90 years of the Queen’s life. Do you have any photos of Wadworth? Are you prepared to share them? We would love to see them. So that people are not afraid they will loose donated photos, we will scan the photos and return immediately. Contact the vicarage if you would like to share some of your photos. Alternatively scan the photos yourself and email them to vicar. Hopefully we can create a permanent collection of historic life in Wadworth. 

As a Fairtrade Church, we celebrate Fairtrade fortnight ever year. This year it takes place from 29 February - 13 March with the theme  “Sit down for breakfast, stand up for farmers!“

As Martin Luther King famously said, ‘before you finish eating breakfast in the morning, you’ve depended on more than half the world’. Despite our dependence on farmers and workers for the foods, drinks and products that we love, about 795 million people are undernourished globally. So the Fair-trade organisation is asking can we try and change our breakfast so they use fairtrade products! Make sure you use products that have the fair-trade symbol on them. Now for bacon, eggs and milk (they don’t have the fair-trade symbol) lets also make sure we use british bacon, eggs, milk. The more local the better.

Have a fair-trade Breakfast


Alun