Please scroll down to read February's Rector Writes.
‘Faith through Psalms’ has got off to a good start, with a turnout of twenty four to our first session. Do come and join us on a Thursday evening during March in Emmanuel 7:30pm-9pm if you would like to. We can fit in a few more I’m sure.
The last Sunday of this month is Palm Sunday. We look forward to Max the Donkey from the Alwood Donkey Sanctuary, Wirral, joining us again. He will be with us for a short walk around Hope from 10:30am, for our Palm Sunday Celebration at 11am and to give donkey rides to the children on the car park (or in church – wet weather option!) afterwards. Following his lunch break Max will be back with us in Penyffordd, offering more donkey rides on the Emmanuel car park prior to our annual ‘Messy Easter’ Celebration on Palm Sunday afternoon.
No joke (!) – Easter Day this year falls on 1st April – I imagine we will have good fun on Easter morning this year! Inside the magazine and online you will find details on all our Holy Week and Easter Day services and events.
At the end of January, the Bishop and Archdeacon of St Asaph, Canon John Lomas, presented to the diocesan clergy synod, the new diocesan priorities for 2018. Our Mission Area Leader, Rev Martin Batchelor presented these same priorities to our subsequent Mission Area Conference that met last month.
The new diocesan priorities are about ‘growth’ – growth that is both ‘spiritual and numerical’ in our churches. The 2020 Vision that the Church In Wales is working toward recognised that in many ways it is now ‘make or break’ for The Church In Wales. If we continue with the same models of church that have always been used in previous generations then what is becoming the status quo in parts of the church will continue – more churches will close.
At the clergy synod, Canon John Lomas emphasised to us the need to now make growth our absolute first priority. In short between 2011-16, 50% of Sunday congregations in the Church In Wales declined, 30% held their own. Only 20% are growing. Where do Hope and Emmanuel fall here? Whilst we have much to be grateful to God for and have attracted a number of new members of late I would like to emphasise however that numerically we are not growing. We are holding our own, and this is in itself an achievement, but we will still have a long way to go. Exciting challenges ahead of us then!
The Diocese decided on four priorities for each church and mission area in 2018 to embrace. I quote:
Do join me in praying for us as a church in discerning how we respond to these priorities and challenges set upon us. It is particularly encouraging for us in that in many ways we are already addressing these priorities. Hope.4.All is getting off to a good start – whilst we had a dip into the 20s we are beginning to pick up on our numbers again and we were back into the 30s recently. It is still very early days – come and give us a try!
On a final note – many of you will know that Kathleen Graham has been editing this magazine now for a very long time – I gather over 26 years. That’s more than 300 magazines! Kathleen has indicated that next month’s April magazine however will be her last. The magazine is of course continuing. I am delighted that we have two new co-editors and I have a hunch that they will both be very good and work well together. You will hear more soon! For now it is fair to say that we all owe Kathleen a huge thank you for her service to both church and parish for this past quarter century.
In Christ, Adam
They say everybody loves a good wedding!
This year there will now be two royal weddings as Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank have announced their engagement to follow soon after Prince Harry and Megan Markle.
Although he was never the groom in a royal wedding (as he did not marry), Jesus however enjoyed a good wedding too!
According to the gospels, Jesus carried out his first miracle at a wedding – at a wedding in Cana, Galilee. It was here where he famously ‘turned water into wine’.
Across the gospels thirty five individual miracles of Jesus are presented. Every miracle of Jesus in the Scriptures is written to give us evidence for who he is – they act as a ‘sign’ or a ‘wonder’ that ‘reveal his glory’. Each miracle demonstrates to us Jesus’ power and authority over the natural world. Ultimately his miracles show us that he is the ‘Messiah’ (Hebrew for Anointed One) or the ‘Christ’ (Greek) who God sent into the world to be our Lord and Saviour and help us to ‘live life in all its fullness’. Whilst they testify to His power over the natural world and give us good reason why we as Christians should worship Him – also every miracle seeks to help to meet a human need too.
For example, when we look at Jesus’ miracles we can see that Jesus’ healings restore physical health. His exorcisms bring healing to the soul and mind. The feeding the 5,000 gave the hungry the energy they needed for another day. Jesus calming the storm brought to the disciples in the boat safety and security.
Everyone has needs. There are our basic needs of food and water and shelter. We have other needs such as good health and education. We also have a need to be respected and valued as well as to learn to respect and value others too. In order to live life to the full, Jesus believed also that we need to live a ‘joyful’ life.
At the wedding of Cana where Jesus turned water into wine – Jesus not only saved the bridegroom’s family (who like the Royal Family will do for Harry… the bridegroom’s family hosted the wedding) from embarrassment by solving the problem of the wine running out (!) but also he helped to keep the celebration a joyful occasion too.
Jesus’ miracle where he turned water into wine (granted their wine would have had a lower alcohol content!); even so it is an illustration to us that Jesus can bring to us joy. Joy is another important human need. Joy helps us to smile. It helps us to be happy. It helps us to relax. It helps us to have a sense of worth and meaning and purpose.
The miracles of Jesus in the New Testament help us to see that Jesus wants the best for us. They help us to see that Jesus can meet our every need. As we come this month now into Lent, and as we focus in particular on our own needs for forgiveness for wrongs we have done or healing from past hurts that we have experienced, may Jesus meet your every need. May you know his love and his power, his hope and his healing, his joy and his peace. Then in response as did the servants at the Wedding of Cana, may we marvel at the power and greatness of God.
In Christ, Adam
Rev Adam Pawley