A Fresh Expression in York

On 25 November a group of us from Zone 2 and St Mary’s was delighted to attend the annual Fresh Expressions conference in York, not only because York is such a beautiful city, but also because our very own Revd Canon Phil Potter was leading the event. A cold but sunny York welcomed us as we crossed the historic streets of the city to our first destination, St Michael le Belfrey church, situated next to York Minster.

We were treated to lively worship to open the event, followed by a sermon from none other than the Archbishop of York, the Most Revd Dr John Sentamu, who famously cut up his dog collar on the Andrew Marr show in 2007 in response to the political situation in Zimbabwe. It was, needless to say, a very passionate sermon focusing on St Paul and confidence in the Gospel.

This was followed by a choice of seminars to attend in various venues throughout the city. The seminars were truly engaging and we left feeling inspired to create and grow our own fresh expressions of church within our local communities.

It was an amazing day; we’re looking forward to next year!

Louise Johnson

It snowed, the stars shone, and baby Jesus was the real deal

We couldn’t have asked for a more Christmassy nativity this year. It was freezing cold and snowing outside and there was even a giant snowman directing the performance, ably assisted by Father Christmas and Wiseman 3.  The script was given a contemporary twist, the costumes were stunning, everyone remembered their lines (nearly), the singing was delightful, and if you managed to get a glimpse of the crib you’d have noticed a very content real baby cast in the leading role.

The nativity itself was combined with the main church service; this began with a piece from the trebles in the choir, and included many favourite nativity songs and carols.

Revd Ian Rumsey looked to have thoroughly enjoyed the performance. He commented: ‘My personal favourite bit was the supersonic angels.’ Cast member Robin James, aged 7, added: ‘I thought it went really well; the costumes were great, although mine was a bit baggy.’

A special mention should also go to the church orchestra led by Michael Dow, which was as outstanding as ever and included musicians of all ages from the whole church community.

All in all, it was a truly delightful nativity, and everyone should be proud of their contribution.

Karen James

Dip your toe in a ‘Stream’ in Lent 2018….

Creativity of all flavours is a massive gift from God; it can enable us to understand and experience things in a different way. So, instead of giving something up for Lent, why not consider trying something different – possibly even something that you have never done before?

The Adult Discipleship Group is beginning to think ahead to Lent. Our idea is to do something creative. In a previous parish, Ian and I (plus many others) laid on a collection of workshops (‘Streams’), all with a spiritual focus/ theme, but using creativity as the vehicle. We had a menu of different activities, including photography, movement/signing, prayer walks and craft of varying descriptions. People found it really helpful and enjoyable.

Lent 2018 will be an early one, and we are planning that the workshops will take place over 4 weeks, from 26 Feb – Mar 23, so that Holy Week remains clear. The full details will be out in mid-January, in good time for people to see what is on offer and to sign up for the Stream/Streams that interest them. Please do look out for flyers and signing up sheets in all our churches then.

The precise menu isn’t yet finalised, but we hope that it will include art, psalm writing, prayer walks, Lectio Divina, Contemplative Prayer, Signing and Movement, a Book Group, Death and Resurrection in Poetry, Journaling, Food, Flowers, and other things, all with an overall theme of Resurrection/New Life.

We would love to offer some very ‘hands on’ activities as well, so if you are a photographer, card maker, textile creator, wood worker, sewer or maker in another area and would like to be involved in leading some workshops, please get in touch with me via the church office.

Colleen Rumsey

A new Epiphany

For most of us, the concept of carols and carol services is indelibly associated with the seasons of Christmas or Advent.

The Oxford Book of Carols (first published in 1928) simply describes them however as ‘songs with a religious impulse that are simple, popular and modern’, and includes many carols for almost all seasons and festivals of the church’s year.

They were a creation of the modern spirit of humanism in the Middle Ages and made their first appearance in the fifteenth century, and some – like the Coventry Carol and the German ‘Song of the Crib’ (both sung at Bowdon) – were written for the mystery play or crib. Most of them share a joyful and often dance-like quality.

We will be holding our first Epiphany Carol service at Bowdon on Sunday 7 January at 6.30 pm as an extension and development of our already kaleidoscopic liturgical pattern of worship, and very much hope that this new initiative will be welcomed and embraced by members of our congregation and wider community who may not be regular Sunday evening worshippers.

Epiphany itself is observed by the Christian Church on 6 January when we remember the arrival of the wise men, or Magi, who came to the infant Jesus soon after he was born. The revelation of Christ to the Magi represents the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles, and therefore to us all, according to Chapter 2 of St. Mark’s Gospel. Epiphany is celebrated by many Western countries as a public holiday with major festivals, civic processions and fireworks.

We hope that further additions to enrich our regular pattern of worship may follow in due course – particularly on Sunday evenings; we are already planning a Songs of Praise service to include hymns and worship songs for Pentecost on 20 May 2018.

Roger Bryan,
Organist and Associate Director of Music

Government

It is easy to envisage that the current times in which we live may well feature in the history curriculum for students in January 2118.  Today there is a plethora of global examples of different types of government. Churchill famously said: ‘Democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried.’ Certainly, we see that the democracy that we prize so highly is far from perfect.

Some say that the character of our leaders doesn’t matter – that their private lives have no bearing on their ability to lead. Norman Schwarzkopf, former US Army General who led the 1991 liberation of Kuwait, was considered an exceptional leader by biographers. He said: ‘Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character but if you must be without one, be without the strategy’.  These are extraordinary words from an Army General – that nothing is more important than good character.

At Christmas, the beautiful ‘Nine Lessons and Carols’ service tells the story of the imperfections of mankind and of God’s solution for good government, namely Jesus. One Bible reading is taken from the book of Isaiah, probably written around 800 BC: ‘For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’ (Isaiah 9.6)

What does God’s government look like? Christians believe that God’s government rests on the shoulders of Jesus, who came to show us exactly what God is like. God’s government, which will one day be present in full, will look like the perfect character of Jesus, who came not to be served but to serve.

We invite you to join us in praying for the strengthening and raising up of godly, servant-hearted leadership in all nations at the start of this New Year.

Julia Dow, Parish Development

Bowdon Youth Festival 2018

As part of its service to the local community, the church supports Bowdon Festival, which offers an annual Youth Festival. Fundraising events such as concerts are held throughout the year to cover the expenses involved.

Applications are now open for Bowdon Youth Festival on 1 – 4 February 2018. This annual event allows young people to experience public performance in a supportive environment, with feedback from expert adjudicators. Classes are offered in music (instruments, voices, ensembles and choirs), speech and drama.

The Youth Festival has a website at www.BowdonFestival.co.uk where the syllabus of classes available can be found. Online booking and payment facilities are available this year to make life easier for performers, parents and teachers. The deadline to register for classes is December 15, 2017.

We need a large number of volunteers to deliver the Youth Festival – it is very rewarding to be involved and the roles are very varied.

If you are interested, please contact me at
Susan@BowdonFestival.co.uk

Susan Sinagola, Chair, Bowdon Festival

Living … and dying

I have shared the responsibility for taking funerals across the Parish of Bowdon since 2011. From the first meeting with a bereaved family or individual to occasional visits following the funeral, it is an incalculable privilege, a huge responsibility and a valuable reminder that we are merely here for ‘a time and a season’.

During the funeral preparation period the bereaved are often numb, weary, and barely coping. Nothing may seem real, even when the illness has been lengthy. Grief may be tempered with relief, loss and loneliness are close and life feels ‘on hold’. Patience, careful words and the reassurance that much of what is being experienced is ‘normal’ can ease the anguish as hymns are chosen and tributes decided.

Giving grieving families time to reminisce is very important. I ask how they met, about landmark moments and the quality of the relationship. Young people will speak animatedly about grandparents who have died. Remembering brings tears but also laughter and anecdotes; a picture emerges of the person who I will meet, but never knew, at the crematorium or in church.

Most families will offer their own tribute, poems and readings. Those who contribute never regret it, even when they speak through a steady stream of tears. When children have read their poem about ‘Nan’, those present will often clap!

A funeral is a time to take stock – it’s a wake-up call. For the bereaved who have some Christian understanding, the inevitability of death can raise fundamental questions of eternity and the future. To these questions come enduring answers. Jesus was asked by his disciples how they could follow him to the Kingdom of God. Jesus said ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’ (John 14:6).

Copyright John Fenton, Lay Reader

Combining faith and work

I work for the BBC within the Religion and Ethics Radio department and absolutely love my job. I get to combine my faith and my love of Christian music and feel very lucky; most of the time I don’t even feel like I’m working.

I first did work experience with the BBC straight after university, and as I had studied Religion and Theology and have sung in St Mary’s Choir since the age of 8, I soon realised that it was definitely where I wanted to work. Highlights have included working on the Pope’s Hyde Park Vigil, Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College, Cambridge and the enthronement of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

I am currently producing The Sunday Hour on BBC Radio 2, which is a Christian music show with a range of hymns, gospel and contemporary Christian music presented by the Revd Kate Bottley.

I really enjoy choosing themes and all the music, and working with the presenter to record the show. I can use my theological and musical knowledge to make a programme that shares the Christian faith with people in an accessible way, whether they’re Christian or not. It’s on at 6 am on Sundays, which is pretty early, but do have a listen if you’re up before church, or listen later on iPlayer. It has definitely changed my perception of different expressions of worship and has shown me that it’s possible to combine traditions (I even sneak the odd anthem in when I can!)

Throughout Advent we’re exploring the theme of light and the symbolism surrounding the Advent candles, and will feature an interview with our very own Sasha Johnson Manning about The Manchester Carols. On Christmas Day between 6 and 8 am there will be a two-hour Gospel show and then Kate will present Good Morning Sunday between 8 and 10 am.

 

Miriam Williamson

The Christmas ‘be-with-ness’ business

Christingle Service 2016

It seems to be one of those basic human instincts: the desire, and even the need, to be with the people we most treasure, especially at the significant moments or episodes of life.

When two people first fall in love, it hardly matters what they do together; it’s the being with each other that’s all-important. The ‘be with’ factor is so strong that they can hardly let go of one another or lose eye contact.

At major birthdays or anniversaries, the nearest and dearest are all invited to come to be with the one celebrating. The party just wouldn’t be a party without them.

I’ve seen it countless times as the end of life approaches; the family strains every muscle to stay in the company of their loved one for every last day, every last hour and minute and second, right up to the point where death prevents them from being with one another any more.

It seems that we’re not alone in our longing to be with others. When Joseph was wrestling with the knowledge that Mary was pregnant, even though they’d had no sexual relations, God showed Joseph that the child to be born would fulfil the ancient prophecy of a child born to a virgin – a child named Jesus.

It seems this urge to be with others is a Godly thing. The claim of the Bible is that Jesus was truly God in person, God present among us, alongside us. Christmas reveals something quite wonderful about God – he has the same longing to be with those whom he loves. Jesus was also called Emmanuel and lived to fully express the meaning of his name: God-with-us.

This edition of Bowdon Church News has details of all our services and celebrations over the Christmas season. We’d be delighted if you would come to be with us to worship Emmanuel.

Ian Rumsey, Vicar

Tower Sleepover

At the end of September six of us decided to sleep at the top of the church tower to raise money for the Hidden Treasure Discovery Centre, an exciting new project for children in Partington. We raised over £1200 for the centre and are so grateful to all those who generously sponsored us. The aim of the centre is to provide a Christian context where children can learn to feel valued, special and as though they have potential. There is still a substantial amount of money to raise so please get in touch with them for more information if you are able.

Contact: Ruth Lancey 07813 520330, info.hiddentreasureplay.com or see the website www.hiddentreasureplay.com

Catherine Cleghorn, Ordinand