Friday, 27 November 2009

December Newsletter

In Advent we enter a Season of Expectation. Everyone is expecting something. Anticipation fills the air. Children (and some adults too!) wonder at what gifts they shall receive, and those who buy things for others hope that their carefully-chosen presents will be liked and enjoyed. Adults wonder whether all the Christmas plans will work out, whether inclement weather will restrict or prevent travelling, and once everyone has safely arrived and been installed, whether those gathered around will get along alright! Many will wonder and worry about how all the cooking and food preparation will go, and whether the turkey will be tasty or over (or, perhaps, undercooked) this year! Personally, I am certainly looking forward to celebrating and sharing in my first Christmas with you in the Benefice. Expectation, anticipation, excitement and some concern fill these days of Advent.
In all our busyness and practical preparations of the Advent season, it is important that we allow the spirit of anticipation and expectation to fill our worship and prayer life: at Advent we prepare ourselves for Jesus’ coming too, to ensure that we are ready to greet him when he arrives at Christmastime. Advent is a time to watch, wonder and wait (and that’s exactly why we began Advent with a ‘Service of Watching and Waiting’ on Advent Sunday this year). However good our preparations are, nothing, in my experience, ever goes quite according to plan, and we are often surprised by how things turn out in the end. In our Christian lives too we should expect the unexpected: no-one quite knows when or how Jesus will come to us this Christmastime. Often the wonder of the events of Christmas, of God coming to Earth as a tiny, vulnerable and fragile baby, can catch me at the least expected times and the seemingly least expected ways and places. For some, it may be through traditional routes that God comes to us and touches us once again: the candlelit service at Midnight or the joyful face of a child at Christingle; for others, it will be in the glory of the flashing lights (both inside our Churches (and particularly the Christmas Tree Festival at Marazion this year), or seeing the lights over the Bay, of which I’ve heard so much about; for some, it will be in the greeting and welcoming of friends and family, the long nights of conversation by the fireside; for others, receiving, a particularly special gift. But sometimes Jesus comes to us in new and unexpected ways: in the kindness of a stranger or when we hear a conflict has been reconciled and a new peace has broken out.
On her latest album, Enya sings:
‘Somewhere in a winter’s night,
the angels begin their flight.’
In Advent, it is good to draw close and attuned to God and to listen with eagerness and anticipation for Christ’s coming to us. As well as preparing our homes and families, let us also prepare our hearts this Advent to once again (and perhaps in an unexpected way) to hear the angel’s song and joyful tidings once again:
‘Glory to God in the Highest! Peace to his people in Earth! I bring you good news of great joy!
For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, Christ the Lord!’

In all our Advent preparations this year, let us leave enough space to hear the angels’ wings unfurl.

I wish you all a very anticipatory Advent and a Very Happy Christmas to come,

Revd Nigel Marns
Rector: Ludgvan, Marazion, Perranuthnoe & St Hilary

Saturday, 31 October 2009

November Newsletter

Remember, remember...
As the evenings gain a distinct Autumnal coolness, as the nights draw in and the clocks go back, as we draw our curtains early in the evenings, at this time of year it feels natural to ‘batten down the hatches’, to draw and gather in those close to us, to start to prepare for the impending Winter by beginning to hibernate and get cosy by our firesides.
For the Celtic Christian ancestors this time of year was not just a time to turn inwards and to stay shut away, but to a time to Celebrate. For some Celts 31 October was Samhein ‘summers end’ and was greeted by tribal gatherings, games, feasts and entertainments. For others it marked the beginning of the Celtic New Year. For us, as we approach the Season and approaching death of the Winter months, it seems natural for the Church to mark this time with our annual Season of Remembrance. We shall be marking and celebrating all three Festivals of Remembrance during the month of November.
Remembrance Sunday (which this year falls on Sunday 8 November) will be observed fully in all four Churches of the Benefice. On Remembrance Sunday, we shall be remembering not just those who gave their lives in the First and Second World Wars, but also those who gave their lives in all the recent conflicts since, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan, and those still serving there.
Remembrance is not only about Remembrance Sunday: the month of November is also in the Church, All Saints Tide, when we remember and celebrate ‘the lights who have gone before us’, the saints we know, and have known, and all those who have encouraged us in the Way of Faith in our lives. We shall be celebrating Marazion’s Feast Day of All Saints at All Saints, Marazion on 1 November at 11.00am in the morning and coming together for a special Benefice All Saints Evensong at St Hilary Church together with the Deanery Choir on All Saints Sunday evening, 1 November.
We shall also be remembering our loved ones who have died on All Souls Day at a Benefice All Souls Service the following evening, Monday 2 November, at Marazion, to which all are welcome. Lists are available in all the churches to recall and remember those who have died and all the names and loved ones we seek to recall before God will be read out during this Service.
Coloured by the red of the poppies on lapels, November and the coming Winter can be a reflective, salutary, sombre, if not a sad, time of the year but both All Saints Day and All Souls Day should be regarded as a Celebratory Time: Christians believe that the Life we enjoy and struggle with on Earth, especially through the approaching dark days of Winter, is not all there is, but that through the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, a Way is prepared for each of us, and our loved ones who have gone before us, through Death to Life Everlasting, a glorious and hopeful future with our Heavenly Father in his Kingdom of Heaven: All Saints Tide then becomes a very positive reason to celebrate God’s Love and provision and wonderful future that awaits us all after our life on Earth is over.
And far from withdrawing into our private worlds from the rigours of the impending Winter, we are planning this year to recall another fateful event in our history, ‘to remember, remember the 5th of November’, coming out of our homes and gathering around a campfire. Although we recall ‘the triumph of democracy’ on Bonfire Night, against the conspiracy to blow up the Houses of Parliament, the ongoing MPs expenses scandal, the loss of any sense of morality around many of the outrageous claims submitted, many MPs constant refrain that ‘we were only acting within the rules’ and the dearth of political ideas to deal with the current economic crisis may well give Bonfire Night an added edge this year: many will perhaps secretly be thinking that it might be a good idea had Guy Fawkes succeeded all those years ago (!) or whether we need a new present-day Guy Fawkes to stir up and shake up the cosy and seemingly corrupt establishment of our current parliamentary system!
There is something defiant and evocative about the lighting of a bonfire, the sparkle and fizzle of the fireworks lighting up the dark sky on 5 November, the smell of the spent cordite and hot food, and gathering of the empty firework shells. We hope to have a happy night on Bonfire Night 5 in the Rectory Garden at Ludgvan, an event especially planned by and for the families of the Benefice (but not exclusively so) and everyone is welcome to come along: tickets are now on sale for this ‘Remembrance Event’ and Celebration!
Many acts of Remembrance will be taking place in the next month. Let this Season not only a reflective and sombre time, but also a time of joy, as we restate our belief in the New Life Jesus has prepared for us and our loved ones, and as we gather together in the darkness to sip our soup and munch our hotdogs by the Bonfire and to defy the coming Winter with a Celebration of Light and Song.
Revd Nigel Marns
Rector of St Piran's & St Michael's, Perranuthnoe

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

October 2009 Newsletter


We live in a world where everyday we are confronted by thousands of choices: which television programme to watch when there are so many channels to choose from; where we go on holiday (here in Britain or a destination somewhere else in the world); you can even choose whether or not your breakfast cereal has red berries or chocolate bits in it! Sometimes I’m so bewildered by the myriad of choices before me in a large supermarket I prefer to go to smaller shops to help limit the possibility of the choices before me!
As in the world, so it is in the Church: When I lead a Bible study last week I was amazed at the number of different sorts of Bible that people had chosen to have, ranging from the traditional ‘King James’ version, through ‘The Revised Standard’ version, ‘The Jerusalem Bible’, ‘The New International Bible’, ‘The Good News Bible’, and a modern rewriting of the Bible in contemporary language, ‘The Message’. All this seemed a long way from our Medieval forebears: In Medieval times only the priest understood the Service and read from the Bible in Latin, Sunday by Sunday. Wall paintings were drawn on Church and Cathedral walls to depict the key Bible stories for the majority of the people to get to know the main Biblical stories. When the Bible was finally printed at first there was only one version to be had produced by Martin Luther and the Wittenberg Press.
Each faith on our world has its holy book: ‘The Koran’ for Moslems, 'the Bhadvagita’ for Hindus and the Sikhs venerate their holy book as the last ‘Guru’ or prophet and final revelation from God. So why should we choose to read the Bible, and, if we do, what version of the Bible should we choose and what bits should we choose to read?
I expect many of us learnt the old Sunday School song ‘The best book to read is the Bible’, and I don’t think it matters which version you choose to read as long as you are reading it. I did try and read the Bible in a Year one year, and it was truly hard going: I didn’t find it particularly uplifting ploughing through the gory descriptions of animal sacrifices in the Old Testament ‘Book of Leviticus’ whilst the rain came lashing down in February!
The Bible is really a collection of separate books, in some part history of the Jewish people (Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, Kings, Samuel); in some part Wisdom and poetry (Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes), in some part Letters written to emerging and early Churches (Romans, Galatians, Ephesians) and, of course, the most important story of all: the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) recounting the story of salvation brought to the world in the person of Jesus Christ, the central figure and rock of our faith:
‘The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father’ (John 1:14)
Often we need some aid to penetrate and get to grips with this complex book, The Bible. Many of us use daily Bible reading notes, which take us through a certain passage or section in the Bible, with a good explanation of the Bible verses under question and helpful hints of how to apply the Bible teaching in our lives today.
Another way of exploring the Bible, and helping the Bible to speak to us, is through joining a Homegroup. In our Benefice, at present, we have three homegroups meeting (and you are welcome to join them at any time), looking together at an Old Testament prophetic book, ‘The Book of Isaiah’, which as well as calling God’s people back to God’s ways, also has some superb pieces of poetry within it: ‘Comfort, comfort my people (Isaiah 40:1), ‘they shall beat their swords into ploughshares’ (Isaiah 2:4) and wonderful predictions of the coming Messiah:
‘Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and he shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).
This month on Bible Sunday, Sunday 22 October, we celebrate the wonders to be found within the pages of the Bible. In our multi-choice world I would encourage you to take another look at the Bible as a source of solace, hope, guidance and salvation. When Jesus suggests to his disciples that they should leave him Peter replies:
‘But where else can we go. You have the words of eternal life’ (John 6:68).
May we find St Peter’s words also true for ourselves, in our daily reading of the Bible, in our Homegroups as we discover the Bible together, in the extracts we read from the Bible Sunday by Sunday in Church.
With very best wishes, God Bless and fruitful reading,
Revd Nigel Marns
Rector of St Piran's & St Michael's, Perranuthnoe

Thursday, 27 August 2009



When we first moved to Ludgvan in July, the maize in the field in front of the Rectory Garden was just about knee-high. Since then, after all the sun and the rain, it has shot up in height and is over seven feet tall! Now the maize completely dwarfs us and it will soon be time to gather in and harvest this good, strong crop. For those with allotments, much of the hard work over this past year will also be coming to fruition soon. In some sense, the Celebration of Harvest Thanksgiving each Autumn in Church is a bit artificial. Those with winter crops have yet to harvest their benefits, those with cows are ‘gathering in’ their ‘harvest’ of milk everyday and the farmers around us, it seems, are always ‘planting’ and ‘gathering’ and their work is never done.
Not just out in the fields around us, but also in the Church too, Harvest is a time of ‘gathering in’: Harvest-time is about the ‘gathering in’ of people too. It is one of our big Festivals of the year. As we bring our gifts of food to the altar, the Harvest Thanksgiving Service will be celebrated at Perranuthnoe on Sunday 27 September at 11.15 am.
As well as celebrating the gifts of the Harvest and the gifts of God’s bountiful Creation, it is a time in the year when we also ‘gather in’ and ‘gather around’ and give thanks to God for the gift of each other too. As the Summer days turn to Autumn, preparations are well under way for an entertaining and great Harvest Supper feast for us, and St Hilary, at St Piran's Hall where we can all join in and share together on Friday 2 October.
This time of ‘praise and thanksgiving’, this time when we bring to God the gifts of his creation, is a very natural thing for us to do. Not only are we marking the changing of the seasons, as the days grow shorter, but, since ancient times, the first fruits of the Harvest were brought to the Temple as a ‘thanks offering’ to God for all his provision to us (Deuteronomy 26). It is very natural for us to want to thank God, The Great Provider and Sustainer of all our lives. It is good in the Christian Calendar each year that we have one time in the year when we pause and take stock and we give thanks for all God’s many blessings to us, for ‘all God’s gifts around us’ and to thank him for ‘our life, our health, our food’.
One of my favourite Harvest Hymns is sung to the tune ‘Morning has broken’:
‘Praise and thanksgiving, Father, we offer,
For all things living you have made good;
Harvest of sown fields, fruits of the orchard,
Hay from the mown fields, blossom and wood’.

May we all enjoy this time of ‘gathering in’ and Harvest, this time of praise and thanksgiving to God, for all his bountifulness and goodness to us.

Every blessing,

Revd Nigel Marns
Rector: St Piran's & St Michael's, Perranuthnoe

Thursday, 20 August 2009


It’s excellent that a Meal is the Central Act of Christian Worship, Sunday by Sunday. A meal is a time for coming together, for sharing food, stories and conversation. Of course, the Holy Communion Service or Eucharist we celebrate each Sunday in our Churches is a very much stripped down version of the Passover Meal that Jesus celebrated with his disciples: Jesus’ Passover not only involved tiny bits of bread and a sip of wine, but was a great feast involving roast lamb and bitter herbs too, a celebration of great joy as the Jewish people celebrated their release from captivity.

At this time of year, many people will be welcoming into their homes friends, family and visitors, and our local hotels, campsites and bed and breakfasts will be preparing to welcome the large number of visitors anticipated to be coming to visit Cornwall this Summer.

Feasting, welcome and hospitality are very much at the heart of our Christian faith. Jesus spends much of St Luke’s Gospel in particular, sharing meals and enjoying hospitality, sometimes from surprising sources like the tax collector Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-9) or leading Pharisees (Luke 14: 1)or people such as Simon the Pharisee (Luke 7:36).

And it’s not just friends and family that Jesus encourages us to welcome, but strangers too. Perhaps we might baulk at the idea of going out to ‘the highways and byways’ (Luke 14:21) and searching out and collecting people to join in with the celebration of Life and Joy, the abundance of blessings God has poured upon us, and the bounty of God’s feast, as Jesus suggested in his ‘Parable of the Great Banquet’ (Luke 14: 15-24, Matthew 22:1-10) but that I think something of that Spirit is expressed in the welcome and hospitality provided at the Thursday afternoon Teas at Perranuthnoe and when Ludgvan Church has entertained and welcomed overseas agricultural workers working in our local area.

All this talk of ‘welcome and hospitality’ is not just about enjoying fine food, wine and company but about having an open-hearted approach to those who cross our path, and a willingness to invite them and their stories into our lives so that their story becomes part of our stories and we can share, celebrate and enjoy our common humanity together.

As a family we have been recipients of so much welcome and hospitality over these past few weeks. We have been so very warmly welcomed by you all as I come to be your new Rector (and that welcome continues) with a large number of invitations and acts of kindness and friendship offered to us. Thank you for all you have done and continue to do as we settle into our new life with you, as we enjoy such a warm embrace and much welcome and hospitality, so many graces and blessings. Thank you particularly for all those involved in my Welcome & Induction Service on 7 July and all those who made it such a special and memorable occasion.

Jesus encourages us to join in the Feast of Life. I pray that we will accept his invitation, particularly if we are welcoming people into our homes and lives this Summer.

With very best wishes,
Revd Nigel Marns
Rector: Ludgvan, Marazion, St Hilary & Perranuthnoe