Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Jan 2011 Newsletter

January 2011 - Newsletter
The story of the wise men coming to Jesus and his parents is often part of the children's school nativity plays. In truth it represents something that happened well after his birth. It is recorded by Matthew in his very conservative Jewish Gospel. For he understands the messianic significance of these strange visitors from other nations. The prophetic tradition pointed to the time when the Gentile world would come to be part of the new world order that messiah would bring. The nations will become part of his rule of peace. These travelers from unknown lands in the East, no doubt following the spice route were magi, students of the stars, and through such study hoping to chart the fortunes of men, nations and the world order. They had spotted a fresh heavenly body, perhaps a comet, though we shall be unable to verify the details now. One thing is clear that whatever they saw spoke to them of a royal birth. Out there a new king was born. Their journey was made under the enthusiasm of finding a king. In doing so they stirred up a hornets' nest in Herod's court. For Herod was a paranoid dictator who faced continual threats on his life and was capable of horrific reprisals on any who sought to depose him. A possible rival to his legitimacy seemed a danger he could not ignore. There was a birth, but that of a child in ordinary circumstances, born to a local craftsman and his teenage wife. They brought strange gifts, we are told, to do with the life and death of a kingly personage. Afraid of Herod and maybe his interrogation techniques they made good their journey home. In later years they may have reflected on their quest and perhaps, as in TS Elliott's poem, questioned the real value of their journey and the significance of the ordinary family they found.

A cold coming we had of it,

Just the worse time of the year

For a journey, and such a long journey:

The ways deep and the weather sharp,

the very dead of winter.

The poem continues-

But there was no information, and so we continued

And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon

Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

For Christian believers this story becomes the foundation for a great season in the church year as they reflect on the significant influence of the gospel on the world. We call this time of the year Epiphany, indicating that the child is no ordinary man but is shown to the world as its rescuer. His light shines out to a world of need, to people who walk in darkness and to dwellers in the sad land where the very shadow of death falls on all. He is the light to lighten the Gentiles. His light is the true light that lightens every man in the world .
It may well be that Holman Hunt's great painting, entitled ' the Light of the World', springs to mind. It shows Jesus holding a lantern in what is a very English orchard . The influence of the Christ child knows no boundaries so that this very English Victorian artist can, in another millennium, claim that he who is light of the world transforms his age and his contemporaries. This Jesus is our contemporary, too, and we begin the new year by recognizing that he is here for us and 2011 can be a journey with him for us ,our church and our society.

May God bless your New Year,
Noel Michell

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

December Newsletter

‘A New Star’
And Winter fell. All at once it was Winter. All of a sudden the nights seemed very dark. Suddenly we were caught in huge raging storms and floods and bitter cold came upon us. Our lives so often reflect the change in the seasons, don’t they? We can go along quite merrily and happily, and then darkness falls. When Winter comes, our mood turns to a more sombre timbre too. The troubles of our world seem as ‘dark portents’ and press more heavily upon us; life becomes more of a struggle to battle through each day.
However, the coming of the bleak mid-winter is not all ‘doom and gloom’! One of the joys of the encroaching darkness is gazing up at the night sky. Here in Cornwall, we can pick out many constellations and patterns, and, on a clear night, the sky seems completely full of so many bright and gleaming stars.
How amazing it must have been for those three astrologers, two thousand years ago, gazing through their telescopes, and studying and charting the planets and their movements, to suddenly come upon ‘a New Star’ in the night sky, a new light, unrecorded and unrecognised before, much like when we come upon a previously undiscovered mammal in a rainforest or an aerial photograph reveals a previously hidden archaeological settlement in a field. No wonder these first Wise Men hurriedly loaded up their goods and chattels and their camels and horses in such haste, and went on a journey to discover what this ‘New Star’ might mean.
The kings can lead us to discover what Advent is all about: Darkness may fall; Winter may come; but, yet, ‘a New Star’ appears in the sky to lead us and entice us on a journey of discovery. In Advent we can become modern day wise men and women, not shut away in the ‘doom and gloom’ of Winter days and nights, but Advent journeyers, waiting for ‘the Light’ to come to us, to follow ‘the New Star’ that comes to light up the darkness of the night sky and our world in a ‘New Way’ and offering us a bright future in the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who is coming into the world.
Advent has many themes: coloured reflective purple, candles in the darkness, watching and waiting, preparing. But what are we preparing ourselves for? December can be full of extreme busyness, but, if we are true travellers and wise men and women, we will also take time to watch and wait for Jesus to reveal himself to us in ‘a New Way’ this Advent-tide, just like he did in the appearance of ‘the New Star’ in the sky two thousand years ago. Whether it be in your own private prayer-times and meditations this Advent or whether you join us for ‘Advent Sacred Space’ at All Saints, Marazion from 4-4.30pm on Saturdays and Wednesdays for a time of quiet meditation and preparation, we pray that, in the depth of this dark Winter, we will also give time to preparing our hearts to receive ‘the New Thing’ that God wants to reveal to us. As the prophet Isaiah predicted: ‘I am doing ‘a new thing’. Do you not perceive it’?
Happy Advent travelling and best wishes in all your preparations,
Revd. Nigel Marns
Rector United Benefice of Mounts Bay

Sunday, 7 November 2010

November Newsletter

Dear Friends,
One of the many benefits of living in a place like this, is the awareness you have of the changing seasons. We once had to live for several years in the centre of a big city, where the only real signs of late Autumn were a build-up of soggy leaves in the gutters, the shop lights coming on early and an occasional glimpse of a magnificent sunset behind a tower block. Here though, the signs of the year’s turning are everywhere. You can smell it in the air. You can see it in the glorious, low, slanting light; the lengthening shadows; and in the way the countryside reveals itself, showing its underlying structure and bare bones. Even the lights around the bay have a sharpness and a brightness on late October and November nights that they didn’t have a couple of months ago. Real country people seem to have an innate sense of all this. My Dad used to say that he could ‘feel backend coming on’, and there was, in that, a reassuring sense that the natural rhythm of the year was working itself out, as it always had. I think the turning of the Church’s year too, has more of a natural feeling in communities like ours. This year, we are celebrating the Feast of All Souls with a service in Ludgvan Church on the day the clocks go back, so dusk will already be gathering as the service gets underway. It seems a fitting start to our season of remembrance, beginning, as it does, with remembrance of our individual losses, and climaxing with the numerically far greater loss we mark on the 11th and on Remembrance Sunday itself. It’s a time of year I find overwhelmingly moving, and it takes us towards Advent in an appropriately reflective mood.

As Advent approaches, I love the sense you get of things drawing to a close and yet being filled with expectancy. These few weeks that are marked out by the Church as a time of inward renewal and preparation for Christmas, always seem like a gift – a precious opportunity to spiritually re-tune ourselves before getting swept up into the busyness of the festive season. It’s more than just recharging our batteries. There is a quietness and a stillness about this time of year that helps us to tap into the quietness and stillness that is at the very heart of prayer, and prayer of course, is at the heart of our relationship with God. So accept the gift of Advent. Make the most of the opportunity it offers to press the pause button, however briefly, and spend some quiet time with God. The poet RS Thomas describes how essential such time is:
‘…the silence in the mind is when we live best, within listening distance of the silence we call God…’

I hope that’s what this coming Advent will mean for you – a time when you learn to live more ‘within listening distance of the silence we call God’.

Yours with love, Lilian

Friday, 1 October 2010

October Newsletter

All good gifts

The Schools have returned. The roads are much less busy. The days are shortening. The light is fading fast. The nights are noticeably cooler. The leaf fall is all around us. A last burst of warm sun, and the Indian Summer finally fades. Old routines are being revisited, new routines picked up and begun. New interests are taken up. A change of gear and a change of Season is upon us.
We mark this new season, this movement into Autumn, with a Celebration of ‘Life, and Health and Food’, of Creation, and of ‘all good gifts around us’. It is time for the Harvest Thanksgiving Season and, at Harvest, we come to God to thank Him for all his great provision for us, all the food we farm and ‘safely gather in’.
Our focus this Harvest-time is ‘Jesus, the Bread of Life’ (John 6:25-35). After Jesus has provided for his listeners on the hillside at the feeding of the five thousand (harking back to God’s provision of the Israelites with manna in the wilderness (Exodus 16) and pointing forward to the heavenly banquet in the Kingdom to come) Jesus then goes onto say that ‘we cannot live by bread alone’.
As we come to our Harvest Thanksgivings this year we might expand our thoughts to include not just carrots and cauliflowers but all of God’s provision that sustains us. We think of our homes and shelter, our clothes and fuel, our hobbies and employment. But it is not just food and practical things that can sustain us. Things perish. Food can go rotten and stale - as I’ve often found to my cost if I have left Harvest produce unsorted for too long in Church! - However, I always think we had one satisfied customer in the Church mouse who I think relishes this Season of Harvest feasting most of all!
Jesus says there is ‘more to life than food’. Other things sustain us: things like the nurture and love of our friends and family. ‘The bread of life’ also means living in God, living in Jesus, the true ‘bread of life’ can also sustain us and prepare us to live in the light of eternity. Jesus advises us ‘not to work for things that go bad, but for things that last for eternal life’. He says: ‘Those who come to me shall never go hungry. Those who believe in me will never be thirsty’ (John 6:35).
This Harvest Festival (as the Autumnal light gradually reduces our horizons and as we prepare to hunker down for the Winter ahead) may we also expand our horizons and our thinking to include the many things we can praise God for and his great provision for us in so many ways: certainly to thank Him for our food, but also for so many gifts around us: As Chisholm writes in his famous hymn:
‘Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed thy hand has provided.
Great is thy faithfulness Lord unto me.’

Happy Harvest Feasting and festivity,
Revd Nigel Marns
Team Rector

Friday, 3 September 2010

September Newsletter

Dear Friends,

In the benefice we are taking part in the programme run by the Diocese entitled 'Back to Church Sunday.' We have decided to change the title to 'Welcome to Church Sunday' as it sounded more positive and inviting to people. Indeed we all need to recognise the failure of the church everywhere to take seriously the great commission that Our Lord left 'to make disciples' everywhere.The church has become a club where the faithful club members get their weekly inspiration without considering that the very inspiration that they find in church is what so many people in society are trying to find. There is a hunger for spiritual things in many people's lives. They feel empty and rudderless in their daily lives. They are looking for some deeper meaning to everything. The church is one place that they may want to look for answers to these real desires in their lives. We need to make the effort to make the place attractive to them. First we need to be friendly- welcoming them into church with a smile and that genuine hello that means we actually are excited to see them in church. Secondly when we have a cuppa after the service-do we make sure they are invited and, more importantly, drawn into conversation. I have seen strangers in church stranded in the coffee time because the whole body of regulars are intent on talking with their friends and ignoring them. We need to draw them into our friendship and that must mean a little effort from all of us.

Of course, thirdly the occasional services offer us a very promising opportunity to draw alongside younger family groups that we need for the future of our church. The problem is many of us don't like our cosy Sunday corner disturbed by their presence in our service. We often wish they might opt for some other time on the Sunday away from our normal service! What a pity that we feel like this for they are the very people our Lord wants in our midst and the command to baptise is part of the great commission to make disciples. We cannot afford to ignore those who want baptism for their children. They need to be integrated into the life of our churches and we need to work hard at involving their baptised children into a program for young people that will lead to confirmation in due course.

We need, fourthly, to integrate those being married in our churches into the life of our Christian communities. All this takes time and patience from all of us. Two generations have been allowed to drift from meaningful links with the church and bridging this gap will take much effort from all of us. We must expect that they will feel out of place in our world. We cannot simply,therefore, sit back and expect these new relationships to build themselves.

So we are preparing for Welcome back to church Sunday. Each of us has a part to play in this. We all need to think of someone we can invite to come with us to church. There must be people that we know that we could invite to come along with us. If we all found someone to bring we could double the number in church on that day. Perhaps more than double the number if we invite a young family with children!

Over this matter of making disciples 'doing nothing' is not an option unless we want to close the doors of our churches for good. As we begin our Autumn program of church events may we remember the great commission of Jesus and that includes our part in making disciples. Let us all see everything up to Christmas an opportunity for befriending and bringing new folk to God and to church.

Your friend and priest,

Noel Michell

Thursday, 22 July 2010

August Newsletter

SACRED SPACE
‘Sacred Spaces’ can be many and varied. I wonder what would you name as your ‘sacred space’?
Recently, I asked a group of schoolchildren what was their ‘sacred space’. Many said their bedroom was a place of solace, some named a den they had made, or a shed they went to, some said when they visited their horses, some had special places on the beach which were places of sanctuary. The children also recognised the Church building as being an important ‘sacred space’ where generations of people had prayed, where special celebrations had taken place, a ‘hallowed’ and ‘blessed’ place. Many Churches in Cornwall were built near fresh water sources, useful for baptisms, but also founded close to water as a source of life. There are so many ‘holy wells’ around us.
I wonder if you would name your ‘sacred space’ as the Church, or a particular part of the Church, or whether some other place of sanctuary springs to mind. Here in Cornwall, we live in a truly blessed place with wonderful rugged and craggy coastline, hidden and secret coves, ever-changing colours and moods of the sea, a rich variety of sea creatures, animals and birdlife, there are many ‘sacred spaces’ here.
The Church has been too anthropocentric or human-centred in the past, by concentrating solely on one man, Jesus. Although Jesus is the ‘pioneer and perfecter of our faith’, ‘The Alpha and the Omega’, the only source of our salvation, God did not only create one man, even if he was the Divine Son of God. If our faith is too human-focused it can lead to travesty: Recently, I watched a harrowing theatrical adaptation of John Steinbeck’s book ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ at the Hall for Cornwall. Steinbeck portrayed the pioneering Southern Baptist Community in America, fundamentally believing in Jesus Christ as their ‘Personal Saviour’, but paying scant regard for the agricultural land around them, and desecrating, despoiling, and so abusing and overworking the land, that it could no longer sustain life and was turned into a dustbowl.
As well as Jesus, we are each made in God’s image and God also created this beautiful world for us to enjoy. The great eighteenth-century poet and visionary, William Blake, declared that ‘everything that lives is holy’. That is why I enjoy so much taking Services outside into other ‘sacred spaces’ (and not confining our faith to a building, however much of a ‘sacred space’ it is). I have really enjoyed leading the Easter Sunday Morning Perranuthnoe Sunrise Service, the Rogation Sunday Field Blessing, the Songs of Praise Service in the Rectory Garden, and we are going to do two more outdoor Services in August too:
a Family Service by the Red River on Marazion Beach on Sunday 8 August and
on Wednesday 11 August we are going to revive the tradition of the St Hilary Pilgrimage, taking in all four Churches in our Benefice, starting from Ludgvan at 2.30pm, Marazion at 4.30pm, Perranuthnoe at 6.00pm to join in the St Hilary Pilgrimage Service at 7.00pm. You are welcome to join us at any point along the route. The early Celtic saints who brought Christianity to Cornwall and the later Medieval saints on Pilgrimage to Compostela walked many of the paths and tracks of St Michael’s Way which we shall travel on, and we shall be travelling in their footsteps, in the land they have already blessed before us. If you don’t want to make a physical Pilgrimage or to go outside, you are very welcome to join in the spiritual pilgrimage, which is our new ‘Sacred Space’ Daily Prayer Tuesdays-Saturdays throughout August at Marazion Church.
There are many ‘sacred spaces’ and many sacred places all around us to be discovered in our Churches, and outside too. This Summer may we explore and discover them or renew our acquaintance with some holy and blessed places, some ‘sacred spaces’ once again.

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

Sunday, 27 June 2010

JULY NEWSLETTER

Hiya Everyone,

By the time you read this letter, “When Nigel comes” will have been “Now Nigel is Here” for a whole year. And What a Year it has been

Let me recap some of the highlights of this past year, or at least some of the highlights as I see them!

New Liturgy – we now have new liturgy books for all the seasons of the church year and most people I have spoken to agree that this has enhanced our worship and made us much more aware of the changing seasons in our church year
.
Bonfire Night – Did you get there? It was the most magnificent occasion with something for everyone. We had a bonfire that looked as if it was one continuous firework courtesy of an off duty firefighter, fireworks galore, lovely hot food and singing along with the guitars of the Good News Gang and others. A real Benefice effort and family occasion.

A very moving All Souls Service and a Taize Worship evening at Marazion.

Christmas Eve Crib service at Ludgvan attracting over 70 people including children.

A Marriage Thanksgiving service in the afternoon of St Valentine’s Day at Perranuthnoe

New Forms of worship on a Sunday afternoon at Ludgvan and Marazion and a Benefice Maunday Thursday Service at Marazion with the washing of feet (and hands) and Taize worship.

The Spectacular Easter morning (at 5.30am) service on the beach at Perranuthnoe where teenagers (and others) played guitars, children sang and older members just marvelled as we moved from complete darkness into the light of the sunrise and the further comfort of a fantastic cooked breakfast. What a way to start the Easter Season.

Easter Day also marked the opening of a new Junior Church at Ludgvan.

And this is just a small sample of the things that have been happening round the Benefice in the past year – as I said before – What a year!

Later this month Nigel and Penny will start their daily Taize service at Marazion and that will run Tuesday till Saturday every week during July and August at 4pm in Marazion Church – not to be missed.
Of course, all of this may have passed you by and you may not like any of the new services and innovations that Nigel and his whole family have brought to the Benefice and you are quite entitled to think like that. However, things are changing whether we like it or not. We are losing Lilian to Lincoln and her family and Annie from Perranuthnoe will start her training to be a Priest.

You may have noticed that new faces have started appearing in most of our congregations. Isn’t it wonderful that God is sending all these new people to join us in this journey as we strive to “Discover God’s Kingdom and Grow the Church” (as Bishop Tim would say). I believe that they are sent by God and its our responsibility, under God, to make them welcome among us.

If we all felt the same way about these changes then it would be the first time in history, as even Moses and Jesus himself didn’t please everyone.

I mention Moses because when following the Lectionary Year we have recently been reading through the book of Exodus, you know the one, Genesis, Exodus, and I couldn’t help but marvel at the patience and humility of Moses and the stubborn and complaining Israelites. (Try reading it again – it’s fascinating). They are still complaining all the way through Numbers too.

They had just seen God hold back the Red Sea for them, He’s drowned all the Egyptian army in the same Red Sea and within three days – yes just three days they were moaning about not having all the nice things to eat that they had enjoyed when they were slaves in Egypt. I don’t doubt that some of them would have complained that their feet had got damp coming through the Red Sea but I have no biblical evidence for this!

Not that I am comparing Nigel to Moses in any way because as we all know, Moses had a long beard, a big nose and spoke with an American accent. (Well he did in all the movies I have seen). Nigel may not be Moses but God is still the same God – the same yesterday today and for ever.

It is my firm belief that our God never stops moving his people on and that we are all on a journey and that journey involves getting better acquainted with His ways and how He wants us to live our life.

In this Benefice we have a good chance now to “hitch our wagons” onto Nigel and Penny’s journey and join with them as they seek God in the Celtic tradition of “going with the flow”.

I certainly don’t want to go back (like the Israelites), indeed it is impossible to go back as we are told that “life goes not backwards nor tarries with yesterday” and I will be happily moving forward into the flow of our God and I urge all of you to join us in this exciting journey into greater knowledge and deeper worship of our God.

So - I am certainly looking forward to our next year together, my prayer is that you are too.

All love, Beth

(Revd. Beth Whyte)

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

June Newsletter

Here Comes The Summer – And It’s No ‘Ordinary Time’!
I don’t know about you but I am just beginning to get a taste for the Summer: for hot, shirtsleeve days and long summer nights when the light stretches ever onward and it doesn’t really get dark until 9pm or 10pm. The hedgerows have burst into a profusion of colour and the light is fresh and bright. For many, the Summer is an expansive time of the year: the constraints of the winter can be forgotten and the cobwebs thrown off. Many people relish the opportunity of spending as much time as possible out of doors, whether it be gardening or bowling, walking or rowing, surfing or swimming. The Summer can be a freeing and renewing time of the year.
Sadly, in these Summer days , the Calendar of the Church Year does not reflect the Summer experience of exploration and discovery and designates these ‘extraordinary’ months of June - and many months hereafter (right up until November) - as ‘Ordinary Time’ ! Sundays are numbered after the rather arcane theological concept of the Trinity almost ad infinitum - I think there are ’21 Sundays After Trinity’ this year!
I am always disappointed that the Church should choose to designate the Summer months in this way. There has been all the preparation for the birth of Jesus in December in the Advent Season, the joy of Jesus’ Coming at Christmas, the revelation of the nature of the Christ at Epiphany, the 40-day preparation of Lent, and the study of Jesus’ mission and life-story in February and March, leading to the climatic events of Jesus’ Passion, Death and Resurrection in Holy Week, Good Friday and Easter, his Ascension in May and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. After all this, the Church Year seems to go rather flat. By not entering into the ‘Spirit’ of the Season or the Summer, I think that the Church misses a trick at this time of year.
There is the whole next part of the story of God’s salvation to be told: the story of the birth and early beginnings of the Church to discover, contained in the final books of the New Testament: the Acts of the Apostles and the Letters to the emerging Christian Churches and first Christian communities. And we learn that they are as fractious, fragile and human as any Church is today. This June in Church we shall be reading from the Letter of St Paul to the Church in Galatia, and we shall hear St Paul trying to explain to Jews his credentials in being an apostle, his contentious mission to the non-Jewish peoples, the Gentiles, the relationship of the newly emerging Christian faith to the old Jewish Torah and law and how St Paul emphasises that loving Christian conduct flows naturally from faith in Christ.
The Holy Spirit had much to teach the early Church and has much to teach us today. The Holy Spirit gives us the power we need to live the Gospel and is our well-spring of peace and confidence, planting the seed of faith and devotion to God in our hearts.
I know there is a need for fallow times in the Christian year as in the farming year: times when the soils in the fields need to recover and fish stocks return to the seas but I do not think the Summertime of fruitfulness and harvest is a time for this. As Christians, there are no ‘Ordinary Times’ if we are followers of Jesus and live lives empowered by the Holy Spirit. I believe as Christians we are to reap the ‘Harvest’ and ‘fruits of the Spirit’ at this time of year. I prefer to call these Summer days ‘Sundays of the Holy Spirit’, because you never know where the wind of the Holy Spirit will blow next and whom the fire of the Holy Spirit will rest or alight upon next. Just as we make new discoveries and have new experiences in the freedom of the Summer days and nights, may we ‘expect the unexpected’ in our faith too and may the Summer also be a ‘Season of the Holy Spirit’, a time of deepening, having new adventures and making new discoveries in our faith and walk with God just as we do in the rest of our lives at this bounteous time of Year.
Revd Nigel Marns
Rector: Ludgvan, Marazion, Perranuthnoe & St Hilary
A Date For your Diary: Revd Nigel and Mrs Penny Marns warmly invite the Parishioners of the United Benefice to a Songs of Praise Service followed by some light refreshments in The Rectory Garden, Ludgvan (in Ludgvan Church, if wet) on Sunday June 27 at 4pm. All very welcome

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

May 2010 Newsletter

Dear Friends,
This month we celebrate three of the Church’s major festivals – Ascension Day, Pentecost and, right at the end of May, Trinity Sunday. The first two really bring the Easter story to its conclusion. On Ascension Day, all those marvellous encounters the disciples have had with their risen Lord, come to an end. He departs from them in bodily form, after promising that they will soon be ‘clothed in power from on high’, something which happens with spectacular force on the day of Pentecost.
From then on, the disciples are changed people. Inspired by Jesus’ appearances to them after Easter, and empowered by the gift of the Holy Spirit, they go out and change the world.
I’m always struck by the low-key way we Anglicans treat Ascension Day. It tends to be overshadowed by Easter a few weeks earlier, and Pentecost, which comes just over a week later. Maybe we’re even a little embarrassed by Luke’s description of how Jesus departs from this earth. Believing he was physically taken up into heaven in a cloud seems, to our modern way of thinking, rather na├»ve and simplistic. I rather enjoy the way the scene is often depicted in Eastern Orthodox art, though it makes me want to giggle too – there’s usually the group of eleven disciples gazing upwards and, right at the top of the picture, a bit of cloud with Jesus’ ankles and feet dangling down from it.
But the more you meditate on this story, the more meaning it has, and particularly for us in this day and age, when the Church sometimes seems to be suffering from a lack of confidence. When our faith is under attack from many sides, as it is at present, there is an understandable tendency for Christians to want to play safe – to gather together in our own places rather than engage with a world that can seem indifferent or even hostile.
One of the striking things about the Ascension story, though, is the state the disciples were in when they went down off the hill. Jesus has departed from them. How natural it would have been to feel bereft, even fearful about having to face life without him. Not a bit of it. They go down the hillside bursting with confidence and joy. Luke tells us they are then continuously in the temple praising God, and this despite the fact that Jerusalem had become a very dangerous place for the followers of Jesus. There’s such an exuberance and boldness about them, that they’re scarcely recognisable as the same people who were in a state of fear and trembling only a short time previously.
It’s this transformation – begun at Easter and completed at Pentecost – that is the most powerful testament to the reality of Christ’s resurrection, and the power of the Holy Spirit. And it’s part of the miracle of the whole thing, that ever since those events, Jesus’ followers have, in some mysterious way, been able to plug into the same power source as those first disciples. We too are able to know the risen Christ as a living presence in our lives; we too have received the gift of the Holy Spirit, which is conferred on us all when we are baptised.
We do have to admit, though, that some of us seem to live as though we have not been transformed and empowered by these experiences at all. Someone has said that what we need to do in order for the Church to survive and grow, is rediscover our confidence in the power of Holy Spirit. As it is, we tend to muddle along as though we’re unaware of this great energy source available to us. It reminds me of when we acquired our present car. I’d never driven a car with a sixth gear before, so I often forgot that it was there. If John happened to be in the passenger seat, our journeys would be punctuated by him hissing through clenched teeth (his usual form of communication anyway, when I’m driving): ‘Move into top gear’.
Perhaps we should take that as our Ascension-tide and Whitsun-tide motto. And how do we ‘move into top gear?’ The first disciples point the way. The first thing they do after Jesus’ ascension is come together to pray, so preparing themselves for the gift of the Holy Spirit which is nothing less than the power of God actively at work in us, giving us new life, energising us and changing us.
It has been said that the Christian faith has no proofs, only witnesses. But when you think about it, the two amount to the same thing. The truth of our faith is proved by the quality of our witness. Often at our Sunday morning service we say these words: ‘The Lord is here. His spirit is with us’. If we really know that to be true, then we too have what it takes to go out and change the world, or at any rate, our little bit of it.
Yours with love, Lilian

Monday, 29 March 2010

NEWSLETTER APRIL 2010

‘Sometimes it causes me to wonder, wonder,
Were you there when they crucified, my Lord?’

Just as the old spiritual says, the climatic events of Jesus’ last days on Earth give us much cause to wonder as we relive and bear witness once again to Jesus’ Life, Death and Resurrection this Easter.

During these last seven weeks of Lent we have been thinking about ‘the People of the Passion’, people who were witnesses to Jesus’ Passion during his lifetime: people like the Centurion, the thief on the Cross, Pilate’s wife. But Jesus’ story is not trapped at one moment in time, trapped in the history books 2000 years ago. We can still encounter it, experience it and it can have life-changing effect on our lives today.

I wonder where you might be in the crowd, as you witness Jesus’ Passion: are you standing at the back, watching from afar off, liable to flee at the first sign of trouble, as the crowds and disciples largely did at Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gesthemene. Or do you find yourself in the thick of the action?: Welcoming Jesus into Jerusalem with great hope on Palm Sunday; being made incredulous by Jesus’ servant ministry, as he washes his disciples’ feet at the Last Supper; ‘beholding’ the glory of ‘the Man’, steadfast under question and steadfast under fire by the rulers; or, perhaps, feeling as if you have, in some way, betrayed your calling to completely live Jesus’ Way in your life, like Peter and Judas. Do you find yourself at the foot of the Cross contemplating God’s great love and forgiveness for the sins of the world, or startled by great joy as the Risen Jesus appears to you in a Garden or on a Beach.

This year we have a very full programme of events and services throughout the Benefice over Holy Week to help us not to linger at the back of the crowd, but to draw us closely in to Jesus’ Story, so that we may fully enter into the Easter Mystery, and to enable us to wonder afresh at God’s great love and salvation plan for each of us and the whole world.

We will travel with Jesus this Holy Week and as we will celebrate in Good Friday and Easter Day, the culmination, purpose and pinnacle of our Christian lives and faith. We will contemplate and wonder together, whether it be in joyous Palm Sunday Services or more contemplative Maundy Thursday and Good Friday Vigils, or as we welcome Christ’s Resurrection Light coming to us on Easter Day at Sunrise or in a beautiful Easter Morning Service. I pray that as Jesus’ followers today, as ‘People of the Passion’ today, that our experience and encounter with the Living Jesus, will restore our hope and trust in the purposes of God, who can overcome all things and makes all things new for all-time and for each of us in the Resurrection Dawn on Easter Day.

I wish you all a very Happy Easter,
Revd Nigel Marns
Rector: Ludgvan, Marazion, Perranuthnoe & St Hilary

Friday, 26 February 2010

March Newsletter

Dear Friends,

This Year we took friends along the road from Porth Navas to Mawnan. It is a narrow lane that skirts the waters edge through some delightful Helford scenery. The width of the road is not for the faint hearted as we discovered trying to pass a lady in her people's carrier who simply froze beside me in a rather tight passing place on the road! Sometimes roads can be difficult if we want to see the best views!
We went from there down to the church at Mawnan with its wonderful views out to sea and I saw again the old Cornish board across the lychgate which reads -Dus ynjy dhe Du.

This is an invitation to the visiting pilgrim to draw near to God. An invitation to find sanctuary and to pray. At journey's end to step aside and enjoy the presence of God. All good journeys through life include prayer of some kind. Lent is such a time in our calendar - part of a journey through the Christian year. Some people think of it as a time for denial and giving up something that we consider a little special treat in life. I see it more as a special marker on the journey - a moment to stop and reflect on the meaning of those events that lie at the very heart of our faith. Our journey leads us year by year to this same place. We stop like all good pilgrims. We catch our breath from the journey and take stock. We find fresh sanctuary as old truths take on new and fresh meaning. We meet with Our Lord on his journey and passion. It is a place to accept afresh his blessing. We can do this as we discover once again for ourselves the old truths and allow the Spirit of God to re-mint those truths so that they come afresh into our lives. Please accept this invitation of God, this Lent, so that each one of us might find his presence with us.

Your friend and priest,

Noel Michell.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

February 2010 Newsletter

St Piran & St Michael’s Church, Perranuthnoe

PEOPLE OF THE PASSION

Stories are important to us. Whether they be stories about our national or local history, stories about 'what make us the people that we are'; or fairy stories that we tell our children to warn them of the dangers in our world, or whether it be keeping abreast of the latest unfolding and developing dramas and stories on the television news. We all like a good story.

One of the privileges of my job is that I have the opportunity to hear peoples' stories. Over the past six months, as your new Rector, I've started to make my way around the Benefice, and have been privileged to begin to be invited to share in lives and tales. I've heard about what is important, what brings joy and, sometimes, also what problems or difficulties people have had to overcome in their lives, whether financial or in relationships or struggles with poor health. I've also heard about people's personal walk with God, how the golden thread of faith has been interwoven into the events of lives and journeys. And I've learnt afresh that everyone has a story to tell.

The problem with the stories in our faith is that they become over-familiar to us. We think we've heard them all before, that they have nothing more to tell us or teach us or say to us. We think we know what they are all about, and we stop listening to them. In St Ignatius' Way of Prayer he taught his Jesuits to imagine themselves from the perspective of one of the characters in the narrative, and so more fully enter into the unfolding Biblical account, making the stories more present and real, for them to become as it were participants in the Gospel stories, as if they were happening today, in the here and now. In 2000 the BBC produced eight vignettes or monologues of about fifteen minutes each, an imaginative re-interpretation of people who had met Jesus, but taken from a slightly different perspective, a slightly different angle on the story, producing new insights onto familiar and well-known characters in the Biblical account of the Passion: people like the Centurion, the Thief on the Cross or Pontius Pilate's wife. It is similar to Alan Bennett's 'Talking Heads'. As we watch these little accounts together this Lent, and we realise that everyone has a story to tell, it will help us to engage afresh with the people who were around Jesus, 'The People of the Passion', who had contact with Jesus in his life and so, on reflection, help us to build up a better picture of Jesus himself as he heads towards the dramatic and seminal events of Holy Week and Easter-tide.

As Christians, we too are 'People of the Passion' (although we don't live at the same historical time as Jesus himself) we are people who hold to the belief that Jesus' Life, Death and Resurrection is the most important story in human history, and that Jesus' story brings the promise of forgiveness, restoration, renewal and new life to everyone and to our own life stories too. At Lent, we place Jesus' story at the centre of our lives and our stories, and it may be that we decide to do something to acknowledge this in as practical way in our own life, by 'giving up something' to remember Jesus' own fasting and praying in the wilderness or 'taking up' a new thing, by joining a Lent Group or Lent Lunch or re-galvanising our prayer-time, so that during this forty day season we may draw closer to Jesus and his story and that his story interweaves more strongly and visibly in our lives throughout this precious time of Lent.

I pray that during this Lent we will listen again to the Biblical stories, we may enter it all anew and afresh and that it will inform our own life stories and our own journeying with God today.
May we have a blessed and holy Lent together,

Best Wishes,

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