This is the archive page on which we intend to put past monthly articles etc...
Vicar's Comment - October 2006
We begin this month celebrating Harvest Festival: The Church decorated with flowers, fruit and vegetables - together with cans and dried food. ‘All good things around us are sent from heaven above’ we will sing as we give thanks for the many good and tasty things that feed our bodies and keep us healthy.
In times gone by giving thanks for the work of God and the ‘work of our hands’ was only natural. The commitment to work in rhythm with the seasons ensured survival for another year. Of course folk wanted to give thanks. It’s still a good basis for a response to God: Giving thanks leads us into worship. Then as we acknowledge our frailty and dependence we begin to reach out to God. Whenever we do that we find that he is reaching out to us. And from there the relationship grows. Alleluia. - Rev Nigel Fry, Vicar
Christ is our Cornerstone
The Cornerstone Group (as it is now known) has met twice now to plan celebrations for the 50th year since the laying of the Foundation Stone (July 4th 1957). July 4th falls on a Wednesday in 2007 so the main commemoration service is planned for that evening at 7.30pm with Bishop Ian. Please make a note of that in your new diary, but also block in that whole week - from Saturday 30th June to Sunday 8th July. Lots of activities and events are planned as well as an exhibition. Have you got memories, pictures etc to share from the last 50 years? Please let the group know.
2 to 1 as well as 3 to 1!
In the August Benchmark I wrote about the number of priests here going from 3 to 1 as we said farewell to Peter. Now we’ve said our goodbyes to Liz, our Sisters have gone from 2 to 1! I’m glad we’ve had a couple of weeks to say our goodbyes and give thanks for Liz’s ministry here. I certainly have appreciated her wit, wisdom and humour as well as her very earthed theology, realism and practicalness. An abiding memory will be looking round at the Welland Fun Day and seeing her doing a spot of target practice with a rifle on the Wild West stand. Brilliant. Always challenging others about what they think Sisters, Christianity, the Church etc are really about, and always eager to get stuck in and enjoy life! Though this is only for the time being that loss is also going to impact our church’s ministry. At the PCC this month we need to address how we best use our resources for worship and pastoral care, build together with our ecumenical partners and reach out with the Good News of Jesus on the estates that make up our Parish. Let’s take a leaf out of Sister Liz’s book and get stuck ino that challenge. Maybe with...
Here’s a pointer for prayer: The Youth Project has put in a bid for funding to the Rank organisation. The second part of that process has just been completed and a senior member of Rank is visiting us this month. If successful this will secure the Project for the next 5 years and bring on board a trainee youth worker to work alongside Mark. With the close of John Mansfield School and the many positive things that Mark is enabling the timing feels right. So let’s pray!
And let’s celebrate: Foundation stones and living stones, buildings and people, our thanks for the past and our hopes for the future; knowing that in it all God is with us.
‘So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling-place for God.’
Ephesians 2: 19-22
Vicar's Comment - November 2006
This month marks the beginning of the Celtic new year. Like the Jews they measured the cycle of time from dark to light; a new day begins at sunset, a new year with the longest, darkest nights. The season they named ‘Samhain’, the time when nature slept and hope was born out of the desire to survive.
As the nights draw in and winter approaches it is quite natural for us to become more reflective, to look back and remember life and love past. This month holds the services of All Saints, All Souls, and Remembrance Sunday. All of them poignant; all of them reminding us of the preciousness of those around us with whom we share the brief tract of time that is our life on earth.
As people of faith we can face this fearsome fact, gather to worship, and even celebrate, because at the heart of that faith is the Good News of Jesus who conquered death and opened the gate of glory, that all may enter in. No other belief offers this understanding of God. He loves us unconditionally now and always.
'God of all consolation,
in your unending love and mercy
you turn the darkness of death
into the dawn of new life.'
Thanks be to God.
- Rev Nigel Fry, Vicar
Vicar's Comment - December 2006
'Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us...' So begins the Gospel of Luke, the Gospel for this year (C) in the Revised Common Lectionary. After his introduction Luke moves quickly on to tell his Gospel... and where does he choose to start but with the background to the Nativity story. The Nativity is at the core of the Christ-mas celebrations this month - The event of God's Son being born into poverty, scandal, insecurity and alienation. An event foretold centuries before (see Micah 5:2-5). An event awaited, hoped for, prayed for. An event that ensured nothing would be quite the same ever again - and yet an event that happened quietly and simply in a small town in an insignificant country on the edge of an empire. God came to live a human life in the midst of his people; an ordinary life in his amazing universe.
In all the rush and noise and razzmatazz; in all the partying; in all the get-togethers; in all the memories; in all the joy; in all the hurts; in all the fun; in all the pain; remember: He came to bring his peace; he came to share his love... with you and me... where we are.
'Give glory to God in heaven, and on earth let there be peace among the people who please God.' (Luke 2:14)
Like many others of his time Luke was eager to share the events of Jesus' life because they changed his life. As we wait, hope and pray, this Advent and Christmas, let us in our worship, praise and song - and in each ordinary and extraordinary moment of each day - desire to share our encounter with the Living God. For whoever you are, whatever your situation, whatever you've done, whatever you're suffering, in the midst of it all... God is there... and that's Good News.
- Rev Nigel Fry, Vicar.
A service of Morning Prayer has been introduced on Sunday mornings at 8.30am. At present this is quite low key: A said service using the Common Worship Daily Prayer Book. Without wanting to put pressure on anyone (afterall, getting to the 9.30 can be hard enough), I would just like to suggest that this is an opportunity to start Sunday with God in preparation for Holy Communion at 9.30am. There's a lot of activity before that service begins and much of that is inevitable no matter how much organisation goes on beforehand because we are 'gathering together'. (And there's usually a techno glitch at the last minute of course!) Just having prayed beforehand helps to focus on what and why we're doing what we're doing.
Morning Prayer also happens during the week - meeting in the Workshop Chapel:
Tue 8.45am (Alternating with the Methodists - ask Nigel re venue.)
Here's an idea that's come up through the Cornerstone Group: Building a Church inside the Church! A replica of Christ the Carpenter built with Lego bricks. And we have two boxes of bricks already. (Maybe it's a loaves and fishes thing?) Perhaps Lego themselves will be willing to help us with the project?
PCC Away Day
The PCC Away Day on November 11th was held at the Barn in Helpston. It was good that so many of the PCC were able to attend, and it was good too to be able to give a whole morning to thinking about the church and what we're about rather than just the fag end of a day just wanting to get to the end of an agenda. We tackled the enormity of the challenge facing the Church locally and more widely with enthusiasm. Reflecting on issues that come out of the the Diocesan Strategy and the Deanery Mission Plan we sought to apply them to our own circumstances through group discussions and reflections. Some of the work sheets are displayed at the back of church and we will be returning to them for further discussion and ideas in future meetings. The morning concluded with lunch in the Exeter Arm... and that was a very good idea.
Have you still got a tube of Smarties snucked away somewhere? Maybe you haven't eaten them all yet?!!? Or maybe it's still only half full of 20p's? (I reckon that one of the problems with collecting particular coins is that you take them all out of circulation!) Anyway, thanks to all those who've returned tubes already: Gathering the funds for chairs and tables is doing well: It's hoped there will be 4 tables, a table trolley and some chairs before Christmas! Well done. Thanks to all those who've donated and/or helped in any way. It will make the hall look smart(i)er, be easier for those using the hall to move things around, improve storage, and be more appealing to those thinking about making a booking. Let's keep checking our change.
Didn't we have a lovely time the day we went to Welland Primary School! The Methodists were there, we had cakes to share, and the local children came.
On the afternoon of November 25th together with the Methodist Church a service was held in the Welland Primary School. There were activities - including Christingle making, an action song, prayers and refreshments. This was an encouraging start to what is hoped will be a regular ecumenical outreach as the churches work together under the banner 'Your Church in Your Community'. The school proved a good venue, and the venture is fully supported by the Headmaster there, David Belcher. Thanks to all those who helped and supported during the afternoon. Look out for the next Celebration... sometime in February.
The 'Cornerstone Group' have met a few times now and as well as enjoying sifting through pictures and other memorabilia, have put together a draft diary of events for the forthcoming celebrations. The 4th July falls midweek and the main memorial service is planned to be at the same time as 50 years ago: 7.30pm. Bishop Ian is booked to come and the service will be followed with refreshments. The other hoped for events are...
Sat 30th - Dogsthorpe Festival and Christ the Carpenter Summer Fayre
Sun 1st - Holy Communion, Teddy Bear Parachute Jump and Picnic
Mon 2nd - Displays in Church and Hall
Tue 3rd - Young People's Event - Youth Group, Guides, Brownies, Rainbows etc
Wed 4th - Celebration Service 7.30pm - with the Bishop of Peterborough
Thu 5th - 'Memories' evening
Fri 6th - Barn Dance
Sat 7th - Games evening
Sun 8th - Holy Communion with Guest Preacher, Bring and Share Meal, Concert: Gildenburgh Choir
...there may be a few changes yet but the intention is to have a full programme for the week so please block that week off in your diaries!
Bible in a Year Challenge
More than a dozen folk have risen to the challenge to 'read the Bible in a year'. In Christ the Carpenter's Jubilee Year no less. The Bible isn't the easiest book to tackle - there's quite a lot of it for a start and some parts of the Old Testament are particularly hard going. But then many people seem to fritter their lives away reading everything but the Bible - even hefty tomes like 'Lord of the Rings' and 'Harry Potter' - not to mention a lot of other more dubious stuff.
The Bible takes us way back in history to places, people and cultures that are difficult for us to get our head around. Quite a bit of it is straight forward though its value being its relevance for us today in the here and now of our everyday lives.
So... how do you read the Bible in a year? (How do eat an elephant?) Well, those who've signed up for the challenge will be using a version of the Bible that's been ordered into 365 readings - one set for each day of the year. On each day there's a bit (OK quite a big bit) to read from the Old Testament, a bit from the Psalms, Proverbs, and the New Testament; working sequentially from Genesis 1, Psalm 1, Proverbs 1 and Matthew 1 on January 1st to Malachi 4:6, Psalm 150:6, Proverbs 31:31 and Revelation 22:21 on December 31st. I reckon if you set aside half an hour each day you'll have time to read that day's portion and have a bit of prayer time too. (Included in the Bible are some reflections and a prayer to use as well if you wish.)
If you've ever wanted to read the Bible through and have never got round to it, or you've started but ground to a halt in Leviticus, then this could be for you too! If you would like to join the challenge I can see if we can get hold of a few more copies. )Oh, and by the way, if you've already ordered one you owe me £11.50! Thanks, Nigel.)
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Vicar's comments - Jan 2007 - Epiphany
'It's just one day.' I'm sure you've heard someone say that about Christmas at sometime. Maybe you've said it yourself? So much emphasis - pressure even - is placed on the day - the 25th; There's a huge build up to it - and much (often unnecessary) expense; there's a huge blow out on 'the day' - of (often too much) eating and drinking; and then many people (often not surprisingly) just fall asleep in front of the telly. Afterwards there's a tendency for things to fall rather flat. New Year's Eve comes along of course and there's an eagerness to celebrate again. But for all the fun and hope of that it feels a bit empty. The old year has been swept under the carpet - together with the the precious content of the manger. This results in many folk feeling somewhat negative as they return to work, to school, to the ordinary, to...? They're just broker and fatter than they were before all the hype began. Christmas and all the trappings that go with it is celebrated at the darkest time of year to help us through that darkness - and the darkness we often tend to feel within. Light, music, feasting, and being with family and friends, helps us through, as do cards from those who are more distant. So there's a tendency to do everything a bit too early: Carols, Nativities, Dinners, Parties, Slade(!); it's like we've all colluded to raid our Christmas stockings.
The Season of Advent encourages us to eagerly anticipate Christmas - and to enjoy preparing ourselves to worship Emmanuel - God with us (as well as preparing the pudding, cake, goose(!) and sending the cards and getting the pressies). The Season of Christmas (the twelve days of Christmas) then arrives and we can burst with thanks and praise to God for sending his Son to us (as well as feasting and partying). And now the Season of Epiphany reminds us - so that again we can continue celebrating - of the ways Jesus made his glory known - the coming of the wise men, his Baptism, the first miracle at the wedding in Cana, the declaration of his mission to 'set the captive free'.
In the time of darkness Advent is seeing 'the light at the end of the tunnel'; Christmas is coming out of the tunnel into his glorious light, and Epiphany is making that light known in our lives and communities. Not just a day but a season; not just a season but three; not just one day but a new day - the dawning of Christ in our world. Alleluia!
This month encompasses the 'Week of Prayer for Christian Unity' (18th - 25th January). This has become something of a tradition in the last 40 years: a week in the year in which Christians are encouraged to meet together across the denominational divides and celebrate 'ecumenically' shared faith in Jesus Christ.
Worship material for the Week of Prayer is published by 'Churches Together' - and that word 'together' seems to say what we're hoping for much more clearly than the term 'ecumenical'. So last month we held the annual ecumenical carol service and simply called it 'Carols Together', a title that welcomes everyone but also signals to us that this is a service where Christians are working together and worshipping together. This month - on the 21st - we will be celebrating 'Communion Together' (please note the later start time of 10.30am). Last year extra meetings and services were added into the week and rather overloaded diaries. The feeling this year was that it would be best to do something on our main day for worship.
As so much is increasingly being done across the denominational divide here as part of an ongoing commitment it seems almost ridiculous to highlight one week. Yet here we do have much to celebrate, and uniting to break bread together at least once a year seems like a big step forward (see Acts 2:46f). To add to the celebration, lunch will be served in the hall before the ecumenical young people's group (yet to be named... something Together' maybe?) meet together for the second time.
Vicar's Comment - February 2007 - 'Into Lent'
‘Provisions for the Journey’
Our ‘Cornerstone’ celebrations this year invite us to look back to the beginnings of the Church here on this estate and the 50 years since. Though in one place, the passage of time, the folk met and the changes experienced make us think of journeying. In all journeys we set out with a purpose, have a destination in mind and we try to be prepared. Yet journeys rarely go exactly to plan: We meet the unexpected; the journey is harder or takes longer than we imagined; there are disappointments on the way. The last 50 years here have brought surprises and shocks, joy and sorrow, but in all that journeying God has been a constant companion. The celebrations in July are an opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to God for being OUR cornerstone, the foundation on who we have built our lives. But also the celebrations will just be another marker on the way; part of the journey not the destination. God God invites us onward. As we look back and take stock we can also look to the journey ahead and consider again our purpose, our destination, and the provisions we need for that journey. Some of the provisions needed will be the same, others will be very different because we’re in a very different landscape much of which is uncharted. The Lent meetings this year will be considering the Bible, Prayer, Worship and also faith questions and preparing to move Into that landscape. See if you can find time to attend one or more of the evenings and maybe the Quiet Day too. (Details are printed below.) Together in Christ we are the Church. We can be confident that he will supply our every need.
- Rev Nigel Fry, Vicar
Vicar's Comment - March 2007 - 'Lent to Easter'
Forty days... wilderness... time to think... time to pray... time to look back... time to look forward... time to consider: 'what matters most?'... time to make the commitment.
Hunger... thirst... desire... TEMPTATION... even here... amidst the stones and sand... ME, ME, ME... or YOU, YOU, YOU?
We hear: 'Consume... Consume... Consume...' in a wilderness of plenty.
We want: 'Mine... Mine...Mine...' when we could just share.
We demand: 'More... More... More...' and are unfulfilled.
We put everything in a box, file, folder, compartment, but it is still all TOO MUCH.
Chill out... escape... Retreat... SWITCH OFF.
Here's the deal: Notoriety... Fame... Prophet... Messiah... King - 'Well, good for him'.
Ridicule... betrayal... torture... death - 'Ha, rather YOU than ME'.
Peace... Peace... Peace... 'There is NO PEACE'.
TUNE IN: Sort out MY sin? Begin again? Take up MY cross?
Redeemed... Renewed... Ready...
'Thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus,
Thank you Lord, for loving me.'
In YOU all things are possible: Source, Word and Comforter; Abba, Jesus, Awesome Power; Father, Son and Holy Spirit; Home, Community, LIFE.
- Nigel Fry, Vicar
Vicar's Comment - April 2007 - 'Lent to Easter'
For sometime now the three main denominations on the estates here have sought to share together: Leaders have prayed together; congregations have worshipped together; and joint acts of witness have and are a regular part of the Church Year. All this has helped begin to build significant bridges of understanding and acceptance. Relationships have flourished as we've recognised that foundational for all of us is the love of God seen in Jesus Christ and experienced by living in the power of the Holy Spirit.
When our church buildings were put up in the 50s and 60s there was still a spirit of competitiveness between us: It seemed important for our buildings to not only stand out in the environment but also against each other. Back then the emphasis was on the differences rather than the important things that we hold in common. Those outside the Church also understood whose building was whose and what the church was for. 50 years on the world has changed dramatically - and continues to do so at a frightening rate. Now, despite the bold modernist architecture of all three buildings many folk pass them by without a second glance, unaware of their purpose. These observations alone should be enough for us to question what we all - as Christians in this place - should be doing to advance God's Kingdom. Recently other factors have come into play and are beginning to challenge us about that question: The Methodist building has concrete cancer and faces imminent closure; the RC building is unsustainable. Both denominations have thought about redeveloping their sites with sheltered accommodation and a community hall/church-chapel, however, each is also keen to build on relationships with each other and ourselves. Is this the time to think about being Church together? To date there have been a couple of meetings with representatives from all three churches where we've tried to share our hopes and fears. Here, our PCC has discussed the issues as we see them. The next step is for us to have a full church meeting to look at those issues and listen to everyone's point of view.
The concerns we all have are important, but none is more so than our actual unity in the face of pending persecution (see John 17). The Church communities here, as elsewhere, are too absorbed by management and maintenance whilst at our door are the insidious forces of secularism and the false prophets of our time. Together our focus can be on mission, education and pastoral support, thereby countering that darkness by sharing in word and deed the liberating message of the Gospel of Jesus.
- Rev Nigel Fry, Vicar
Vicar's Comment - dec/jan 07-08
Remember the one about the boy who...
...threw the clock out of the window?*
Unusually everything went with a flowing ease before the start of the morning service: No computer malfunctions; no projector surprises; no microphone mishaps; no bits of technical paraphernalia missing. Daphne brought the Processional Cross into the vestry and propped it against the wall ready for prayers before the usual walk out round the Church (no, don't ask me why) to the west door. A certain Server was handed the processional candles. He stood still for a few seconds before deciding that he would just prop them against the wall too. He soon realised that wasn't going to work - as they rolled against the wall - so he held onto them again. However... at this point I just need to add that I was straightening my alb in the mirror... he had just sufficiently
disturbed the Cross for it to go off vertical. I look up to see it
arcing towards me, its brass top threatening axe like. I quickly step back as it slices through the wall clock - distributing it in several pieces over the floor - and smashes into the cruet set on the side cabinet.
Needless to say the service - as usual - started a couple of minutes late...
...Maybe God was trying to tell us something about the importance of worshipping him rather than time?
Many thanks to the generous benefactor who donated a replacement clock (and it’s so much smarter).
*He wanted to see time fly. (Just in case you missed it.)
Some damage is accidental - careless maybe, but accidental - other damage is deliberate and sometimes malicious. Last month as well as the accidental we also suffered from the deliberate and malicious and as a result had to close the open youth club sessions for a couple of weeks. This was a pity for us all, including the majority of the youth club who were not involved in the incidents. Please pray for the Project and for all are part of it. Please particularly pray for Mark and Feiolim as they try to restore relationships, that they may have patience, perseverance and strength.
Improvements to security are already underway: Anti-vandal paints are to be put on the roofs, shutters on windows, and a new door to Chestnut Avenue being ordered. All this is very inconvenient and costly, but we have little option when a minority of youngsters aren’t prepared to treat a community building where they live with any respect.
Last month we also suffered the theft of lengths of lightning conductor (thankfully we’ve had no storms recently). These have now been replaced and guards fitted.
I’d rather we were able to fill the pages of this magazine with more of the Good News but of course these events are a very salient reminder that it was into a dark and hopeless world that God chose to be born. And comforting - yes, comforting - to remember that under the froth, self-indulgent, self-pitying, greedy and irresponsible ways that many will choose to ‘celebrate’ the coming ‘festivities’ Christ alone brings life, light and hope.
Vicar's Comment - feb 2008 - 'Lent'
Lent?! Whoosh! We're into Lent already. This year Easter is the earliest it can be (well until the moon falls out of orbit). There can be up to five Sundays 'before Lent'. This year there aren't any: Candlemas will be celebrated on 3rd (from the 2nd) and Ash Wednesday is on 6th. (Please bring in your Palm Crosses this coming Sunday.) So we'll begin Lent still very conscious of Christmas. Maybe that will help us hold it (the story of Jesus) altogether: Child and Man; Incarnation and Resurrection; fulfillment of prophecy and fulfiller of prophecy. Maybe it'll be good just getting the whole thing over quickly! Some years we have to wait until the end of april for Easter. We'll see. Either way we've plenty to be getting on with: 'Hope 08' is launched and challenging us and the Diocesan Strategy has also moved into another gear. We are now in the third year of 'building welcoming Christian communities' across our Diocese. Having thought about being 'Worship Centred' and 'Mission Shaped' we are now focusing on 'Releasing Ministry'. This isn't about the vicar doing a runner but about all of us recognising that as Baptised members of the Body of Christ we all have a Christian Ministry. Do we recognise that? Are we 'released'? Or do we feel hampered in some way? Are we waiting for someone to say something to us...? But keeping a low profile? Do we think that ministry is something that other people do? Do we think it's just about what happens in a service? There are a few starting points where we might be able to begin answering those questions: The Lent Quiet Day on feb 9th (see p10); the Lent Group beginning feb 20th (see p14&16); and the Bishops' Lent Meeting on march 9th (see p12). It's together - together with God - that we will find answers and direction. But for now take a look at Romans 12:1-8 and reflect and prayer on those words and let God speak to your heart and allow him to reveal his purposes for you. - Nigel
Hope 08 began with a service of commitment held at the Cathedral on new year's eve (see p12). This was well attended and had a great atmosphere. (Ask Mark about it.) Some have even suggested that it become an annual event. But I think we need to hold to remembering that it was a gathering with a purpose beyond itself and that it's what happens between then and the end of the calendar year that counts. Hope 08 is about the Church (in a united, ecumenical sense) being mobilised to affect positive change in our nation not just getting together for worship. 'DO MORE, DO IT TOGETHER, DO IT IN WORD AND ACTION' is the tag line. Lots of events are being arranged for prayer and participation, check out the website www.hopepeterborough.org.uk and look out for the logo.
If you turn to page 14 you'll see the diary of event/services for Holy Week this year. These are listed under a 'Church Together' heading as with Methodists and Roman Catholics in the area we seek to do more things either together or to complement - or at least not clash! - each others activities and as a witness to us being followers of Jesus here. The week is somewhat different to last year (at which the number attending services was disappointing to say the least) but includes something for everyone. The biggest difference will be the Maundy Thursday evening service which is to be an 'Agape Meal' (sharing food together in Christian Love) that will also include the symbolic foods that are part of the Jewish Passover Meal. This will lead into a sharing of bread and wine and culminate with us stripping the sanctuary area. A number of people will be working to put this event together so if you're only able to make one service in Holy Week, make it this one.
Cornerstone Confirmation Group
The Cornerstone Confirmation Group have been looking at the Christian faith through the idea of building: 'foundations', 'bricks and mortar', 'straight and steady', 'windows and doors', 'decoration' - so far, and still to come: 'pitching the tent' (bit of an odd one that!) and 'bridges and walls'... and how all that applies to them. (How does it apply to you?) Those in the group are set to be Confirmed at the Easter Vigil being held in the Cathedral (22nd march 8pm). Please support them with your prayers up to and beyond then as they grow in faith. This is why we wont be holding an Easter Vigil here this year but joining with folk at the Cathedral. Let's make it a church outing.
Christ the Carpenter 50th - 13th July 2008
Following on from last year's Cornerstone Celebrations, that marked the laying of the foundation stone here, we have this year a Celebration Weekend for the completion of the building and its Consecration: 13th july 1958. Amazingly the 13th is a Sunday again so that's really helpful. Watch out for a programme of events from the Friday evening. The Sunday afternoon is planned to be a 'Vicarage Tea Party' courteously provided by Marshfields School. So get your bonnets ready... and just think of that sun! Oohh I feel better already.