Churches

All Saints’ Parish Church    

All Saints’: Celebrating and sharing GOD’s love

Maintained by Stephen Clifford

Vicar: The Reverend Tim Watson, Tel: 01782-750205

E-mail: revtimwatson@hotmail.com

Curate: The Reverend John Beswick Pallister, Tel: 07428 342801

Email: johnbpallister@gmail.com

Ordained Local Minister: The Reverend Alan Bailey

Email: reval.bailey@gmail.com

Parish Secretary: Gina Joyce, Tel:  01782-431455

Email: madeleyparish@yahoo.co.uk

We have returned to services in from 11.00 am on Sunday 23rd May, and Thursday 27th May at 10.00 am with the precautions that were in place before Christmas. 8.30 Sunday will resume as soon as is possible.

Other services (Praise & Play, Kids Church, Living Streams etc) will remain online only for the present.

We will also continue our weekly Sunday service online at 11am (www.tiny.cc/BetleyMadeley), and you will be able to access the recording afterwards if you can’t join on zoom (www.tiny.cc/BetleyMadeleyRecording).
 

11.00 am Joint Online Service, live from one of the Churches on Zoom (contact John Beswick Pallister for link johnbpallister@gmail.com)

Mondays 9.30 am (in term-time) Praise and Play on Zoom (https://tiny.cc/praiseandplayzoom)

Wednesdays 9.15 am Parish Prayers – on Zoom (http://tinycc/Madeleyprayers)

For arrangements for online & recorded services you can join our email mailing list at http://tiny.cc/weeklymail, or see: Facebook

Particularly at this time, please do feel free to ring anyone in our ministry team for a chat.

Online Church Magazine here

Normal Service Pattern – currently suspended where shown

Sundays 8.30 am Holy Communion – suspended

11.00 am Family Eucharist – with ‘Kids’ Church’ (online)

(first Sunday of each month normally non-Eucharistic Family Service)

Mondays 9.30 am (in term-time) Praise and Play (online)
(first Monday of each month 2.00 pm, Service of Holy Communion in the Residents’ Lounge, Lea Court) – suspended

Wednesdays 9.15 am Parish Prayers – open to all (online)

Thursdays 10.00 am Holy Communion

All Saints’ is a Dementia Friendly Church

See also our details on the A Church Near You website, and our Church website and Facebook Page

For Monthly Vicar’s Letter, see Posts.

The united parishes of All Saints’, Madeley and St. Margaret’s, Betley work together with a single Vicar. Joint services and other initiatives, rather than naming both churches and both villages, are identified by the use of the name LIVING STREAMS. For more information on services under this heading see below.

All Saints’ Church and the Old School House Viewed from Moss Lane. The clock in the tower strikes 7 on the evening of July 26th 2000, disturbing a crow from its lofty roost.
(Photo. © Andrew T. Finney)
 

Enquiries about Weddings, Christenings/Baptisms and Funerals

Baptism/Christening – Congratulations on your new arrival – we hope all is going well for you as a family. We would be delighted to welcome you and your family for a service of baptism. If All Saints’ is your parish church, then please get in touch on +44 (0)1782 750205. If you are “out of parish” then you are still very welcome but you do need first to approach your parish church. Which ever way, our very best wishes to you and your family

Weddings – congratulations to you and your fiancé(e) and very best wishes to you both. If you live in Madeley parish and want a church wedding, we would love to meet you. If you are outside the parish but have an existing link or an historical connection to Madeley, again please be in touch. If you don’t yet have a connection but are still interested in getting married at All Saints, it may still be possible – we’ll explain when you ring. Please phone +44(0)1782 750205.  With all best wishes for your future life together.

Funerals at All Saints – We would be honoured to serve your family at this sad time but please could you first contact a local Funeral Director and they will guide you through all the necessary organisation – our deepest sympathy to you and your family.


All Saints’ Parish Church from the North East – North Transept and Tower (Photo. © Andrew T. Finney)      allsts01
     

Who’s Who at All Saints’

VICAR
The Rev. Tim Watson The Vicarage, Vicarage Lane, Madeley, Crewe, CW3 9PQ Email: revtimwatson@hotmail.com
Tel: +44 (0)1782 750205
CURATE
The Rev. John Beswick Pallister Alsager’s Bank Vicarage Email:johnbpallister@gmail.com Tel: +44 (0)7428 342801
ORDAINED LOCAL MINISTER
The Rev. Alan Bailey Resident in Betley Email:reval.bailey@gmail.com Tel: +44 (0)1270 820043
LICENSED READER
Jean Ainsworth Resident in Betley Tel: +44 (0)1270 820532
READER EMERITUS
Professor John Lloyd 6 Pastoral Close, Madeley Email:lloydjb@btinternet.com Tel: +44 (0)1782  750506
MUSIC CO-ORDINATOR
Judith Bailey Resident in Betley Tel: +44 (0)1270 820043
CHURCHWARDENS
Liz Walklett 8 Arbour Close, Madeley Tel: +44 (0)1782 750145
Melanie Deacon Park House, Newcastle Road, Madeley  Tel: +44 (0)1782 751781
P.C.C. SECRETARY
Gina Joyce 8 Charles Cotton Drive, Madeley Tel: +44 (0)7717 040017
P.C.C. TREASURER
Stephen Clifford Two Robins, Cherry Tree Lane, Woore Tel: +44 (0)1630 647765
GIFT AID CO-ORDINATOR
Lynn Knight   Tel: + 44 (0)1782 750621
CHURCH FLOWERS
Vacancy Please contact the Vicarage Tel: +44 (0)1782 750205
BELL RINGERS
Josie Martin Email:jomartince@gmail.com Tel: +44 (0)7855 459180
KIDS’ CHURCH (SUNDAYS – 11.00 Service)
Contact: Vicarage, Vicarage Lane, Madeley Tel: +44 (0)1782 750205
SAFEGUARDING CO-ORDINATOR & VERGER
Sue Clifford Email: suemarsden59@hotmail.com Tel: +44 (0)7876 535517
PARISH NEWS (Copy by 12th of the month please)
Editorial Board Email: madeleychurchmag@hotmail.com Tel: +44 (0)1782 751559
Sue Eaton (Advertising) Email: sueeaton1487@gmail.com Tel: +44 (0)1782 751503

Leycett Mining Deaths Memorial

In April 2011 we unveiled, near the South Door, a memorial to the 31 Madeley men and boys killed in an explosion on the morning shift at the fair Lady Pit, Leycett, on 21st January 1880 – see elsewhere on this web site – who were buried in the churchyard on the morning of 25th January 1880. (Another 31 were buried in other parishes.) None of those buried at All Saints’ has an individual marked grave; (one was commemorated on his parents’ gravestone, 15 years later.) No doubt temporary wooden crosses, all most could afford then, have long since rotted away. The Church Council felt it wrong that none of these men and boys should be named on their own memorial, and the new stone near the South door lists all, with an engraving of the pit head wheel. The stone also commemorates all the other dead of the mining industry in Madeley. A list of those buried at All Saints’ follows,  with ages and places of residence. The appeal received financial support from the Parish Council and North Staffs Miners Welfare, as well as many individual donations.

Name Age Abode
Henry Darlington 21yrs Leycett.
Thomas Darlington 55yrs Leycett.
John Davies 21yrs. Little Madeley.
John Espley. 20yrs. Leycett.
John Evans 26yrs. Leycett.
Henry Grocott 26yrs. Little Madeley.
John Hall 21yrs. Madeley Heath.
Joseph Haywood 27yrs. Leycett.
Patrick Hutchinson 36yrs. Leycett
William Huxley 21yrs Leycett.
John James 18yrs Madeley Heath
Richard Jenkinson 46yrs. Madeley Heath.
Frederick Jervis 22yrs. Scot Hay.
John Kinastyn 16yrs Leycett.
Samuel Lamsdale 17yrs. Leycett.
John Lawton 21yrs. Leycett.
Richard Lear 23yrs. Middle Madeley.
William Lear 25yrs. Middle Madeley.
George Nixon 58yrs. Little Madeley.
William Pickin 24yrs. Little Madeley.
John Salisbury 24yrs. Leycett.
George Salmon 34yrs. Madeley Heath.
Jesse Salmon 36yrs. Madeley Heath.
James Scott 36yrs. Leycett.
Thomas Turner 17yrs. Little Madeley.
Edwin Viggars 33yrs. Madeley Heath.
Frederic Viggars 31yrs Madeley Heath.
Joseph Viggars 35yrs. Madeley Heath.
Herbert Walker 20yrs. Little Madeley.
James Webb 35yrs. Madeley Heath.
Michael Whalen 23yrs. Leycett.

LIVING STREAMS – on Zoom during Covid

Parishes of Betley and Madeley

Living Streams is a new and developing ministry, rooted in the life of the Anglican parishes of All Saints’, Madeley and St Margaret’s, Betley. Its aim is to encourage and nurture Christian Discipleship through a variety of services, workshops and teaching events, and to promote and facilitate Christian healing. Everyone is welcome to attend.  

Living Streams derives its name from Ezekiel 47:1-12, where the prophet describes an ever-widening stream which flows out of the temple, and from John 7:38, where Jesus promises that “out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.”

In alternate months, at Betley or at Madeley, on the first Sunday of the month, there are united Services of Praise, intended to be opportunities to share in informal worship and to grow through focussed teaching, and Services of Healing and Wholeness, which provide an atmosphere of peace, support and encouragement, in a caring and non-threatening environment.

The Healing Services are at St. Margaret’s Church, Betley, and allow prayer and quiet as well as music and singing. The Praise Services are at All Saints’ Church, Madeley.


Gift Aid

Gift Aid and Standing Order forms are available from the back of All Saints’ Church. If you presently use the envelope scheme, or if you have a one-off donation to make and you pay tax (income tax or tax on savings) can we urge you to fill one in. The form allows the church to reclaim the tax on these gifts, so that we receive an extra £2.50 for each £10 donated. This scheme replaced the old covenant system and is much more flexible and easy to use.

If you have any questions about the operation of this scheme, please contact Lynn Knight (above).


Methodist Church, Poolside

Minister, The Reverend Christine Legge Tel:+44 (0)1782 629804

Sundays 10.30am Morning service and Junior church. Monthly Communion Service

Thursdays 7.30pm Puppet Ministry, adults and teenagers.

Fridays, monthly Christian Fellowship (as All Saints’.)

Church Web site:
http://www.northstaffordshiremethodists.org.uk/churches/church-profiles/madeley-methodist-church.php


Roman Catholic

No service in Madeley but Sunday Mass 10.30 a.m. at Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart in Mill Street, Silverdale, served from Holy Trinity, Newcastle.

Deacon-in-Residence: The Rev. Mr. Neil Adlington, Tel:+44 (0)1782 624325


The Reverend Mr. Neil Adlington

Neil was ordained Deacon by the Archbishop of Birmingham in June 1992, to serve in the parish of St John the Baptist, Alton. He later became a full-time parish deacon in the parish team for Cheadle, Alton and Cotton, before moving to the Church of the Sacred Heart in Silverdale late in 2000, where he has responsibility for the Roman Catholic parish of Silverdale and Madeley.

As a parish deacon, Neil can prepare people for the sacraments of the Church, perform baptisms, marriages and funeral services, and minister to the sick and housebound. He and his wife Jackie are based in the Presbytery of the Sacred Heart in Silverdale, where he works alongside the team at Holy Trinity, Newcastle – Mgr Ryall, Fr Jan and Fr Eric, and the Sisters of Mercy.

Apart from his duties as deacon, Neil is an enthusiast for sport, especially football, and lists “listening to music” as a major interest.

 
   

 
   

http://www.tiny.cc/BetleyMadeley

Vicar’s Letter June 2021

As I write this month’s vicar’s letter on a dull Mid-May afternoon I’m thinking about prayer. Not because I am super-holy, but rather because the topic of prayer has been on my mind a lot lately. Now that might not come as a surprise given that at the churches in Madeley and Betley we have weekly services that include prayer, we also have specific times when we gather (online) to pray together.

It also might not come as a surprise given that as a person of faith, I think prayer is a really helpful practice. It’s a practice that connects us with God, allowing us to bring our troubles and worries in the form of ‘help!’ prayers, but it also creates a space for us to enter into quietness and wait on God. (Prayer can also be really loud and filled with movement – but that’s for a different vicar’s letter!)

Actually I’ve been thinking about prayer for three reasons. Firstly, our Alpha group (a place to ask questions about faith) were talking about prayer this week. Secondly, we’ve just had a fantastic online Zoom-Prayer-Room open for 24 hours as part of an initiative called ‘Thy Kingdom Come’. Thirdly, because something I saw recently brought me back to a former prayer practice I used to rely on, and I’m excited to give it a go again. If you see me, feel free to ask me about it.

Prayer seems like such an otherworldly thing. It’s countercultural, it’s not always easy, but it’s always worth trying. Have you tired praying lately? If you haven’t – why not give it a go…

Blessings

Rev Tim

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ANNUAL PARISH CHURCH MEETING

DIOCESE OF LICHFIELD

NEWCASTLE DEANERY

PARISH OF ALL SAINTS’ MADELEY

NOTICE IS GIVEN THAT THE ANNUAL PAROCHIAL CHURCH MEETING & VESTRY MEETING

WILL TAKE PLACE IN CHURCH AT 7.30 P.M. ON ­ THE TWENTY SIXTH (26th) OF MAY, 2021.

PLEASE NOTE ALSO TO BE LIVE ON ZOOM

NOMINATIONS ARE INVITED FOR:

  • TWO POSTS OF CHURCHWARDEN TO SERVE FOR THE YEAR 2021/22.
  • UP TO FOUR PLACES ON THE P.C.C. FOR 2021-24 – FOUR CURRENT MEMBERS, WHOSE TERMS EXPIRE, ARE ELIGIBLE TO SEEK RE-ELECTION THIS YEAR.

NOMINATION FORMS ARE AVAILABLE FROM OFFICERS OF THE PCC. CANDIDATES MUST BE MEMBERS OF THE ELECTORAL ROLL – IF YOU WISH TO JOIN THIS, CONTACT TREVOR DOWNS BY 5 P.M. TUESDAY 18TH MAY, 2021, FOR A FORM OF ENROLMENT.

SIGNED:

TIM WATSON

VICAR

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Vicar’s Letter May 2021

As things stand, this May the churches of All Saints’ Madeley and St. Margaret’s Betley will return to public worship within the church buildings. St. Margaret’s is returning to public worship on the 2nd of May. All Saints’ is returning to public worship on Pentecost – Sunday 23rd of May.  This is exciting news indeed, though our excitement might be tempered a little by knowing that there will still be some restrictions in place and also that should a third wave of Covid-19 strike, we, along with churches across the nation, may have to reassess the situation again.

It’s also important to recognise that throughout the pandemic, the church buildings have been open. St. Margaret’s has been open for private prayer. All Saints’ has been open to host the Foodbank. Funerals have been happening in both buildings, and back in March, All Saints’ was featured on the national news as we hosted one of the first weddings since restrictions eased.

It’s a cliché to say it – but that’s because it is true – the church is much more than the building. The churches haven’t been closed, the church buildings have been closed for public worship, and we as ministry teams and congregations have had to try and stay connected with people. We’ve had to continually reassess how we go about the work of being the church – because ultimately, that is what we are. We are the church – again, another cliché, but again –it’s because it is true. Even if one day our beautiful Grade One listed buildings collapsed, we would still be the church.

As the church, let us continue to play our part in supporting our communities, helping them to thrive and also, let us never lose sight of our vocation to point people towards Jesus.

Blessings

Rev Tim

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Vicar’s Letter Easter 2021

This month we are celebrating Easter, the most  important Christian festival there is.

At Easter we remember Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross on Good Friday. His dying for our failings – God’s son, hung up on a cross, alone and dying for each of us. We also celebrate Jesus’ rising from the dead and a  message of hope that has been proclaimed every year for 2000 years. I often call Easter Sunday, ‘Resurrection Day’, because for me, this is the day that reminds me that as a Christian, I am called to live every day in the light of Jesus’ resurrection. A resurrection that is such hopeful good news it should be shouted from the rooftops and  whispered in private conversations.

This year, I have found it particularly helpful to reflect on the day  between Good Friday and Easter Sunday – what is known as, ‘Holy Saturday’. We remember the Saturday of that first Easter as a time when Jesus’ body lay silent, still and dead in the tomb. He had died on Friday and was not resurrected until Sunday. Saturday, was quite literally, a dead space. An in-between time. Before his death Jesus had said that he would rise again, but would he actually rise again? His disciples and the people had to wait to find out. Wait for hope to bring new life.

As I write this in the midst of lockdown, I’m sure there are people for whom this place of waiting might feel particularly relevant. And just like the first disciples, we wait, in hope, for what is to come.

Blessings,

Rev Tim (Watson)

Alpha

On the 13th of April, All Saints’ Madeley and St. Margaret’s Betley are beginning an online Alpha course. The Alpha course is used around the world, to help people explore the Christian faith. Made up of a number of evening sessions with a talk and discussion, the course gives people space to explore the Christian faith in a safe and friendly environment. Alpha is a great place to ask questions about faith and the difference faith can make.

Way back in 1999 I attended an Alpha course in a church in Yorkshire. I was a  student at the time and had arrived at university with a whole bunch of questions about the meaning of life, I wanted to know more about what the point of all “this” was, why do we exist? How should I live my life? Is there a God?

Alpha was a safe place to explore those questions and more. Alpha      provided an  opportunity to speak to others who had similar questions and who were on similar journeys. Ultimately Alpha helped me to articulate some of those things I was  struggling to say. The whole thing was      profoundly moving and ultimately life-changing.

If you’ve got questions that need answering, if you feel like there is  something missing, if you want to know if there is more to life than “this”, I encourage you to sign up, and together we can explore some of those difficult questions.

Rev Tim.

TRY ALPHA

WHO: All Saints’ Madeley and St. Margaret’s Betley will be running Alpha Online via Zoom

WHAT: Alpha Online is a great opportunity to gather with others online to explore the Christian faith. Each session will include a talk and discussion

WHEN: Starting on Tuesday 13th April and running through until 6th July. We’ll meet online from 7:30-8:45pm (Bring your own refreshments!) There will be a special online “away day” on Saturday 5th June

HOW: Contact Rev Tim Watson / revtimwatson@hotmail.com  / 01782 750205 to register your interest and in due course you will be emailed a Zoom link

WHY: Exploring faith is always a good thing to do, but the last year might have prompted you to ask yourself some big questions – why not take the time to explore them?

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Vicar’s Letter March 2021

As March 2021 begins we are in the midst of the season of Lent. It’s the season when the church prepares to celebrate Easter. It represents something of a pilgrimage that leads through the days and weeks towards Good Friday and Easter Sunday. 

Traditionally many Christians have abstained from something over Lent as a way to focus on the season itself – perhaps by giving up chocolate or alcohol throughout Lent, perhaps by choosing one day a week to fast. 

In recent years many Christians (and indeed many others) have taken on something extra, challenging themselves to undertake an act of kindness each day as part of the 40 Acts of Kindness initiative. For a number of years I have run an initiative called #40thoughts that tries to encourage people to reflect on different themes throughout lent. 

As we approach Lent in 2021 I wonder how you feel about the idea of laying something down or taking something extra on? Given we are in the midst of a pandemic and lockdown haven’t we all given enough up? No longer able to visit family, no longer able to go to the thrash metal concert you’ve been waiting for, no longer able to meet a group of friends for a drink… 

And haven’t we all had to take on so many other things? Becoming literate at the use of new technologies, getting used to face masks and restrictions, home-schooling…. 

How about this Lent we take the opportunity to be attentive?  Attentive to the beauty of the world around us.  Attentive to friends and neighbours in distress. 

Perhaps the very act of being attentive is all the preparation we need as we journey towards Good Friday and beyond. 

Blessings,

Tim Watson

Films and Theology

Back in February a group of us met on a Saturday night via Zoom to discuss the Matrix film from 1999. It had been mentioned in a sermon a few weeks before and there was clearly an interest in having a discussion. With a new chapter of the Matrix due in 2021 the time was right to dig in! 

And so a group of people gathered online to talk about the film, to explore any cultural, philosophical ideas as well as to reflect on any theological themes and connections. 

I always find these kind of conversations fascinating and enriching. I love movies, visual art, poetry, music and I especially love the way the different mediums help us to engage with some of the bigger, more existential themes. Whether we like opera, jazz, renaissance paintings, silent movies from the early 20th century, beat poetry or K-Pop, the arts can speak to us in very powerful ways. 

I wonder what do you love to do? Get stuck into an epic novel? Play piano? Binge-watch Netflix boxsets? Pogo around the kitchen to punk while you wash up? 

What place does art and all that creative content play in your life? 

If you’re not sure, why not take time to experience something you wouldn’t normally:- listen to some free jazz when you’d rather be watching Corrie. Watch Corrie when you’d rather be listening to free jazz? Why not take the lockdown opportunity to engage with the stuff you wouldn’t normally engage with? Maybe by doing so you might encounter something that moves you and helps you to get through these strange and difficult days. 

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Vicar’s Letter February 2021

And we’re off!

It feels like 2021 has only just begun and yet we have already gone through so much! After the positive and exciting news about Covid-19 vaccines at the end of 2020, January 2021 has seen us step back into lockdown as cases of Covid-19 spiral out of control. We’ve got a more contagious variant that emerged in the south of the country, and then we have news of a new variant emerging in South America. It seems like some of the joy of news about the vaccines has lost some of its sparkle. There is good news, there are things to be hopeful about and yet…

We know people who’ve had to go back into isolation. We know people who have been infected with this new strain. We know children who had gone back to school who are now back taking lessons online.

Every week seems to bring a new news conference, new statistics, new hopes, new worries, threats, hope, fear, hope, worry, fear, hope, worry, fear, hope and on and on and on in a seemingly never-ending cycle. These changeable times can feel unnerving, the sands shift continually beneath our feet. For some in our communities where folk once felt secure they may now feel a lack of security. For some in our communities where folk once felt insecure, they may now feel positively at risk of falling.

Our natural instinct may be to stand together with our neighbours and form stronger bonds of support and encouragement, and yet here is where the Covid pandemic has cut very deeply. In this crisis we may well be feeling disempowered from being able to be there with and for our neighbours. Covid has torn at the hearts of community and those threads of connection feel stretched and tattered.

As we journey on through this phase of the pandemic we need to keep thinking of safe ways that we can support and care for our neighbours and community. But more than just this, as the pandemic continues we need to guard our hearts against a general denigration of our care and support for our neighbours and community once this pandemic is over. While we may have had to withdraw somewhat at this time we must endeavour to keep our hearts open in love and care for our neighbours and community for such a time when we can more easily walk with one another and share life together again.

In the meantime, stay safe!

Blessings,

Rev Tim Watson

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Christmas Services in Madeley

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Letter from our new Vicar

                  

A message from our new Vicar

As we journey towards Christmas and the end of 2020 we may well be feeling many different things. Many of us will be glad to see the back of 2020. Many will be excited by the promise of 2021. Many will be worried that 2021 will just be 2020 version 2.0. Many will be holding to wonderful memories of 2020. Many will be longing to forget the hardships of this year.

This year I attended my nan’s funeral via a video link, 7 hours drive away from the funeral chapel – I hope I never have to attend a funeral by video link again. This year our family welcomed baby Joshua into the world, back at the height of the first lockdown – his birth was a sign of hope and life in the midst of the most difficult of years. 

From the end of January 2021 I will be the new vicar of All Saints’ Madeley and St. Margaret’s Betley, so I should really be doing the proper vicar thing of saying that just as baby Joshua was a sign of hope for our family in dark times, the birth of baby Jesus some 2000 odd years ago was a sign of hope in dark times…. you get where this is going. But I’m not going to go there for two reasons: 

1. Because baby Joshua isn’t the messiah, and he’s not even a very naughty boy (thank you Monty Python). 

2. And also because this isn’t the time for twee and overly sentimental answers all wrapped up in swaddling cloth…. 

Actually, scrap that, because this is exactly the time for answers wrapped up in swaddling cloth and laid in a manger. The birth of Jesus 2000 years ago was a sign of hope and light in the midst of a dark time. His birth was and is a reminder that while it might feel like all is falling to pieces, God is still present. God promises to be with us, his people. As the beginning of John’s gospel reminds us, ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’ 

Now more than ever we need to be reminded that even in the midst of this darkness God is with us, God is present. Just as a small candle can light up the darkest night, so too can the knowledge of God’s saving love for us be a sign of hope in these dark days. 

My family and I are really excited to be moving to Madeley in January and can’t wait to explore some of these ideas with you in the years to come. In the meantime, peace to you all, have a lovely Christmas and a hopeful beginning of 2021. 

Cheers 

Rev Tim, Clare, Evie, Lucie and Joshua Watson. 

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Curate’s Christmas Letter

All I want for Christmas is…

What is Christmas all about for you? The family gathering? The presents? The turkey? A walk on Christmas day when you feel like you can’t move, after eating so much?

For me, family and Christmas pudding are two of the key ingredients. Having grown up in Portugal, I had lots of delicacies at Christmas, but I didn’t discover Christmas pudding until I was an adult. There is no going back now!

I suspect we’re ready to say goodbye to 2020, a crazy and difficult year – but it would be great to have something of a normal Christmas before we finish, wouldn’t it?

But of course, we don’t know what things will be like. And because of this, it’s very tempting to either feel glum, or to throw ourselves into the busyness of making alternative plans – online shopping, zoom family gatherings, etc..

However, I think there is a better way to go about this. When we remember the first Christmas, we have these images of blissful nativity scenes, with well behaved animals and a baby Jesus that doesn’t cry. If only nativity scenes could replicate the smells of a stable, then we’d get more of the picture of how messy the whole thing was!

It started with an unplanned and irregular pregnancy. Then, there was that long journey on donkey back, for a very pregnant Mary. Joseph is totally frustrated that he can’t even find a room for the birth. They weren’t in lockdown, but they couldn’t be with family at this most crucial time. The forced journey was brought about by greedy politicians who were making everyone go and register, so they could charge taxes.

And then the first people to come and meet the baby are smelly (and probably dodgy) shepherds.

It doesn’t get messier than this – but this isn’t an accident. This messy birth is the beginning of a life that comes to its climax at the cross, where Jesus took all our mess (also known as sin) on himself, dying on our behalf, so that he could unmess our lives and the whole world.

As we celebrate Christmas in 2020, I invite you to look away from all the mess in and around us, and to look with fresh eyes at the nativity scene, the messy but beautiful start of a new story – a story of God entering the mess, to take it all away, to give you a new life.

So – in church or online – come and join us this Christmas for some festive joy!

John Beswick Pallister

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Rev Alan Bailey’s Letter November 2020

Dear friends,

We have turned the clocks back and entered the season of ‘dark nights’! November is the month when we remember the sacrifice made by many thousands in the First World War and other conflicts since, and that sacrifice must never be forgotten.

But this year there is an added poignancy as we remember that over forty thousand families in our nation alone, and many more world-wide, have faced the grief of losing loved ones to Covid-19. This is not in any way to overshadow the significance of Remembrance for those who died in war, but to sit alongside that act. Whilst the cause and the politics of those deaths might be different, the grief felt by loved ones who are left is as intense, and our thoughts and prayers are with all who grieve.

You might look to this opening page for encouragement and would be right in thinking that there is nothing so far to lift the spirits!But November, our ‘dark season’, precedes December, our Advent season, a time of waiting and preparation followed by our Christmas season, when we remember that Jesus, the ‘Light of the world’, was born a baby in Bethlehem.That is for next month’s contributor to pick up on but for now consider the words of Jesus to his disciples: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”(John 16:33)

Christian faith is not a magic wand which, with a wave, sprinkles magic dust on all our troubles and they evaporate into thin air! Christian faith is trust in a real person, Jesus Christ, who knows our troubles and walks with us, carrying us if necessary, through those difficult times.

I once heard a Christian speaker say, “Faith in God isn’t ‘pie-in-the-sky-when-you-die’; it’s ‘steak-on-your-plate-while-you-wait’”! In other words, the promise of peace that Jesus offers isn’t for some timein the future; it is for now – and always. So, however uncertain and unsettled you might feel, allow the light of Jesus to shine in your life – and share that light with others you meet in the days ahead.Shalom, peace be with you.

Alan Bailey

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