Vicar’s Letter July 2019

Sometimes people ask me: What’s a parish church?

The answer is: One that serves ALL its residents regardless of background, creed or colour.

All Saints’ remit is to be available as a place of worship and a community of believers and inquirers that is open to EVERYONE.  A parish church doesn’t just serve one group of people but is there for everyone who lives in the parish (and beyond) regardless of whether we believe in God or not or indeed, if we’re not sure!

Of course All Saints’ focus is on welcoming anyone to Sunday worship where we gather to Praise God but we are also open many times during week for all kinds of reasons: to support young families through their first years; to offer practical help to those going through a crisis via the Food Bank; to give people opportunity for private prayer and last but not least,as place for fun and friendship in music making and small group fellowships.

Celebrations and tough times happen in all families and as a parish church we offer support to anyone who wants to get married, to baptise children or to give thanks for the life of a special family member.  You don’t have to be a regular church goer to have a wedding, a baptism or a funeral at All Saints’– please simply ask and we will do our best to help.

The church is the one organisation that exists for the benefit of its non-members!  Jesus demonstrated his inclusive love in so many ways.  No one was or is unimportant to Him.  And we, as a parish church aspire to be the same – to welcome each and everyone who comes through the door on a Sunday or any other day of the week: You are always VERY welcome.

God ISN’T just for religious people – He is for us all – because, as the Bible tells us, He knows us AND … He loves us whoever we are and whatever we have done or not done.  We hope that will be your experience when you step across the threshold.

Peter Chantry

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Vicar’s Letter May 2019

Two years ago on Mothering Sunday my Mum died after 12 years of living with Dementia.

Those twelve years saw her go from an independent and capable person to someone who literally needed everything doing for her.

My dad died before the dementia took hold so my mum, with reduced capability became increasingly vulnerable.

Thankfully for my brothers and I, very good residential care was available, and my mum lived happily in two very good Care Homes and was able to enjoy her life and our visits for many of those years.

Supporting someone with Dementia is HUGE!  It is challenging, scary, often exhausting, sometimes overwhelming and can be very lonely. 

Isolation in living with dementia is very tough and emotions and feelings can run wild.

Thankfully in recent times dementia is being more widely talked about and the support systems are improving.  Dementia is scary and those affected need to know that they are NOT on their own.

At Church, we have committed ourselves to try to support all those who are living with dementia to help them to find friendship, support and understanding.  With the help of the Diocese we are putting on two workshops at All Saints’ Madeley – see poster later.

If this is an issue which affects you – please do consider joining us and helping us together to be more inclusive, understanding and supportive of those who are living with dementia.

Peter Chantry

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Vicar’s Letter Easter 2019

The heart of the Christian faith is God’s love and forgiveness.  We ALL make mistakes and we all need forgiveness which is precisely why God sent Jesus into the world.

It is remarkably arrogant if we think that we have never done anything wrong and dangerously blinkered if we think others have more to answer for than we ourselves. 

Shamima Begum was 15 years old when she went off to Syria to be a so called “Jihadi bride”.  She was a child when she made that dreadful decision.  Dreadful for herself; dreadful for her family; dreadful for humankind.  But is she BEYOND forgiveness?

The actions of ISIS are indefensible but the battle for hearts and minds means that vulnerable young people like Shamima Begum make these dreadful mistakes.

Our British Home Secretary has rescinded her citizenship of this country and made her a person of “no state”.  Is this really what we want to happen?  Is Shamima Begum beyond forgiveness?

There is a story in the gospels where a sinful young woman is brought to Jesus so that he can pronounce what should happen to her?  Jesus says nothing!  The leaders persist: What should happen to this woman?  Jesus looks at the leaders and says to them: “Let him who is without sin throw the first stone!”  After a few minutes … all the self-righteous men have disappeared!

Justice, security and good government are vital but so is forgiveness – not to say that that is easy – it isn’t.  But, on Good Friday (April 19th) we focus in on Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice for forgiveness which is both restorative and challenging for you and me.

Peter Chantry

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Vicar’s Letter March 2019

Dear Friends,

Actions speak louder than words … Or so the saying goes!

The brilliant thing about Jesus’ life is that he spoke powerfully AND he consistently acted with compassion and integrity. Just take a look at his life: he healed lepers who everyone else avoided, he crossed social barriers to help those who were desperate, he engaged with foreigners who needed his help and he befriended rich people whose lives were empty. Jesus had time and kindness for each of them.

Wednesday 6th March is Ash Wednesday – the start of Lent – a 40 day season of personal spring cleaning!  During Lent we think about Jesus’ wonderful life and the life he brought to others. And during Lent we celebrate that we are not alone but that God is with us challenging US to live His life of generous love.

This Lent at Church we will continue to celebrate all that God has done for us AND we will be trying to live Jesus’ way by responding to a “40 Acts” Challenge. Each day of Lent this initiative emails any of us that want to participate a challenge to show kindness and care to someone within our orbit.

If you would like to take part, simply type into your search engine: “40 Acts” and it will tell you what to do. The daily challenge comes with an inspirational message and is pitched at 3 levels: easy, challenging and committed – always remembering that this is you and God working together.

So, as Lent begins: Are you up for some action?

Peter Chantry

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All Saints’ Church Membership

Under the Church Representation Rules a new Church Electoral Roll is being prepared. All persons who wish to have their names entered on the new Roll, whether their names are entered on the present Roll or not, are requested to apply for enrolment not later than

_________________SUNDAY 24TH MARCH  2019_______________

The new Roll will come into operation on MONDAY 22ND APRIL 2019

The new Roll shall be published for not less than 14 days from 7th APRIL 2019.

Under the Church Representation Rules any lay persons are entitled to have their names entered on the roll if they—

           (i)     are baptised and aged 16 or over;

          (ii)     have signed a form of application for enrolment;

                   and either

         (iii)     are members of the Church of England or of any Church in communion with the Church of England being resident in the parish or (not being resident in the parish) having habitually attended public worship in the parish during the six months prior to the application for enrolment;

                   or:

         (iv)     are members in good standing of a Church (not in communion with the Church of England) which subscribes to the doctrine of the Holy Trinity declaring themselves also to be members of the Church of England and having habitually attended public worship in the parish during  the period of six months prior to enrolment.

Forms of application for enrolment can be obtained from the Trevor Downs, 10 Heather Glade, or at the back of church. In order to be entitled to attend the annual parochial church meeting and to take part in its proceedings, forms of application for enrolment must be returned by the earlier of the dates shown above.

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Vicar’s Letter February 2019

Calling all Brides and Grooms!

With Valentine’s Day this month, may I encourage YOU to consider getting married at All Saints’ or St Margaret’s.

In previous generations most people got married in church but now weddings take place almost anywhere!  So … Why consider getting married in church?

Firstly because the church is at the heart of our community.  So many important occasions have taken place in church with great joy and celebration AND right in the middle of where we live.  The Church building reminds us that God IS with us AND that He wants the very best for us (and our families).

Secondly because marriage is both joyful AND serious.  Of course, we all want our wedding days to be full of fun and laughter but as husband and wife you are making incredibly serious promises to each other and the church building and the wedding service gives a certain gravitas to the vows that you are making in the presence of your families, friends AND of course, our loving God.

And thirdly because God IS love!  The marriage service says: “God is love and those who live in love live in God and God lives in them.”  God’s greatest desire is to resource YOU! – Day by day to help YOU to love and care for each other … for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health.  God wants to help and bless you both in your GROWING in love. 

Romantic love is the spark that brings people together; but deepening persistent love is the crucial ingredient to help your love to stay fresh and strong.

Getting married in church is NOT as expensive as it may seem.  The basic charge is less than £500 (which includes all the legal stuff).  People who have been married before are NOT barred from a wedding in church.  So, why not get in touch and come and find out more!

Happy Valentine’s Day.  PS – I love taking weddings!

Peter Chantry

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Vicar’s Letter Christmas 2018

Dear Friends,

In church we very often address God as: “Almighty God” out of reverence and respect.  But is that the only and best way to think of God?  … Almighty? 

As we prepare to celebrate Christmas and the birth of Jesus, we see God in a very different light.  There is very little that is “almighty” about a new born!  A new born even at the best of times is vulnerable, delicate and fragile as was the baby Jesus.  And even more so because Jesus’ mother gave birth a long way from home, without the support of family and friends and in the equivalent of a shed round the back.  Jesus was little, weak and helpless!

So rather than addressing God as “Almighty” might we instead say “Vulnerable God … ” and perhaps continue:

… you risked everything by emptying yourself to become a human being.  You come to us as a fragile child to share in our weakness and struggle.  You grew up and lived in a country surrounded by turmoil and uncertainty.  Thank you Vulnerable God that you are “God with us” – not judging and condemning from on high but understanding and sharing our humanity in the here and now of everyday life.  You know what it’s like to grow up in an earthly family with all the hassles and tensions, the joys and the sorrows.  You know what it’s like to do hard physical work for small wages.  You know what it’s like to loose family members and friends who you’ve loved.  You know what it is to suffer injustice and unfairness.  Thank you Vulnerable God that YOU know and understand and care and want to help.

When we address God as “Almighty” we can easily think of God as OUT THERE – a long way away – remote and uncaring.  When we address God as “Vulnerable” we are recognizing that God is right here and along side us – in the thick of it – in the messiness of life – in the daily struggle.

This is our vulnerable God who we celebrate and worship.  Do join us for Christmas worship this year as we celebrate again the loving kindness of our God who became vulnerable to help us all know that we are NOT alone and His love reaches out to us whatever we are struggling with this Christmas.

Peter Chantry

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Vicar’s Letter November 2018

As I’m sure you know, Remembrance Sunday this year is extra significant because of it being the centenary of the end of the First World War.

Mercifully the guns fell silent at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month 1918.  After millions of fatalities and terrible suffering,at last, there was silence from the roar of canons and ammunition.

Silence

And silence is how we will try to remember all those who gave their lives in the service of their country.

Silence is fitting because no words are adequate to describe the devastation that that war and all conflicts wreck on innocent lives.

Remembering is not only respectful but it is vital – that we, who live in relative peace, try to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice under horrific circumstances: … We WILL remember them.

Jesus said: “Greater love has no man than that he lay down his life for his friends.”  Understanding what it must have been like is almost impossible but nonetheless we must think and pray and remember as best we can.

Remembering is a vital part of Church life because each week at Holy Communion we remember Jesus’ sacrifice.  His broken body sacrificed for the sins of the world.  We also picture Him opening wide his arms of love upon the cross to embrace the whole family of humanity with compassion and kindness and forgiveness.

We will remember them.

Peter Chantry

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Vicar’s Letter October 2018

On Sunday 7th October we will be celebrating Harvest Festival and many of us think of tins of beans and packets of cereal and the wonderful display of produce: cauliflowers, ripe tomatoes, stripy marrows and the rest – not forgetting the Harvest Supper to remind us of a time before Supermarkets and on line shopping

Harvest Festival may seem like a thing of yester year but celebrating God’s goodness to us and the work of our farmers and gardeners still needs to be done.  In this country we are well fed because of the AMAZING work of our farmers and horticulturalists, our retailers and dieticians, our agronomists and our distributors – they do a wonderful job on our behalf and in partnership with God Almighty.

Over this last year, at both happy and sad occasions we have used the modern version of the much loved hymn: We plough the fields and scatter…  Frank Low’s words hold together both the ancient and the modern, the technical and the ethical.  But fundamentally, the hymn reminds us of our everyday blessings and the source of our nourishment:

We plough the fields with tractors

With drills we sow the land

But growth is still the wondrous gift

Of God’s almighty hand.

We add our fertilizers

To help the growing grain,

But for its full fruition

It needs God’s sun and rain.

           All good gifts around us

          Are sent from heaven above

         Then thank the Lord,

         O thank the Lord,

         For all His love.

With many new machines now

We do the work each day.

We reap the fields with combines

We bale the new-mown hay.

But still ’tis God who gives us

Inventive sills and drive

Which lightens labour’s drudgery

And gives them fuller lives.

 

He only is the maker

Of galaxies and stars;

Of birds and beasts and flowers,

And any life on Mars.

Atomic powers obey him,

Yet still the birds are fed;

By him our prayer is answered:

Give us our daily bread

 

We thank Thee then O Father

For life so rich and good

For seed time and the harvest

The wealth of daily food

No gifts have we to offer

Such as thy love imparts

But what thou most desirest

Our humble thankful hearts.

 

Can I invite you to join us for worship and come and sing the hymn for yourself and let’s praise God together.

Peter Chantry

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Vicar’s Letter November 2017

One of the privileges of my work is meeting some amazing people – amazing not because they are celebrities or high profile people – but amazing because of what they are doing and how they are coping in the face of adversity.

Like the couple who are quietly supporting each other through terminal illness and making the most of the time they have left together.

Like the mum who is doing her best to support her young adult children as they find their way in life in the midst of all the comings and goings of a family home.

Like the person who refuses to let her cancer treatment suck the life out of her.

I am humbled by their strength of character, their positive mindset and their ability to see life beyond their own challenges.  I am sure they must have their dark moments – but I find them inspirational.

And my prayer for them, as it is for all of you, is that they will know God’s peace – helping them through those dark moments; reminding them that THEY are precious to God; encouraging them that they are NOT alone and NEVER will be.

Hard times come to us all.  Some people seem to get more than their fair share of troubles and it is difficult to imagine all the headaches and heartache that some people have to endure.  But we all have a role to play in supporting each other: being willing to listen, slow to judge and ready to help where needed.  And when we do this, we are truly fulfilling God’s call to love our neighbour as ourselves.

So, may you know God’s peace, strength, wisdom and help in the midst of the challenges you face and may you be a channel of God’s love to encourage neighbours, friends and family around you.

Yours,

Peter Chantry

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