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
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
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
baby Joshua isn’t the messiah, and he’s not even a very naughty boy (thank you
2. And also
because this isn’t the time for twee and overly sentimental answers all wrapped
up in swaddling cloth….
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
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
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
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!
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?
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..
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!
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.
the first people to come and meet the baby are smelly (and probably dodgy)
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.
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!
We will have vacancies in the
New Year for two one bedroom units at our Station Road site.
The residency charge is
expected to be £73 per week. Residents pay their own utility bills.
Applications can be made by contacting the Clerk to the Trustees, Mr John Sheridan, 07854 989656, who will supply an application form.
For a year from date of
submission, applicants form part of a waiting list who will be given first
consideration when a vacancy is identified. After those 12 months,
re-application is expected.
Appointment of residents is
by the Trustees, either in full session or acting through nominated members of
the Trust. We seek to provide accommodation in the Parish for persons of good
character, ideally with a family or residential connection with Madeley, at as
low a cost as we can achieve given the need to maintain the properties in good
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
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.
The Parish Church Council is delighted to say that the Wardens of the two parishes have been authorised to announce that:
Subject to the required safeguarding checks, the Bishop of Lichfield has appointed the Revd. Tim Watson, currently Leesland Pioneer Minister in the Diocese of Portsmouth to be the next Vicar of Madeley and Betley. We hope for a licensing by the Bishop of Lichfield early in the New Year. Please pray for Tim, his wife Clare and their 3 children.
Tim writes: ‘Greetings from Gosport on the South coast! I’m delighted to take up the post of vicar of All Saints’ Madeley and St Margaret’s Betley. As yet there are no fixed timings but we hope to be with you all before too long (Covid allowing!) We’d be grateful for your prayers as the Watson family prepare for the move. Many thanks, from, Tim, Clare, Evie, Lucie and Joshua Watson.’
Welcome to our Parish Magazine, it’s so good to be back in print. Who would have believed at the start of the year how things were going to be.
It was a great sadness to have to close the Church at the
end of March and although we were able to meet via the internet for services,
Kids Groups and House groups this was not an option for everyone. It was a great joy to be able to re-open the
Church for private pray in July and then to start having Holy Communion
services again in August beginning on a Thursday morning and now our fortnightly Sunday service. The Church building conforms to all the
COVID19 safety measures which means sanitising hands on the way in, wearing a
face mask and sitting 2 metres apart but in these difficult times we feel this
is a small price to pay for the chance to worship together and celebrate Holy
‘For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord,
plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’.
These words were written by the prophet Jeremiah from Jerusalem to the Israelites who had been taken away in to slavery in Babylon circa 626BC. He was inspired by God to offer them hope during a time of great change and despair. Each of us has been through our own time of change and for some despair but we too, like those ancient Israelites should take comfort from Gods words in the knowledge that despite the events that over take us and the mistakes we make God is in charge and if we live our lives believing and trusting in Him we can have hope for the future.
May God bless you with His peace in the days ahead.
Honolulu – It’s got everything. Sand for the
children, sun for the wife, sharks for the wife’s mother.
Ken Dodd, comedian
Firstly, I love my mother in law – unlike, obviously, Ken Dodd.
But secondly, I wonder if you have had – like me – to cancel or to
reorganise your holidays.
You may be feeling OK about it, or you may be really annoyed,
especially if you just missed the Eurostar or the ferry from France before the
quarantine was imposed.
Having had a couple of staycations, I certainly miss the more normal
But I am left thinking, why on earth do we miss our holidays so
Is it because normal life is unbearable? Hardly! (I think! Feel free
Is it because we’ve got used to our luxuries? Possibly – but that doesn’t really feel like enough of an explanation.
Then, I remembered – forgive me, this is how this curate’s brain works
– that on the story of creation, God – yes, God! – “rested on the seventh
day from all the work that he had done” (Genesis 2.2)
Please keep reading, even if you’re a bit
lukewarm (or positively chilly) about religion!
Isn’t that an extraordinary statement? The all powerful, the almighty,
the creator of everything – resting?!
Was he tired? Had it been too long a shift? Or just too long a week?
What is going on?!
Well, even if you’re not very keen on believing in God, this story is
clearly saying that rest (and a change) is a very important part of a healthy
lifestyle. What stronger way is there to say it (to religious people) than to
say that God himself had a rest?
It’s building it into the structure of the universe, into the patterns
We need time to stop our usual routines. We need to pause and
reflect on what we have done – sometimes to critique it, yes; but dare I
say, we don’t often stop to appreciate what we have done, because we are
too worried about the next thing that needs doing.
I find it comforting that God would want to stop, even if he doesn’t need to (unlike me). And that when he does so, he is pleased: it’s all very good! (Genesis 1.31)
So I really hope that you have had – or are soon having – a chance to
stop and get a change of scene.
And if you can’t go away – because of health, or work, or family
commitments, that you nevertheless get some moments of pause. It may be ‘just’
a couple of hours in a place you love, that you haven’t been to for a while –
or even ‘just’ a good long catch up on the phone with someone you love, but
haven’t been able to see for a long while.
And when you stop, imagine – just imagine – that there is a God
somewhere out there, who cares so much for you, that he cares for your rest?