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Archive for December, 2010

Yesterday everyone in our parish received this email from our parish priest.  The contents are self-explanatory and for obvious reasons all names of places and persons have been changed.  Enough remains to show how selfless love (agape) goes into action when tragedy happens, whatever denomination or faith; or none.

“Dear all,

Most of you will, by now, be aware of the shocking turn of events at The Chequers pub in Short Street in recent days. For those who have been away or in blissful festive ignorance of the wider world, the landlord, Philip Carr aged 29, was [allegedly] killed by his brother-in-law, Brad. The detail of what has happened is too painful and shocking to commit to an e-mail.

Firstly can I ask you to pray:

* For Philip that he may rest in peace
* for Philip’s partner, landlady, Tonya
* for Tonya’s six-year-old son Connor who is a pupil at xx School. Connor has special needs.
* for Rosa, Tonya’s mother, whose son Brad has [allegedly] perpetrated this crime
* For Brad himself in custody
* for those seeking to offer support to those in greatest need

The nature of a business in the current economic situation – and given the attitude of the Brewery – is that The Chequers intends to re-open tomorrow lunchtime (Friday) at 12 noon. One way of showing your support at this time of crisis for Tonya and her family is by dropping in to have a drink. If for any reason the pub opening is to be delayed I will e-mail you again. I will be leading from the front and hope that I am in a queue…

There may be other ways in which we as a Christian Community can offer practical as well as spiritual support over the coming days, and I will be in touch again about that and may well have more to say on Sunday.

I am already grateful to Jerry Instone who is helping us respond to a particular need regarding school uniform for Connor who is due back at school on Wednesday. I am aware that as a result of what has happened all young Connor’s personal belongings, clothing, toys, his new computer and Christmas presents will have to be destroyed. There might be something we can, as a community do about that.

Thank you for your support.

Fr Hallam”

Here am I, Lord

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Last night we drove through snow-covered fields and dark wet woods to take part in Christmas midnight mass in Wells Cathedral.  The joy of the occasion began at the very door through which we passed into the nave filled with soft golden light, some of it provided by hundreds of candles.  As usual at Wells, the music was both impressive and moving and the preaching was of the highest quality. (more…)

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As an Anglican, I’ve often heard clergy bemoan the fact that people nowadays are much more fond of Christmas than they are of Easter.   They blame the whole turbo-charged, turkey-centred, Santa-welcoming, TV specials commercial atmosphere for kidnapping the Birth of Christ.  And to a certain extent they are right.  Easter has no such bright lights.  Indeed, many in our cultures know nothing of Easter at all.  Is this a problem? (more…)

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Last week we visited Merseyside for the first time, staying with in-laws on the Wirral.  We found it a wonderful experience: the prosperous look of suburbs such as Spital; Port Sunlight; the parks along the banks of the Mersey, sparkling in the crisp clear winter air; the distant view of the Liver Building.  We drove to Liverpool One and lunched in a restaurant in the Albert Dock area, then visiting the fascinating Beatles museum next door.  Everything looks new, clean and confident.  And then there were the cathedrals.

We had specifically asked to visit the Anglican cathedral which towers over the city.  I must admit that I was prepared to dislike it.  Perhaps it would be too grandiose, too puffed up and not holy enough.  As we parked below the building’s southern flank and looked up at the huge red cliff of masonry it looked as if my fears were about to be confirmed.  Actually entering the building put an end to that.

The sheer size of the interior is breath-taking.  The nave and the central space seem to go on and on and the interplay between the stained-glass natural light, the lighting and the shadows is astonishing.  So is the knowledge that its architect, Giles Gilbert Scott, handed in the first designs when he was only 21 years old.  His achievement for the city of Liverpool is almost beyond description.  It rests securely on a single, mighty fact.

That is that Liverpool cathedral contains a space so large yet so carefully framed that it conveys a sense of liberation.  You literally feel lifted up, as if the great mass of building were drawing you upwards and outwards.  This is not a Christ-crushing artefact of municipal pride.  It is a genuinely holy place which conveys calm but which also serves as a thrilling statement of justifiable dedication to the mission: to reach out to the great city and beyond, and proclaim itself as a worthy focus for the people of Liverpool, whatever their beliefs.  It works in ways I had not expected.  Long may it stand.

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