Epiphany Thoughts

What does ‘The Epiphany’ mean? To a lot of Christian people, the Epiphany just means the coming of the three wise men. But there is a lot more to it than that. For a start, the word ‘Epiphany’ means a “manifestation, or an experience of sudden and striking realization.” It can apply in any situation in which an enlightening realization allows a problem or situation to be understood from a new and deeper perspective. Think of Archimedes’ “Eureka” moment in his bath, or Isaac Newton’s realising that the apple that hit him on the head, and the moon orbiting the earth, were being pulled by the same force.

To Christians it means the time when Jesus was recognised by the Gentiles, represented by the wise men, as the Messiah – King of the Jews. The wise men’s research told them that the King of the Jews was to be born at that time, they followed the star, found the infant Jesus, and realised that this was indeed the King they sought. That therefore was their Epiphany.

Epiphany comes just twelve days after Christmas, on 6th January. It is sometimes said to be the feast day that celebrates the final unwrapping of the present we were given by God on Christmas Day. He now reveals God the Son, the human being of Jesus Christ, not just to the Jews but also to the Gentiles.

For hundreds of years the world had been told by God, through the prophets, that he was going to come, himself, in the form of a new-born child, and this child would become, as an adult, the Messiah, the King of the Jews, the Saviour of the world. God was true to his word.

Advent, Christmas and Epiphany should be changing us as it changed the wise men – they studied the scriptures and the skies in Advent, saw the Holy Child after Christmas, and experienced their own epiphanies.

I pray that we will all experience, or experience again, an epiphany in January. That we, like the wise men, will individually realise and understand that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that this knowledge will change us to be more like Jesus.

But, am I being over-optimistic? I sometimes wonder whether in the last two thousand years we’ve moved even an inch further towards bringing the kingdom here. What’s changed? Are we any less cruel than we used to be? Are we fairer, more caring, less vain, less greedy? As Alfred Noyes said, “God, build us that better world, but that’s not done with tongue or sword or pen – God make us better men!”

And in the words of Christopher Wordsworth, (nephew of William) and one-time Vicar of Stanford-in-the-Vale

 Grant us grace to see thee, Lord,

Mirrored in thy holy word;

May we imitate thee now,

And be pure, as pure as thou;

That we like to thee may be

At thy great Epiphany,

And may praise thee, ever blest,

God in man made manifest.

Christopher Wordsworth (1807-85)

May Advent, Christmas and Epiphany be joyful and revelatory experiences for us all.

April 2013 Prayer Calendar

Please continue to pray for the life and work of our parishes

Mon 1st Hope Prison Ministries—our Mission of the Month for April.
Tues 2nd Barber Rooms Appeal Prayers
Wed 3rd Africa Children’s Fund—our Mission of the Month for April
Thurs 4th The work of the Mustard Seed and Seekers Light.
Fri 5th For the work of the Flower Guild.
Sat 6th For the work of the Family Centre and the Children’s Centre.
Sun 7th Ministry team: Charles, Simon, Max, Paul, Barbara, John, Helen & Graham.
Mon 8th Witness at home, at work and in the community this week.
Tues 9th All who help run our Churches.
Wed 10th For all those recently bereaved.
Thurs 11th The Choir, Music Group and all who lead our worship.
Fri 12th For all we know who are ill or in any kind of need.
Sat 13th For vergers and welcomers, intercessors and readers.
Sun 14th Civic Service and United Service
Mon 15th Quest Two Group at the Vicarage this evening.
Tues 16th All Saints’ APCM
Wed 17th St Mary’s APCM
Thurs 18th Alpha Two Group meeting this evening.
Fri 19th Our newly-elected Wardens, Assistant Wardens & PCC members.
Sat 20th For magazine preparation this weekend.
Sun 21st For families bringing children for baptism today.
Mon 22nd David & Lisa Cooke—our CMS Link Partners in Kenya.
Tues 23rd Bell ringing celebrating St George’s Day
Wed 24th Our Bishops, Area Dean and Churches of the VWH Deanery.
Thurs 25th Alpha Two Group meeting
Fri 26th Allsorts at All Saints’
Sat 27th Induction Service for Stephen Martin at the Baptist Church.
Sun 28th Messy Church this afternoon at the United Church.
Mon 29th Quest Two Group at the Vicarage this evening.
Tues 30th For Churches Together in Faringdon.

 

All Saints’ Annual Parochial Church meeting

Tuesday 16th April
7.45pm
All Saints’ Church

Do join us for the election of new Churchwardens, PCC members and Deanery Synod representatives. We will also have our Annual Review, including Annual Accounts and Curate’s Report.

This year we will also be reporting on our Tenders for the Barber Rooms Building Project, which will have just come in.

Don’t miss out on an important and exciting moment in the life of our church!

 

Charles writes: April 2013

I’m writing this with snow on the ground and more snow falling. “When will Spring come?” we all keep saying! We all feel better when we finally leave winter behind and the new growth of Spring really gets going – it’s like a turning point in the year.

Easter Day is an even bigger turning point in the church’s year – as we move from the seriousness of Lent to the joy of the Easter season. From Easter onwards, we celebrate that Jesus is risen for always – and the risen Jesus is with us and will never leave us. Much to celebrate – whatever the weather!

This year April is also a vital turning point for our parish. In mid April tenders are due in from the builders for the Barber Rooms building project – just in time for our Annual Parochial Church Meeting on Tuesday 16th April. So it will be a special Annual Meeting this year! In the second half of April, we will be examining the tenders and preparing to make our response. If all goes well, we could be ready to sign a contract in early May.

In view of this we are setting aside Sunday 28th April as BARBER ROOMS SUNDAY. Do join us if you can at any of our services that day for a review of the project and a look at our way forward.

So April is crunch time for us at All Saints’! In view of that, it seems a good time for a quick review of what this project is all about.

On Mothering Sunday this year, we thought about the church being a family for us all – with God as our Father, and all of us brothers and sisters in Christ. We thought about Jesus’ call – to “Love one another as I have loved you.” As time goes on I realise how important this is – for all of us in the church to get to know each other, to build relationships with each other, and to care for one another.

But I’m also realising more and more how our buildings militate against this. Our beautiful ancient building is wonderful for worship, but not so well suited to meeting more informally. To get to know each other, and to share and learn together, we need a very different kind of place to meet.

We are already painfully aware of this – we desperately need a proper venue for Alpha Courses, training courses such as “Growing Leaders”, larger meetings such as “God in our lives”, meetings with groups of Baptism families and Wedding couples – as time goes on, it feels more and more of a struggle not having a suitable venue for any of these kinds of meetings. With groups of Baptism families and Wedding couples, it will be a particular advantage to have this facility next to the Church, so we can meet informally, but also take the opportunity to help them to familiarise themselves with the Church building as well.

And it is exciting to think of the many new opportunities the Barber Rooms will give us to meet together – regular bring and share lunches, coffee mornings, fellowship meetings for older members, informal prayer and fellowship evenings, and so on. We will have a real opportunity to build up the life of our church family, and to be a community where people feel far more involved and included.

Last, and far from least, we still have a desperate need for meeting rooms for our children. At the recent Licensing Service in Stanford, Bishop Andrew spoke eloquently about the vital importance of investing in our children and young people. In my new role as Area Dean, I’ve been learning more about the life of churches across the diocese, and it is sad to find out that many have very few children and young families. I am delighted that All Saints’ is different, and that we have many children and young families involved in the life of the church. And yet – the children’s work remains a struggle with only two meeting rooms – one very small, and the other without disabled access. If it’s right to maintain our large and costly Church building that is suited to the needs of adult worship, then it is surely also right to invest in a building that is much more suited to the needs of our children.

I firmly believe that the time will come when we wonder how we ever managed without the Barber Rooms! But our moment of decision is now. As Gandalf says to Frodo in “Lord of the Rings” – it is our generation that is called to meet this challenge! Once again I would like to thank all of you who have already shared generously in this project – through your pledges, through your gifts, and through your enthusiasm – including making all that wonderful marmalade! Do join us at our Annual Meeting, and on Sunday 28th April, so we can now move on and share in this moment of decision together.

Do join us also to pray – on Tuesday 2nd April, we will meet again for our monthly Appeal Prayers – meeting at Church from 8.00 – 9.00pm. We are still very much aware that we can only tackle this project in humble dependence on God, seeking to follow his leading, and depending on his provision and his blessing in all that we do.

The Easter message is a message of joy – joy in the victory of humble love over hatred and cruelty – joy in God’s generous love that reaches out to all with love and forgiveness – and joy in the new life and hope that the risen Jesus gives us. This is a joy we want to share – with each other, with those who we welcome from outside, and with our children and young people as they grow up in an uncertain world. May this whole project enable us better to share that joy, as the risen Jesus calls us to.

And a very happy Easter Season to you all!

Charles

 

March 2013 Prayer Calendar

Fri 1st Family & Children’s Centre—our Mission of the Month for March.
Sat 2nd The Choir, Music Group and all who lead our worship.
Sun 3rd Church Membership Sunday today.
Mon 4th Quest meeting for confirmation candidates this evening.
Tues 5th Family & Children’s Centre AGM this evening.
Wed 6th Our Wardens and Assistant Wardens.
Thurs 7th Alpha course this evening.
Fri 8th Ministry team: Charles, Simon, Max, Paul, Barbara, John, Helen & Graham.
Sat 9th For all we know who are ill or in any kind of need.
Sun 10th Marmalade Sale; United Service this evening at the Blessed Hugh.
Mon 11th Witness at home, at work and in the community this week.
Tues 12th Our Bishops, Area Dean and Churches of the VWH Deanery.
Wed 13th For the work of the Flower Guild and demonstration on Saturday.
Thurs 14th Alpha course this evening.
Fri 15th For magazine preparation this weekend.
Sat 16th For the family bringing a child for baptism tomorrow.
Sun 17th Faringdon Singers concert to support Barber Rooms Appeal.
Mon 18th David & Lisa Cooke—our CMS Link Partners in Kenya.
Tues 19th For all those recently bereaved.
Wed 20th The work of the Mustard Seed and Seekers Light.
Thurs 21st Alpha course this evening.
Fri 22nd Allsorts at All Saints’ this morning.
Sat 23rd Church cleaning at All Saints’ and St Mary’s today.
Sun 24th Palm Sunday procession, and Messy Church this afternoon.
Mon 25th Quest meeting for confirmation candidates this evening.
Tues 26th All Saints’ PCC Meeting tonight.
Wed 27th For all who help run our Churches—administration, cleaning, etc.
Thurs 28th For vergers and welcomers, intercessors and readers.
Fri 29th Good Friday—pray for our witness in the Market Place today.
Sat 30th For all visiting family and friends over Easter.
Sun 31st Easter Day: Hallelujah! Christ is Risen!

 

What’s happening in March 2013

Friday 1st: 7.40-8.30am Parish Prayers at 20 Market Place . All welcome.
Monday 4th: 7.30-9.00pm Quest Group continues at The Vicarage.
Monday 4th: 7.30-9.00pm Lent Group at Faringdon United Church.
Monday 4th: 7.45-9.00pm St Mary’s Lent Group.
Tuesday 5th: 2.00-3.30pm Lent Group at Faringdon United Church.
Tuesday 5th: 8.00-9.00pm Prayers for Building Appeal at All Saints’. All welcome.
Tuesday 5th: 8.00-9.00pm Julian Meeting for meditation and contemplative prayer at 10 The Pines . Contact  (241 009). All welcome.
Thursday 7th: 7.15pm Alpha Course at the Baptist Church – call 242 769 for details.
Friday 8th: 7.40-8.30am Parish Prayers at 20 Market Place . All welcome.
Monday 11th: 7.30-9.00pm Lent Group at Faringdon United Church.
Monday 11th: 7.45-9.00pm St Mary’s Lent Group.
Tuesday 12th: 2.00-3.30pm Lent Group at Faringdon United Church.
Thursday 14th: 7.15pm Alpha Course at the Baptist Church – call 242 769 for details.
Friday 15th: 7.40-8.30am Parish Prayers at 20 Market Place . All welcome.
Friday 15th: 8.00pm Prayer for the World—call  (240 509) for venue. All welcome.
Monday 18th: 7.30-9.00pm Lent Group at Faringdon United Church.
Monday 18th: 7.45-9.00pm St Mary’s Lent Group.
Tuesday 19th: 2.00-3.30pm Lent Group at Faringdon United Church.
Tuesday 19th: 8.00-9.00pm Julian Meeting for meditation and contemplative prayer at 10 The Pines . Contact  (241 009). All welcome.
Thursday 21st: 7.15pm Alpha Course at the Baptist Church – call 242 769 for details.
Friday 22nd: 7.40-8.30am Parish Prayers at 20 Market Place . All welcome.
Friday 22nd: 10.30am All Sorts at All Saints’. All welcome.
Sunday 24th: 4.00pm Messy Church at the United Church. All welcome.
Monday 25th: 7.30-9.00pm Quest Group continues at The Vicarage.
Tuesday 26th: 7.45pm All Saints’ PCC meeting.

 

Charles writes: March 2013

“Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy mountain!”

We began the season of Lent, on Ash Wednesday, with these words from the prophet Joel – a call to wake up – a call to action – a call to stand up and be counted. It’s a very appropriate message for the beginning of Lent. Lent is surely a time to sit up – to take stock of where we are in our faith and discipleship – to be honest with ourselves and with God. As Joel says later on,

”Even now, says the LORD, return to me with all your heart.”

It feels very much where we are at All Saints’ as we enter the final stages of the Barber Rooms Appeal. As we prepare to go out to tender, we still have a funding gap of about £50,000, and we all need both to unite in prayer as grant bodies are still considering our applications, and to join in with our fund-raising activities. Perhaps it is a time especially for us to be aware of our dependence on God’s goodness for this whole project.

But of course the life of the church is very much more than just the Barber Rooms. Our ongoing life and ministry and mission is even more important. This spring is the time for us all to have a fresh look at our involvement in the life of the church.

Once every six years, the Electoral Roll – that is the membership roll – of the church is completely renewed – the old roll expires, and everybody has to rejoin. This month we are renewing our roll at All Saints’ and at St Mary’s. The renewal begins on 1st March , and concludes on Sunday 17th March. Joining the Electoral Roll allows you to vote for members of PCC and Deanery Synod at our Annual Meeting, and in effect therefore makes you a voting member and therefore part of the decision making process of the Church of England. (You do need to be baptised and aged 16 or over to join the roll.)

But at a local level, it’s about wanting to be part of our church family, and being involved in the way that is right for each one of us. To help us to think about this, at All Saints’ we are running a “Church Membership Sunday” on Sunday 3rd March. On that Sunday, we will be thinking about church membership at all our services at All Saints’ – 8.00am, 10.30am and 6.30pm.

From that Sunday, we will be giving out church membership leaflets, with suggestions of ways that each one of us can be involved in the life of the church. There is also a copy of this leaflet at the centre of this magazine which you can pull out and use. The leaflet contains a response sheet, where you can tick boxes to indicate areas you might be interested in, and the Electoral Roll form itself is included in the response form. A larger print version of the whole leaflet will also be available in church. There will be a box for response forms in Church, or you can send your form directly to Maggie Bohm, who is the All Saints’ Electoral Roll Officer (her address is on the form). Please make sure your form is returned by Sunday 17th March.

In a small congregation, issues about church membership are more straightforward. Gill Hudson is Electoral Roll Officer for St Mary’s, and she will have forms for St Mary’s Electoral Roll from 1st March. We will also be having a focus on church membership at St Mary’s – but this will be after the renewal of the roll, at our 9.00am Morning Worship on Sunday 14th April.

If you would like to be on the Electoral Roll, do please make sure you don’t miss out on all of this. And if you’re part of All Saints’ we do hope you’ll be able to join us on Sunday 3rd March.

It is a great privilege to be part of the church family – to be nurtured by the support of others, and also to be able to participate and contribute to the life of the church ourselves. May this month may be a time that helps all of us to find ways we can both give and receive, so that we can all flourish together as God’s family in this place.

Charles

 

What’s happening in February 2013

Friday 1st: 7.40-8.30am Parish Prayers at 20 Market Place  All welcome.
Tuesday 5th: 8.00-9.00pm Prayers for Building Appeal at All Saints’. All welcome.
Tuesday 5th: 8.00-9.00pm Julian Meeting for meditation and contemplative prayer at 10 The Pines . Contact  (241 009). All welcome.
Wednesday 6th: 8.00pm Wednesday Group at 33 The Pines – call 244 036 for details.
Thursday 7th: 7.15pm Alpha Course at the United Church – call 242 769 for details.
Friday 8th: 7.40-8.30am Parish Prayers at 20 Market Place (. All welcome.
Saturday 9th: 7.30pm “Moonrakers” concert at St Giles’ Church, Great Coxwell.  All welcome.
Wednesday 13th: 7.30pm Ash Wednesday Holy Communion Service.
Thursday 14th: 8.00pm Thursday Group meeting at 10b Coxwell Street. For details contact  (242 753). All welcome.
Friday 15th: 7.40-8.30am Parish Prayers at 20 Market Place . All welcome.
Friday 15th: 8.00pm Prayer for the World—call (240 509) for venue. All welcome.
Monday 18th: 7.30-9.00pm Quest Group continues at The Vicarage.
Monday 18th: 7.30-9.30pm Lent Course begins . All welcome.
Tuesday 19th: 2.00-3.30pm Lent Course begins . All welcome.
Thursday 21st: 10.00am-4.00pm Lent Quiet Day. The Vicarage Buckland. tel 870618
Thursday 21st: 7.15pm Alpha Course at the United Church – call 242 769 for details.
Friday 22nd: 7.40-8.30am Parish Prayers at 20 Market Place . All welcome.
Friday 22nd: 10.30am All Sorts at All Saints’. All welcome.
Sunday 24th: 4.00pm Messy Church at the United Church. All welcome.
Monday 25th: 7.45-9.00pm St Mary’s Lent Course begins . All welcome.
Tuesday 26th: 7.45pm All Saints’ PCC meeting.
Thursday 28th: 7.15pm Alpha Course at the United Church – call 242 769 for details.

Prayer Calendar: February 2013

Please continue to pray for the life and work of our parishes

Fri 1st The Barnabas Fund—our Mission of the Month for February.
Sat 2nd For all those recently bereaved.
Sun 3rd Saints Alive this morning.
Mon 4th Thanks for Matt, Liz & Levi Wisbey’s new house in Thame.
Tues 5th For the elderly in snowy conditions.
Wed 6th For the future work of the Family Centre.
Thurs 7th Alpha course this evening.
Fri 8th For the Flower Guild.
Sat 9th For all who help run our Churches—administration, cleaning, etc.
Sun 10th United Service this evening at the Baptist Church.
Mon 11th The work of the Mustard Seed and Seekers Light.
Tues 12th Ministry team: Charles, Simon, Max, Paul, Barbara, John, Helen & Graham.
Wed13th For ourselves and all Christians at the start of Lent.
Thurs 14th The Choir, Music Group and all who lead our worship.
Fri 15th Our Wardens and Assistant Wardens.
Sat 16th For magazine preparation this weekend.
Sun 17th For the family bringing a child for baptism today.
Mon 18th Lent Courses begin this week.
Tues 19th Our Bishops, Area Dean and Churches of the VWH Deanery.
Wed 20th Witness at home, at work and in the community this week.
Thurs 21st Alpha course this evening.
Fri 22nd Allsorts at All Saints’ this morning.
Sat 23rd For vergers and welcomers, intercessors and readers.
Sun 24th Messy Church this afternoon at the United Church.
Mon 25th St Mary’s Lent Course begins today.
Tues 26th All Saints’ PCC Meeting tonight.
Wed 27th For all we know who are ill or in any kind of need.
Thurs 28th Alpha course this evening.

Lent Course: “Lost for Words” sharing faith naturally

The aim is: To learn to speak about our faith with anyone, in a relaxed, natural, helpful way, so they may discover and respond to God’s love for them.

There are two parallel courses running on Monday evenings (7.30-9.30pm) and Tuesday afternoons (2.00-3.30pm) at the United Church.

The Programme is:

  • Monday 18th / Tuesday 19th February: Getting connected
  • Monday 25th / Tuesday 26th February: Connecting Well
  • Monday 4th / Tuesday 5th March: Telling our story
  • Monday 11th / Tuesday 12th March: Telling God’s story
  • Monday 18th / Tuesday 19th March: Keeping going

You can just turn up if you like, but if you’re planning in advance to come – do let John Seedell know you’re coming (john.seedell@gmail.com or 242 440).

It would be great to see you there – No prior knowledge or expertise required