Letters from the Diocese
Yet again my heart has been breaking at the tragic loss of innocent lives in a despicable act of terrorism in Manchester. But at the same time my heart was warmed by the kindness and generosity showed by friends and strangers in response to such an awful event. The words that have stood out in the sea of floral tributes in St Anne’s Square touched a chord with me - “Stand Together”.
In Machynlleth we know what it is to be touched by tragedy and how our community stood together to get us through that terrible time.
“Together Stronger” was the slogan that became synonymous with the Welsh team at the European Championships last year.
“We can do this together” seems to have been my mantra in our Ministry Area over these last 3 years. Uniting as one parish hasn’t been easy, we dislike change, it’s unsettling, we have to think more, even change the way we think. But change is inevitable and once process starts it can’t be stopped.
When Jesus entered the world He caused a few changes. He planted a new vision; He formed a community of disciples and taught them the ways of God and then He had to leave them. He knew full well the challenges that lay ahead for the disciples, concerned about them staying unified and He turns to God His Father in prayer (John 17). As Christians we’ve broken unity on a regular basis – from one community of faith, we became two, Catholic and Protestant. Then Protestants became Methodist and Baptist and Anglican and so on. But Jesus didn’t pray that all believers would agree – He must have known that wouldn’t happen!!
Our unity isn’t in Buildings or denominations – our unity is in Jesus Christ and that unity is vital. Jesus says, “This is how the world will know that you are my disciples: if you have love for each other”. When we come together as one body our prayers and deeds are a potent force to be reckoned with.
“Together Stronger” – perhaps we as a church should adopt that slogan because together as Christians we can go a fair way in carrying out God’s instructions.
Together stronger as Christians with God through Jesus in the power of the Spirit – we are unstoppable.
With every blessing to you and yours
I recently spent the day at Coventry Cathedral, I had never been before and I was spurred on to visit by our Lent course two years ago written by Bishop Andy. He featured a statue in the old Cathedral entitled “Reconciliation”.
I have walked around church and abbey ruins before and have been impressed by their Christian and social history but it didn’t prepare me for the ruins of Coventry Cathedral. Even before I found the statue I was looking for I was struck by something, I’m not sure what, but something quite powerful in this open space surrounded by broken walls and windows frames. As I walked around stopping to read and reflect on the prayers in each part of the Cathedral, trying to imagine what it was like on that night in November 1940 when the incendiary bombs fell ripping the city apart, I looked up to one of the window frames to see the sun glistening through small pieces of stained glass. It stopped me in my tracks! These small beautiful coloured pieces determined to stand their ground through all the horrors of war - determined to shine in spite of the horrors that continue today. This place wasn’t a ruin – broken and dilapidated, it was alive with prayer and love and hope. That was what I felt as I walked into the Cathedral; the very powerful love and hope that we all have through Jesus our Lord.
We arrived at the right time to share in the daily Litany of Reconciliation before the Altar which held the cross of charred wood, with the words “Father Forgive” on the wall behind, fervently praying for peace and reconciliation in our troubled world today. We were humbled to share the Eucharist with strangers in one of the Chapels in the new Cathedral. I was able to stand and admire the beautiful statue; “Reconciliation” which I thought was going to be the highlight of my visit. But it wasn’t. The one thing that I will keep with me always is that sign of hope in those tiny broken pieces of glistening stained glass. For me, the symbol of God’s love and forgiveness for us all, shining through the broken glass, overpowered the hatred rife in the world today,
Alleluia, Christ is risen
He is risen indeed, Alleluia!
With every blessing to you and yours
January the 25th was Dydd Santes Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of Love and on February 14th we celebrate St Valentine’s Day and both these days remind us of the importance of expressing our love for those close to us. But how can we go beyond simply flowers and a card? Jesus says: ‘A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another’ (John 13:34). How can we show love in our everyday relationships like Jesus?
How well do we listen to others? How often do we find ourselves thinking of the next thing to say before someone has finished speaking? Jesus listened; He asked the question and waited patiently for the answer. You can’t rush listening – listening takes time and patience.
Jesus reached out to touch the untouchables in his world - the lepers - the sick – the possessed, and the children. One survey has suggested that we all need at least 8-10 meaningful touches a day to maintain emotional health! A warm handshake - touch on the arm – a hug – nothing too grand – gentle and appropriate. Always helpful for the other person not just for ourselves.
Jesus’ conversation was always full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Do we speak words of grace, by offering comfort, giving encouragement or expressing care and concern? Are we also ready to speak words of truth, in asking for forgiveness – in seeking reconciliation - in speaking out against conflict and injustice? Where is the challenge for us in expressing love this Valentine’s Day?
With every blessing to you and yours
As we come to the end of another year I would like to thank you all for your continued support and hard work as we’ve journeyed together on this road that God has set before us. We have faced the changes, and the challenges they have brought, with good spirit and determination. We have moaned together – we have puzzled together – we have worshipped together – we have laughed and cried together – and we have prayed together. As Christ’s Body, the Church, in this Ministry Area and with God’s grace we will keep going on this journey into 2017 with the same spirit and resolve, Worshipping God, Growing the Church and Loving the World.
My special thanks to the churchwardens of all the churches for their work in keeping the churches running from day to day.
May I wish you and yours a very happy, peaceful and blessed Christmas
As summer rolls on and we’ve enjoyed and celebrated the achievements of the Wales Football Team, Andy Murray’s success at Wimbledon, Carnival Days and Fun Days it’s easy to put the troubles in the world around us to the back of our minds. Not forget, because we can not forget the horror of the events in Nice or the look on the faces of the refugees fleeing for their lives. We can never forget, but we can and do focus on good times, on enjoyable times, those times that revitalise and re-energise us to look again at the world and it’s troubles and work out how we can help.
As Christians we continually pray for our brothers and sisters throughout the world, we belong to a huge family centred on God. In the Dyfi Valley we come to church to worship God as we please, free to come and go. In a great many countries that is not the case and during our worship we pray for those who suffer hardship and violence, often at the hands of their own countrymen, because they belong to our family, because they are Christians. We can not even begin to imagine what that means and we struggle to understand the enormity of it. To hopefully help us to understand a little more I have invited a speaker from Barnabas Fund, a charity who help relieve the suffering of these people in some 36 countries of the world. Ruth will be joining us at St Peter’s Church on Sunday 14th August at 10.30am for a service of Morning Prayer during which she will highlight the plight of our brothers and sisters and the work that Barnabas Fund does to support them. I am not asking you to dip into your pockets again (although the collection from the service will be to Barnabas Fund), but I am asking you to come and hear what Ruth has to say.
The two most important commandments that we have been given is “To love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength”, and “To love your neighbour as yourself” (Luke 10:27). These people are our brothers and sisters in Christ, it is our Christian duty to understand their plight and to support them in any way we can.
With every blessing to you and yours.