Letters from the Diocese
Kath's Letter May 2015
I love the spring – the signs of new life in the fields, in the hedgerows, in our gardens. The weather this spring has been very favourable – a bit cold of late but, never-the-less, the sun has shone. We are all walking with a spring in our step and a smile on our faces.
And then I listen to the news reports from the Mediterranean where hundreds of people have perished in unfriendly seas, among strangers and their families unaware of their deaths. I listen to reports from Syria and Egypt, Nigeria and Pakistan of the persecution, kidnap, torture and murder of Christians and the destruction of their churches.
All that brings me down to earth! I’m not alone when I ask myself “what can I do, here in this beautiful valley, to help these people?”
I can pray that the Lord will have mercy on the souls of the lost and comfort the survivors during this time of fear, pain and mourning.
I can urge the politicians to restart the search and resucue efforts in the mediterranian. To find ways to peace in war-torn countries.
I can pray that the Lord will protect His Church in Syria and Nigeria, India and Pakistan and throughout the world. That He will strengthen the faith of His people and watch over them during times of trial.
I can support the work of the Barnabas Fund who help persectued Christians in many countries throughout the world.
Above all I can pray and believe in the strength of prayer. Please join me in praying that the Lord Jesus, by whose wounds we are healed, will heal the wounds of the persecuted, of the refugee, of the exploited.
With every blessing to you and yours
Well, not immediately… but you may have heard by now that I will be moving on from Bro Cyfeiliog and Mawddwy after my priesting this summer. I have been offered a full-time paid role with the Church in Wales, working in the Ministry Area of Bro Enlli, up on the Llyn Peninsula.
Since being made deacon at Bangor Cathedral last June, I have been working with Canon Kath two days a week – Sundays and usually Wednesdays – while continuing with my ‘day job’ as an editor with the Bible Reading Fellowship the rest of the time. I have come to feel an increasingly strong call to move on from my publishing work, however, and the time now feels right to make that move. It will be a big change, as I have worked with BRF since 1997 (and in publishing since 1994), but my colleagues tell me that they are not at all surprised…
I will still be very much around until early July and looking forward to celebrating my first Eucharist, which will take place at St Peter’s in Machynlleth on 28 June. And even after Daniel and I move house (up to Aberdaron, at the very end of the Llyn), I plan to keep in touch – I’ll still be in the same archdeaconry!
Lent is a time for reading…
In my ‘day job’ as an editor for the Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF), I have to publish an annual book of readings for Lent and Easter. Over the years I have worked with a wide range of authors, and enjoyed helping them find a theme for their book so that it will have a different ‘feel’ from the previous year’s volume. The 2015 BRF Lent book, Reflecting the Glory, is by Tom Wright, the former Bishop of Durham, who is now Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of St Andrews.
Over the years, Tom Wright has written hugely significant books of New Testament scholarship and also many titles aimed at a wide audience, including his ‘For Everyone’ series of Bible commentaries. It was a great privilege to be his editor for Reflecting the Glory, which provides a Bible reading, comment and prayer for every day from Ash Wednesday to Easter (including each day in Easter Week). Focusing on the New Testament epistles of 1 and 2 Corinthians, the book shows how through God’s Holy Spirit, we can reveal something of Jesus even at the lowest and weakest points of our lives. No matter how feeble we may feel our faith to be, we can reflect the glory of God’s own Son.
Even though Lent is now well underway, it isn’t too late to pick up a Lent book (or some other book of spiritual reading) and take a bit of time to ponder what our faith means to us - and how it can be used to touch the lives of others. In the words of Tom Wright: ‘The relevance of knowing God in Jesus is that when we love God in Jesus, we discover how that love, that personal love, is given to us in order that it may be given through us.’
As you continue to read this month’s magazine you will notice a few changes to the services and church meetings that are a traditional and important part of Lent. Firstly you will notice that our United Mothering Sunday Service will be held at Llanwrin this year, transport will be available for those who need it but please let me or the Church Wardens know.
Secondly each Church has to have a Congregation meeting prior to the Ministry Area AGM in April. I cannot stress enough how important these meetings are to the mission and ministry of each Church and our Ministry Area as a whole and I urge you all to attend the meeting in your Church and make your views known, bring along new ideas, show support for your Ministry Team and the Team Leaders and for all those who are already working very hard.
The Clergy Retreat this year was in Nant Gwrtheyrn on the Llŷn Peninsula – a beautiful place. The theme was “Transforming Landscapes – knowing your place”. We were able to reflect on the changing landscape of this former mining village and the people who lived and worked there. How people were changed by the landscape and how the landscape was changed by people. How our own personal landscapes, both physically and spiritually, change and what we do with that. Isn’t it lovely to watch the season’s change – to watch the signs of spring greet us every morning – we know our place in this familiar landscape. But what about the changing landscape of our Church, our worship, how we “do church”? Do we know our place in this landscape? Our wonderful Creator God continues over and over again to make all things new. As our relationship with God deepens so the landscapes of our souls and minds change. But God is constant, His love is constant, the Good News is the same, our mission as Christians is the same – proclaiming the Good News.
I pray that this Lent God will guide you to discern your place in the story that is evolving around us, that we may all become more aware of His Eternal Presence reaching out to us in love.
With every blessing to you and yours
I hope you all had a happy and peaceful Christmas. December was very busy in our churches with festivities starting early in Machynlleth with the lighting of the town Christmas tree on November 30th, Carol singing around the Town Clock, mulled wine and mince pies, followed by a candlelit walk down to St Peter’s for more mulled wine, mince pies, singing and lots of Advent crafts for the children. It was a lovely evening enjoyed by all and we finished off the mulled wine after the 11am service the following day. On the 18th December we welcomed the Honourable Mrs Shân Legge-Bourke, Lord-Lieutenant of Powys, and her deputy, Mrs Tia Jones, to our Carol Service at St Peter’s. There were plenty of children to make up the Nativity scene at the Crib Service on Christmas Eve and the Midnight Communion service was also well attended. It has been a joy to come together to celebrate the most wonderful event that changed the course of human history forever – CHRISTMAS.
But sadly December also brought tragedy to many people – to the families of the 132 children and 13 adults murdered in a school in Peshawar, Pakistan; the six Christmas shoppers killed and many injured in the road accident in Glasgow; the loss of loved ones in our own communities. These losses are devastating whenever they happen but it always seems worse at this time of the year but if the miraculous events at Bethlehem 2000 years ago show us one thing it is this – God became human; God is here, in this fractured, hurting world. God is with us in the dark nights and the hopeless situations, in the midst of the light and the darkness giving us strength and hope for the long haul of life. So look up and walk forward into 2015 with the good news ringing in your ears – a Saviour has been born for us – Glory to God in the highest!
With every blessing to you and yours for 2015