Letters from the Diocese
I am including Bishop Andy’s Christmas Message in this month’s issue – a little late maybe but worth the wait.
May we go forward together into the New Year with renewed and strengthened hope in our God, whose love is beyond our understanding, and who will guide and protect us through the year ahead.
With every blessing to you and yours in 2014
Christmas Message 2013 from the Right
Rev'd Andrew John, Bishop of Bangor
The race has begun for the top slot of best selling product in the Christmas period. And there are two hot contenders – Sony’s PS4 and Microsoft’s Xbox 1. Both are selling like hot cakes and many will brave the queues and crowds and dig deeply into already stretched pockets. The pressure to deliver will be immense.
Recent surveys from YouGov suggest 31% of people will experience some form of debt over this period. Many more will rely on overdraft facilities to fund their festivities and with a backdrop of structural debt hitting 88.7% of government spending, it’s easy to see that something has gone, well, very wrong. Shortly before winning the title of City of Culture in 2017 it was revealed that Hull is the most indebted place in the UK with 43.1% of the population in debt.
It is one of life’s strange traits that we sometimes romanticize poverty as though it were a kind of virtue. A line from an old carol (wrongly understood) might reinforce this idea – ‘Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour all for love’s sake becamest poor’. But poverty cripples those who are trapped in it and leads to short term release often from unscrupulous loan sharks.
The Christian take on this is that Christmas offers a kind of hope which can break this dreadful cycle of misery. There is no quick fix solution but a conviction God entered this world to transform it. His birth was without fanfare and pomp but the stepping into the dust and grime was real – where life is lived out for many people today. If the story of the shepherds tells us anything it’s that hope and joy begins when we see that God loved us enough to get into the dirt with us.
My hope for us in Wales this Christmas is that we will find something more of this God and his power to transform. Debt is real enough but so is God’s love and there is an alternative to the abyss of despair. The crib may not seem a likely place to look but the child who lay there was born to save and help us.
May you all have a truly joyful and blessed Christmas.
We were very pleased to welcome Bishop Andy to St Peter’s for a Confirmation Service on the 24th November. It was even more pleasing to welcome the Deanery to St Peter’s and to see the service so well attended. It was a very special day for Alan, Rachal, Elen and Simon, our confirmation candidates, and Michele who was being accepted into the Anglican Church, and having the support of their congregations was very important to them. It was a happy and uplifting service during which we could all confirm and reconfirm our commitment to God. Following the service we enjoyed lunch together at Plas Dolguog. It was good to celebrate together as a Deanery and to welcome five new members to our family. I pray that we will do so again in the very near future.
CHRISTMAS IS COMING!!
How do we focus and encouraged others to be focused on the true meaning of Christmas while the world around us goes mad with shopping and tinsel and lights? In 1223, after a visit to the Holy Land where he was shown the reputed place of Jesus’ birth, St Francis of Assisi created a living nativity scene with a manger filled with hay, an ox and an ass. He then came with his family and the townsfolk to celebrate Christmas and the wonder of God coming amongst us as a vulnerable new born baby. This simple nativity scene with the baby Jesus in a crib at the forefront is still with us today. It is a simple reminder of the awesome wonderment that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords was born in a stable. But how many nativity scenes do you see in the shop windows? – Not many. I wonder would you consider putting a crib on view in your window this Christmas. In all the celebrations perhaps we can pass that simple message on.
May all the blessings of the Christ Child be yours.
PCC meetings have been held in the four churches in our group to discuss the move into becoming a Ministry Area with Bro Ddyfi Uchaf group. You have heard me talk about this initiative for many months now but perhaps haven’t noticed any great changes happening. We have all, clergy and lay, had to think very carefully and decipher in our minds exactly what this move means and what it will entail. The whole idea of Ministry Areas is very strange to us and as a result we are all reluctant to make the first move. But move we must if we are to spread the Gospel of our Lord in our changing society and as baptised Christians we are commissioned to do this. All four PCCs agreed to the principle of becoming a Ministry Area and over the next few months we will be working with Bro Ddyfi Uchaf to form a Ministry Team consisting of clergy and Lay people who will be responsible for all aspects of Ministry in the Area.
There is a great deal of work to be done and anyone and everyone is invited to offer their own particular ministry. We are in this together – a shared ministry, clergy and lay – from altar guild to leading worship and everything else in-between, we all have a ministry to offer and to share. This is God’s work and we are His workers. This path is daunting, we are not sure where we are going, some don’t want to go, but - isn’t it very exciting!!
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people and God himself will be with them and be their God.
Heavenly Father, may we know your presence and be open to your guidance as we move forward into new, unnerving and exciting times. May your Spirit encourage, enthuse and strengthen us to do your work in this place.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
With every blessing to you and yours