Letters from the Diocese
I hope you all had a peaceful and happy Easter. I love Easter! Following the sombreness of Lent and the journey through Holy Week to the foot of the Cross on Good Friday we finally come to Easter Eve and the lighting of the brand new Paschal Candle from the fire outside the church door. Finally we can proclaim “Alleluia! Christ is risen!” And on Easter morning I open the church door to be greeted by the wonderful smell of lilies and all kinds of other spring flowers; new life, new beginnings, happy faces, voices raised in joyful celebration, “He is risen indeed! Alleluia!” I love Easter!
The Easter Vestries have all been held and new officials have been chosen; now we look forward to the formation of our Ministry Area of Bro Cyfeiliog a Mawddwy. The Ministry Area Team, which will be responsible for worship, mission and outreach, has been formed with the Rev John Dale as the Administrator and the Rev Roland Barnes and myself as the Ministry Team leaders. (Member list below) A Ministry Area Council has been formed with members from each of the eight churches in the Ministry Area along with the Ministry Team. The Council has the responsibility for the administration of the Ministry Area and the first meeting of the Council will be on May 1st when the officials will be elected. There will be a special service at St Peter’s on Sunday the 27th July when the Bishop will issue the necessary licenses and affirm the Ministry Area.
As you will appreciate we are going into uncharted territory and there is still a great deal of work to be done but I will keep you updated as things change and develop.
One important and exciting development I can share with you is the appointment of a Curate to the Ministry Area. Mrs Naomi Starkey will be ordained Deacon in June and will serve her curacy with us here in the Dyfi Valley. We look forward to her joining us and I ask you to pray for her as she prepares for her ordination.
With love and blessings to you and yours
The theme of the Diocesan Retreat in February was “Icons, Images and Prayer”. The Retreat Director, the Revd Christopher Perrins, led us through the art of painting Icons from the very particular way the wood is prepared, the special materials needed in the preparation, to the different paints used. Icons are one form of worship in that they are created through contemplation on a passage from the Holy Scriptures, prayer on that passage and from these the release of the creative instincts of the painter.
Rublev’s well known Icon depicting the meeting of Abraham with the angels (Genesis 18) also seen as representing the Holy Trinity, has inspired many over the centuries and has helped countless Christians to engage prayerfully with God. During our mid-week Lent services we will have time to reflect on this Icon as we come together to discern God’s call and presence in our lives. We all come to God, pray to God in a variety of ways and the presence of the icon in our services may be helpful or not, that is up to each individual, but I encourage you, as does Bishop Andrew, to devote more time to prayer this Lent and join us on Thursday evenings at St Peter’s at 6pm.
The Bishop encourages us to become “a praying people and Diocese”
“May we use this time to seek out God’s prayer within us to hear God’s voice speak to us, and perhaps discern within us a calling to a particular ministry or other means of exercising our gifts within the church”
With every blessing to you and yours
You may well have heard, through the press or from other church members, that St Peter’s has been successful in their application for a grant from the Big Lottery; the sum of £250,000 has been awarded. This money will go towards the re-ordering of the back of the Church and can only be used for that purpose. This whole project has been in the planning stage for a number of years now and I’m sure most of you will have seen the plans, or at least have heard of them. This grant along with funds kept for this purpose over the years and other smaller grants means that we are now in the position to put the work out for tender with a view to seeing work begin in the very near future. We are all very much aware of the substantial amount of money needed to complete this project but it is money that must be spent in order to modernise the building for the 21st century and to enhance the renewal and mission needs of Machynlleth which must be uppermost in our minds.
Having given this exciting news, it may seem a little strange to you now, as you read on, that I am asking all parishioners to seriously consider increasing their weekly contribution to Church funds. The running costs for St Peter’s are substantial – the Parish Share alone for this year is £25226 – with insurance, electricity, church expenses and ministerial expenses etc it costs, on average, £3164 per month to keep the doors of our much loved church open. Without the considerable efforts of some Church members at fundraising the weekly offerings would not be sufficient to cover the costs. I do appreciate that we are all struggling to make ends meet but even the smallest increase in your giving would help enormously. The Gift Aid Scheme is available for those who pay tax and benefits the church by giving an extra 25p for every pound given.
Our work to bring in God’s kingdom in these parishes will continue but we need your help both, financially and practically, to do it better.
With every blessing to you and yours
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.