News & Items of Interest
All the latest news from around the diocese.
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5th May: Ascension Day
Surely the most tender, moving ‘farewell’ in history took place on Ascension Day. Luke records the story with great poignancy: “When Jesus had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands - and blessed them.”
As Christmas began the story of Jesus’ life on earth, so Ascension Day completes it, with his return to his Father in heaven. Jesus’ last act on earth was to bless his disciples. He and they had a bond as close as could be: they had just lived through three tumultuous years of public ministry and miracles – persecution and death – and resurrection! Just as we part from our nearest and dearest by still looking at them with love and memories in our eyes, so exactly did Jesus: “While He was blessing them, He left them and was taken up into heaven.” (Luke 24:50-1) He was not forsaking them, but merely going on ahead to a kingdom which would also be theirs one day: “I am ascending to my Father and to your Father, to my God and your God...” (John 20:17)
The disciples were surely the most favoured folk in history. Imagine being one of the last few people on earth to be face to face with Jesus, and have Him look on you with love. No wonder then that Luke goes on: “they worshipped Him - and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.” (Luke 24:52,53)
No wonder they praised God! They knew they would see Jesus again one day! “I am going to prepare a place for you... I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:2,3) In the meantime, Jesus had work for them to do: to take the Gospel to every nation on earth.
Edible Mach Maethlon were unsuccessful in grant funding this year and desperately need to raise funds to continue their work in the community.
They have launched an online crowd fund campaign at
There is a video about the project there too.
Holy Trinity Church Corris.
On the 4th March a special service was held in Machynlleth
This was to celebrate the women's day of prayer. It is held every year on the first Friday in March throughout the world, during 24 hours a continuing chain of prayer passes around the world. Each year the service is written by women from a different country, this year it was the turn of a Cuban women and in Machynlleth the turn of St Mary’s Catholic Church to welcome members of all denominations in Machynlleth. The service was bilingual with many people taking part.
The offerings (£83.20) go to help many different charities throughout the world. Mrs Wendy Morgan gave the address speaking of Cuba and it's people. She spoke especially of the organisation which trains people from poorer backgrounds to become Doctors, who then go on work in countries all over the world where medical facilities are almost non existent . Each year we think of all those women, rich and poor, who on that Friday are praying and praising God for his love and care for us all
The Lent Course “Praying the Statues”
One of the best Lent groups I have experienced took us purposefully but enjoyably through the sometimes sad and solemn weeks of February and early March, and delivered us ready to appreciate the happiness of Easter.
The group of 8-10 people met in Machynlleth – firstly in the parish office, but later in an upper room (so apt) at the White Lion, and came from several churches across the area team. We were provided with a high quality course book, written specially for the season by Bishop Andy, and we decided that both we, and the content of the book, deserved such a good publication.
Each chapter/week provided photos of a particular sculpture or statue that Bishop Andy had visited and contemplated over several months, and had been chosen to illustrate and prompt reflections on key Gospel themes, and to help us pray around them.
The fact that the course was based upon very visual images made it immediate and accessible, rather than falsely academic or dry. It was ok to say we didn’t like a particular statue, or even that we loved it! But discussion didn’t stop at art appreciation, but seemed to flow spontaneously into sharing some very personal life experiences, and to our beliefs about what they had meant.
For example, we looked at Elizabeth Frink’s statue of the aged but still upright mother of Jesus. We contemplated the great sadness of losing a son, and found reassurance in Mary’s apparent ability to keep putting one foot in front of the other, to keep going through the years. We looked at the Broadbent statue in the cloisters of Chester Cathedral, and wondered at the level of intimacy portrayed in the encounter at the well between Jesus and the Samarian woman. The clutching embrace of the “Reconciliation” sculptural pair in Coventry brought to mind survivors and refugees. And another statue in Dublin was a graphic reminder of hopelessness in homelessness.
Of course we also had to then contemplate the suffering and crucifixion of Christ. We considered the terribly sad figure of the prisoner Christ in our own cathedral at Bangor; and then moved onto a depiction of the crucifixion, that had apparently frightened parishioners so much that it had been moved from the church to a museum garden. This was where I empathised with those fellow Christians who prefer an empty cross.
But, finally, we came to the surprised joy and relief of Mary Magdalene’s encounter with the risen Christ. The spindly, upraised arms of David Wynne’s “Noli mi tangere” pair of statues suggest urgent movement – and perhaps remind us that Easter ought to make us DO something, not just sit and ponder any longer.
This Lent course certainly deserves repeating, and I would like to go and see, touch, walk around and consider some of the statues for real. Pilgrimage anyone?....
Cathy Howe Browne, Cemmaes.
Lady Day - the Annunciation
This beautiful event (Luke 1:26-38) took place in Nazareth, when Mary is already betrothed to Joseph. The Archangel Gabriel comes to Mary, greets her as highly favoured, tells her not to be afraid, that she will bear a son Jesus, and that her elderly cousin Elizabeth is already pregnant (with John the Baptist).
The church calendar is never quite as neat as some would like it. To celebrate the Annunciation on 25 March does indeed place the conception of Jesus exactly nine months from his birth on 25 December, but the latter part of March almost inevitably falls during Lent. But the birth and death of Jesus are intrinsically linked - he was born to die, and thus fulfil God’s purposes.
The Annunciation is a significant date in the Christian calendar - it is one of the most frequent depicted in Christian art. Gabriel’s gracious strength and Mary’s humble dignity have inspired many artists. Certainly Mary’s response to the angel has for centuries been an example of good faith in practice - humility, enquiry of God, and trusting acceptance in His will for her life.