November’s Message From the Vicar
The season of remembering….
November is upon us and so is the season of remembering.
From the tradition of All Souls day in church, remembering those who have died, to Bonfire Night – but do people remember what we are remembering? – Armistice day and Remembrance Sunday.
We say a long goodbye to the summer and long days of light. We remember summer holidays and special days.
I write this one year to the day when we moved into the vicarage on North Park Avenue. Memories abound; the good byes to a community and the welcome of a new one. Sorrow and joy; hopes and dreams. The past, the present and the future.
Memories evoke all sorts of thoughts, feelings and emotions. We learn from them, they comfort us, protect us and empower us. They can also haunt us, hurt us and create years of pain.
The thought of life without memories, on the other hand, is scary, frightening and something none of us choose!
Terry Pratchett didn’t choose it either:
“I regarded finding I had a form of Alzheimer’s as an insult, and I decided to do my best to marshal any kind of forces that I could against this wretched disease.”
He describes the day he found out as follows:
“When Milton’s Satan stood in the pit of hell and raged at heaven, he was merely a trifle miffed compared to how I felt on that day. I felt totally alone, with the world receding away from me in every direction, and you could have used my anger to weld steel. Only my family and the fact I had fans in the medical profession, who were able to give me useful advice, got me through that moment.”
And living with Alzheimer’s:
“Dementia in its varied forms is not like cancer. Dad saw the cancer in his pancreas as an invader. But Alzheimer’s is me, unwinding, losing trust in myself, a butt of my own jokes and on bad days capable of playing hunt the slipper by myself and losing. You can’t battle it, you can’t be a plucky “survivor”. It steals you from yourself.”
What can we do to help those facing this journey, in Terry’s words:
“What is needed is will and determination. The first step is to talk openly about dementia because it’s a fact, well enshrined in folklore, that if we are to kill the demon, then first we have to say its name. Once we have recognised the demon, without secrecy or shame, we can find its weaknesses.”
This is an amazingly theological statement…
As you will, hopefully, have already heard, we are privileged at St Edmund’s to be helping the Roundhay community work towards being a Dementia Friendly Community and we see it as very much part of sharing God’s generous love.
My hope and prayer is that all who are working towards a cure for dementia and related diseases have the vision and the tenacity to work towards that cure, and in the meantime, we do all that we can to “find its weaknesses.”
As our remembering in November turns to Christmas promises and New Year’s hope…
“In the winter of bondage we saw a vision,
We melted the snow of lethargy,
And the river of resurrection flowed from it,
We sent our vision aswim like a swan on the river,
The vision became a reality,
Winter became summer,
Bondage became freedom,
And this we left to you as your inheritance.”
All Terry Pratchett quotes are taken from https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/mar/15/a-butt-of-my-own-jokes-terry-pratchett-on-the-disease-that-finally-claimed-him
The poem “We Saw a Vision” is by Liam Mac Uistin and is inscribed in the stone wall of the monument in Dublin’s Garden of Remembrance.
A future not our own
A prayer / poem by Archbishop Oscar Romero (murdered, 24 March 1980)
It helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of
the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete,
which is another way of saying
that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No programme accomplishes the church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about:
We plant seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything
and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for God’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results,
but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders,
ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.
Prayer for change
The Prayer for Change is printed simultaneously in the magazines of St Andrew’s URC, Lidgett Park Methodist Church and St Edmund’s.
Despite comfortable housing, financial security and good health, there are people around who are lonely. So many situations can lead to loneliness, not only when one is alone, but sometimes even in a room full of people, many of whom may be friends. Let us be aware of the needs of these people and act with understanding.
Lord, We pray for all who are lonely, who feel isolated or ignored. Give them the assurance of your love and support. Help us to realise that there may be people around us who are lonely. Deepen our concern and encourage us to offer the hand of friendship. In the name of Jesus, who was the friend of all. Amen
A prayer for Rachel
Rachel, our Church Missionary Society Link, asks us to pray for:
- Bishop Azad as he establishes himself in his new role.
- the teachers as all try and work together for the children’s education
- the children themselves in their studies
We pray for Rachel as she lives out her calling to be a teacher in Lahore.
A Morning prayer
Lord as I rise today, I thank you for Blessing me to see another wonderful day.
I understand Lord that I did not wake up by my power, or by my alarm clock.
It is by your Grace, I have been given another day in this world.
I am thankful that no matter what I face, you will never give me more than I can handle.
And you will never leave me or forsake me
Please help me to strengthen my faith
So I can walk in your light and feel the warmth of your love
In your name I humbly pray.
Sermons are not about one person telling everyone else what they should believe or do. Rather, they are a time to reflect together on the scriptures and our lives and see what God may be saying to us through them. Sermons are like meals. Most meals just help us to keep alive and every now and then we are treated to a feast. Well most sermons are about feeding us spiritually. Every now and then, one of them will really speak to us – move us, challenge us, inspire us, or help us to see things in a new light. Hopefully you will find something helpful in a sermon that you hear at St. Edmund’s.
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