A hard copy of the Parish Link is delivered (free) to all houses in the Parishes of Bunbury and Tilstone Fearnall. This on-line version contains most of the articles.
Advent Wreath / Vicar's Letter / From the Registers / St Boniface
St Jude / Calveley / The Problem with.. / Cancel Christmas / Nature Notes
Why is there one pink candle in the Advent Wreath? Did the Verger run out of purple ones? Why purple, anyway?
Advent is the beginning of the church's year. Advent Sunday is the church's 'New Year's Day'! This year it falls on the 1st, December (the fourth Sunday preceding Christmas Day).
Like the meteorological year, the church has its seasons, but in the church there are six: Advent, Christmastide, Epiphany, Lent, Eastertide and Pentecost. (Times outside these seasons are named 'Ordinary Time'.)
Advent covers the four Sundays of preparation for the arrival of Christ into the world, both at Christmas and in our lives, and an Advent Wreath is one of the traditional accessories for the season. It is decorated with greenery and laid upon a stand, with a large white candle, called the Christ Candle, standing in the middle. Four candles are placed into the wreath surrounding the central candle, and these may be all blue, all purple or three purple and one pink. They are lit on the successive Sundays of Advent, one candle each week, the pink one being lit on the third week. The Christ Candle is lit for the first time either on Christmas Eve or on Christmas Day and then on each Sunday during Christmastide, celebrating the birth of Christ into the world.
Yes, but why the particular colours? Why the one pink one?
In the very early days of the church, the only church season was Lent, the seven weeks prior to Easter. It was a season of fasting and prayer as the church remembered the coming time of the crucifixion of Jesus, and the colour used at this time was a solemn purple. But there is one ray of hope and of coming joy at this time in that the death of Jesus prefigured the resurrection, so on the third Sunday of Lent there was a break in the fasting. In ancient times, the Pope would honour a citizen by presenting him with a pink rose and as time passed priests wore pink vestments on this day.
Advent is like a mini-Lent, a time for reflection and repentance - hence the purple. But it also looks forward to a time of great joy - hence the one pink candle.
Don't blame the verger! According to tradition, he's got it right!
P.S. The church has a traditional name for each candle in the Advent Wreath: the first is Hope, the second Peace, the third Joy and the fourth Love. Pink is the candle of joy!
CHRISTMAS. What does that mean to you? I guess that high on your list would be presents!
Even just thinking about presents is ex- citing. They are such a give-away (sorry!) - there is so much involved in everything connected with presents - the size, the shape, the wrappings, the value.
It's probably the size and shape that first meet your eye. The bigger the package, the bigger the children's eyes: "Is that really for me?!" And the shape. Is it teddy-shaped? Or guitar-shaped? Or bicycle-shaped? Or just a huge box-shape?
A BIG parcel seems to promise such a lot, especially to a child. (You have to grow up a bit to realise that sometimes the smallest packages carry the best gifts - the Rolex watch that will serve you for a lifetime; the diamond ring that promises life-long love and commitment.)
And the wrapping! Even the simplest gift wrapped with care shows the caring with which it is given. (Maybe you have to be grown up to appreciate that, too.) It is the first sight of big, bright wrappings, with gold and ribbons and glitter, that really gets us going. We can't wait to pull off those wrappings which promise something really wonderful inside!
For the smallest children, it is not the wonderful thing inside: the wrapping is the present. They love it! They gurgle with delight as they pull at the bright paper and enjoy the crackly noises it makes. They wave pieces of it about and hold it across their faces or grip it in their fists. Their joy tells us that this is the most delightful present anyone could have given them! That there is actually a 'something' inside this wonderful wrapping is quite irrelevant; perhaps a few days later it will manage to get a look-in!
We all have to learn. Within a very short time they will have learned to look beyond the wrappings to find the gift hidden inside - and how they will enjoy that!
Then that, too, will pass as they discover that the Spiderman outfit or the big take-to- pieces plastic tractor can lose their appeal and the doll's house with its furniture be- come boring. "Yes, I really wanted it, more than anything else in the world! But . . . now I'm bored with it." It was not, after all, world-transforming. What was wrong?
I suppose this is when we start to realise that the best presents are not necessarily the biggest or the most extravagantly wrapped, that often it is not the actual gift that is im- portant but what it stands for - like that promise in a diamond ring.
One day it even dawns on us that not the size nor the shape nor the wrapping nor the value are important. The real gifts cannot be bought with money. They are love, forgive- ness, hope. Can you give anyone one of these gifts this Christmas? Wow!
Christmas comes in a brilliant wrapping for many of us - the lights, the decorations, the Christmas carols, Father Christmas, parties, the eating and drinking! But, while we enjoy them all, we know that all these are in fact no more than "wrappings", that the real gift of Christmas - which is in there somewhere! - never loses its promise or its value : healing, peace, love, joy, salvation.
At Christmas, this year as every year, we shall eat, drink and be merry, tear off wrap- pings and enjoy our presents, and remember that these all mark the time, 2000 years ago, when God gave us the greatest gift of all, His son, Jesus. That was world-transforming.
St. Boniface Baptism
20th, October Phoebe Alicia Price
Interment of Ashes
1st, November Norman Miles Vickers of Nantwich, (78)
AND YET MORE LISTS . . . .
I wonder how often we take visitors to view our church, and when they walk through the door they marvel at the size and splendour of the building. Many times when I am at church and people come in they are surprised to see how light it is, especially for an old building. Perhaps it would be better if it were dark inside and then we would not see all the dust!
Our team of church cleaners - all volunteers - is getting smaller each year. The church is given a good cleaning once a month, the Ridley Chapel likewise.
I am well aware that people get bored seeing lists on the church noticeboard, but if the plans are agreed for more rooms for Kingdom Kids we need extra help: the (age!) sixty-plus ladies cannot carry on indefinitely!
We need more help the first Monday of the month - it soon becomes a habit to remember - or a new team can fix their own time. Half a dozen young Mums can divide the church into areas and can have it all cleaned in an hour.
The grass in the churchyard became very overgrown for lack of attention; please don't let the dust form another carpet for lack of concern. Yes, there will be another list at the back of the church for H.E.L.P.
- - - the change of Sunday this month for Evensong. As you will have seen on Page 4, it is to be on the third Sunday of the month, the 15th, instead of taking its usual second- Sunday slot. This is because the second Sunday, the 8th, is the date for Bunbury's Christingle, at 4.00 p.m.
. . . . AND TALKING OF LISTS . . . .
It is good to see some more names being put forward on St. Boniface's flower arranging list. We have a large church, with two altars, and we want to keep it bright and welcoming throughout the year. And, of course, as ever, the more volunteers we have, the less often your turn will come round. Some like to do it on their own; some do it in partnership with a friend; some are helped by junior members of their family. Good for all of you!
The Christmas decorating this year will be on Saturday morning, the 21st, December. Please come along at 10.00 o'clock if you would like to help - if it's only brushing up!
We will also welcome all contributions of Christmas greenery: prunings of evergreen trees and shrubs, holly, ivy, etc.
St. Jude's has moved into winter mode: for the next few months, there will be one service only on a Sunday morning, at 9.30. The 8.30 a.m. Holy Communion service will resume at Easter, 2003.
We are now all looking forward to our annual Christmas Fair, to be held on Saturday, the 7th, December. (See the Notice- board page.)
Sadly, our trusty floor-polisher has recently packed in. Does anyone have, or know of, a surplus mechanical floor-polisher that we might purchase for a modest sum? If so, please contact Bob Gardner (Church Warden)
We are now into the season of Advent, which relates to Jesus coming into the world twice.
The first time was when he came as a baby in Bethlehem, to fulfil his life's mission to proclaim the Kingdom of God on Earth and to sacrifice himself in death. This was the sacrificial death that enabled people to be put right with God on confession of their faith in him as Lord and Saviour, asking for forgiveness of their sins in order to re- ceive God's Holy Spirit in their discipleship journey with him.
The second coming of Jesus into the world will not be as a baby and Saviour but as Judge. Some of the lectionary readings of the church for the first two weeks of Advent are on this theme. It is not a popular theme but it is why Advent is regarded as a peni- tential season, so that we can examine our lives in the light of the Bible and draw closer to God in prayer. You will have found a list of some of the readings of the season in the 'Advent Calendar' inside the Christmas card cover of this magazine.
Incidentally, this is why we change all the frontals in church to purple in Advent and Lent, to show that these are penitential seasons.
For the children we have got an Advent Calendar so that they can open the windows on the designated days. It is always exciting to see what is inside them.
On the 1st, December at 11.00 a.m., our first Service in Advent is Family Worship, which Walter Williamson will be taking.
On the 15th, December, also at 11.00 a.m., we will be holding a Carol, Blessing of the Crib and Holy Baptism Service, so this year we will have a special baby!
On Tuesday, the 24th, December, at 7.30 p.m. Rick will be leading our Christmas Service, which is one of Calveley's high- lights of the year, with all the candles lit, symbolic of Christ as Light of the World.
Do come to any or all of these Services if you can.
A disturbing press report last year highlighted family difficulties with older teenagers that often come to a head at Christmas, so bad in some cases that families have broken up.
A spokeswoman for the Y.M.C.A. said that, although there were no national statistics, many individual Y.M.C.A. hostels reported an increased number of applications during the period after Christmas. Some teenagers and young adults applied them- selves. Many, however, were referred to the hostels by parents who felt unable to cope with family discord any longer.
A representative of Hove Y.M.C.A. is qoted as saying, "Throughout the year, we are getting increasing numbers of referrals from parents whose teenagers have problems with drugs, alcohol or unemployment. As soon as Christmas is over, we get even more calls from parents who simply can't put up with their kids any longer."
Another Y.M.C.A. spokesman reckoned that about 20% of post- Christmas applicants had been thrown out of home.
"After all the hype and expec- tation of Christmas being a family event," said a long-time field- worker, "there are false hopes that problems can be sorted at home. Then these high expectations get dashed." Teenagers who find it hard to get on with stepmothers and stepfathers find the situation worse at a time when families are expected to be united and happy, and family overcrowding at Christmas causes added stress, especially as people are not going to work.
Parents of younger children have a lot of support from doctors, health visitors and schools, but for older teenagers that support is no longer available.
So what can one do?
Parents are advised to respect their teenagers' need for space and also to consult them about Christmas plans rather than just expecting them to fall in with what is decided. Parents need space, too. Respect could be the answer on all sides.
This was the headline in a daily paper just before the start of Advent last year. A Manchester clergyman called for Christmas to be cancelled, describing the approach to the festive season as "madness".
It was about time, he de- clared, that people stopped using Christmas as another excuse for partying and spending. Instead of bringing happiness, Christmas had been "hijacked" by commercialism which brought only sadness, misery and pressure to those people who felt forced to conform to ways of celebrating the season.
He said, "The Samaritans tell us that over the Christmas period more people attempt suicide than at any other time, more families break up and people can't stand the pressure.
"Let's not pretend we are doing it for the birth of God's son. It's just a party. I don't want to see Christ's name being associated with so much harm and hardship to people. There is far too much pressure on people to con- form. It's time we stopped and took a look at what we are doing."
He thought that churches all over the country were in danger of losing the plot, holding "Christmas Fairs" well before Advent, and Carol Services and other celebrations before Christ- mas had even begun.
The Manchester clergyman wants to rescue Christ- mas from the orgy of com- mercialism that obscures its true meaning as a time of light, of joy, of celebration.For believers and non- believers, the message of Christmas is simple : that this is a chance to start again, to believe that incredible things can happen and that the basis for all good things is in the simplest realities.
at St. JUDE's PARISH HALL
BUNBURY SURGERY CLOSED
-In aid of St. Luke's Hospice-
St. JUDE's PARISH HALL,
How well do you know your Bible?
St. JUDE's CHURCH
Saturday, 7th, December
Tombola Stalls Grand Draw
Many of us will be busy making garlands and wreaths with evergreens to decorate our houses over the Christmas period. Trees and branches can be both purposeful and symbolic. After the gales that brought down so many trees last month, we may have collected broken branches to cut into logs for our winter fires, while the Christmas tree is a symbol of a living Christmas spirit and brings into our lives a pleasant aroma of the forest. The fact that bal- sam fir twigs resemble crosses may have much to do with the early popularity of the balsam fir used as Christmas trees.
To the Druids sprigs of evergreen holly in the house meant eternal life, and to those inclined towards superstition branches of evergreen placed over the door kept out witches, ghosts and evil spirits.
Some historians trace the lighted Christmas tree to Martin Luther. He attached lighted candles to a small evergreen tree trying to simulate the reflections of the starlit heaven - the heaven that looked down over Bethlehem on the first Christmas Eve.