Message from Fr Stephen Nov 2019

Dear Friends,

As you will have seen last month in the Bulletin, and this month too, the coming weeks are going to be rather busy in the Parish.  We have been fortunate enough to develop partnerships with a number of groups over the years who enhance our Parish life - and I hope who are enhanced by their relationship with us.  As well as enabling a variety of people to commemorate and celebrate different events and moments in their lives, many of the functions we host will bring in much needed income.

We, along with many organisations, struggle to make ends meet as costs continue to rise and certain obligations cannot be ignored - such as maintenance, Insurance and Utility bills.  Our last full set of accounts, for the month ending September 2019, show that in the first three quarters of this year our income, compared to the same time in 2018, was up by £686.  This figure doesn’t give a full picture:  Planned Giving is up by £394 (Thank you!) and Gift Aid refunds by £1623.  But we have lost income because of the move away from religious funerals and weddings. (Funerals dropped by about 66% this year.)  At the same time, Utility costs and Insurance have continued to rise.  Although we have cut back on day to day running expenses (£712 less than the same time in 2018), we have spent £4,297 more than we have received. Owing to savings made last year, primarily through lower than usual maintenance expenses, we can cope with this in the short term.

In January’s Bulletin I asked if we could all consider a year-on-year 2% or 3% increase in our regular giving.  I hoped that would be manageable for us all and I thank everyone who is able to contribute.  Please, as the year draws to a close, consider what extra you may be able to give towards the work of the parish.  If we can end the year with a balanced budget that would be wonderful. Please do speak to me if you have any questions.

Fr Stephen

 “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)

We are about to enter the busy, pre-Christmas, hustle and bustle of shopping, bright lights, ghastly piped-music, parties, carol services, Christmas TV, “German” markets and so much more …  made all the more enjoyable by the dark, cold mornings and evenings. Bah Humbug!  Most of it is rather enjoyable in fact,  especially if we pace ourselves and don’t overspend and over eat or drink.  Even though we’re Christians we may find ourselves forgetting the peacefulness that comes to us as a gift from God:

“Be still and know that I am God.”

The first line of the Psalm is, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.”  Sometimes, in order to recognise that that is indeed what God is for us, we need first to be still.  We need to place ourselves in a situation where we can contemplate the presence and wonder of God in our midst - or maybe it would be better altogether if we considered how it is that we are in His midst, rather than He in ours.  We, I hope, all say our prayers daily.  Most of us say prayers for people or situations, which is very good as it shows that we are  concerned with the  world beyond ourselves.  However, just as the Apostles and  other disciples were able simply to be with Jesus (we read of them walking with Jesus, or going out in their boats), so too we need simply to “be” in His presence without having to say a word or think a specific thought.  It’s worth doing and making silence a part of our spiritual practice.  Sometimes, in silence, meditating on a specific scriptural passage, holy image, prayer or song can be good for us too.  Do this at home:  switch off  phones, TVs, radios and put the newspaper to one side and be still.  Not everyone is able to come to Church for worship, but if you are, come early and be still.  Avoid talking to others beyond the first polite greeting and be still.  “When thou prayest, shut thy door; that is, the door of the senses. Keep them barred and bolted against all phantasms and images. Nothing pleases God more than a mind free from all occupations and distractions. Such a mind is in a manner transformed into God, for it can think of and understand nothing, and love nothing except God. He who penetrates into himself and so transcends himself, ascends truly to God.”

Albert Magnus (the “father of Christian mysticism”)

“He said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’  1 Kings 19 vv 11 - 13

Some Dates for your diaries

¨ 3 Nov - 4pm Annual All Soul’s Liturgy, St Paul’s

¨ 7 Nov - 7pm RBL Festival of Remembrance, St Mary’s

¨ 10 Nov - 9:15 Mass at St Paul’s. NO MASS at St Mary’s.  10:45 Civic Act of Remembrance at the Town Hall led by Fr Stephen

¨ 23 Nov - 11am Christmas Fair at St Paul’s

¨ 1 Dec - 3:30 and 7pm Hospice Services at St Mary’s

¨ 2 Dec - 2pm Weekly Advent Reflections begin, St Paul’s

¨ 8 Dec - 3pm Barnsley Met. Brass Band concert at St Mary’s: £5

¨ 10 Dec - 6:30 Willowbank C.P Carols at St Paul’s

¨ 12 Dec - Mothers’ Union Lunch

¨ 13 Dec - 7pm Ilesha Choir Concert at St Paul’s: £6

¨ 19 Dec - 4pm Civic Carol Service at St Mary’s

¨ 20 Dec - 9:30am St Mary’s Sch Nativity in St Mary’s

¨ 24 Dec - 6pm Christingle followed by First Mass of Christmas at St Paul’s and 11pm Midnight Mass at St Mary’s

¨ 25 Dec - 10am Christmas Day Mass at St Mary’s

¨ 29 Dec - 10am Benefice Mass at St Paul’s

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