Haphazard by starlight

3 Kings 1Not only Mary and Joseph from our children’s nativity set are on their journey in Posada. The Three Kings (Magi) have been spotted on their journey. One sighting was in Reddish where they were welcomed at Revd Penny King’s house, in Reddish. Here Penny reflects on their journey.

There are so many elements of journeys that cannot really be perfectly planned for: the weather, getting lost, diversions, mishaps along the way and so on. When reflecting on the magi as they journeyed towards Christ child, I’ve often been struck by the relationship between them, or perhaps even a lack of relationship. I’m curious about the practical, unbeautiful, un-awe-inspiring drudgery of their travelling together. Did they happen upon each other on the road and travel happily together, chatting and speculating about the new born King or did one always know better than the others and want to head in a different direction? Did one slow the pace down whilst the others rushed ahead? Was there really a fourth “king” or “wise man” as legend tells, who arrived too late? Were they on the same track, in all ways.

Whether it is on the bus, the train and aeroplane or even in the car with a backseat driver, sometimes travelling companions are not easy and are not necessarily the ones we may choose to travel with.  However we are united by the journey being made, for a time travelling in the same direction to a common destination.

3 Kings 2So it must have been for the magi; their journey, following the star may have been haphazard, there may have been disagreements, mishaps, and adventures along the way, they may not have travelled the same road or spoken the same language, but they were united by their shared journey and their common desire to find and worship Jesus Christ. And they reached their destination in the manger in the stable, the one who would unite all of humanity not only with one another but with God.

In our journeys through life too we find a variety of companions, people we travel with for a time, sharing a location, a goal and common purpose, those who travel a parallel road, those heading in a different direction, those we know and those who are strangers. But we are all united, with the magi too, by and with the same baby in the manger, who knows what the human journey entails, in all its gloriously haphazard starlit ups and downs. He is the Word by which creation came into being, the one who journeys with us constantly and to one to whom we journey towards. He is the Son of the Father who holds all of our journeys, however haphazard in his hand and he leads us on, together, to find himself.

As the Kings continue their journey towards Bethlehem, pray for those whom you journey alongside and for the journey you share, that it may lead to Christ.

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Goodbye and God bless Miss Michael

From the church archives - 2005. At the blessing of the garden

From the church archives – 2005. At the blessing of the church garden, with Bishop Stephen Lowe and local Imam.

We are very sad to say goodbye to Miss Melanie Michael who has done outstanding work as Headteacher at St Chrysostom’s School for over nine years. As well as developing the school to become, in OFSTED’s rating, ‘outstanding,’ Miss Michael, herself of the Jewish faith, has strongly encouraged all faiths in the school and has also encouraged strong and imaginative links between church and school, which have not only enriched the children’s education but also the lives of staff and church members. 

Miss Michael shares here some of her magic moments arising from the church and school relationship:

  • Awe and wonder of Munamato, Christingle, musical concerts at Church
    with St John’s School, Victoria Park Carol Service (and especially the
    opportunity to be a reader and listen to congregants speaking in their
    native tongue).
  • The opportunity to be a reader with my father at Manchester Cathedral.
  • Being a participator at the memorial for Keith Bennett.
  • With Fr Garadny at the Prayer Tree blessing

    With Fr Garadny, Russian Orthodox priest, at the Prayer Tree blessing 2012

    Watching Father Ian being made a Canon at Manchester Cathedral.

  • Building up enrichment through the role of the parish assistants in school.
  • Pupil experiences led by Church (Mirfield, jazz concerts in school).
  • The feedback session from the Ofsted Lead inspector in 2011 to us
    highlighting all those outstanding judgements.
  • Visit to local mosque … children creating prayer wishes on a tree
    inside and outside church.. mosaic making at Church!!
  • And of course, my father leading Haiku poetry session at Church.I have so many memories which I will always cherish.

God bless you all,

Melanie

Goodbye!  from Munamato,  with Bishop Mark

Goodbye! from Munamato,
with Bishop Mark

Bishop Mark called in at School and at Munamato with Fr Ian thanked Melanie for all her outstanding work at the school, and for what she has done for the church.

Melanie was given a candle from Munamato to take with her to her new school, and to remember the spititual moments of prayer and reflection she has shared at St Chrysostom’s.

May God bless her in her new work and home.

 

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Advent Rorate Mass

Rorate In the darkness of an Advent evening, among the busyness of our world, we gathered by candlelight to worship and be still at our beautiful Advent Rorate Mass.  In the stillness a cantor began the mass singing ‘Drop down ye heavens…’ (Rorate Caeli).

We listened to the Scripture and prayed for those who wait in this Advent season – those waiting for peace, those waiting for harmony in their families, those waiting for hope to return… During Communion we heard the Song of Mary, the Magnificat sung, and our praise and stillness echoed Our Lady’s. Heaven felt joined with earth in this timeless moment.

Rorate B

Mass by candlelight

“A wonderful service…lovely peaceful atmosphere, and time to reflect…” said one person.   Paul, one of the cantors writes: ” I have long  had a deep devotion to Our Lady which helps me to connect with God; seeking her intercession gives me greater confidence in my relationship with the Lord and when I stop to reflect on her steadfast faith which meant she had the confidence to say “be it unto me according to thy word”,  I am truly humbled and in complete awe.

The Rorate Mass was such a spiritual gift, the music, the words and the sentiment all contributing to an atmosphere in which, for me, Mary’s presence was real. Personally, I felt honoured to cantor the Magnificat during the communion and it was a delight to be part of  a service that gave us all a space in which to reflect on the anticipation of Christmas and the real message of hope it brings”

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Now where are they?

Where are they having tea?

Where are they having tea?

Our Posada figures have recently had a well deserved short break from their arduous journey around our locality of Victoria Park and area, Manchester.

Here they are welcomed at an afternoon tea. Not a thing Mary, Joseph or the donkey would have enjoyed.

Here is a question for you:

- the figures had a break from our local area to go for tea.

Where are they?

Posted in Anglican, Anglo Catholic, Catholic, Christianity, Manchester, Pilgrimage, Posada | Tagged | 1 Comment

The Police and Posada

The story of Christmas, symbolised in our Advent Posada journey, helps connect the disparate sections of our community. Fr Chris writes on Posada’s visit to Longsight Police Station:

A break at the Police Station

A break at the Police Station

Inspector Andy welcomed us and after tea and biscuits we were shown the Prayer Room, a multifaith quiet area set aside for those who need to pray.

We met the Hindu Chaplain, a serving police officer. He is organising the GMP South Manchester Division Carol Service the week before Christmas.

Tracey at work preparing hampers for the needy at Christmas

Tracey at work preparing hampers for the needy at Christmas

We were very encouraged to hear of a force wide initiative begun by Tracey a Community Support Officer stationed at Longsight. She makes up hampers for Christmas for the homeless and vulnerable.  It’s a fantastic project which is being done with the goodwill of the officers.

Tracey also showed us some lovely rooms at the station which have been furnished out of crime recovery money – a room for children who have to be taken into care, and another for adolescents – both appropriately furnished and decorated they could easily be a family front room.

We discussed initiatives in which the community can be brought closer together, and ideas for the future. It was a splendid visit, and our thanks go to the Station, and we pray for the Police who serve our community, and especially for them this Christmastime.

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Signs & Symbols in our Advent Journey

Jeremy with the Posada figures

Jeremy with the Posada figures

On their Advent journey our Posada figures visited the Central Manchester Hospitals Multi Faiths’ Centre. It was lovely to be greeted by Fr Jeremy Law, who many years ago had been a parish assistant at St Chrysostom’s. For our church blog Fr Jeremy gives a shortened version of the thought provoking address he gave at the Eucharist attended in our Posada visit:

The master of black comedy Martin Amis tells an interesting story of life inside the concentration camps in Eastern Europe in his latest novel: Zone of Interest. The story is narrated by four principal characters all of whom are reacting to and trying to make sense of the utter awfulness that is the holocaust experience. One significant character Szmul, a Jew turned German collaborator, is rewarded for his collaborations by a cell of his own with pencils and paper to record his compromised and harrowing existence. Through the character Szmul, Amis is keen to inform the reader that the holocaust is an event that defies description, defies categorisation. At one point in the story Szmul states:

Zone_of_interest_cover “I am choking, I am drowning. This pencil and these scraps of paper aren’t enough. I need colours, sounds – oils and orchestras. I need something more than words.”

In response to the utter horror and awfulness of the holocaust words are not enough to encapsulate this abject event in our human history. In working as a hospital Chaplain I can also testify to this necessity to enable people to express their pain and trauma of loss or illness in ways beyond the limitations of words and storytelling. Like Szmul my patients often need colours, sounds – oils and orchestras to make sense of the things that defy ordinary narrative. And is this not the case in comprehending the God of grace who came down to earth in the mystery of the incarnation.

In Advent we are invited to embrace God in ways that defy a simple narrative explanation. The mystery of God’s love is a mixture of God’s love, power, vulnerability and grace. Can we explain the incarnation by a few choice words? Rather, it is through the signs and symbols of our inherited faith that we can enter fully into this mystery with all our mind body and soul. In the Nativity scene, the enacted family drama of Mother, Father, new born baby, a few livestock thrown in and the context of a poverty struck manger that we can begin to comprehend the shocking truth.  The very ordinariness of human beings and the divine presence are brought creatively together in altogether new ways and for changed times.

It is colourful and noisy, it is oils and orchestras, it something much more than words.

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Hope in Advent in a world of exploitation

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On Thursday morning we set out on foot to the Medaille Trust hostel – we being Fr. Ian, (carrying the basket containing our Posada figures of Mary and Joseph, a candle, a box of biscuits and some invitations to our Carol Service on Sunday) Annie, carrying Puzzle the donkey, and me (Sister Diana – not carrying anything except a walking stick.)   We met a slight obstacle en route as some workmen were digging up the pavement right outside the house – their drills were very noisy and Annie had to cover her ears – but was very careful to hold on to Puzzle.  This made me wonder what obstacles Mary and Joseph might have come across on their long journey to Bethlehem.

Once inside the house we were shown into a lovely bright and airy sitting room, with large windows looking out. Coffee, mince pies and chocolate swiss rolls arrived (much to Annie’s delight.)   As the residents began to appear we gave Mary, Joseph and Puzzle pride of place in the centre of the room and lit a candle.   We spent time chatting with the ladies (from Latvia, Somalia, Ghana, Albania, Romania, the Philippines and Hungary) and invited them to Sunday’s carol service in church.  Several said they would be coming (including some of Muslim faith) – they had already heard about it as Sam, their manager, will be speaking and the collection from the service will be given to them.    The visit ended with us singing Away in a Manger, and praying for a blessing on the house and all who live and work there.

header6 It was a really good visit thanks to Adele, the other staff and the residents for their hospitality and welcome. I enjoyed meeting residents from so many different countries, all of whom were really pleased to be there and so appreciative of the help and support they were being given – and I was reminded that Mary and Joseph must have been equally grateful to the inn-keeper who let them use his stable that night.

The Medaille Trust is a charity founded to help women, young men and children who have been freed from human-trafficking  in the UK, enabling them to regain their dignity and self-worth.   Here in Manchester this ‘safe house’ is provided and opportunities are offered for physical and psychological healing and rehabilitation. The Trust also raises awareness of the plight of those who are enslaved and exploited in the sex-trafficking industry in the UK and campaigns on this issue.

Sr Diana CHN

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