On your gravestone?

ApplethwaiteHere is a sobering question – but light hearted too!

What would you like written on your tombstone?

I was part of a selection process recently where people were asked this among the questions.

I was reminded of this recently as I came across a variety of grave stones in different situations.

Well first of all I don’t favour a memorial of the form of the extraordinary inscription of Bridgett Applethwaite, at Bramfield in Suffolk, (photograph here) which reads:

….After the fatigues of a married life bravely born by her with Incredible Patience for four years and three quarters bating three weeks; and after the Enjoiment of the Glorious Freedom of an Easy and Unblemish’t widowhood, for four years and upwards, She resolved to run the risk of a second Marriage-bed. But DEATH forbade the banns, and having with an Apopleptick dart (the same instrument with which he had formerly dispatch’t her Mother) Touch’t the most vital part of her brain. She must have fallen Directly to the ground (as one Thunder-strook) if she had not been catch’t and supported by her Intended Husband. Of which invisible bruise, after a Struggle for above sixty hours, with that Grand Enemy of Life (but the certain and MercifulFriend to Helpless Old Age) In Terrible Convulsions, Plaintive Groans or Stupefying Sleep, without recovery of her speech or senses, She dyed on ye 12th day of September in ye year of Our Lord 1737 and of her own Age 44.

The grave of C B Fry

The grave of C B Fry

Poor Bridgett. This must be one of the most preposterous of memorials! Who on earth would write such a memorial. The dear lady remembered only for the fatigues and illnesses of her life…

Now – rather different, what about the memorial to C B Fry in Repton churchyard.

The tombstone inscription reads:

1872 C B Fry 1956. Cricketer, Scholar, Athlete, Author – The Ultimate All Rounder. 

Sounds very much an Englishman’s grave…

And from a very different place - from the churchyard in Honningsvag, Nordkapp at the far north of Norway.

Eilertsen 2A much more simple style. The gravestone of a local person Per Cedolf Eilertsen simply gives his name the dates of life and the word ‘Takk’ – the Norwegian for ‘Thanks.’

Some other graves nearby also add ‘Fred’ – Peace.

There is a lovely ambiguity here. Is the ‘Thanks’- to the deceased for what they gave, or to God for the deceased…  Is the ‘Peace’ a statement or a prayer?

 

And finally a thought from fiction. In Mystery Mile, in her Albert Campion series, Margery Allingam has her enigmatic hero in a sticky situation in which he contemplates his tombstone inscription, coming up with: Here lie I, poor Albert Campion. Death was bad but life was champion!

So what would you like on your gravestone?

 

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What is this?

Puzzle

The mystery puzzle

Hidden in a cupboard in Church is this small item…

It came among some items given to church by someone who worked in the field of Mathematics, who was interested in puzzles and mathematical recreations. The pegs, of course, may not at present be in the correct holes.

Is it a game, or is it a puzzle? can you help?

This has puzzled some people at church recently and so if you know please comment below – we’d be grateful.

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What are you reading this Summer?

WestonWe’ve asked a few people at Church what they hope to read this Summer. Here are the answers… What will you be reading? Trish writes: I’m off on a Craft Retreat this summer and I’m taking TS Eliot’s “Four Quartets” – one of those books I’ve been meaning to read for years… for relaxation when I’m not knitting, making lace or quilting!

Sandra is reading a novel: “I am looking forward to reading Mr Weston’s Good Wine, a 1923 novel by T.  F. Powys which came with my father’s high recommendation and astonishment that I call myself an Anglican and yet hadn’t read it. It is a Christian allegory set in a Dorset Village.”

The parish assistants are being quite ‘religious’ in their summer choices!

Rosie: I’ve just started The Inclusive God by Steven Shakespeare and Hugh Rayment-Pickard.  This takes a fresh look at how the Scriptures and the Church are (or at least, should be) deeply rooted in welcoming one and all: that God isn’t just for ‘a chosen few’. Thought-provoking but easy to read, and fairly short.

John: I’m reading Cranky, Beautiful Faith by Nadia Bolz-Weber – a “tragicomic spiritual memoir” by pastor (and former stand-up comic) in Denver, Colarado. She’s very focused on the church reaching out to marginalised people.

And what about the clergy?

Fr John: For summer holiday reading: Marian Keys novel The brightest star in the sky. she is Irish and a great observer of life. they are all big books but page-turners and she mixes humour in with the serious.

Fr Ian: In my sabbatical period for relaxation I’ve been reading detective stories from the ‘Golden Age of Crime Writing’ the 1930s and 40s… In the summer I will be reading some of Margery Allingham’s Mr Campion series.

PS An earlier blog on the same subject makes interesting reading too: Click here

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At the Heart of our Faith

Scan-BMPLast year at St Chrysostom’s we celebrated a Requiem Mass in memory of Fr Mark Dalby, former Archdeacon of Rochdale and a friend of Fr Ian’s. Mark died in February at his home in Newland, Malvern. The Requiem Mass was a special occasion with many of Fr Mark’s friends attending.

Fr Ian, during his sabbatical, has edited a collection of Fr Mark’s sermons. The sermons follow the round of the church’s year and there are additional sermons on other subjects too. Fr Mark was a careful, thorough and gentle preacher who did his best to speak clearly to the congregation he was addressing.

Following Fr Mark’s death his papers and documents passed to Fr Ian and among them were copies of sermons Fr Mark had preached throughout his ministry. This collection, entitled At the Heart of our Faith collects over twenty sermons preached when Fr Mark was Chaplain to the Beauchamp Community in Malvern, following his time as Archdeacon. At the Beauchamp Community Fr Mark enjoyed preaching regularly to the same congregation, and the sermons reflect his reasonable, thought out style.

A limited number of copies of the book have been printed. They are available for £4 from church, or £5.50 per copy by post. Cheques made payable to St Chrysostom’s Church, (4A, Anson Road, Manchester, M14 5BG). Fr Ian is giving profits from the sale of the book to church funds.

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Welcoming Mosaics

We’ve two new mosaics at the main door of church and they give a lovely colourful welcome. The mosaics are in the place where some time ago some untidy noticeboards were placed. 

Children from Year 6 (this year’s leavers) from both St Chrysostom’s and St John’s schools helped with the design and the construction of the mosaics, guided by Angie, a local mosaicist and community artist. Those helping were of different world faiths – it was an inter faith effort.

We are sure you will agree that the mosaics are wonderful and we give especial thanks to Angie and all the children for their imagination and hard work. The mosaics pick up central themes of our church and its relationship to our varied community.

The Welcome Mosaic

The Welcome Mosaic

The first mosaic, on the left hand side of the doors, has a cross in the middle and Welcome in several world languages – languages of people of our community. Clockwise from top: English, Japanese, Arabic, Ibo, Spanish, Urdu. In the mosaic are flags of nations represented in our varied local area. Bangladesh, Jamaica, Armenia, United Kingdom, Pakistan, China.

This mosaic reminds us that All are Welcome at St Chrysostom’s - a House of Prayer for all Peoples.

Love Joy Peace

Love, Hope, Joy mosaic

The second mosaic, on the right hand side, emphasises things that unite us in our spiritual values – Love, Hope and Joy. The dove, a symbol used by the church and St Chrysostom’s school, reminds us of the dove of peace in the story of Noah. The bees symbolise the industry of Manchester and are also a symbol of St John Chrysostom, Candles are a sign of hope and prayer and the roses and the hand and heart symbolise love for our homes and world.

 

When you next pass the church, or come in, do look carefully at these lovely mosaics. And why not look too at the mosaics created by children two years ago at the side of church – click here.

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Involving children

At baptism we become full members of the Church, whatever our age. This is why, at St Chrysostom’s, we like to see children as part of today’s church, not the church of tomorrow. This is why children are welcome to receive Holy Communion – they are not to be excluded from our Christian family meal.

This year one of our aims at church is “To involve children more in church.” Some ideas we’ve had for doing this are; developing and building up Kharis (our Sunday School held during Mass), involving children more in our liturgies, developing our children’s activity days at Church…

Of course there is more… When the disciples were having a theological argument about greatness in God’s kingdom, what did Jesus do? He put a child into the centre of the disciples. (Matthew 18. 2,3) He said “unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus  gave the disciples a clear indication to a basic truth which they were missing.

summer fun 032 (1)

Children together on a Church Summer fun day

This involvement of childrenis much more than ‘making children welcome’ (as good as that is). It is about ensuring they have a central place. This, as with the disciples, will give new insights to all, bring change, and help get our truths into the perspective of God’s kingdom, and so help shape our faith. At a recent children’s day at Church we had children from Christian, Muslim and Hindu homes joining together in exploring God’s world – walking together, decorating biscuits together, enjoying one another’s company. What does this say to adults?

How will we individually, and as a church, continue to encourage and further develop a central role for children?

(This is the first in series of reflections on our 2014 aims at St Chrysostom’s, comments and thoughts are welcome, simply post a comment here)
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Give me your tired, your poor…

Trish our Parish Reader preached the following sermon this morning, 6th July:

Matthew 11:28: “Come unto me, all you who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”

the-statue-of-liberty

Two days ago, the United States of America celebrated Independence Day, and their legal separation from Britain in 1776. Having an American mother and a Scottish father gives me rather mixed feelings about that, but one thing I definitely admire about the US is the Statue of Liberty, and I remember, although I was only 9 at the time, the feeling of awe as I gazed up at her… she stands at the entrance to New York harbour, a symbol of freedom, gazing down the Hudson River towards the Atlantic Ocean, towards Europe, where so many of my mother’s ancestors came from… some were loyal subjects of the British crown, some were looking for religious freedom, some were escaping poverty… all were hoping for a new life, a better life.

So when I read today’s Gospel, I immediately thought of her… I read the words of Jesus “Come unto me, all you who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” and I remembered the poem, written in 1883 by Emma Lazarus, which is engraved at the base of Lady Liberty:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me…”                                                                                                                 

 Whatever we may think of today’s immigration policies, the intention of the poem is to portray the welcome given to all who arrived there. No matter where they were from, they were given the chance of a new life. For example, in 1832, three generations of the Swiers family in Yorkshire sailed from Liverpool to New York; eventually they settled in Kansas, where today their descendants, my mother’s cousins, farm the same land.

Jesus said “Come unto me”

Change your life, take a journey into the unknown, trust me

  “Come unto me, all you who are weary”

All you who are tired, all you who are homeless, all you who are bruised by the storms of life…

 “Come unto me and I will give you rest”

Jesus didn’t say “Come unto me and I will make your life perfect, he didn’t say come unto me and l will make you healthy, wealthy and wise…   He offers rest, rest for the weary, rest for our souls

And when people come to us, when they come to the church, seeking rest, do they find it here? Do we offer it?

We welcome everyone, the weary, the tired, the poor, the unhappy, the unwell, the released prisoner…My ancestors sailed to America looking for a new and better life… we offer new life to those who come through our doors

We may think it is just a smile and a cup of tea, but to them it may be a new start…

 “Come unto me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  Amen

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