Mycah, Penny, Cocoa and co #sleepoutchallenge

Mycah, Parish volunteer, writes

Homelessness seems like one of those topics that Christian communities are always talking about.  It gets a little tiring after a while, doesn’t it? Especially when seemingly little progress gets made.  It’s so easy for us to gloss over the news reports or stories about how the numbers are rising and falling, another makeshift tent city has been removed from a corner of town, or even as we walk by someone on the pavement, we ignore their cries for help.

Homeless USE 1We need to stay engaged on this topic. It continues to challenge us as engaged citizens.

The Advent and Christmas  season is an important time to renew our engagement in considering those who sleep rough because, for the Northern Hemisphere, it is a time of cold, damp weather.

Most of us couldn’t imagine what it would be like to have to sleep outside on a below freezing night, or get comfortable in the backseat of a car for weeks on end.

Students of the Victoria Park Area near Manchester University are going to attempt to get a taste of what it is like this Advent, though.  Revd Penny King and I will be joining them in spending one night, 13th December, outside, in Dalton Ellis Hall grounds, next to St Chrysostom’s Church to raise awareness and funds for the Church Urban Fund’s Tackling Poverty Together campaign.

Hopefully our Posada figures of Mary, Joseph and Cocoa the donkey will join us too.

Now it’s over to you – please consider donating, and follow our progress here!

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Advent for all

Advent image 2015Do think carefully about how you will keep Advent this year.

As Lent prepares us to celebrate Easter so Advent prepares us for Christmas. Don’t let Christmas overwhelm you! Take time to be still in Advent. We are helped by joining in what’s on at Church.

Advent doesn’t have quite the rigour of Lent, but if we use it carefully we will find our spiritual lives enriched and our celebration of Christmas will be greater.

First of all remember we are not alone. Joining in worship Sunday by Sunday is important not least to support others and ourselves. The Advent readings and music are especially powerful and speak of light to the darkness of our lives and world. On Advent Sunday (29th November) our Evensong Choir are singing a special Evensong for Advent – a special way to mark the opening of this season. There are special weekday acts of worship and fellowship. At the beginning of Advent the Rorate Mass  (this year on Wednesday December 2nd at 7pm) helps fill our imaginations and hopes with candlelight and soothing singing in the stillness of a winter evening.  Our Advent meal (Saturday December 5th), by candlelight in Church, is a way to share the joy and hope of Advent together.

Our annual Carol Service (Sunday December 13th at 6pm) helps us to prepare as we hear the story of Christmas in Bible readings and carols together. It’s a great opportunity to reach out to others, family and friends, with an invitation to come along.

Full details of all our Advent and Christmas activities can be found in our 2015 Advent and Christmas Newsletter. You will find there events for all – worship, family activities, times of quiet prayer, our Posada journey…

Of course there are also online resources. Do explore them, and share ideas with others. This year why not try the Bible Society’s #AdventChallenge. Every day in Advent we  will put an image of the nativity, selected by a church member, on our Church Facebook page – check it out each day.

At home, at work and at Church may Advent be a wonderful season of hope and expectation for us all.

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361 years ago

Fr Ian writes

On the evening of 23rd November 1623 the great French mathematician and philosopher Blase Pascal had a profound mystical experience which changed his life for ever. So profound was the experience of the certainty of joy given by God that Pascal wrote notes of the experience on parchment and had it sown into his garments until his death.

Pascal's 'memorial'

Pascal’s ‘memorial’

Year of grace 1654, Monday 23 November, feast of St. Clement . . . from about half past ten at night to about half an hour after midnight, FIRE. God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, not of philosophers and scholars. Certitude, heartfelt joy, peace. God of Jesus Christ. God of Jesus Christ. “My God and your God.” . . . Joy, Joy, Joy, tears of joy. . . Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ. May I never be separated from him.

With great conviction Pascal sought to weave together his thought, his religion and his experience in prayer, into an understanding of God and God’s life permeating creation. So often Christianity in its public expression seems to fail to grasp the results of cosmology, biology, and other sciences, and compartmentalises itself into a small area.

At St Chrysostom’s with great joy we recently celebrated the glorious feast of Christ the King.

Teilhard's Sacred Heart 2The full title of this feast – Our Lord Jesus Christ the Universal King challenges us to look beyond the earthly life of Jesus Christ to reflect on, and worship the eternal logos, the Word of God, the second person of the Trinity whose energy and life permeates all creation through all time.

Another Frenchman, a priest and scientist of more recent times, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, had a document similar to Pascal’s parchment, he wrote a litany on a prayer card of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In his ‘litany’ Teilhard wrote:

Focus of ultimate and universal energy, Centre of the cosmos … Heart of Jesus, heart of evolution, unite me to yourself.

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Henry, Hannah or Cocoa – what’s your choice?

The time has come again to name Mary’s Donkey for St Chrysostom’s Posada 2015!  Posada is the version of the Mexican tradition that St. C’s has adopted of carrying around our small knitted figures of Mary, Joseph, and the donkey around the parish to visit many different locations until they arrive at Church during the Christmas Eve service.

Donkey 15 useEvery year we have a poll to name the donkey something new.  This year we had the idea to tie our naming of the blessed carrier of Mary with the Donkey Sanctuary in nearby Gorton by choosing one of their donkeys to adopt for the year.

Our little donkey friend will be named with the most popular name in our poll of the three possible donkeys to be adopted.

The poll is now closed, the votes counted and verified and we are pleased to say that this year Mary’s donkey is called…..


(Cocoa received 62.5% of the votes, Henry 20.8% and Hannah 16.7%)

And so we will ‘adopt’ Cocoa at Gorton Donkey Sanctuary for a year.

Thank you to all who cast their votes.

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Sign for Robert to stay

“Hundreds of people in Uganda’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community have fled the country to escape homophobia and persecution.” (BBC 10th November 2015). Uganda is one of the most repressive countries for gay and lesbian people. This year, Amnesty International reports ‘there has been a sharp increase in arbitrary arrests, police abuse and extortion against LGBT people.’

Robert at Church (he is on the far right of the photo, in blue)

Robert at Church (he is on the far right of the photo, in blue)

Two years ago Robert Kityo joined our congregation at St Chrysostom’s (and the LGBT Metropolitan Church of Manchester). He is part of our christian community at St Chrysostom’s and takes an active part in church life. He has also been very involved in Manchester’s LGBT community. Robert is a gay Ugandan man seeking a safe life in this country. He is seeking a place to be himself without fear or threat.

Earlier this week Robert was detained by the authorities pending deportation to Uganda. It is very difficult to contemplate how the British authorities feel he will be safe and how this can be the best course for him. A petition to strongly encourage a review of Robert’s case, and asking that he remain here in safety has been started. There has been very good support so far.

Bishop David, Bishop of Manchester, met Robert when he visited St C’s and has given his support to Robert’s cause.

In encouraging people to support the petition, James, from our congregation has written Robert is a lovely man and faces hatred, injury and death should he be forced to return to Uganda, simply because he is gay.

Click here to sign the petition, and  do remember Robert in your thought and prayers. Please share this request through social media.

(If you have a title such as Dr, Fr,  or whatever it may just help to add a little weight to the petition to use that in front of your first name when you fill in the petition.)
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Let’s talk about Contraception

First off in our series on BIG questions – Kate, parish assistant offers some thoughts on CONTRACEPTION, to get us thinking.. Read what she has to say here and why not offer your thoughts through our facebook group?

Is contraception wrong and even sinful?  I was brought up to think so. My parents thought only promiscuous people used contraception. It was unnatural and encouraged ‘sinful’ behaviour.

Today, what do I think?

Contraception WTA

It’s dangerous to judge another person and assume we understand the reason for their  decisions. Sexual behaviour hasn’t changed dramatically over the centuries. We are just more informed.  In the past women had little choice about having children. Those that chose not to continue with a pregnancy risked their lives at the hands of back street abortionists.  How disastrous must they have considered the pregnancy to be to take such risks?  Not all see pregnancy as a blessing.

A few years ago, I worked with homeless families and vulnerable people with drug and alcohol issues.  In those situations, I actively encouraged service users to use contraception and in particular condoms. This was regarded as somewhat controversial.  It was about making wellbeing a priority. Use of condoms reduced the risk of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), some of which can have very serious consequences.

My family considered that abstention was all the contraception needed. Maybe in a perfect world that might be so. I met so many people who were abused and exploited and contraception provided a means of ensuring some small level of control over their own bodies.

I have talked of extremes. There are situations where people in happier circumstances would not want a pregnancy due to timing or other medical reasons.  I would say, speaking as a parent, that there is no perfect time to have children and the risk is that we over plan and end up disappointed.

Contraception is unnatural?  Perhaps, but……so are vaccinations, medication, bypass surgery and in fact any form of medical intervention.

What do you think? Share your comments in our church facebook group.

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Let’s think about some BIG questions!

We had a lovely small wedding at Church recently, in the Anson (side) chapel. Afterwards everyone gathered at the back of church for friendly chat and to congratulate the couple. We enjoyed a glass of wine, sandwiches and cake, together. (What an alternative model to the highly commercial enterprises we often encounter today!)

QuestionsA young, 19 year old man, was stimulated by the setting to ask some very deep and challenging questions – and to share his thoughts too.

We had a stimulating conversation as Fr Ian and Kate, our parish assistant, were challenged to give their thoughts on such topics as euthanasia, contraception, attitudes to other faiths, homosexuality and exorcism.

Sometimes people are reluctant to share thoughts or ask the clergy about these important issues. That day we had a bagful! We thought it would be good to encourage wider thought and conversation about the topics and so we’re asking members of our ministry team to write their views on one of the questions here on the church blog and we’ll encourage comment through our church facebook group.

Be encouraged by the careful enquiring of the young man at the wedding, and share your thoughts!

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