Hiroshima Day: August 6th

On 6 August (The Feast of the Transfiguration) 1945, the US dropped an atomic bomb called “Little Boy” on Hiroshima in Japan. Three days later a second atomic bomb (“Fat Man”) was dropped on the city of Nagasaki. These are the only times nuclear weapons have been used in war.

In Hiroshima 13 square kilometres (5 square miles) of the city were destroyed. Almost 63% of the buildings in Hiroshima were completely destroyed after the bombing and nearly 92% of the structures in the city had been either destroyed or damaged by blast and fire.

Estimates of total deaths in Hiroshima have generally ranged between 100,000 and 180,000, out of a population of 350,000. Casualties from Nagasaki are thought to be between 50,000 and 100,000.

Fr Chris writes:

I have been struck for many years now about the coincidence that Hiroshima Day and the Feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord fall on the same day.

We read in the Gospels of the wonderful moment that the “inner-group” of disciples (Peter, James and John) could see Christ in glory.  They had a glimpse of the glory which awaited our Lord.  They heard the voice from heaven saying, “This is my Son, listen to him!” – and this strengthened and sustained their faith.

Dazzling light helps the disciples to see Christ in glory, and as we remember Hiroshima we cannot help but see an intense light which wreaks havoc and destruction. The light of nuclear explosion also reveals the ability of humanity to destroy, kill and maim.

On Sunday evening, 6th August,  we will mark Hiroshima Day with special prayers and readings.  Those who have suggested resources write…

“As Christians, we are called to work for peace. And so, we appeal for peace not as a political issue, but as a human one. Our awareness of this call is influenced by the horrors inflicted by nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These resources have been put together for use in services to remember those affected by nuclear weapons dropped on Japan, and to provide space to reflect on our own calling towards peace in the world today.”

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Be a kingdom builder

We welcomed Nick Campbell, recently made a Reader in our diocese, to speak at our monthly Open Table service recently. Thank you to Nick for speaking, and for this summary of the talk:

The Kingdom of God isn’t easy to understand is it? That’s why Jesus uses parables to help make it clearer.

In the parable of the mustard seed we learn that God’s world is different from many aspects of the physical world we live in. God’s kingdom is an inclusive and merciful community based on practical and grace filled service to others. Whenever we serve others, those in need or the sick, we are serving God and His Kingdom. A good example is the work of St Chrysostom’s Church in the work it undertakes with asylum seekers and those who for whatever reason are seeking refuge and support.

Sometimes, however, when we follow God we face rejection from others because of our faith. Why is it worth it then to even attempt to become Christ’s Kingdom builders here in Manchester? It’s worth it because in Jesus we meet a God of forgiveness and grace and love.

Ours is a God who loves us just as we are and does not reject us because of who we choose to love or be.

We meet him every time we share communion with each other in Church and whenever we experience real Christian fellowship. Jesus is encouraging us to live the kingdom in every aspect of our lives because the kingdom is here and now on earth.

God’s Kingdom is ever present and without compare. Within God’s Kingdom, we get more than we bargain for. The mustard seed and its ultimate growth into a towering tree represent God’s pervasiveness in our lives.

We have to make room for the Kingdom. We must allow it to take over our very being in a big way. When we allow God to be significant in our lives, we create a path for him to be significant in the lives of other people too.

Where’s Nick?!

The message Matthew wants to share with us is that God’s Kingdom is near. When we feel alienated, separated and estranged, maybe by others or maybe by our own selves, when it feels like everyone and everything is against us, it’s easy to forget that God is unequivocally for us. Sometimes we get dirt in our eyes and the deep realities of his divine love are hidden from us. When that happens, we must remember that the subtleties of God’s kingdom require that we adopt a discerning heart in order to find them.

A grain of Mustard Seed can become a tree, and if we really want it we can become Christ’s kingdom builders here on Earth right here, right now!

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Our own Ararat

Genesis 8.4.   ‘In the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark rested upon the mountains of Ararat’.

Ararat

Several years ago a friend and I visited Armenia and went to the foothills of Mt Ararat. It is a special mountain for the Armenian people. In the Bible, in the book of Genesis, we hear the story of Noah and of how Noah’s ark settled on Mount Ararat as the terrible flood subsided.

In the New Testament the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews used Noah as an example of faith and saw the ark as the divinely-appointed place of safety, ‘By faith Noah took good heed of the divine warning about the unseen future, and built an ark to save his household’.   And ever since then Christians generally have thought of the ark as the divinely-appointed place of safety.

In the Book of Common Prayer baptism service, there is a prayer which Archbishop Cranmer adapted from Martin Luther.   Listen to part of it now:  Mercifully look upon this Child;  wash him and sanctify him with the Holy Ghost;  that he, may be received into the ark of Christ’s Church;  and being steadfast in faith, joyful through hope, and rooted in charity, may so pass the waves of this troublesome world, that finally he may come to the land of everlasting life, there to reign with thee world without end.    ‘The ark of Christ’s Church’.   Perhaps you’ve never thought of Christ’s Church as an ark.   Look at our remarkable ceiling here at St Chrysostom’s – its just like an upturned boat. We are, symbolically, at least, in the ark.

‘It’s a wonderful world.’   And so it is but it’s waves can also be very dangerous, very troublesome as the prayer puts it, and it isn’t at all easy to pass through these waves.   And yet if we’re ‘in Christ’, if we’re attentive to his word, if we make use of the means of grace which he offers us, and if in worship and fellowship we keep company with others who are ‘in Christ’ – in other words, if we’re ‘in the ark of Christ’s Church’ – we shall indeed be ‘steadfast in faith, joyful through hope and rooted in charity’, and we shall ‘so pass the waves of this troublesome world that finally we may come to the land of everlasting life’.

The storms may rage around us.   At one level we’re as frightened as other people, but we’re able to rise above our fears, and to take risks for the sake of the gospel.  Because we know at the deepest level of our being that we’re in the place of ultimate safety, we’re in Christ and in the ark of his church.   

 And as the ark rested on Mount Ararat when the floods were over and the waters had abated, so one day – please God – we will have so passed the waves of this troublesome world that we may come to our own Ararat, the land of everlasting rest.

(This is an extract from a sermon preached by Fr Ian in our Summer 2017 series Hills of the Bible)

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Postcard from Tuscany

Greetings from Tuscany – here’s a postcard from Italy, sent by Paul, who’s enjoying a family holiday there and he tells of going to Sunday Mass in Florence

Mark and I are away on a family holiday in the Tuscany region of Italy, we are lucky enough to be staying in a beautiful old mansion house nestled in the hills with the most amazing views and apart from the mosquito bites it is hard to imagine how anyone can doubt the existence of a loving God in this special place.

On Sunday we broke ranks with the rest of the family and leaving them to lounge around the pool went on the train into Florence in order particularly for me to attend Mass at St Mark’s English Church. As regular visitors to Florence over the years, Mark and I have been to the Church before for concerts in the evening and to Sunday Mass; this visit was special though as my daughter Sophie came too!

The parish Priest Fr William was away on holiday himself but the Archdeacon of Italy Vickie Sims who had come over from her base in Milan was celebrant and the Mass was lovely. The hymns were familiar as was the order of the service, there were bells and incense and whilst the Mass setting was different to that I am used to at St C’s, I felt at home with the liturgy and just like St C’s there was an invitation for all to receive communion.

Sophie, who is not used to our Catholic style of worship was touched by the warmth of the welcome, the message of love in the Archdeacon’s address and the dignity of the service. For me it was wonderful to be part of worship so far away from home yet at the same time so close to it!

Paul

Thank you to Paul for his ‘postcard’. We welcome ‘postcards’ for the blog from church members who may be away from Manchester this Summer.

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The Louise da Cocodia award 2017

Giving the Louise Da Cocodia award at St Chrysostom’s School is one of the delights of my work as parish priest.

The reward is a memorial to Louise who was a wonderful, and much missed, member of our congregation and a remarkable woman in the history of Manchester too. You can read about Louise on our church blog – click here.

Louise had a special heart for the marginalised of city life, and a special concern for those of minority ethnic groups. In addition she was a committed foundation governor at St Chrysostom’s School.

When she died, in her honour, St Chrysostom’s School  instituted the Louise da Cocodia award at St Chrysostom’s School. Towards the end of the academic year staff at the school are asked to nominate a child who has made a special contribution to school life through the year. This isn’t particularly intended to be someone who has achieved academically but rather someone who by their manner and work has built up care and love in the school. In a sense its like a citizenship award.

The award emphasises that school life encompasses more than lessons and is about helping others, caring and good relationships. Of course its difficult to choose and most of the children would be worthy nominees. This year it was so difficult to choose that we decided to give two awards.

At the end of year assembly in the school Miss White and Mr Birks explained the reasons for the nomination, and talked of the help, kindness, sensitivity and warmth Muskaan and Alisha have shown, and of the valuable contribution they have made during the school year not only in the class but throughout the school. The children received their award with loud applause from all the children at the assembly.

Well done to Alisha and Muskaan – may you continue to be as aspiring, and as happy, as Louise was!

Fr Ian

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“I encourage you to get lost.”

A few weeks before she completed her time with us as Parish Assistant Hannah preached a memorable sermon at Sunday Mass, in which she reflected with us on her time with us. Here is an abridged version:

Lost in wonder, love, and praise – the last line of the song Love Divine, All Loves Excelling by Charles Wesley. A song I heard for the first time this year when we sang it at our Sacred Heart Mass a couple weeks ago. I believe this phrase, ‘Lost in wonder, love, and praise,’ simply sums up my year of service here in England. When I heard this phrase, I reflected on it’s meaning with my own interpretation.

I have been wandering on an unknown path all year, feeling lost at times. I am not lost in the understanding of the word, as off the right track or disoriented. Although, that did happen a few times in London and Barcelona. But, I am lost in the understanding of being completely absorbed by my surroundings. Becoming aware of the new senses and raw emotions within the experience. Completely absorbed in the moments filled with wonder, love, and praise.

I arrived in England on an early morning back in August. I remember flying into England and looking out my window to see a foggy, green countryside. I was lost in the moment of wonder. A feeling of admiration of the country’s beauty rushed over me. I was curious about the people living below and how I would soon be a part of this country. Curious about the way people in England live and interact with each other. Being in a new country, I have been able to observe and wonder about the cultural norms and traditions. Each day comes with its own challenges and joys, and this year I have learned to wonder and wander more deeply.

In the gospel, Jesus states, “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.” This church has welcomed me in with warm arms ever since day one. And for that, I am forever grateful. I have been able to hear stories of past, present, and future, woven together in this church. Each Sunday, new faces walk through these doors and the hospitality this church shows is abundant. Sharing meals, stories, and tea with people at this church allowed me to be lost in love. Lost in God’s love pouring out through the people.

During my time here, I have been able to notice the differences and similarities of this church community’s traditions compared to my Lutheran traditions. I have noticed that even though our outward expression of faith is different, sharing God’s love is at the heart of each faith. I have been able to reflect on and engage in my faith in a variety of new ways. For example, praying the rosary, attending Tenebrae and the Easter Vigil, and going on the pilgrimage to Ladyewell were new experiences for me. During these times of worship and prayer, I have become lost in praise. Completely absorbed in the way we celebrate and show God’s love.

We are all on a journey. A path which involves a variety of relationships, moments of joy and pain, and times of curiosity and adventure. A path where God walks alongside us during the whole journey. When we become lost in the moment, we are presented with a place to discover more about ourselves and the world around us. It is important for us to become lost in the moment. Moments of wonder, love, and praise. It is also important for us to have goals, hopes, and dreams, even when we don’t know what the future holds. Therefore, in order to know where you’re going, you need to have an awareness of where you are right now. I encourage you to get lost. Get lost in those moments of wonder, love, and praise, and see what you discover.

(More reflections from Hannah are here.)

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Creating a Herb Garden

Coriander, Lavender, Sorrel, Chives, Mint, Rosemary… all chosen for our new herb garden at Church. Year 6 children of both St Chrysostom’s and St John’s Schools joined together on a great community and church project at the end of their school year. By tradition the children of the schools (now in the St John Chrysostom Federation) work together on a church project which benefits the community too. It’s great that this is also something as they leave primary school that in future they will see. In the past Year 6s have made mosaics, banners, a book of poems. This year a herb garden.

It was a fantastic project led by Stuart Bowman who does gardening at both schools. The children designed the garden, having examined the location. Together they prepared the ground, they then chose carefully the herbs and worked out the best position for them. And there was more. Wood labels for the herbs of the garden were made, a special book commemorating the project was put together and given to church, and children also worked on a leaflet explaining the project which was freely available for children, and visitors to church. (See: Herb_Garden_Leaflet)

Mr Elswood plants Hyssop in the herb garden.

Then on Monday 17th July the children returned to church for the dedication. We heard passages from the Bible and from the Quran encouraging us to appreciate our beautiful world and to care for it. We thanked all involved and then we went outside to the garden itself.

To mark the dedication Mr Elswood, (Executive Headteacher), ably assisted by Mr Bowman and children, planted a Hyssop (‘the holy herb’) plant. Fr Ian blessed the garden and said a prayer, not only of dedication, but also a prayer of blessing for the children.

Thank you for this lovely, traditional, herb garden, Year 6 children. May it be a small, but significant, sign to us all of cooperative working between people of different faiths for the good of the whole community.

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