View from the Vicarage - November 2015
To the people of St Andrew’s,
As the days shorten and nights grow colder, the welfare of the homeless, both at home and abroad, is naturally in our prayers and thoughts. The plight of asylum seekers, refugees and economic migrants has been a sobering and distressing recurring item in news reports over recent months and we are rightly mindful of them now more than ever.
Migration Watch UK has drawn attention to the past generosity of the UK government in allowing some people who have not been granted a visa to remain here for a limited period on grounds of humanitarian protection when their home countries are in anarchy or lacking essential security. These include those given limited leave to remain in recent years from Liberia, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Iraq.
The present situation affects thousands fleeing war, violence and persecution in Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Somalia and Nigeria. In response, the Archbishop of Canterbury has called for churches to provide sanctuary, and the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu (who describes himself as a former Sanctuary Seeker) has recently said, ‘as a nation we must not only welcome more people but we should also be more welcoming as a people. My own life is testimony that this country is more than able to do both.’
A few weeks ago, the Church of England’s Mission Theology Advisory Group published a report entitled, Mission, Migrants and Refugees. Recognising that the current refugee crisis is part of a wider situation involving human trafficking and modern day slavery, the report calls on churches to work together to create communities of welcome, love, help and hospitality for everyone. This is not just for the short-term but for the whole lives of migrants and asylum seekers settling among us.
Reminding us of the story of Joseph sold into slavery by his brothers to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver, the report drew attention to a contemporary account of a 30-year old Yazidi woman whose story was recorded by the BBC:
They put us up for sale. Many groups of fighters came to buy. We couldn't sleep properly because new groups came at all hours. ... Sometimes they brought girls back who had been beaten, injured. When they recovered, they were sold again. Eventually, they took all the girls. The women were left behind [and sold last]. Whatever we did, crying, begging, it made no difference. An Islamic State sheikh took the money. It wasn't much. A fighter showed us 15,000 Iraqi dinars [c.£8] and said: 'This is your price.'
It begs the question, ‘What is your price?’ If indeed a price can ever be put on the head of a human being. Jesus - who was sold for 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 27.3f) - taught that he had come among us so that we might have life, even abundant life. Our response is therefore to work for God’s purposes in the world: for the dignity, flourishing and freedom of all, especially those counted as nothing.
A prayer for Migrants, Refugees and Asylum Seekers.
God, no one is a stranger to you and no one is ever far from your loving care.
In your kindness watch over migrants, refugees and asylum seekers; those separated from their loved ones; those who are lost and those who have been exiled from their homes.
Bring them safely to the place where they long to be, and help us always to show your kindness to strangers and those in need.
We ask this through Christ our Lord, who too was a refugee and migrant, and who travelled to another land searching for a home. Amen.
(Source: Nouwen Network)
The full report can be viewed via the Church of England website: www.churchofengland.org
Choral Scholarships at St Andrew's
Choral Scholarships at St Andrew's
Tower Bell Ringers
Bats in the Belfry
In 'As You Like It' Shakespeare famously defined seven ages of man, from 'mewling' infant to 'sans everything'. Recently, according to the letter page of The Daily Telegraph, the ages of man have been reduced to three: youth, middle age and 'You are looking well'. If you fall into the 'looking well' category, and a quick glance at the congregation most Sunday's suggests quite a few do, you may remember a TV Western called 'Have Gun, Will Travel'. Now, I am not proposing to write about 'Have Bell, Will Travel', after all bells are not exactly easily portable what with them being large, heavy lumps of metal that are surprisingly fragile, but rather 'Can Ring, Will Travel.'
And what do Bats from this, and other belfries travel to at this time of year? Firstly they travel to ring at weddings. It is apparently 'a truth universally acknowledged' that the number of church weddings is declining. Given the number of weddings in the area in July and August this seems hard to believe. For example, on 25 July there were weddings in five North Bedfordshire villages, all requiring bells. There being a paucity of ringers the services of ringers from here and other Bedford towers were called upon. Indeed several of us fitted in two weddings. Careful calculation of time and distance, with fingers crossed for 'not too late' brides, has led to the two-wedding phenomenon being repeated for several weekends.
Another reason for Bats to travel was to attend a District Meeting at Turvey, a relaxed 'bring your own picnic' affair. For the first two hours fifty per cent of the ringers were from St Andrew’s. The bells at Turvey are a lot heavier than ours and are full of 'character', so much so that, having successfully mastered the tenor (heaviest bell) Philip Kino rather felt he deserved a badge or commemorative T shirt!
Bats also travel to Striking Competitions. The media reported on the National 12 Bell Striking Competition in Norwich; those taking part are what you might call Celebrity Ringers, which did not include us.
However, we do have something of a celebrity in the person of Melissa Nash, who travelled with the rest of her family to Oxford to take part in the Ringing World National Youth Contest. This was the second year that Melissa has taken part and the third year that the contest has been won by Bedfordshire, whose striking was rated A* by the judges. Jonathan Nash was reserve for the team, a real achievement for someone who has been ringing for a comparatively short period of time.
You can listen to the Bedfordshire Team’s Winning Call Change Piece at:
Church Fete a great success
On Saturday 11 July we held a Church Fete as part of our fundraising project for a new organ. A big thank you to all our volunteers who worked so hard before and on the day, and a special thank you to everyone who came along and supported the event. Here are some images from the day: