All the fun of the fayer on
Saturday 1 July 2017
from 1.30pm to 3.30pm
Come along to St David’s Church Hall and have fun,
meet people, have refreshments, visit stalls and win prizes.
I am sure that many of us are familiar with the hymn “Abide With Me”. It is sung by the crowds at important football matches. It is often chosen for the funeral of a loved ones, and can be a hymn of personal devotion.
“Abide with me, fast falls the eventide
The darkness deepens, Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail, and comfort flees,
Help of the helpless, Lord abide with me”
Beautiful words, that strike a chord with many of us. However, I wonder just how many of us know the story behind this great hymn?
The word “great” – when thinking about a hymn-does not mean “literary greatness”, but rather that the influence that the hymn had, and still has, on successive audiences and individuals. The author, Reverend Henry Lyte, was vicar of Lower Brixham, Devon. In 1847, at the age of just 54, his health began to fail quite rapidly, and it became obvious that he was not long for this world. He decided that he would like to spend (what would become) the last year of his life in Italy.
It was as the date for his departure from home drew near that he gave to the world this magnificent hymn (and Henry’s epitaph) that has since found a place in almost every published Hymnal. His daughter has given us an account of the day when Henry Lyte composed the hymn. “The summer”, she said, “was coming to an end, and when September (when he planned to take ship) arrived, each day seemed to have a special value, as being nearer his departure.”
His family were surprised, and also very anxious, when he announced that he wanted to preach to his congregation one last time. Worries about his weakness, and the dangers to his health that might result from his efforts, were well founded and his family urged him not to put himself at such great risk, but it was all in vain. Henry, bound and determined to fulfil his own wishes-did preach, and his parishioners listened with breathless attention.
Though he was very exhausted, his family and friends could see no reason to believe that he was harmed in any by his efforts. During the evening of that same day, he placed into the hands of a near and dear friend the words of that hymn, which we now know and love so well, together with music of his own composing as accompaniment.
Henry Lyte died that November in Nice, in the south of France: his last words were “Peace and joy”.
“Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes:
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
When Heaven’s morning breaks and Earth’s vain shadows flee,
Help of the helpless, Lord Abide with me”.
(This article was originally published as part of St David’s Messenger in May 2017)
It’s not too late to wish you a happy Easter! The Easter season – Eastertide – lasts until Pentecost (Whit Sunday on 4th June).
Easter, unlike Christmas is a movable feast, meaning its date changes each year. In Western Christianity, Easter always falls on a Sunday between 22 March and 25 April within about seven days of the full moon.
Imagine living a few hundred years ago, before the industrial revolution and the arrival of street lighting. Walking around after sunset on a moonless night would have been risky – falling foul of thieves, wild animals, or falling into a ditch – in pitch darkness anything could happen. Thank goodness for the light of a full moon and daylight. As the Book of Genesis tells us:
Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.
It’s little wonder then that light plays such an important part in our domestic and social lives. And so it is that light is an important part of our Christian faith; Christian’s declare Christ is ‘The Light of the World’.
Every year, in churches around the world, the new fire of Easter is lit and from it the Paschal Candle; a candle to be used throughout the following year signifying the risen Christ at Baptisms and Funerals.
On Easter Eve the newly lit Paschal Candle is carried into the church in darkness as the priest sings the ‘Light of Christ’ echoing the wonderful words in the first chapter of St John’s Gospel:
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.
As we read in the book of Isaiah:
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.
Jesus, in His ministry, uses the contrast of darkness and light to promise that His followers will have the ‘light of life’ saying:
“I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
One of my favourite prayers concerns light and darkness and comes from the service for Evening Prayer, when we say:
Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord; and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of thy only Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Although we live at a time when people sometimes complain of ‘light pollution’, there often seems to be darkness threatening us. During this joyful Eastertide, and always, embrace Jesus the ‘Light of the World’ and reject darkness.
Come and join us at St David’s for one of our services either midweek or on a Sunday. You will find a warm welcome and see our Easter Candle burning bright.
May God bless you and all those who you love now and for evermore.
(This article was originally published as part of St David’s Messenger in May 2017)
I have memories of my mother (born in 1926) telling me about her own mother going to a neighbours to borrow a cup of sugar when times were a little hard as the weekly wage hadn’t quite stretched to the next pay day.
Borrowing from neighbours was once a commonplace practice, part of life and the intertwined relations we once had with those who lived within what we considered to be our ‘neighbours’. We often view ‘not knowing who our neighbours are’ as a fairly recent phenomenon but in fact we need to look back a lot further to the industrial revolution which heralded the start affordable modern technology-with its quick transportation and the emergence of the grocery store – acquiring kitchen supplies was a less frequent and seen as a much more individualistic affair.
In times past, hunting, gathering, and foraging were communal activities with the resources gathered not just to those who actively sourced and dealt with the preparation for use of/consumption of these products, but also to provide for all within the community. It is still in recent memory of course that many communities, especially rural ones, still relied on weekly markets, travelling salesmen, and the growing of their own goods. But living in relative isolation also meant more contact with your neighbours because one of them probably provided your weekly dairy needs and another milled wheat for flour or grew pears you exchanged for apples.
Advances in technology, while bringing more ‘freedom of choice of what we can do with our time, have erased many food-based reasons for interaction with our neighbours. In fact, in pre-modern Europe, food and cooking brought neighbours together by necessity; many homes had no ovens or only small hearths that were not big enough for bread baking and simultaneous cooking. (If you think having four stovetop burners, a microwave, a toaster, and an oven isn’t a luxury, imagine just one heat source for all your cooking-and bathing-needs). Many communities relied on communal ovens and neighbours regularly left their breads or stews to cook over several hours or even overnight. Traces of this practice still exist in North Africa, Latin America, Europe, and elsewhere.
The rise of cities meant easier access to supplies, but neighbours still lived in close quarters-that there was a constant exchange of goods and services across the yard or through criss-crossing streets. The era of knocking on a door and asking for that extra cup of sugar or dolling out surplus tomatoes from an abundant crop were part of the rhythms of life.
The way, in which houses are positioned relative to each other and our reliance on modern technology, most of us no longer need to interact with our neighbours to source ingredients or cook our food.
The realisation that people rarely interact with others outside their family within a community coupled with looking for new ways for St David’s Church to offer hospitality (from the Latin hospitalis – friendliness to guests, to provide opportunity to engage with others) we extend an invitation to everyone to come along and participate in Messy Church.
Messy Church wants to engage with people regardless of age to enable the building of relationships with people within our community. In 2017 we are basing Messy Church on ‘Messy Hospitality’ by Lucy Moore who is the inspiration and driving force for Messy Church.
In her introduction to the book ‘Messy Hospitality: Changing communities through Fun Food Friendship and Faith’ Lucy writes p7.
Hospitality is where it’s at. Hospitality is where God is at. It’s key to opening the doors to the kingdom. Jesus loved and accepted absolutely everybody; he showed his acceptance by eating with them.
|Saturday April 1st 2017||The Meals Jesus Ate|
|Saturday June 10th 2017||The Last Supper|
|Saturday October 7th 2017||The Early Church|
|Saturday November 18th 2017||The Heavenly Home|
This is a joint initiative between All Saints Church Stoneycroft and St David’s Church Childwall.
Venue: St David’s Church Rocky Lane, Childwall, Merseyside, L16 1J
Time 4pm to 6pm. There is no charge for these events. Children please bring an adult along with you.
Looking forward to welcoming you to a different way of interacting in our society, a new and vibrant way to refreshed hospitality within our neighbourhood, the new ‘borrowing a cup of sugar’.
(This article by Rev Sally Mason was originally published as part of St David’s Messenger in April 2017)
I love the month of March. Meteorologically its arrival represents the beginning of Spring, the days are noticeably getting longer and the daffodils and snowdrops are in full bloom.
For us at Saint David’s March is special in another way, for the first of the Month is the feast of Saint David, our patron saint. David lived in the Sixth Century, the son of St. Non and the grandson of the Prince of Ceredigion. There are many legends surrounding his life, but what is certain is that he founded a monastery at what is now Llantwit Major, South Wales and that he was active in preaching and spreading the Gospel in a country where many were still hostile to what was seen as a new teaching. David was part of a small band of the so called “Celtic Saints” whose influence was to spread far and wide throughout the land we now call Britain.
The sixth century was a difficult time, the relative stability afforded by the Roman Empire was a fading memory and there was a new threat on the horizon with the first appearance of the Angles, Saxons and Jutes; even the Church was divided between those that followed the Celtic Christian tradition and those that followed the traditions of Rome.
Students of history soon discover that times of stability are often short lived. I, and many others, in Britain have been fortunate to live through times that have been stable; yes, we have had our ups and downs but overall things have gone well but change is on the horizon and for some it has already started. In March we could see the triggering of Article 50 and the beginning of negotiations to leave the European Union chipping away at that stability many of us have known for the past forty years or so. We don’t know what is to happen and I know in talking to people some find that disconcerting. I have also talked to other people that no longer have stability simply because their work involves short term contracts or zero hours pay. Some of those people are in what was once considered good jobs and ‘a career for life’. The more I talk to people the more I realise that for many the old stabilities have already gone.
So what should the Christian response be? Well, we can learn something from the likes of David and the other early Celtic Saints. Firstly, they had a faith rooted deep in the belief that God loved them. Their early prayers constantly talk of God being the rock on which they stood and his love the breastplate that protected them. Secondly, they did not hide behind the walls of their monasteries but travelled out meeting people as they struggled to get by. They did not confine themselves to preaching but they also listened, to better understand the hopes and the fears of the people in order to help them bring God into every aspect of their lives. Thirdly, their monasteries were not just a place of prayer for a select few but were open to all. Many, including David’s, grew up to be small towns with people involved in all sorts of crafts, but all centred on the church at its heart.
We have many challenges facing us now and in the near future. Individually, we need to find our rock on which to stand our breastplate to protect us from whatever may cause us harm; the God of St. David seems a good place to start. Individually, and as a Church we need to be less insular, we must open ourselves to listen to others, to understand them, to support them and know better how to pray for them. Finally, as a Church we must seek to be even more community with doors open to all whether it is to pray, to work or just to meet in a safe space.
Remembering David, and his work perhaps I can paraphrase a well known slogan: Saint David is not just for March 1st, he is for life.
Dydd gwyl Dewi hapus – Happy St David’s day
(This article was originally published as part of St David’s Messenger in March 2017)
St David’s Church
0151 722 4549 (Rev’d Peter Smyth)
Vestry Hour – from Sunday 14th January 2018 Wedding & Baptism Bookings will be taken between 12pm – 1pm each Sunday after the main service which is 10:30am, you are very welcome to come along to both.