News & Events

The Rector Writes

Dear Friends, 

One of the greatest people of the early Church that you have probably never heard of is Anthony the Great.  Anthony the Great was born around 251 and lived to a great age and is known as the Father of Monasticism.  Although he wasn’t the first to do so Anthony took himself off to live in the desert so that in the silence and solitude he might hear more clearly the still, small voice of God.  He sought to live in completely alone in a remote region of Egypt called Pispir, living in an old Roman fort and refusing to meet with those who came to see him.  Over time however a small community of hermits had grown up, living in the caves around his retreat and after some time Anthony finally came out of his fort to start a simple monastery.

Anthony was one of the first of a group who became known as the Desert Fathers (there was equally a group of Desert Mothers) who founded this tradition, of if not isolation the separation, which became so strong that by the time Anthony died in 356 his biographer, Athanasius of Alexandria, declared “the desert had become a city”.  This became the foundation of the whole monastic movement and of the ‘religious’ life which was based around 4 principles.  The first was withdrawal from secular society recognising strongly the distinction between the things that belong to God and those that belong the ‘Ceasar’; secondly, the search for inner silence and continual prayer; thirdly, the practice of charity and forgiveness and, finally, the reciting of scripture, particularly the psalms.

The most fundamental principle however, which undergirds all the above, is the shift of focus from the ‘self’ onto God.  In the above principles we can see the focus has shifted from seeking physical comfort, from massaging the ego, from the desire to serve ourselves, from daydreaming about fulfilling our own wants and desires to being fully focussed upon God and his will for us. 

Now this is not something most people can generally give themselves over to but those principles are not bad ones for us to consider putting into practice in our own daily lives.  We could  let go of those things that tie us down (someone once said that you don’t own things but things own you) and stop chasing after new stuff, we could stop worrying about how other people think of us and start to listen to the still, small voice of God in the wilderness of our own hearts.

Yours in Christ,

Bishop Peter to Retire

Just before Easter it was announced that Bishop Peter will be retiring from the Diocese at the end of September after more than 22 years in post. To give thanks for his ministry to us, there will be a Farewell Eucharist at Chester Cathedral on Saturday 20 July at 11am.

Bishop Peter will preside and preach; the service will be followed by a simple reception in the Cloisters, Garth and Refectory. 

Admission to this service will be by ticket only, if you wish to go then please speak to our John Grainger by the 3rd June.  Unfortunately, due to a wedding commitment the Rector will be unable to attend.  Peter’s departure will leave the Diocese with just the one Suffragan Bishop which means a huge amount of work will be falling on Bishop Keith and the two Archdeacons, please keep +Keith, Ian and Michael in your prayers at this time.

Pentecost Praise

On Sunday 9th June we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost when Jesus sent the Holy Spirit upon his disciples.

In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit was also given by God but usually to specific individuals to aid them in specific tasks however at Pentecost the Spirit was poured out upon all of Jesus’ disciples to enable them in their task of walking each day in the way of Jesus, to be imitators of Christ in all they said and did.

This isn’t an easy thing to achieve and we continually fall from the standard Jesus sets, sometimes with little slips, sometimes with huge great crashes but the Spirit of God can also lead us into repentance that we might set right our relationship through his abiding grace.

The promise of Christ is that the Holy Spirit would be poured out not just on his disciples in Jerusalem but upon all who call upon his name, wherever and whenever they are.

The Holy Spirit brings with him great gifts for God’s people to use, St. Paul in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 lists a number of these gifts.  What is remarkable is the breadth of these gifts, from performing miracles to administration showing that there is no sphere of human activity that is beyond God’s power.

Alongside the gifts of the Spirit there are also the fruits, the things we can produce both in our lives and in the lives of others through the exercising of God’s gifts and again Paul lists some of them in his letter to the Galatians.

At Pentecost we don’t simply celebrate something that happened in the past but rather we celebrate what God is offering to us today, a share in his Holy Spirit, a share in Jesus’ resurrection life, a taste the powers of the age to come.

Trinity Sunday

“When God laughs at the soul and the soul laughs back at God, the persons of the Trinity are begotten.  When the Father laughs at the Son and the Son laughs back at the Father, that laughter gives pleasure, that pleasure gives joy, that joy gives love, and that love is the Holy Spirit.”
Meister Eckhart

There have been many attempts to describe or explain the Holy Trinity of God, it is the revelation that sets Christians apart from the other Abrahamic faiths.  Jews and Muslims struggle to see it as being anything other than idolatrous, pantheistic, removed from the worship of the one true God.  Christians however understand the Holy Trinity to be a unique insight into the very person of God.  As Pope Benedict XVI wrote “God does not change; he is Love, ever and always.  In himself, he is communion, unity in Trinity, and all his words and works are directed to communion”.  It is this unity that we profess each time we say the Nicene Creed, when speaking of the Spirit ‘who proceeds from the Father and the Son’.

It is this communion, this unity in Trinity, of which Pope Benedict spoke and which Meister Eckhart poetically reflected on in the quote above and which reveals of the paradox of unity which is that you can only have unity when there is plurality, otherwise what you have is singularity.  No one can love when there is nothing to be loved.

Trinity Sunday this years falls on the 16th June which is the day of our Open-Air Service.

Messy Church 

At the May Messy Church we are working on the theme of ‘Prayer and Perseverance’, remembering the widow who pestered the judge for justice until he finally relented.  A great neologism I use a lot with children to describe perseverance is ‘stickability’.  Prayer is a difficult thing to teach children in the Messy Church format, and a tricky subject for arts and crafts, so we offer our own prayer for stickability amongst the leaders and helpers in bringing this subject to life for the children and parents.

Our next Messy Church takes place on Saturday 29th June at 10.00 a.m. at the Rajar when we look at Dazzling Disciples after the promise of God to Abram that he would have more descendants than the stars in the sky.

This will be our last Messy Church before the summer break and so, after the fashion of the school year, has a certain end-of-year feel about it.  I would like to thank all our leaders and helpers (I don’t even know if that distinction means anything anymore) for another year of superb effort.  Messy Church continues to be faithful, fun and friendly for everyone who attends in whatever capacity.

June Messy Church
‘Dazzling Disciples’
Saturday 29th June at 10 a.m.
The Rajar 

The Friends of St. Wilfrid's

I just wanted to take the opportunity to say thank you to Philippa and Tim Mort for hosting the marvellous Lunch that was held on the 19th May.  Thanks are also due to Penny Braham and all the members of the Friends Committee for organising it.  The Friends is a charity set up to help the PCC in maintaining and improving the fabric of the church and the PCC have been immensely grateful for the support of the Friends. 

     In the past the Friends have contributed towards a vast variety of things like resetting dangerous gravestones, building the toilet, installing a new boiler and repairing the church walls.  The Friends have also committed to the installation of the electrical chime system that we shall shortly be installing (there is more about this elsewhere in the magazine).  If you would like to become a Friend please pick up one of the leaflets in church or speak to the Rector.

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