I wonder how you’d answer those questions…
The answer to (3) is “No” unless your relationship is celibate; yet the church wouldn’t demand this of a heterosexual couple.
Now three statements:
During the last two years, selected people from every diocese in the Church of England have been engaging in professionally facilitated “Shared Conversations” in an attempt to enable people of differing opinions to listen carefully to each other. In July of this year, the General Synod has then been trying to explore ways of moving forward.
“Journeys into Grace and Truth – revisiting scripture and sexuality” is a book that was published to coincide with the recent General Synod meeting. It consists of a number of chapters each written by a different person giving their perspective on the gay issue. It was originally written for people from the evangelical wing of the Church of England – being a book written by evangelicals for evangelicals. Contributors include the Bishop of Liverpool, the Dean of St Paul’s, London and the Bishop of Dorchester. Jayne Ozanne, who has edited this book, tells her story of suffering two nervous breakdowns due to the church’s attitude towards her as a gay person. It’s a book that I believe needs to be read by everyone in the Church of England regardless of their churchmanship.
By the time you read this, I hope we’ll have some copies for you to buy – I really hope you read it.
Writing about church music in the July edition of the Parish News has made me ponder the place of hymns and songs in my own life. Church music is part of me. From my earliest years, I was surrounded by hymns and anthems and just absorbed the beauty of them and experienced the joy that came from them. One of the two things that I particularly missed when I was in Africa for three years in my early twenties (apart from family and friends) was ecclesiastical music. I hadn’t realised the full extent of my feeling of loss until I managed to tune into the BBC World Service on Christmas Eve and listened to the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College, Cambridge.
When I’ve hit low patches in my life, this bank of hymns and songs comes in very handy. It always surprises me just how many hymns and songs I know off by heart – the result of having sung them so many times. I can say the words in the darkest hours of the night; I can be reminded of the love of God through their words. The words bring me great comfort.
One night recently, I suddenly had this urge to write a set of summer reflections for you, taking a different hymn or song for each day in August. I have tried to provide a wide repertoire – but I apologise if it isn’t wide enough for you.
I have deliberately not added any commentary: I’d like the words of the hymn/song to speak to you without any comments that I make which might not lead you in the direction that God is leading you. I hope you will take some sustenance from allowing the words each day to sink deep into you and feed you spiritually. Most of the hymns/songs can be heard on U tube if you wish to be reminded of the tune. In the gospel for 17 July, (Luke 10: 38-end) we learn of the importance of being still and listening to Jesus/God speaking to us. I hope these reflections will enable you to do that.
The patronal festival of St Alphege will be celebrated during the weekend of 16-17 April.
On the Saturday (11.00am to 2.30pm) there will be a number of events inside and on the forecourt of St Alphege Church, including a BBQ, sale of cakes and flowers, and refreshments. There will be guides available for the assistance of visitors.
The services on Sunday 17th will reflect the patronal theme. The Archdeacon of Aston will preach at the 09.15 and 11.00 eucharists and there will be a festal evensong at 6.30pm.
St Alphege was an Archbishop of Canterbury who was killed by the invading Danes in 1012 AD when he refused to allow his impoverished flock to raise money for his ransom. Alphege is remembered as a martyr for social justice and one who reconciled divided peoples. His feast day is 19 April.
Inquiries: Stephen Linstead (0121 705 1376 or 07746 796 989).
Welcome to these Easter – Pentecost reflections. We hope you find them inspiring and life-changing!
At the end of St Luke’s gospel, when the disciples have met the risen Jesus, Jesus tells them to “wait in the city (Jerusalem) until you have been clothed with power from on high.” The “power” Jesus was speaking about was the Holy Spirit. The Church uses this period between Easter Day and Pentecost to encourage all of us to wait on God, praying for a fresh in-filling of the Holy Spirit. These reflections centre around the Holy Spirit and I hope they will encourage us to wait on God.
These reflections are designed to give you permission to give yourself a few minutes of space each day to think about God and prepare yourself spiritually for Pentecost. If you miss a day, that doesn’t matter. Just pick up on the day you’ve come to.
As I have said before, I long passionately for us, as a Christian community, to grow in our faith and allow God to change us to become more like Jesus. And following that on-going transformation, to be able to make Jesus known in the world through how we live and work 24/7. That can’t happen unless we’re prepared to pray and read scripture and come and worship regularly. We become like the people we spend time with. So if we want to become more like Jesus and make Jesus known to others, we need to spend some time with Jesus through prayer and Bible reading and worship.
Hopefully, we can do this by using these reflections and when you do reflect and pray, may I suggest you keep a journal of some sort and jot down anything that comes into your mind? It might be God speaking to you. It might be God showing you what God wants the churches here to do next. If anything comes up that puzzles you or concerns you, PLEASE contact one of the Clergy/Readers and we’ll be very happy to spend time with you.
This time, we have a number of different contributors writing the Reflections – all members of the Leadership Team in this Parish – Readers and Clergy. On a lighter note, you may have fun guessing the authors of the reflections!
We're holding a 'Sponsored SleepOut' on Friday 29th April in support of our services in the area which prevent youth homelessness. If you want to help make sure Solihull's young people have somewhere safe to call home - please join us! - See more at: http://www.stbasils.org.uk/solihullsleepout
'SleepOut' is all about raising money to prevent homelessness so that we don't see people bedding down on the streets or being forced to sleep in disused warehouses or other dwellings.
Whilst Solihull is largely an affluent area, there is 'hidden homelessness' with young people in particular often 'sofa-surfing'. However this can only ever be a temporary situation and can have a detrimental impact on educational achievement and employment prospects. Young people, particularly those under 18, need lots of support and advice to find appropriate accommodation, regain some stability and re-enter education, training and employment. This is what we try to achieve for young people in Solihull through our services which include support to young people at risk of homelessness through home visits and a drop-in service, emergency accommodation through a local Nightstop scheme, a supported accommodation scheme for 12 young people and a Supported Lodgings scheme as well as move-on services and support to ensure young people don't become at risk of homelessness once again.
Last year 57 people took part in our first ever Solihull SleepOut (held at a different location). We were very pleased with the level of support for this first year, as generally these events build year on year.
The Solihull SleepOut is modelled on our BIG SleepOut, usually held in November in Birmingham. The only difference is that the BIG SleepOut raises funds for all our services across the West Midlands, whereas our our local SleepOuts (such as this), raise money just for the services in that area (and will be much more convenient for you and getting home in the morning).- See more at: http://www.stbasils.org.uk/solihullsleepout
We are delighted to invite you ALL to our Lent Course. The sessions promise to be excellent, so DO come!
Each session will be a “stand-alone” session, so if you have to miss one week, do come along to the next one.
Lent is a good time to allow ourselves a bit more space for prayer, almsgiving, self-examination, repentance and reading. Some people add fasting to that list as well. Lent is a time for spiritually spring cleaning ourselves and trying to grow in our faith and discovering new insights. (We should be doing that all year round, but being given the season of Lent to concentrate a bit more is a gift to us. So do try to unwrap this precious gift as we journey with Jesus through Holy Week and Easter.)
Every year, Lent books are produced with the aim to try to help us engage with God in a deeper way. I am delighted to offer you a choice of six books. They are on display at the back of church together with a sign-up list for taking your orders.
I have tried to order them in what I think is starting from the easiest to get to grips with. But each book offers a different perspective and they will all have their challenges in the sense of encouraging you to think about your faith and your relationship with God and with those whom we encounter.