From The Rev’d Gareth Miller – September 2019

Brian Wood

The Rev’d Gareth Miller

Dear friends

 

Helter skelters in cathedrals – golf courses too! What do you think? I’d be genuinely interested to know. I find myself deeply torn. My natural instinct is to say NO! Churches are sacred spaces and should be treated as such and resist the temptation to be gimmicky.

But it’s easy to rush to condemnation. The Luddite in me needs to be kept in check! The proponents say that it’s all intended to make the church more accessible. Apparently, people have been flocking to see these innovations.

The helter skelter may bring people nearer to the cathedral roof, but does it bring them any nearer to God? I have to say I remain skeptical.

I had a fascinating conversation with one of our teenagers not long ago. I asked if church was boring, whether we needed to jazz it up a bit. Her answer was an emphatic no. “It’s the one place that’s different, where I can get away from all the distractions of modern life,” (I paraphrase).

There was a fascinating programme on the radio the other day in the series Great Lives. Ed Balls (who went up very significantly in my estimation) was talking about his hero, the great English composer Herbert Howells. Matthew Parris, the programme’s presenter (whom I normally admire and agree with) was a little disparaging about people who go to cathedrals to hear this kind of music, and dismissed them as a dwindling minority. Of course, the truth is the opposite, and cathedrals are bucking the trend. And the reason, I suggest, is that people in our generation, young and old alike, just as in ages past, know deep down that there is something numinous that we long to get in touch with. As St Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee.”

So, inspiring music or helter skelters? I know which one I go for. But let’s be careful, because they may not be mutually exclusive, and God often speaks to his people in unexpected ways.

Gareth
akemanbenefice@gmail.com

01869 350224

Farewell to Jo Cropp and Liz Wyatt

The benefice said a sad but fond farewell to Jo Cropp and Liz Wyatt at a farewell service at Middleton Sunday 28 July. They have both served our churches indefatigably over the past sixteen years. We wish them well in their new home in Barton on Sea.

The ministry team took Jo out for lunch at The Lion at Wendlebury. We will really miss her warm and gentle companionship.

From The Rev’d Gareth Miller – August 2019

Brian Wood

The Rev’d Gareth Miller

Dear friends

I have just been reading the report of the Independent Review into Foreign and Commonwealth Office Support for persecuted Christians worldwide, led by the Bishop of Truro, the Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen.

In its overview the report says: “Despite the fact that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is foundational to the UN Charter, which is binding on member states, and that ‘the denial of religious liberty is almost everywhere viewed as morally and legally invalid’, in today’s world religious freedom is far from being an existential reality.”

Among the key research findings are:

  • The Pew Research Centre concluded that in 2016 Christians were targeted in 144 countries, a rise from 125 in 2015. The Centre concluded that “Christians have been harassed in more countries than any other religious group and have suffered harassment in many of the heavily Muslim countries of the Middle East and North Africa”.
  • NGO Open Doors revealed that “approximately 245 million Christians living in the top 50 countries suffer high levels of persecution or worse”, 30 million up on the previous year.
  • Open Doors stated that within five years the number of countries classified as having “extreme” persecution had risen from one (North Korea) to 11.
  • Both Open Doors and Aid to the Church in Need have highlighted the increasing threat from “aggressive nationalism” or “ultra-nationalism” in countries such as China and India – growing world powers – as well as from Islamist militia groups.
  • According to Persecution Relief, 736 attacks were recorded in India in 2017, up from 348 in 2016. With reports in China showing an upsurge of persecution against Christians between 2014 and 2016, government authorities in Zheijiang Province targeted up to 2,000 churches, which were either partially or completely destroyed or had their crosses removed.

Bishop Philip said: “In preparing this report I’ve been truly shocked by the severity, scale and scope of the problem. Why have we been so blind to this situation for so long”

“It is ironic that many western secularists, Islamic extremists and authoritarian regimes share a common assumption – that the Christian faith is primarily an expression of white western privilege. In fact, Christianity is primarily a phenomenon of the global south and the global poor.

 “It seems to me that there are two existential, global threats to human flourishing and harmonious communities: climate change and the systematic denial of freedom of religious belief. We are quite rightly becoming sensitised to the former. We must urgently attend to the latter.”

I hope that we will have an opportunity to discuss this in our churches, and I will be looking out for the FCO’s response.

Gareth

Lamb Ale Service – 2019

Lamb Ale Service

Kirtlington Sunday 16 June service at 1045.

 

 

Gareth and Bishop

Kirtlington Harvester

Lent Lectures 2019

A series of addresses, with time for discussion and reflection.

Please click below to listen the first of a series of addresses, with time for discussion and reflection.

 


10th April – 19:30 pm. – Weston on the Green

Evil and Evolution   

Dr Bethany Sollereder

Postdoctoral Fellow in Science and Religion, University of Oxford

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


3rd April – 19:30 pm. – Weston on the Green

Miracles in a Scientific Age?   

The Rev’d Dr Laura Biron Scott

Curate, The Parish of Kidlington, Formerly Ass’t Professor of Philosophy, University of Virginia

 

 

 


27th March – 19:30 pm. – Weston on the Green

Who is my neighbour?  What science tells about animal sentience…. 

The Rev’d Jen Brown

Tutor for the Cuddesdon School of Theology and Ministry and Secretary of the Science & Religion

 

 

 

 

 


 

20th March – 19:30 pm. – Weston on the Green

Science and Religion

The Rev’d Dr Shaun Henson

University of Oxford

 

 


 

13th March – 19:30 pm. – Weston on the Green

Artificial Intelligence

The Right Rev’d Dr Steven Croft

Bishop of Oxford

 

 

 

   

  

 

 


 

Benefice Mothering Sunday 2019

On Sunday 31 March at 1600

MOTHERING SUNDAY FAMILY SERVICE

for the whole benefice at Kirtlington Church.

Guest speaker:  The Rev’d April Beckerleg, Asst Curate at St. Edburg’s, Bicester.

 

Lent, Holy Week and Easter 2019 programme

 

 

From The Rev’d Mike White – March 2019

Mike White

Dear friends,

We all relish a love story and this one is no different.

It all begins with one emperor penguin jumping out of the water and doing a belly flop onto the ice. Then he rises on his little web feet and the voice of the narrator says, “Like most love stories it begins with an act of utter foolishness. Each year at about the same time, the emperor penguin will leave the comforts of his ocean home and embark on an incredible journey. Though he is a bird, he won’t fly. Though he lives in the ocean, he won’t swim. For most part, he’ll walk. But he won’t walk alone.”

Gradually the scene fills with hundreds of penguins waddling along on their little feet past immense ice formations under a crystal blue sky. The destination is always the same, but the path isn’t since the ice and land never stop shifting. New roadblocks will arise which seem to baffle them. But they never stop for long. Soon one of them will pick up the trail and the journey continues. That’s the introduction to the epic film ‘The March of the Penguins’. It’s the story of their journey of over 70 miles to mate and breed in the most unaccommodating of conditions.

Mark 1 verses 9-15 begins the tale of another and even more amazing love story and another journey, the march of Jesus, the journey of Lent, and the journey of faith. The story begins with Jesus’s baptism where he’s affirmed as God’s Son; it continues with his journey into the wilderness which is a time of preparation for His vocation to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom; here begins the journey that leads to the cross. Lent is a time when we’re called to reflect on our journey and to seek to walk more closely with Jesus. Whilst the destination is always the same, the path can be quite different for each and every one of us. The good news is we never make the journey alone.

Our Lent Lectures start in March {details will be in the ABC} which will lead us on our journey of faith and seek to go deeper. To follow Jesus we have to be prepared to journey with Him. In the same way that Jesus’s ministry began with His baptism so our journey of faith and of being a disciple of Christ begins with our baptism. Lent is a time when we draw aside, when we spend time alone with God, reflect on our journey so far and prepare ourselves for the future. Lent is a time when we face up to the temptations that life throws at us and learn to resist them in the light of Christ’s example.

Lent is a time when we are invited on a journey. Like the penguin’s march, it’s a journey of love that begins with an act of utter foolishness as St Paul says in 1 Corinthians:   ‘The message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God’.

If we want to be part of the most amazing love story of all time we must be prepared to make the journey of faith, to take up our cross and follow Christ. If we really want to get to the destination that Christ leads us and has promised us then like the emperor penguin we have to take that leap of faith. Each of us has to take steps not only to deepen our own faith so that our spiritual lives are enriched; we are also called to accompany one another on that journey.

Mike White

Chesterton Rectory
01869 572559
revmikewhite@gmail.com