July Ministers Message

Which way to look?

Every July we celebrate the dedication of St. Michael and All Angel’s Parish Church. At the festival we remember the determination, vision and faith of the early parishioners and their commitment to following Jesus in the Anglican way. It was because of them, that Bramhall Parish came to exist.

If they hadn’t followed Jesus, this parish might not exist.

If they hadn’t been committed to an Anglican presence in Bramhall, this place might not have existed.

As I reflect on their faith and generosity, I can’t help but pray

Thank You Lord!

What strikes me as important is that the founders of our parish looked forwards. Their actions point to motives that said we want the people of Bramhall to know Jesus in the years to come and that there needed to be a place easier to frequent than St. Thomas’ Stockport.

Where do we look? What are our motives?

This time last year I walked through the doors of St. Michael’s for the first time. My vision was for 6 months, to care, to love and to lead in worship. What I have experienced in doing that is a warm embrace of love by this community which has led me to call this place home and all of you family.

It’s those actions of the past year, that motivate me to say to people I meet, come and join us as we explore the Christian faith together. My past, our past, motivate me to look and work for the future.

Paul writes to the Philippian Church:

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)

May the past inspire us not to go back – but to boldly move forwards, with faith, with hope and with love.

I wonder what the parishioners of Bramhall will say about us in 2127?

 

Revd Calum Piper, July 2018

Newala Concert

On Saturday 2nd June 2018, a fundraising concert was held at St Michael and All Angels to raise money to send to its link parish in Newala, Tanzania. It was a really enjoyable evening which overall raised £905.30. This money will go towards worthwhile projects to support poor people in Newala, such as buying water harvesting tanks, repairing the Newala Diocese tractor and buying grain to provide porridge breakfasts in schools.

Verity Beards-Jones (the concert organiser, previously a student at Chetham’s School of Music) was joined by Martha Cullen and Ethan Mitchell (students at the RNCM), Jonnie Gait (Music Director at the church) and other musicians from St Michael’s to perform a varied programme of both solo and ensemble pieces. The programme included pieces on piano, saxophone, flute, organ, cello and violin. At the end of the concert, the performers were joined by other members of the St Michael’s Kaleidoscope music band to play an arrangement of A Million Dreams from The Greatest Showman together.

Information about current Newala projects was on display in the parish centre during the interval, where refreshments were provided and a well-supported homemade cake sale increased the funds raised. The whole evening was really well attended by a wonderful audience.

RAF 100 Celebration

On Sunday 1st July, Bramhall Parish Church will play host to a special service of celebration to mark 100 years of the RAF.

Whilst Bramhall has never been directly linked with the RAF, with Woodford Aerodrome being just down the road, we felt it an important milestone to mark.

All are welcome to join us to commemorate, celebrate and inspire.

Ministers Message – June

Ordinary Time

Thus, it was declared: you have celebrated enough – now you shall observe ordinary time. With the arrival of Trinity Sunday last week, the church’s year now moves to a period called ordinary time. This has led me to ponder what does it mean to be ordinary?

On first inspection the word ordinary leads me to place of boredom, to apathy and something without flavour or excitement. If I were to talk of an ordinary biscuit maybe Rich Tea would be on the agenda.

Yet as I reflect on our collective story both as Bramhall Parish Church and more widely as being a Christian, I struggle to use that definition of ordinary. Life at Bramhall certainly isn’t any old boring normal. Come to think of it, life as a Christian isn’t the same old boring ordinary.

The ordinary of God evokes in me bible passages such as:

Psalm 139:14 – I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Psalm 16:11 – You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

2 Corinthians 2:14 – But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.

The ordinary for the follower of Jesus, is to spend time seeing God in the every day. To be reminded of him in the flowers that bud, in the daily cycle of life, and to adventure deeper into the daily occurrences to discover where God is quietly calling our names from.

We are called to walk the ordinary life with endurance and expectation which makes the season of ordinary much more like extraordinary because we are given the opportunity to discover more of who Jesus is.

In this Ordinary Time, take time to discover your daily rhythm, to find God in it, and maybe a little more often, allow him to beat the drum for the rhythm of your life.

Mothers Union celebrates 70 Years

Celebrating 70 years

On Thursday 24th May St. Michaels branch of the Mothers Union celebrated 70 years since they were set up. The group celebrated with a lunch in the Parish Centre followed by the cutting of a celebratory cake. The group were joined by guest of honour Wendy Sykes, the Archdeaconry President for Macclesfield.

The Mothers Union was set up to: To demonstrate the Christian faith in action by the transformation of communities worldwide through the nurture of the family in its many forms. The do this through their mission aims which are:

  • To promote and support married life
  • To encourage parents in their role to develop the faith of their children
  • To maintain a worldwide fellowship of Christians united in prayer, worship and service
  • To promote conditions in society favourable to stable family life and the protection of children
  • To help those whose family life has met with adversity

The Mothers Union at St. Michael’s meets monthly on a Thursday afternoon with membership being open to anyone interested in making a difference.

 

Easter Activity Day

We will be running our first Easter Activity Day on Thursday 5th April. Starting at 9.30am the day will be filled with activities including craft, forest school, easter activities, sport and lots of fun.

The day is open for children in years 3-6 but parents and family are welcome to stay and join in. The day is free but we ask that you bring your own lunch.

Places are limited, to book your place, contact Karen in the Parish Office on [email protected] or 0161 439 3989

Mothers Union: By Royal Appointment

MOTHERS’ UNION FUND RAISING EVENT

FLOWER DEMONSTRATION AND TALK

 THURSDAY 22ND MARCH 2018 AT 2PM

 “BY ROYAL APPOINTMENT” – ROSEMARY HUGHES

 Rosemary is the Official Supplier of Nosegays for the Maundy Service and was responsible for flowers at the Re-internment of Richard III

 All are welcome to attend. Tickets are £5 and can either be reserved in advance or paid for on the door. They include refreshments. To reserve tickets contact Karen (Parish Administrator) on 0161 439 3989 or email [email protected]

Pilgrim Course

Pilgrim is a major teaching and discipleship resource from the Church of England. It aims to help every local church create a place where people can explore the Christian faith together and see how it can be lived out each day.

Pilgrim takes a different approach to other Christian programmes. It approaches the great issues of faith not through persuasion, but participation in a pattern of contemplation and discussion with a group of fellow travellers.

Our Pilgrim sessions will follow the Follow Stage of the Pilgrim Course which  explores the heart of Christian belief through the six questions candidates are asked at baptism. These questions include:

Do you turn to Christ?

Do you believe and trust in God the Father?

Do you believe in his Son Jesus Christ?

Do you believe in the Holy Spirit? 

Do you repent of your sins? 

Do you renounce evil?

Reflections on Narnia – The Cast

Mr Tumnus (David Taylor)

It was a real privilege being the first to see the absolute delight on the faces of the children over the first 3 days as they entered Narnia through the wardrobe. To my amazement this joy and excitement continued as we opened the wardrobe to the general public. There wasn’t a single occasion where both children and adults weren’t blown away by the experience.
The support and encouragement of the wider church community and the fun and joy of working with the Narnia team has and will continue to have a lasting effect on me. The experience is one I shall treasure.

The White Witch (Jill Elston)

Firstly, it was fantastic and beyond my wildest dreams!

It did feel like a big family being “In Narnia” – a family that prays together, eats together, supports each other and grumbles with each other – a typical loving family.  Narnia provided for a growth within the church community and some examples of people showing great service, fortitude, bravery, courage and imagination.

The reaction to Narnia was overwhelming. It was obvious from the comments that people appreciated the amount of effort, planning and person hours that went in to making Narnia so fantastic.  The planning, staged publicity and Chinese whispers was definitely worthwhile.

We were able to share a story that is worth telling. It was a privilege to be part of something so amazing and to be alongside everyone who contributed to Narnia.  My favourite quote of the week was ‘how wonderful to see people queuing to get into a church event!’

Mrs Beaver (Janet Kettringham)

I still find myself humming the Narnia music, with a huge smile on my face.

I believe the wow factor started that first Sunday when we began walking into a tree’d-up church and realising that the whole was greater than the parts.

So many people had parts to play, from the planning team buzzing with energy and ideas right from the start, to gradually widening that group to include fabricators of all kinds, enthusiastic parishioners, schools, youth groups, music and art students… the list goes on.

The  scripts fired imaginations, allowed joy and delight to seep into the work and bring so many people to St Michael’s.

And I found throughout the whole event, from setting up to striking down a wonderful family feeling of goodwill to each other. Whatever ‘magic’ that made it so uplifting, whatever warmth and inclusivity that was palpable to everyone who came, we must try to instil that vital spirit in any future endeavours.

Sue Taylor (Lead Planner – Head Narnian)

14 months ago a group of keen committed members of the congregation met to talk through the possibility of staging a second festival at St Michaels. Buoyed on by the success of the Angel Festival, the previous December. Ideas were aired, thoughts shared and a consensus easily reached , it had to be a Narnia Festival!!!

Jill and I leapt on a train to Liverpool, they were staging The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe at St George’s Hall. We came away hooked, we could do it , we should do it !!

From then on, at each planning meeting creative juices flowed and excitement built. We should aim high, go for the wow factor, deliver the story, put St Michaels on the map.

Over a year in the planning, an unbelievable week of setting up and success we hardly imagined possible, we did it. Being part of the planning team was a privilege, such determination, such commitment and such great fun. Hard work: undoubtedly, community building: certainly and an experience that will never leave those involved.

Sermon – Sunday 14th January – Jessica Piper

 [John 1. 43-51]: ‘Come and See’ – Encountering Jesus

 

I wonder how it is, you came to be here this morning… for some of us, coming to church is something we have done every Sunday, week-in-week-out, for many a year, perhaps for some of us longer than we care to remember. While for others of us, coming to church every week might still be a relatively new thing. One of the things I love about my job, is sitting with people and listening to them tell their stories. Stories of how they came to faith, and stories of how they came to belong to the Christian community of which they are a part. And one of the recurring things I hear in these stories is the words: “someone invited me.” That is certainly true of my story…

I was 10 years old when the invitation came. And, even though I’d been brought up in a Christian home, and went to church every week with my parents, it wasn’t until this invitation came that I began to think things through for myself. The invitation came via my school. Someone from the local Anglican Church had come in to help with our RE lessons, and it was there where he showed an interest in my work, saw something in me that I didn’t at the time see in myself, and invited me along to the after-school club he was running. And when I look back on that part of my life, 15 years later I realize what a remarkable difference that invitation made. For it was there, on a normal Monday afternoon, that I first encountered Jesus. And all of that happened because, like Philip in our gospel reading, someone had the courage to say: ‘come and see…’

And those three simple words, that invitation to ‘come and see’, is not simply for John, the heart of this opening scene, but the message of his whole gospel.

Again, and again, from these early disciples, to the Pharisee named Nicodemus, to the Samaritan woman at the well, to the man born blind, to Peter and Pilate, and eventually to Thomas, characters throughout John’s gospel are encountered by Jesus. And to each one, in one way or another, he says the same thing: come and see… come and see God do a new thing. Come and see as your future opens up in front of you. Come and see the grace of God made manifest and accessible and available to all. And at that point, like I did on that Monday afternoon in a Christian after-school club, each of us has a choice – will we accept Jesus’ invitation and follow, or will we not? And that is essentially what this Epiphany season is all about. Recognizing and responding to this Jesus, who reveals himself to us in unique and different ways.

Nathanael’s way of responding – with instant questioning, and doubts that anything good can come out of Nazareth, to instant recognition of Jesus as the Son of God, once he had been personally revealed to him, is just one way. But there are multiple other ways in which people respond too. Last week, for example, in Bowdon, we explored how King Herod responded by feeling threatened, and in turn, by rejecting Jesus. We explored too of how the Scribes and Pharisees – the Jewish clergy of Jesus’ day – had all the head knowledge, but couldn’t seem to compute that into heart knowledge, and so neglected Jesus and the relationship which he offered. And we looked, at the Magi – those wise, and learned men, who didn’t know fully who was laid in front of them, when they visited Jesus in the stable, but who choose to accept and worship him anyway. As we look at those four different ways in which people have recognized and responded to Jesus in the gospels, I wonder if you see something of yourself, or someone you know in these responses? Since, while it is wonderful to see so many people in church this morning, I stand here looking round, and notice that there are still a significant number of people missing. People like Nathanael. People like the Scribes and the Pharisees. People like Herod, even… and I wonder why that is?

The world we live in is a very different one from the one many of you grew up in. Churches are not places which people have ownership over anymore. People struggle to walk through the doors of our buildings, and their interactions with and experiences of faith are far more limited than our own. We can no longer assume the ‘come to us’ approach. But instead, must follow Philip’s example and invite people to ‘come and see’. This isn’t easy. And while receiving those words is wonderful, I suspect when its our turn to utter them, we struggle to actually say them to someone. Not because we don’t want them here, but because more often than not, we are scared of rejection, or worse still, scared that they might actually say ‘yes’, and we won’t know what to do after that! I’m right there with you! But take heart, in my experience, it’s much easier than you think!

 

The heart, not only of John’s gospel but of Christian evangelism is the call to simply extend an offer of invitation to someone to come and see what God is doing. And we do that, by simply saying what we see. What is God doing in your life right now? What has he done for you in the past? What stories have you heard? Each one of us will be able to answer those questions, both individually and collectively as a community. And I encourage you to do so, before you leave this place today. Because, it seems to me, from the little time I have spent here, that there is much that God is doing in and through the lives of all those who belong to St Michael’s. And that is good news which is worth sharing!

And so, before you leave this place today I ask you this: who is God asking you to invite? And what are you going to invite them to? A Sunday morning service? The Mothers’ Union? The Narnia Festival? Whatever it is, can I encourage you this morning, instead of being like Nathanael, who is always questioning, be like Philip who has courage to utter the words ‘come and see,’ because when you do, you will see that indeed good things do come out of Nazareth – far better things than you could ever ask or imagine!

Amen.