Saturday, January 21, 2006

Confirmation Preparation - Revised Schedule

Young people aged 11 and above are welcome to join the confirmation course which starts on Sunday 5th February. We meet from 3.00 p.m. at St Barnabas, Russells Hall. The church is on Middlepark Road on the corner of Russells Hall Road. After the first meeting we will decide where we continue to meet. So do check with me for details of future meetings.

Adult sessions are being held on Sunday evenings at St Francis starting at 7.30 p.m. on 2nd February. There is an alternative day-time session taking place at St Thomas’s starting at 11.00 a.m. on Wednesdays. This will begin on 8th February.


Fr Andrew

Friday, January 20, 2006

Eine Kleine Nachtmusik - music for the night

27th January this year marks 250 years since Mozart’s birth and since he was such a prodigious childhood prodigy, for nearly all that time since 1756, the world has reverberated to his music, zesty, eloquent and playful.  We will all encounter Mozart’s music in this anniversary year. Some snatches of melodic line and argument will already be familiar. Others will come as a surprise.

The music of course stands to be judged in its own terms, speaking as it does to the heart. Yet inevitably the drama of the music is heard for us against the backdrop of Mozart’s own life, lived at breakneck speed in the courts and salons of Europe, and brought so abruptly to a close when he was just 35. There is the added poignancy that after such a dazzling life of genius, such a treasure to the world should come to share a pauper’s grave. We do not know where he is buried.

Karl Barth, the great Swiss theologian, was passionate about Mozart and would listen to his music religiously, every day. Attractions and affinities are often complex. But what seems to have drawn Barth to Mozart was the interplay of light and darkness he sensed in the music. In Mozart, he suggests, “the sun shines but does not blind, does not burn or consume.” There is light in this music and joy ‘overtakes’ sorrow but sorrow is not extinguished.

On February 2nd Christians celebrate Candlemas, the climax of the Christmas season, when the infant Jesus was presented in the Temple at Jerusalem by his parents, Mary and Joseph. It is a story of great beauty recounted in Luke Chapter 2. Waiting in the Temple is Simeon, an old man, approaching his own death, his own darkness. When he sees the Christ-child, he take him into his arms and blesses him, “for”, he says, “my eyes have seen the salvation which you have made ready in the sight of the nations; a light of revelation for the gentiles and glory for your people Israel.”

Light shines in the darkness but it doesn’t ‘overcome’ it. And yet with the light comes joy. Sometimes the music of Mozart can seem too balanced and contrived. And we can retreat into such music for repose – to chill out – knowing that reality is much messier and murky. At its best, though, (and there is so much of the best!) Mozart leaves us balanced on a knife edge where darkness is around but we can move through the music with light for the path.


Fr Andrew


Friday, January 06, 2006

Saltmine are holding a Celebration Day on Saturday 25th February from 4.00
p.m. at Dormston Mill Theatre. Come and see the good things Saltmine Theatre
Company are doing nationally to bring the gospel alive. Tickets are free but
need to be reserved in advance. Call Saltmine box office on 01384 454808 or
speak with Fr Andrew - we can travel together.

Pakistan Earthquake

St James has recently held a collection for the victims of the earthquake in Pakistan. Just under £50 was raised for the earthquake appeal which has been forwarded to the Dudley Muslim Association. Mike Mason (01384 76637) has recently written the following report about the consequences of the earthquake on a region in need of long term support. Apart from the sheer humanitarian need, given the region’s close links with many British Muslims, it is important that Christians continue to remember those who are suffering in prayer and seek ways to support the ongoing relief effort. If you would like to know more please contact either Mike or Fr Andrew.


At the Dudley Borough Interfaith Network AGM on 29 November we heard from Dr Arbab Nazir and Mr Khurshid Ahmed - both residents of Dudley - about their very personal experience of events in Pakistan.

Arbab went to Pakistan shortly after the earthquake as part of a team from the UK offering medical and other support. They were able also to distribute direct to those in most need large sums of cash donated by people in the UK.

Khurshid was on a family visit to Pakistan at the time of the earthquake and, even though they were staying some 100 miles from the epicentre, they felt strong shocks. He then stayed on in Pakistan helping to co-ordinate aid from the UK.

Arbab’s pictures brought home the stark reality of this tragedy and its effect on millions of ordinary people. Sadly not all the external aid is appropriate e.g. the vast majority of the tents provided are totally unsuitable for the harsh winter conditions which affect that area.

Khurshid told us of the gratitude of people locally for the response from the UK with its many close ties to Pakistan - both historical and through the presence here of many people who originated from that country.

Shortly after that event I spoke also to Revd Garth Nathaniel who is Priest-in-Charge of St John’s Church in Brockmoor and originates also from Pakistan. He had a visit planned in November to see his family and so again saw first hand the effects of the earthquake and the way in which local people, including the small Christian community, were responding to this tragic event.

He told me how unfair was the criticism about the speed of response from e.g. the military and the health services. They themselves were devastated by the earthquake losing many key personnel.

The many mines laid in the border area as a result of the long-running dispute over Kashmir made it very difficult also to get the border open quickly. However, cross border working with India was beginning to happen.

All three of them stressed the need for massive long-term support for reconstruction in a region where so much has been obliterated. They said also that they are willing both to speak to faith groups about their experience and to be a channel for further support for people in Pakistan.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Chrism Mass at Worcester Cathedral

Maundy Thursday falls this year on 13th April. There will be a coach trip during the day from Dudley to Worcester Cathedral where pilgrims can join in the Chrism Mass with Bishop Peter and the clergy of the diocese as they renew their ordination vows. If you would like to join in this memorable and beautiful experience, please register your interest with the churchwardens, Gwen and Janice. Further details will follow soon.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Holocaust Memorial Day

Dudley Race Equality Council invite us to participate in a short reflective act of remembrance at 12.00 p.m. on Friday 27th January. The event is taking place at Dudley Library, St James’s Road. Light refreshments will be served afterwards.

Lest we forget… When one suffers all suffer together.


Sunday, January 01, 2006

Group Service for Epiphany

On 6th January the Dudley Group are holding a joint service of Holy
Communion to celebrate the Epiphany - the arrival of the wise men to honour
the Christ child. Join us for this holy night at St Francis's, Laurel Road.
The service starts at 7.30 p.m. and the preacher will be our own priest, the
Revd Andrew Wickens

News on Confirmation

Confirmation is a chance for adults and young people to explore in more
depth about the Christian faith. Across Dudley we are running two groups
this year - one for adults and another for young people rising 11 or above.

The adult group will meet on Thursday evenings at St Francis's Church Centre
from 2nd February onwards at 7.30 p.m.

The young people's group will meet on Sunday afternoons at St Barnabas,
Russell's Hall, time to be confirmed with those interested, but we are
suggesting this take place at 4.00 p.m.

We recognise that these times may not be convenient to everybody. If you
would like to join a group but cannot manage the time suggested do make
contact. Once we know as clergy demand from the parishes then we can see how
to manage transport for those taking part. For further information or to
register interest please speak with me early in the New Year.

Fr Andrew (01384 214487)