Curate’s Corner - February
On Sunday, 29th January, we shall be celebrating the festival of Candlemas,
The presentation of Christ in the Temple. Candlemas marks the end
of the Christmas and Epiphany season and it is the time when all the trimmings
of Christmas are removed from the home – if they have not already been moved
on Twelfth Night! The following is an extract from Robert Herrick’s poem
‘Ceremony upon Candlemas Eve’:
"Down with the rosemary, and so
down with the bays and mistletoe;
Down with the holly, ivy, all,
wherewith ye dress'd the Christmas Hall"
The date of Candlemas always comes 40 days after the birth of Jesus. Because
2nd February is halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox
it is thought by some to be the beginning of spring and tradition has it
in this country that good weather at Candlemas is an indication of severe
winter weather to come!
In St Luke’s Gospel 2: verse 21 we read of Christ’s presentation in the
Temple and the meeting with Simeon and Anna. Simeon recognizes Jesus
the baby as the Christ, calling him ‘a light for revelation’. This is why
the service of Candlemas is a service of light, of candles, symbolizing Jesus
as the light of the world. In the 5th Century the ancient rite of candles
being blessed in church was introduced and within that liturgy was a procession
to mark the time when Simeon and Anna came to the Temple ‘to meet the Lord’.
Today the image of light is an important part of our celebration of Candlemas.
The light and love of Christ shining in the darkness - the symbolism of
candles – of light. Candlemas links with the light of Christmas and the
lights of the Advent wreath, the decorative tree lights, and the many candles
of the Nativity celebration.
A Prayer for Candlemas:
God our Father,
source of all light,
you revealed to aged Simeon
your light that enlightens all nations.
Lighten our path
that we may walk in the way of holiness
until we come to the Light that shines forever,
your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Curate’s Corner - December
In December our family will be going to the
Playhouse to see Alice in Wonderland. The book of the story has been
taken off the shelves and the children are enjoying reading all about Alice’s
adventures before they see it acted out on the stage. In one of the
conversations that Alice has with the Cheshire cat, Alice asks “Would you
tell, please, which way I go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to” was the reply!
In Alice’s conversation with the cat, she didn’t care much where she
wanted to get to – to which the cat replied that it didn’t really matter
then which way she went!
St. Stephen’s church is at a ‘cross roads’ too as it seeks to find answers
to the question “Where do we go from here?” Please join in all the
debates and the discussions now and in the New Year because it does matter
where we go from here. Your opinions are valued.
The season of Advent points us in the way we should go to prepare for
Christmas - it’s an opportunity to take a ‘book off the shelf’ or join one
of the Advent meditations so that we can prepare ourselves prayerfully and
spiritually for Christmas.
May the light of the Christ-child shine so brightly in our hearts and
in our lives that everyone will know the way we are going this Christmas
A very Happy Christmas
From the Churchwardens
Curate’s Corner - October
Since our last communication with you, and as
seen in our notes posted in the Church Porch of our meeting with the Bishop,
it is quite clear that we shall not have another Vicar of Kirkstall for
at least five years, and possibly never again!
There might be a Priest-in-Charge – although not necessarily living
in our former Vicarage – but in the short term the present situation will
have to continue.
As mentioned in the September magazine, the PCC will shortly be meeting
with the Area Dean and/or Archdeacon to discuss the needs of the parish
and the type of person required to lead our worship – both in and out of
church. Do please let PCC members know your views.
In the meantime, services in church will continue – to the best of
our ability – as usual, and with the great help of Brenda, our other
licensed lay helpers, and other clergy both local and retired we have organised
services well into the future, but as so excellently put by our former
Vicar, Revd Richard Wiggen, at our Dedication Service in September, changes
Changes are inevitable, changes are sometimes desirable, changes may
HAVE to occur …
If there are less clergy there may be fewer services, if members of
the congregation do not volunteer for various duties, then many activities
and events may not take place.
Let us ensure that our ministry at Kirkstall continues. With
your prayers and, above all, good-will and assistance, worship and ministry
at St Stephen’s WILL continue for many years to come.
all the changing scenes of life,
in trouble and in joy,
the praises of my God shall still
my heart and tongue employ.
Fear him, ye saints, and you
have nothing else to fear;
make you his service your delight,
your wants shall be his care.”
With our love and good wishes,
Judith & Christine
Harvest Festival is a popular service even though
there has never been an order of service for it in our prayer books!
This year we shall celebrate our Harvest Festival at the Family Service
on 9th October – when we shall be giving thanks to God for the beauty of
our world. Harvest also marks the time when the earth begins
to rest; the soil lies dormant over the winter months ready for the sowing
of seeds in springtime and new growth in summer. It is also a time
of remembering those areas of the world where the harvest has failed or
the crops have not been so abundant. Our ‘vested’ interest in the world
means that we must work to share our resources with those whose harvest
has not been so fruitful, and where terrible starvation is so prevalent.
We have all been given a wonderful world in which to live. The
world is not ours to exploit - we are only custodians of it and we all
have a responsibility to care for and nourish and sustain the whole of creation
for this and future generations. The world today is fragile; in this
time of global warming we are beginning to see for ourselves the effects
of climate changes, and each of us has a responsibility to do all that
we can to stem the environmental exploitation of this planet.
God placed this world in our hands - ‘r’ we willing to use our hands
and ‘r’ resources to work God’s will in the world, so that we and future
generations can all share in the HA-R-VEST?
Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote:
Glory be to God for dappled things-
For skies of couple-colour as a brindled cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscapes plotted and pieced – fold, fallow and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth, whose beauty is past change:
The Final Vicar's Letter
“For all that has been, THANKS; To all that shall be, YES.”
As I was reminded by the wonderful “Selected Highlights”
folder presented to me, on behalf of the Magazine Committee on my last
Sunday, these were the words I quoted in my very first magazine article
to you all in September 1997. It seems poetic, therefore, as well as highly
appropriate to quote them again as a final word.
I do thank you all for the many ways in which Sunday 24th July,
2005, was made a special and memorable occasion of worship, of celebration
and of farewell. Thank you of course for the generous cheque presented
to me on that occasion, as well as for the many other individual and group
presentations and gestures made. I have deposited the money safely for
the time being, so that once I am finally settled in my new abode I can
purchase something which will continue to be a reminder to me of you all
at St Stephen’s.
I have, as many of you know, just returned from the sights of Rome
where I revelled in the experience of standing on some of those amazing
historic sites, dating back 2000 years and more! Such experiences, like
standing under a starlit sky, serve also as sobering reminders of both
our own smallness within the story of this universe, but also the immense
privilege and responsibility of featuring in the story at all!
“This is our story, this is our song…”
we have said
or sung together at our Eucharistic services of worship and thanksgiving
over the past eight years. I want to thank you, therefore, also for what
we have shared together of the particular story of St Stephen’s, of the
more fundamental story of the Christian faith, and of our own privileged
and sometimes fragile lives.
The last eight years with you all has been a chapter in my life
which I shall hold dear and carry with me into the future.
The future, yours and mine, continues to be held in God’s hands
but we can be sure that it too will be marked and guided by the Love and
Challenge which always lies at the heart of the Gospel story which we
“For all that has been, THANKS; To all that shall be,
With my Love and Prayers