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Views from the Vicarage - March 2015

Dear Friends,

Lent started last week with Ash Wednesday. Our two services of Holy Communion with the traditional Ashing were both well attended.

During Lent there is a service of Address and Compline on Wednesdays at 7.30pm and on Fridays Lent Lunches from 12.30pm. Please do come!

Spring is on its way. Usually the first daffodils are out for the 1st March, S. David's Day, and it's time for the Welsh to wear daffodils or leeks. Shakespeare called this custom 'an honourable tradition begun upon an honourable request' - but nobody knows the reason. Why should anyone have ever 'requested' that the Welsh wear leeks or daffodils to honour their patron saint? It's a mystery! (In welsh the word for leek and daffodil is the same. It was Lloyd George who started wearing the daffodil!)

We do know that David - or Dafydd - of Pembrokeshire was a monk and bishop of the 6th century. In the 12th century he was made patron of Wales, and he has the honour of being the only Welsh saint to be canonised and culted in the Western Church. Tradition has it that he was austere with himself, and generous with others - living on water and vegetables (leeks, perhaps?!) and devoting himself to works of mercy. He was much loved.

Then comes our own special saint S. Chad (d 672) 2ndMarch and first Bishop of this Diocese who brought Christianity to this part of the world. Chad should be the patron saint of any modern bishop whose consecration is questioned by another bishop. Chad was consecrated a bishop, then deposed - and then re-consecrated! It all began when Oswiu, king of Northumbria, made him bishop of the Northumbrian see. But due to a scarcity of appropriate bishops, two dubious bishops did the job of consecrating him. This led to Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury, deciding to depose him about three years later. Chad took his dismissal with good heart, and peacefully retired. But then Theodore had second thoughts: Chad was of excellent character: humble, devout, and zealous. So Theodore re-consecrated him - to be the first bishop of the Mercians. Second time around, Chad was a great success - again. When Chad died he was quickly venerated as a saint. People took a great fancy to his bones, believing that they would bring healing. Even today, four large bones, dating from the 7th century, and believed to be Chad's, are in the R.C. cathedral in Birmingham.

Mothering Sunday- and Mother Church 15th March The Fourth Sunday in Lent was called 'Mid-Lent' or 'Refreshment Sunday' or 'Laetare', when the rigors of Lent were relaxed more than was normal for a feast day. It is called Mothering Sunday as a reference to the Epistle reading for the Day "But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all." Thus Mothering Sunday is about the freedom that we gain through the promise of Jesus Christ delivered through our Mother the Church. People were encouraged to go to their 'Mother Church' (their home church or their home Cathedral) to worship and give thanks. Hence apprentices, and others, went home for the weekend and often brought gifts or accumulated pay) home to their family. We have a special Mothering Sunday Service at 10.15am Lady Day - the Annunciation 25th March. This beautiful event (Luke 1.26-38) took place in Nazareth, when Mary is already betrothed to Joseph. The Archangel Gabriel comes to Mary, greets her as highly favoured, tells her not to be afraid, that she will bear a son Jesus, and that her elderly cousin Elizabeth is already pregnant (with John the Baptist). The Annunciation is a significant date in the Christian calendar - it is one of the most frequent depicted in Christian art. Gabriel's gracious strength and Mary's humble dignity have inspired many artists. Certainly Mary's response to the angel has for centuries been an example of good faith in practice - humility, enquiry of God, and trusting acceptance in his will for her life. We have a Sung Eucharist at 7.30pm that Wednesday.

 

My prayers and best wishes,

Fr. Philip Edge - Vicar