St Martins Church Ashton Upon Mersey

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Current Message

This page will keep you up to date with information from the current church magazine

  

Dear friends,

 

Some of you will, by now, have seen the ‘silhouette' in church, which appeared after Harvest Festival and has been moving around the pews over the past couple of weeks. The perspex figure is part of a national initiative entitled there but not there..., which is aimed at encouraging reflection by communities up and down the country about those who have not returned from wars and conflicts over the years. Many of these people are named on war memorials and other commemorative plaques in our parish churches, and St Martin's is no exception.

 

Over the last couple of years in the pages of this magazine, Michael Walker has been gathering together the facts about the lives of these (mostly) men and ensuring that they are not just names on a list but the identities of real people who had real lives in the midst of our locality. A few of them have descendents still living locally and worshipping at St Martin's. Michael's research has meant that we can connect these names with our community in a more real and vivid way than we might have done otherwise.

 

The silhouette in church represents all these - and so many others - who have gone to war over the years and who haven't survived. But, as with any death of someone beloved by others, their lives had many other elements to them which tied them to family and friends, meaning that they were not forgotten.

 

When we gather in acts of Christian worship we gather with a recognition that we are part of the church which also has part of her membership in heaven. In Christ we are one. We proclaim in the creeds that we believe in the Communion of Saints: the company of faithful souls now in heaven who are part of the Church. These are there but not there: we cannot see them but they are part of our community of worship; part of the family of God. Although the silhouettes represent those who have died in conflict and war, they can also signify the whole company of the saints in heaven.

 

One of our hymns (For all the saints) includes the verse:

 

O blest communion, fellowship divine!

We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;

Yet all are one in thee, for all are thine. Alleluia.

 

Each year we reach Remembrance Sunday hot on the heels of All Saints Day and All Souls Day on the 1st and 2nd November respectively. For many years it has felt to me that these couple of weeks in early November are very much about being surrounded by those who are there but not there. I've often sensed the closeness of this communion of saints in heaven with me in worship - both during services with many people present and also, and especially, when I have prayed morning or evening prayer alone in church. For I have felt not alone: the depictions of saints in the stained glass, the names of past rectors on memorial tablets and names of other people recorded on monuments and plaques have all reminded me that I worship with this company of others - not just those in heaven but those worshipping in their homes and offices and schools, those locally and those around the world.

 

What these different days of commemoration help me do is recognise the wider aspect of what it is to be a child of God and what it is to be a member of Christ's Church. We can get very narrow in our thoughts and experience of being God's Church, sometimes with hardly a glance towards our nearest neighbours, let alone those further afield. The month of November pushes us to think of both the Communion of Saints and the wider church, and how our faith in God connects with the joys and tragedies of life. Christianity is a social religion - it was not the teaching of Jesus that we each inhabit a narrow, individualistic faith but that we flourish as part of a community of love, where each is welcome and where all are offered hope and salvation.

 

In this season of remembering, may we be alert to our wider belonging and to God's wider work in his world and Church.

 

 

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The Methodist Covenant Prayer

 

I am no longer my own but yours.

Put me to what you will,

rank me with whom you will;

put me to doing, put me to suffering;

let me be employed for you or laid aside for you,

exalted for you or brought low for you.

Let me be full, let me be empty,

let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things

 to your pleasure and disposal.

And now, glorious and blessed God,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

you are mine and I am yours.

So be it.

And the covenant made on earth,

let it be ratified in heaven.

Amen.

 

"BE PREPARED"  Our Lord tells us that he will come again... but he doesn't say when!  For over 2000 years people have been waiting but it could be tomorrow!

 
 

  

St Martin's Church, Church Lane,  Ashton-upon-Mersey,  Sale,  Cheshire ,    M33 5QQ  

0161 976 4086 
0161 973 4204