A Thought For November From the Rector

The Church hasn’t always been respectful of women.  In fact it seems safe to say that religion in general has had very little respect for women, their talents, their skills and even their lives. I want to state clearly that in our Benefice no one has the right to judge another person because of their sex, sexuality, age, background or economic circumstance. If you feel that Jesus and religion gives you the right to do any of the above then you don’t know Jesus and you’ve misunderstood what religion is about.

Thinking of this I want to ask; do you feel loved?  I know this question can be embarrassing, but I want to ask you again Post Covid, do you really feel loved?  Do you feel loved by your family, your partner and also by God?  

In November we Remember lots of people who we may well have loved.  We celebrate the Feast of All Saints – this is the people who have been the men, women and children whose lives have poured out love into our world.  Then there’s the feast of All Souls.  This is the feast where we remember our family members, friends or people who live in our communities. Our Prayer for them is summed up in the old prayer “May they rest in Peace and Rise in Glory.” The glory is the gift Jesus gave to all of us from the Cross. His love poured out upon our world down the ages, tells all people that they are supremely precious in God’s eyes.

Someone Jesus loved was Mary of Magdala and she loved him. These are two people who loved each other.  After His three days in the tomb Jesus, in the love of His Father, rose from the dead.  Mary met him while weeping for her loss of his body at the tomb and his death three days earlier. Jesus says “Mary.”  She recognizes him and says, “Rabboni!” which means Master (John 20:16).  This simple and deeply moving story brings me in touch with my fear as well as my desire to be known.  Often, I am tempted to think that I am loved only if I remain partially unknown. I fear that the love I receive is conditional and then say to myself, “If they really knew me, they would not love me.” But when Jesus calls Mary by name he speaks to her entire being. And that’s just how God sees all of us. God loves the real you!  

Mary realizes that the One who knows her most deeply is not moving away from her but is coming to her, offering her his unconditional love.  Mary feels at once fully known and fully loved. As Henri Nouwen said: The division between what she feels safe to show and what she does not dare to reveal no longer exists.  She is fully seen and she knows that the eyes that see her are the eyes of forgiveness, mercy, love, and unconditional acceptance…… What a joy to be fully known and fully loved at the same time! It is the joy of belonging through Jesus to God and being fully safe and fully free.

In November, may you remember those whom you have loved but also remember that you are loved by God, by God’s Church and by your family and friends.  May God’s love enfold you because, and I truly mean this, you are immensely precious and you are very special.

With my prayers and very best wishes.

Rev’d Stephen Monk

 

An Advent Message From the Rector

Gratitude goes beyond the ‘mine’ and ‘thine’ and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift.” Henri Nouwen

 

Once we recognize it the fruitfulness of our life as people of faith can be seen as the life of the Beloved. The Holy Spirit dwells in us and so our lives are beyond anything we can imagine. This Christmas please know and feel that you are God’s Beloved. As Henri Nouwen said, “One of the greatest acts of faith is to believe that the few years we live on this earth are like a little seed planted in very rich soil. For this seed to bear fruit, it must die.” We often see or feel only the dying, the negative, the sense of loss but with the eyes of faith, the harvest will be abundant even when we ourselves are the harvesters. How different would our life be if were we truly able to trust that it multiplied in being given away! The big question for us this Advent and Christmas time is what seeds do we sow? What do we give to others? Do we build up or do we knock down? Do we affirm or deny? You and I and all people, do we offer life or death? You may think this is a bit dramatic. You may even think that I’ve been on the altar wine!

Yet, how different would our life be if we could believe that every little act of faithfulness, every gesture of love, every word of forgiveness, every little bit of joy and peace will multiply and multiply as long as there are people to receive it and that even then there will be leftovers!  Anything which comes from God is always more than we can dream of. So many Christians (and I’ve seen this many times myself) see that if people give with deep generosity then they receive far more in grace and blessings. A poorer church may give much of its income and savings but then gifts from people can far outweighed that which was given. My last example was one which was confirmed not simply by Christians but by many people in the 19th Century in a hostile France. John Vianney, a very simple and humble parish priest, ran an orphanage. Since at the time many people were anti religion money was lacking and John had no money to buy more grain and food for the orphanage. He opened his Bible and prayed in faith all night. The next morning he was going to the orphanage and there was uproar! The grain loft was full. There were gifts given anonymously through the letter box. Like I said, this was seen by many people. So, this Christmastide and in this coming year please be generous. Think about your giving to the church. There’s a false thought that churches are rich. I promise you we are not. Like everyone we have bills to pay. Our Common Fund which we pay to the diocese is as follows (remember this is along with many other normal bills.) St Helen’s for 2022 is £36503, St Mary’s £16867 and St John’s £8761. We cannot separate our calling from God to preach and teach the Gospel and to serve people in need from our generosity of spirit in our giving. My hope is to start 2022 not obsessing over trying to pay the bills but in serving the many people in need in our communities. We have something amazing to give, maybe the greatest present of all. We are called by word and action to remind people that they are the Beloved of God. They, you, are the Beloved. Help me make this a reality in 2022.

God Bless you and a very Blessed Advent, Christmas and New Year!

Yours,

 Stephen Monk (Revd)

 

A Seasonal Thought

We’ve reached the season of Advent: a special time of preparation for Christmas. Throughout this unusual year we’ve all probably tried to make preparations of one sort or another for birthdays, for holidays, for exams!   But the uncertainty of the year has scuppered most of these. We’re not used to uncertainty.  We don’t like it.  If our weather app predicts sun and we get rain, we’re annoyed.  If the internet cuts out when we’re due to attend an online lesson or meeting, we’re stressed.  We’ve even introduced Video Assistant Referees, so we’re not vexed with the uncertainty of an offside rule. We’ve got used to knowing what is happening, to being in control, to making firm plans; but for most of human history people had to live with uncertainty.  Many of the Bible readings we hear during the season of Advent remind us of this.

The Advent readings from the Old Testament were written by prophets who lived hundreds of years before Jesus, in times of great instability caused by conflict, injustice, famine and disease.  In these ancient times, many became overwhelmed with fear and worry.  People began to doubt God’s love for them; they weren’t even certain that God was there.  For the prophets who lived in these times, things were different.  Even when the world wobbled around them, their faith in God provided stability and hope.  The prophets listened out for God’s voice and looked for proof of God’s presence around them; and when they heard God speak of his love for the world and all its people, the prophets became messengers to guide and console.

They reminded people that, although God may not prevent disasters (this is a mystery we’ll never understand), he will never fail to see us through them.  He never leaves us.  We just have to stay faithful and follow God’s example.  In a famous Advent reading, the prophet Isaiah says what this would look like in his prediction of a saviour sent by God to lead us: A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse and a branch shall grow out of his roots: on him the spirit of the Lord rests, a spirit of wisdom and perception, a spirit of understanding and authority, a spirit of knowledge and reverence. He does not judge by appearances or gossip; he will judge the poor fairly and defend the rights of the helpless.

(Isaiah 11:1-4) 

Since the days of Isaiah there have been others who, although surrounded by fear and uncertainty, have seen evidence of God’s healing presence in the world.  They’ve communicated God’s message of hope and peace to others.  Dr Tamura was ten when the first atomic bomb was dropped on her home city of Hiroshima, in August 1945. The bomb killed an estimated 75,000 people outright and obliterated large parts of the city.

Amazingly Dr Tamura survived – along with the stumps of several ancient trees. The scientists who had created the atomic bomb predicted that after the blast, because of the radiation, nothing would grow in Hiroshima for around 75 years. But six months later, during the spring of 1946, new shoots appeared from the ancient tree stumps. Watching nature return to life helped Dr Tamura return to life too, tending the shoots of Hiroshima’s trees until they grew strong. After Lock down I think many of us, like Dr Tamura, found some healing in the world of nature. I’m very aware for many of us the world of nature is like a wonderful prayer book.

You may think that Talking about Dr Tamura, Hiroshima and nature isn’t very ‘Adventy’ or ‘Christmassy’! For many people they cannot understand why the feast of Christmas is surrounded by many of the martyrs of the church, but Jesus` birth is about entering our human nature.  We know that our humanity is full of both wonderful and difficult chapters, and due to the first Christmas Jesus is in touch with the whole of our humanity.  Jesus Christ is one of us.  His promise through the Christmas story is whatever we face in life – we will never, never be alone.

So, whatever uncertainties we face this Christmas and into 2022. Know that God is with you. God loves you. God will never leave you. Like the growth in the radiated soil of Hiroshima, if we trust in God new life, new hope and new possibilities will come to birth.

To state the obvious, please know you’d be very welcome in any and all of our churches for services or simply for a time of quiet. You and all your family will be very much in my prayers of this coming Season. Take care.

May I wish you and your loved ones, a very Blessed Advent, a very Happy Christmas and a Blessed New Year.

 

Yours

Revd. Stephen Monk

 

 

Thursday Home Group,

7.30 p.m. alternating between meetings in person and on Zoom.

For more information please use the Contact Us page

 

Children’s Ministry at St. Helen’s
We keep in close contact with the Churchtown School.
There is an assembly in church each month for the whole school. parents and carers are invited to attend.
 
Messy Church involves all children at Churchtown Primary School and is held twice a year. It includes stories from the Bible and creative activities.
 
Coffee Chill and Chat, 8.45 a.m. every Thursday during term time. Toddler, parent, grandparent, adult friendly! Do come and have a cup of coffee and a chat after dropping youngsters off at school or any time up to 11.30 a.m.  We look forward to seeing you.
 
 
 

Food Bank

There is a box in the church for donations to Matlock Food Bank. Tins and dry goods please, not perishable items. During December we are also asked for Christmas goods such as Christmas puddings, chocolates and so on. Thank you to all who have supported the Food Bank over the last 12 months.

Weddings

We are very lucky to have three beautiful churches in our United Benefice and last year we were lucky to celebrate weddings in each church. Sadly, many people think they cannot get married in church for various reasons. The reality is people are very welcome to get married in our churches. They are also very welcome to have their wedding blessed if they are getting married abroad. Please pass on the message “ ALL are very welcome to get married in our three churches”. If anyone wishes to talk about getting married I am very happy to speak to them.

Rev. Stephen Monk.

Churchyard Maintenance

We need volunteers to give just an hour of their time, once a week on a Monday evening, to help to mow the grass and keep the churchyard tidy. Please contact Chris Long using the Contacts page on this web site. Any help you can give will be much appreciated.

Peace Garden
A great deal of hard work has been done to create a Peace Garden at the back of the Area for Cremated Remains in the church yard. Benches have been donated, digging and planting has been done. The church is very grateful to all who have given and continue to give their time and expertise to creating this peaceful area and to those who have donated the benches, paving slabs and money to make this possible. Work is ongoing and help is appreciated. If you feel you can help please see Chris Townsend.

Being alone in our churches.

I know people work really hard in our churches throughout the week but could I please remind everyone that we all need to be responsible for our health and safety and so try not to be in church on your own. If you have to be in church on your own you MUST do the following THREE things: have a phone with you; tell someone you’re going to be at church and arrange to call them when you return home; lock yourself in church. Sadly we’ve heard of many people attacked in churches over the last few years. I don’t want any of you being harmed in the place where you should be safest.

Stephen

Christmas Wreaths

When we’ve lost a loved one, it doesn’t matter how recent or how long ago, Christmas is a bitter sweet time. It’s lovely to see the wreaths in the churchyard over Christmas and it’s great to think of the love which never dies. I know that, for many of you, visiting your loved ones grave is painful and so to help over this difficult season the PCC have decided to remove any Christmas wreaths which haven’t been taken away by the end of February. This gives those who look after the churchyard a clear scope at keeping your loved ones graves tidy and reverent. Of course if you wish to remove the wreaths before that it is totally up to you. May all our PCC members assure you of our prayers over the Christmas Season. God Bless.

With Kind Regards and every prayer.

 Rev’d Stephen Monk

 

United Benefice of St Helen, St Mary, and St John the Baptist.

 Fees for 2021

Funerals and Burials. (No fee for stillborn infant or person under the age of 16)

Service in church Fee payable to Diocese £ Fee payable to PCC £ Total fee payable £
Funeral service in church taking place before or after burial or cremation      
Statutory fee 108.00 91.00 199.00
Heating (October to May)   30.00  
Verger   30.00  
Organist   70.00  
Total if all options taken for service in church     329.00
Thanksgiving service   220.00 220.00
Burial of body in churchyard following service 14.00 306.00 320.00
Burial of body or cremated remains in cemetery following service 29.00 ……………. 29.00
Cremation immediately preceding or following service in church 29.00 ……………. 29.00
Burial of body in churchyard on separate occasion 42.00 306.00 348.00
Burial of cremated remains in churchyard on separate occasion 42.00 124.00 166.00
Burial of body or cremated remains in cemetery on separate occasion 56.00 15.00 71.00
No service in church      
Funeral service (including burial of body) at graveside in churchyard 108.00 306.00 414.00
Funeral service (including burial of cremated remains) at graveside in churchyard 108.00 124.00 232.00
Funeral service at crematorium or funeral service (including burial of body or cremated remains) in cemetery 168.00 31.00 199.00
Funeral service in premises belonging to funeral director, whether taking place before or after burial or cremation. 168.00 31.00 199.00
Cremation immediately preceding or following on from service in premises belonging to funeral director. 29.00   29.00
Burial of body in churchyard not following service at graveside (committal only) 42.00 306.00 348.00
Burial of cremated remains in churchyard or other lawful disposal of cremated remains (committal only). 42.00 124.00 166.00
Burial of body or other lawful disposal of cremated remains, in cemetery (committal only). 29.00   29.00
Certificate issued at time of burial ……………… 15.00 15.00
N.B. burial of cremated remains includes other lawful disposal      
Monuments in churchyard
Small cross in wood 14.00 32.00 46.00
Small vase not exceeding 12”x8”x8” or tablet, plaque 14.00 62.00 76.00
Any other monument 14.00 130.00 144.00
Additional inscription on existing monument 14.00 15.00 29.00

 

MARRIAGES

Marriage service in church Fee payable to Diocese £ Fee payable to PCC £ Total fee payable £
Statutory fee 211.00 253.00 464.00
Heating (October to May)   30.00  
Verger   30.00  
Organist   90.00  
Total if all options taken     613.00
Blessing service   400.00 400.00
Optional      
        Video   20.00 20.00
         Bells – St Helen’s   160.00 160.00
                    St John’s   70.00 70.00
                    St Mary’s   25.00 25.00
Publication of banns of marriage   31.00 31.00
Certificate of banns issued at time of publication   14.00 14.00