This Week 3rd – 9th February 2020

Mon 3 Feb @11am-3pm Rainbow Junktion Cafe
Mon 3 Feb @11am-12:30pm Introduction to British Sign Language – Rainbow Junktion Cafe
Tue 4 Feb @7:30-9pm Bible Study at church (0113 2297546 for further info)
Wed 5 Feb @12-2pm OWLS lunch
Thu 6 Feb @11am-3pm Rainbow Junktion Cafe
Fri 7 Feb @11am-3pm Rainbow Junktion Cafe
Fri 7 Feb @11am-1pm Knit and Natter at Rainbow Junction
Fri 7 Feb @11:30am Bible Study at church (0113 2297546 for further info)
Fri 7 Feb @7-9pm Rainbow Junktion Community Bistro – Racial Justice Network
Sun 9 Feb @10.30am Sunday morning worship

See our calendar for more details of what is happening at All Hallows’

Community Heroes

This week we were thrilled that our local councillors gave All Hallows and Rainbow Junktion a Community Heroes Award for building community and loving neighbours. Which is also a wonderful witness to the wider nation- as Brexit seemingly invites/enables so much division suspicion xenophobia etc.

Other wonderful organisations to receive this award included ARARA, the Cardigan Centre, Headingley Development Trust, Headingley LitFestHEART, Leeds CC Cleaner Neighbourhoods Team, North Hyde Park Residents Association, our local Police & PCSOs, Sankar Group, Shire Oak Primary School, South Headingley Community Association, Spring Bank Primary SchoolLeeds University UnionZero Carbon Headingley, Caring Together, Woodhouse Ridge Action Group … and there were more. A huge thank you to Councillors Al Garthwaite, Neil Walshaw & Jonathan Pryor.

Let us all work towards that more beautiful community that our hearts desire!

Response to the Bishops’ ‘Pastoral Statement’

The House of Bishops of the Church of England recently released a ‘pastoral statement’ on civil partnerships which has received considerable attention in the press, and has caused controversy in the church and beyond. This is our considered response:

All Hallows’ Church Leeds
Response to the Bishops’ ‘Pastoral Statement’

Friday 31 January 2020

The House of Bishops of the Church of England recently released a ‘pastoral statement’ on civil partnerships which has received considerable attention in the press, and has caused controversy in the church and beyond. We acknowledge that the Archbishops of Canterbury and York since then have apologised for releasing this statement, but they have not retracted any of its content.  

The statement has caused a lot of anger and pain among many church members and other Christians. This particularly applies to those whose relationships, in which they express and experience intimacy, love and grace, the statement declares to be ‘falling short of God’s purposes for human beings’.

At All Hallows Church, we would like to affirm our understanding of being a Christian community:

We are trying to respond to the challenge of Jesus of Nazareth to love God, ourselves and others, exploring the meaning of God’s love for all people — women, men, black, white, gay, straight, older, younger, of faith or no faith — and looking to meet the needs of people who feel damaged or marginalised. With others in the area, we work for justice, reconciliation and to inspire hope. Desmond Tutu’s phrase ‘the rainbow people of God’ underlies our use of the rainbow symbol — coming from a variety of backgrounds, ages and lifestyles, we celebrate and affirm our God-given diversity.

To our regret, because of the Church of England’s official policy, at All Hallows we are not legally permitted to conduct civil partnerships or same-sex weddings.

However, before being Anglican, we are called to be Christian. And to be Christian means to believe in God who bestows divine blessing on people who live together in love and unity (Psalm 133). Hence, we do celebrate this blessing with members of our community, regardless of the legal form of their relationship. Our congregation includes people in a wide variety of relationships, and we are grateful for the diverse ways in which they witness to God’s love.

We pray for a time when the church will acknowledge and embrace the diversity of God’s creation and the radical and inclusive nature of God’s love. We hope that the Church of England’s Living in Love and Faith project will produce resources that will help the church to engage with questions about human identity, relationships, marriage and sexuality in an open and affirming way. 

The process of change in the Church of England is slow. At All Hallows we advocate for and work for that change, and in the meantime we provide a welcoming space to all the rainbow people of God.

All Hallows’ re-affirms our commitment to the Inclusive Church vision.

This Week 27th January – 2nd February 2020

Mon 27 Jan International Holocaust Remembrance Day75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz
Mon 27 Jan @11am-3pm Rainbow Junktion Cafe
Tue 28 Jan@7:30-9pm Bible Study at church (0113 2297546 for further info)
Wed 29 Jan @12-2pm OWLS lunch
Thu 30 Jan @11am-3pm Rainbow Junktion Cafe
Fri 31 Jan @11am-3pm Rainbow Junktion Cafe
Fri 31 Jan @11:30am Bible Study at church (0113 2297546 for further info)
Sun 2 Feb @10.30am Sunday morning worship

See our calendar for more details of what is happening at All Hallows’

This Week 20th – 26th January 2020

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
WYDAN Night Shelter week
Mon 20 Jan @11am-3pm Rainbow Junktion Cafe
Tue 21 Jan@7:00-9pm PCC
Tue 21 Jan@7:30-9pm Bible Study at church (0113 2297546 for further info)
Wed 22 Jan @12-2pm OWLS lunch
Thu 23 Jan @11am-3pm Rainbow Junktion Cafe
Fri 24 Jan @11am-3pm Rainbow Junktion Cafe
Fri 24 Jan @11:30am Bible Study at church (0113 2297546 for further info)
Sun 26 Jan@10.30am Sunday morning All-age worship

See our calendar for more details of what is happening at All Hallows’



Sunday 19th January 2020

This Sunday the Rev Hannah Lievesley, vicar at St Chad’s in Headingley will be leading our 10:30am service and sharing her thoughts with us.

Sermon by Rev Dr Angela Birkin 12th January 2020 – Epiphany 1

Notes from the sermon by the Rev Dr Angela Birkin 12th January 2020 – Epiphany 1 – The Baptism of Christ  

Readings

We are in the season of Epiphany and today is the feast of the Baptism of Christ.

The word epiphany comes from Greek and means “revelation from above”, and during the season of Epiphany we discover who the baby whose birth in Bethlehem we celebrate on December 25th is.

Today God is showing us something very important about Godself, about Jesus and about us in the account of the Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist.

As, this morning, we are using the account of Jesus’s baptism from the Gospel of Matthew it is useful to summarise what Matthew has told us so far in the first 2 and a bit chapters of his Gospel before we meet the adult Jesus.

In our services we read bits of Matthew’s Gospel here and bits there separated by days if not weeks, so we don’t get the force of the picture that he is building up leading to today’s account of Jesus’ baptism.

It is definitely worth sitting and reading the first three chapters of the Gospel of Matthew – if you do you will read an account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham, which contains four interesting women!

This is followed by Matthew’s narrative of the birth of Jesus which in only 8 verses tells us that Jesus is divine as Mary is with child from the Holy Spirit, but that as the adopted son of Joseph is also a son of David, a messianic title as well as a family description.

Jesus will save his people from their sins as signified by his name, the Greek version of Joshua which is derived from the Hebrew verb to save, Jesus fulfils the words of the prophets in the scriptures, and he is Emmanuel, God is with us.

Jesus will manifest God’s presence with the people he has come to save.

We are so familiar with this story, or we think that we are, and we miss how amazing it is.

But is gets more amazing as the infant Jesus is visited by Gentiles, wise men from the East, who find the child born king of the Jews not in the palace of Herod in Jerusalem but in a humble house in Bethlehem. Jesus’ birth is significant for people beyond the Jewish world it seems.

Then this story which inspires beautiful  Christmas carols and  cards becomes a story of fear and horror and sorrow as the child who is Emmanuel, who will save his people from their sins becomes a refugee from a tyrant and bully who is prepared to kill young children indiscriminately to protect his position. A story that is sadly all too familiar throughout history, but is not the story expected for the Messiah, for the Christ.

When it is safe the Holy Family returns to Judah from Egypt and settles away from Jerusalem and Bethlehem where the children were massacred, in Nazareth in the district of Galilee; not a place you would expect to find God’s anointed one.

Next, we meet John the Baptist in the Judean wilderness, whose dress recalls the prophet Elijah and who is preaching the need for repentance and a new relationship with God. John baptizes those who come to him with the water of the river Jordan, baptism acting as a ritual cleansing, and tells them that one more powerful is coming who will baptise with the Holy Spirit. And this is when the adult Jesus walks into the story.

The one who will save the people from their sins, who is Emmanuel, God is with us, who is the King of the Jews, comes to John at the Jordan to be baptised, insists on being baptised despite John’s protestations that Jesus should be baptising John.

“Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfil all righteousness.”

As Jesus came up from the water of the Jordan the Spirit of God descended on him and God said, “This is my Son.”

Jesus, the Messiah, Son of David, Emmanuel, Son of God. Matthew tells us all this in just three short chapters.

Three things to note about Jesus’ baptism, three things to be aware of for ourselves.

Firstly, Jesus is baptized at the very beginning of his public ministry. Baptism is not the end of something but the beginning of something new.

The activity of the Holy Spirit is always creative, new and radical. John baptized with water, Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit and with fire as John recognised in Matthew 3v11. Jesus experienced the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him at his baptism, and it is the same Spirit who comes to us, empowering, comforting, encouraging and guiding as we step into the future with Christ.

Baptism is just the beginning, but a wonderful beginning.

Secondly, Jesus’s baptism was followed by service to God, service which fulfilled all righteousness, service of self-offering for others. Service described by the beautiful servant song of Isaiah 42 which we heard this morning.

“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights;

I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.”

Isaiah prophesied and spoke into the context of his own time but from the time of the earliest Christians, Jesus of Nazareth has been seen as the perfect fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophesies.

The Messiah, Emmanuel – God with Us is also the Suffering Servant. This is the one we are called to follow, whose way is the way of justice and mercy and peace and forgiveness and love, even love of enemy.

It is not an easy way, and some of our sisters and brothers throughout the world suffer greatly in following the way of Jesus Christ, but we are never asked to walk the way alone for the Holy Spirit is with us.

Thirdly, at his baptism Jesus was not given a to do list by God. God did not say ‘If you do this, then I….’.

God said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

Jesus’ identity as the Son of God, greatly and dearly loved is affirmed clearly and unambiguously, and he hasn’t done anything yet except come to John at the Jordan. Everything that Jesus does, his public ministry, teaching and healing, is done in the knowledge that first and foremost he is the beloved Son.

And we are adopted into God’s family in Christ Jesus.

And God loves us, each one of us.

We have done nothing to earn that love, and we can not do anything to make God love us more or less.

God loves us because God loves us because God is love.

God loves you.

Our baptism is the beginning of a wonderful if challenging journey following the way of Jesus Christ, the way of service for others, accompanied and strengthened by the Holy Spirit with the soundtrack of God’s love song “You are my child. You are dearly and deeply loved. I take great delight in you.”

This Week 13th – 19th January 2020

Mon 13 Jan @11am-3pm Rainbow Junktion Cafe
Tue 14 Jan@7:30-9pm Bible Study at church (0113 2297546 for further info)
Wed 15 Jan @12-2pm OWLS lunch
Thu 16 Jan @11am-3pm Rainbow Junktion Cafe
Fri 17 Jan @11am-3pm Rainbow Junktion Cafe
Fri 17 Jan @11:30am Bible Study at church (0113 2297546 for further info)
Sun 19 Jan@10.30am Sunday morning worship

See our calendar for more details of what is happening at All Hallows’

Sunday 12th January 2020

This Sunday the Rev Dr Angela Birkin, Assistant Curate at St Michael’s in Headingley will be leading our 10:30am service and sharing her thoughts on the baptism of Jesus.

Sermon by Rev Hayley Matthews 5th January 2020 – Epiphany

Notes from the sermon by the Rev. Hayley Matthews 5th January 2020 – Epiphany

Readings:

I was introduced to what3words this week. It’s a little app where the entire world has been marked by a metre square grid that has been given three unique and unrelated words. For example, sat up in my bedroom writing this the three words for my precise location on the bed were disturbing.readjusts.tension* – apt, perhaps, for sermon writing – whereas where I enjoy my morning lemon and ginger tea in the kitchen the three words are insects.performer.taps*. The aim is to help the emergency services locate you so that rather than say, ‘I’m at Bolton Abbey not far from the Strid,’ you can say starting.binds.tutorial and they will be able to locate you and your broken leg much more accurately.

But there’s one Word that covers every square metre of this earth, the universe beyond, and one star that leads us all there, past, present and future, and that word is the Living Word; Jesus born to us as one of us, and yet surpassing us all. But, like all the best things, He is secretly hidden to be found only by the true seeker – and yet hidden in plain sight so that anyone might find the hidden treasure when they least expect to.

Gerard Manley Hopkins captures this perfectly in his poem God’s Grandeur:

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

It is a poem that speaks so clearly of the passage in John’s gospel; just as John the Baptist was not the true Light that was to come into the world; just as the good deeds that we do should not point people to ourselves but lift peoples’ attention to a greater Love; just as the glory of the universe scattering the awesome wonder of the Northern lights across our skies is not the Light that brought everything into being; so even the darkness and dirt of life’s journey nor our suffering and sorrows can snuff out the True Light from our darkness, however dark that may be.

Three years ago I was very sick indeed and my recovery was not a given. The treatment was called ‘radical’ and they weren’t joking. Just after my first dose of chemotherapy I was pacing around my garden after midnight in desperate need of fresh air and relief from both pain and sickness. Living alone seemed harder than ever when I felt in such need. Yet it was a beautiful night; the sky was clear and dark, the stars showing off their constellations like diamonds against black velvet. I can still hear the breeze whispering through the many trees that surrounded the vicarage garden. Suddenly I became aware that although I knew it was beautiful, I could no longer feel it; no longer experience it. I realised that somewhere along the road of life the many small darknesses – and some of the bigger ones – had completely dulled my sight.

I could no longer experience or feel the beauty of an exquisite night that surrounded me with all that would once have delighted me. I could no longer see the dearest freshness deep down things – I could no longer experience God. That revelation hit me harder than my diagnosis for it seemed to be saying to me, ‘you may as well be dead, because you are dead to life already; you’re even dead to God’.  It was such a shock after so many years of devoting my life to God’s service – how could I have lost God along the way? He was in the world, and the world came into being through Him; yet the world did not recognise him.

Fast forward so many weeks of the most arduous treatment. Again, alone on my bed one summer’s afternoon, unable to move my head because the chemo-radiotherapy made me so dizzyingly nauseated I dare not move a millimetre, I said again the only prayer I could manage; ‘Jesus, heal me, protect me, save me’.

These seven words were my mantra for many months and that afternoon they were no different to any other. Yet, at that moment that sun shone in through my bedroom window in one of those piercing shafts of light where the dust dances like a thousand tiny fireflies, glittering in the light. I watched it, absolutely mesmerised by the beauty of those tiny dust particles in the sunshine – and I thanked God; the God who made even the dust able to take my breath away and fill me with wonder – even there, unable to move on my sickbed.

Better still, I knew at that moment that I was healed – not necessarily that I would recover from either the treatment or the sickness, which, praise God, I have – but that I had had my sight restored. Once again I was able to see the light that had always been around me, that will always surround me; we have seen His glory, the glory as of a father’s only Son, full of grace and truthand from His fullness we have received grace upon grace.

No wonder the writer of Ephesians goes into such a paean of praise! He just can’t help himself as he lists all the benefits we enjoy as blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing

We discover that we are chosen – so important when so many of us are in fact rejected from our own families for one reason or another; that we are adopted into the family of God, sons and daughters of a divine Mother and father who cannot but adore us; I’m not sure I fully realised just what that meant – for me to have been adopted by God – until I adopted my own two children. For God is the One who wills the very best for us and weeps with us over our faults and failings – pouring out God’s very Self on the cross in order to put that right… the forgiveness of our trespasses secured through Christ’s own blood. God’s beloved given that we might be beloved – have you thought about that?

God’s beloved given that we might be the beloved.

Then upon each and every one of us the seal of God’s spirit – that dearest freshness deep down becoming up front and centre-stage; leading and healing us into our futures as beloved sons and daughters of God.

We also discover that we are already part of a plan so much greater than any hope or dream we have had dashed along the way; a plan that in the fullness of time we shall all be caught up in the joy of a redeemed world; a world where all who have sought refuge will find it; where all who have been rejected are welcomed and belong; where all who have been abused or oppressed are freed from the perpetrators that would use and discard them as if they were of such little value when each and every one of us is of such enormous value that Jesus offers Himself that we might be freed –  our inheritance is that of the full goodness of God, why Jeremiah writes that even the priests will be given their fill of fatness writing ‘my people shall be satisfied with my bounty’.

And although at times such scriptures have been used to suggest that there is a religious elite, a chosen few, they have been given for all. These gifts are not just for the precious few; for the good and the great and the Godly, although they too shall receive their share; they are also for the poor, the lost and the broken; for the priest who knows only inner darkness and the mother who fears she may have to leave the children she has only just brought to the light; for the woman who has been so badly damaged she fears her life has been ruined and she might never know love and for the man who fears he may never know the security of a living wage; they are for the child who cares for the adults and for the child who does not know care at all; they are for the prostitute using heroin to get through her next trick and for the man hiding a gun in his Mam’s cellar while the police raid the estate; they are for Her Majesty the Queen, the Supreme Governor of the Church of England and they are for the cleaners of Church House, most of whom barely speak a word of English, and who are delighted when we leave our meeting buffet trays for them because we are all too fat to eat any more.

The promise is of comfort for mourning, dancing where there was sorrow, wine, grain and feasting where there have been foodbanks and fasting; that we shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord.

I don’t know about your darknesses, whether you have passed through them, whether the world seems bleak for you right now, or whether you’ve ever seen the light at all.

But this I know, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of all humankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

I promise you, it’s true.

I’m living proof.


[* Just in case you have tried Hayley’s what3words and found that she seems to sleep in the ocean or drink tea in the Australian bush fires we have changed the words to protect her privacy though the replacement words hopefully convey a similar meaning! If you try using what3words please remember that if you share the words connected to where you live you are sharing your home address.]