Thursday, 15 April 2021

Prayers following the death of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh

 

Eternal God, our heavenly Father, we bless your holy name for all that you have given us in and through the life of Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. We give you thanks: for his long and full life; for his strength of character; and for his devotion and service to family, nation and Commonwealth. We praise you for: his generosity; the many contributions he made to our national life; and the encouragement he gave to so many, especially to the young. Accept our thanks and praise, we pray, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Merciful God, be close to all who mourn, especially The Queen and all members of the Royal Family. May they know the comfort of your love, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Eternal God, we give thanks for the life of Prince Philip, founder of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. We remember his vision and imagination, his interest in young people and his support for them. Inspire us with the same commitment to serve friend, neighbour, and stranger alike, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, 2 April 2021

Easter Message from Bishop Gregory

Near the entrance of Esgobty [Bishop’s house] there is the most magnificent Magnolia tree.  Around this time of year it is particularly exciting as the green buds begin to blossom and the white flowers begin to peep through. In a few weeks’ time the whole tree will be covered in white blossom, beautiful and startling.  Then the flowers will drop away and we’ll be waiting for next year.

That reliable sign of new life every Spring is for me a sign of the reliability of the love of God in creation. More than this, every Spring we remember the resurrection of Jesus Christ:  he who was crucified yet who, in Christian faith, rose again, conquering the powers of sadness and of death.

That theme of new life is particularly important for us this year.  This time last year we were just entering into lockdown. We had no idea that a year later we would still be faced with the challenges of Coronavirus.

In this last year a lot will have changed. People have died.  People have struggled. The whole of society has had to work very hard, cooperating in order to bring us through the crisis.

But the promise of God at Easter is there will be new life. There will be new beginnings, and with the help of God, we can build into a fullness of new life, finding new ways to serve our communities, new ways to enter into the joys of life, new ways to celebrate the new life into which God invites us.

 

 

 

Ger y fynedfa i’r Esgobty mae yna goeden Magnolia fawr, ysblennydd.  Mae tua’r adeg yma o’r flwyddyn yn hynod gyffrous wrth i’r blagur gwyrdd ddechrau agor a’r blodau gwyn ddechrau dangos eu pennau.  Mewn ychydig wythnosau, bydd y goeden gyfa’n flodau gwyn drosti, yn hardd ac yn rhyfeddol; yna bydd y blodau’n disgyn a byddwn yn gorfod disgwyl am flwyddyn arall.

Mae’r arwydd dibynadwy hwn o fywyd newydd bob Gwanwyn yn arwydd o ba mor ddibynadwy yw cariad Duw yn y greadigaeth.  A, phob gwanwyn, byddwn yn cofio am atgyfodiad Iesu Grist a gafodd ei groeshoelio ac eto, yn ffydd y Cristion, a gododd eto gan goncro grymoedd tristwch a marwolaeth.

Mae thema bywyd newydd yn arbennig o bwysig i ni eleni.  Yr adeg yma y llynedd, roedden ni’n cychwyn ar y cyfnod clo.  Doedd gan neb ddim syniad y bydden ni, flwyddyn yn ddiweddarach, yn dal i orfod wynebu heriau’r Coronafeirws. Ac yn y flwyddyn ddiwethaf hon, bydd llawer wedi newid.  Mae pobl wedi marw. Mae pobl yn cael trafferth.  Bu’n rhaid i gymdeithas gyfan weithio’n galed iawn i gydweithio er mwyn i ni oroesi’r argyfwng. Ond addewid Duw adeg y Pasg yw y bydd yna fywyd newydd.  Bydd yna ddechreuad newydd a, chyda help Duw, gallwn ni adeiladu i lawnder bywyd newydd, canfod ffyrdd newydd o wasanaethu ein cymunedau, ffyrdd newydd o ganfod llawenydd bywyd, ffyrdd newydd o ddathlu’r bywyd newydd y mae Duw’n ein gwahodd ni iddo.

Monday, 22 March 2021


  



Marie Curie

 

A National Day of Reflection will be held on Tuesday 23rd March 2021, the anniversary of the first lockdown. in memory of those who have died and all who are still suffering.

Across the country people are asked to observe a minute’s silence at 12noon, and in the evening Shine a Light in the window and observe a minute’s silence at 8pm,

Archbishop John Davies:

Let us reflect on the pandemic, support all who have suffered and face the future with hope.

 Please observe the silence in your own home.  You are invited to light a candle or plant a flower and say a prayer to remember those who have suffered, those who have died and all who are grieving and in despair. 

Prayers on the National Day of Reflection

Loving God, 
You hold all our times in your hands, our past, our present, our future. Be close to us now as we remember all the difficulties and disappointments of the past year. Be especially close to all of us who are thinking of someone we loved and knew, but see no longer, whether family, friend, colleague or neighbour. Help us to trust that they are at peace with you, and comfort us with your presence. 

Loving God, 
You place us in families and communities, and we give you thanks for all those around us who serve us and help us in so many ways. Give wisdom to community leaders, to our schools, hospitals, care homes and other agencies who make a difference to our lives. Help each of us to have the courage to reach out with thanks and kindness to those around us and to speak words of faith as we share the good news of your love.

Loving God, 
As we journey towards Easter, help us to live as people of hope, knowing that beyond the pain of the cross lies the joy of resurrection. Be with those who are struggling in mind, body or spirit, and give courage to those who are facing uncertainty and change ahead. Help each of us to keep our eyes fixed on you, that we may reflect your light to all whom we meet.

Heavenly Father, be with us as we think about all that has changed this year,
And help us to trust that you are always with us.
Be close to us as we remember those who have died,
And help us to trust they are at peace with you.
Show us how to reach out to others with kindness and care,
So that hope shines out in every heart and home,
Amen

Sunday, 14 March 2021

Mothering Sunday

Dear Friends.

The fourth Sunday of Lent is always Mothering Sunday or Refreshment Sunday. A day of respite from the disciplines of Lent.  It is a day for celebrating all Mothers and giving thanks for their love.  Mothering Sunday has been around for a very long time, hundreds of years ago it was a day for honouring the Mother Church and people went to a special service at The Mother Church, which for our diocese is St Asaph Cathedral, or they returned to the Church where they had been baptised.  The idea of giving flowers on Mothering Sunday comes from the tradition of bringing flowers to decorate the Mother Church. Those returning to their church on this day would gather the flowers on the way. The flowers would be displayed in the church, blessed and then distributed amongst the congregation.   In later times Mothering Sunday became a day for young people who were away from home working as servants to have a day off and go home and visit their mother, often taking a gift of simnel cake.

 The story of the baby hidden in the bulrushes by his mother, protected by his sister and then discovered by a real Princess is a story much loved by us all.  It appears to be a story with a happy ending and yet it has far reaching consequences that form part of God’s plan.  It is a story of defying those who tried to destroy God’s people.  We have to remember the soldiers were looking for all new-born baby boys in order to kill them, how terrifying that must have been for every new Mother. . As they searched day after day every tiny sound that Moses made would have caused his mother’s heart to miss a beat as she sought to keep him hidden, yet she risked everything in order to save her son.  It is a story of a brave mother’s love.  There was such love within her that it caused her to take great risks in order that her son may live.  We know that Moses went on to become one the Patriarchs of the Jewish faith but his mother knew nothing of God’s plan, she simply did what she did out of love.

 

To love and nurture our children is a great gift.  Anyone who has welcomed a tiny baby into the family, a child, grandchild, niece or nephew will know the joy that they bring.  All babies are a beautiful witness to God’s creating love, but in the midst of it all there is still the hard work, the worry, the sacrifices, yet so willingly given for love of a child.  There is a quote that says ‘the joy of Motherhood is when all the children are finally asleep in bed.’

 

Whether you are a Mother, Grandmother, Godmother or someone who shares in the care of children, Happy Mother's Day.

A prayer for Mothering Sunday

Loving God, your son Jesus was born into the earthly family of Mary and Joseph: bless all parents and all who care for children.  Help us to show your love in our homes that they may be places of love, security and truth.  Amen

With Every Blessing….Val

Sunday, 28 February 2021

From Val

Dear Friends

We continue our journey through Lent, in today’s Gospel Jesus reveals more of the sacrifice he will face.  To fully understand the power of Jesus’ words “take up your cross” is not easy. We casually say ‘we all have our cross to bear’ relating to some difficult situation we have had to face, but Jesus is not talking about everyday situations, when Jesus spoke of the cross, He spoke of dying to our selfish ways that we might follow Christ wherever He leads us. The disciples, even though they would have witnessed many poor souls being forced to carry their cross as they were led to crucifixion, still did not fully understand what Jesus meant.  Jesus doesn’t promise his disciples the road will be easy, those who follow him must be prepared to take up their cross, he knows the going will be tough, and he is beginning to prepare them for the difficult days that lie ahead.

 

Peter is very shocked by what he hears, he forgets all that he has learnt in the scriptures, the Old Testament prophecies that the Messiah must suffer.  He reacts out of love, an immediate reaction that doesn’t want to see his beloved Lord and Master suffer, he can’t contemplate such an event.  Jesus seems to be very harsh on Peter ‘Get behind me Satan’ yet Jesus knows that Peter has his mind on earthly things, earthly ways and not on the things of God.

Jesus said: "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves, take up their cross and follow me.’  Peter and the other disciples would soon discover the cost of this.  After Jesus’ death and resurrection they were lost, frightened and in hiding.  Yet through the power of the Holy Spirit they were given the strength to begin their own missionary work, and in many cases to face terrible suffering in the name of Jesus.

As we walk the way of lent we are walking the way of prayer, seeking God’s forgiveness, and we ask God to help us to be willing to make sacrifices, to take up our cross and follow Jesus.  We are also walking the way of good works that we may to share the love of Christ in the dark places of our world.

 

May the Christ who walks with wounded feet, walk with us on the road

May the Christ who serves with wounded hands, stretch out our hands to serve

And may the Christ who loves with wounded heart, open our hearts to love…Amen  

 

With Every Blessing....Val

 

The family of Margaret Edwards would like to thank you for the kind messages and cards they have received in their loss.  

Saturday, 23 January 2021

Bishop Gregory's Pastoral letter

We’re familiar, I suspect, with the story of the twelve disciples, who are an integral part of the story of Jesus in the Gospels.  As sure as Snow White belongs with the Seven Dwarfs, so Jesus belongs with the twelve, if that isn’t too trivialising a thing to say.  What is so fascinating in the Gospels is what a motley band the disciples are.  They make a mess of things, they misunderstand, they question, they fail to believe and to follow.  Over the course of the ministry of Jesus, however, they are forged into apostles, and Jesus is not afraid at his ascension to put the whole business of the Gospel of Salvation and the Church into their hands.

I was challenged before Christmas when someone said to me that they didn’t think that Christians today thought of themselves as disciples, and that people didn’t understand what a disciple was.  It was a name which belonged in the Bible, but was hardly a contemporary description of faith, they said.

For me, the fundamental question of faith is whether I am a disciple.   Faith is not an abstract exercise of the mind, it is how it affects my daily life.  A disciple is one who learns: it is clearer in the Welsh, where disciple and pupil are the same word: disgybl.  To be a Christian is to lay one’s life on the line, and to follow Jesus.  We see the “crisis” of discipleship when Jesus calls the twelve – peremptorily – from their fishing or their tax collection or their political activism.  He just turns up, it appears, and issues the invitation (we might be better saying “command”.) And they go with him, they leave their work, they leave their families, they set out on a journey from which, to tell the truth, they never return, and yet they come truly home.  The gospels even tell us about one occasion when someone said “no”:  a rich young aristocrat, who just couldn’t tear himself away from the privileges of his wealth (Mark. 10.17-27).

Jesus, I’m afraid, doesn’t call us to stay where we are, in the sense of saying our creeds with meaning, but otherwise going about our lives.  He calls us to set out on a journey, away from the familiar, to become larger than we are, greater in spirit, holier in life, loving in service.  Nor does he make it easy, “If anyone does want to come after me,” he says in Luke 9.23, “they must deny themselves, take up their cross daily, and so follow me.”

Are we frightened by this?  Was it enough to be baptised or confirmed in the past, so that we need not heed the call that comes today or tomorrow, to go somewhere we don’t expect and to learn something new about the real meaning of life?  This is what it is to be a Christian: to learn what God has in store for us and to follow it, to be a disciple.  The disciples didn’t find following Jesus easy, and indeed, the Gospel according to John tells us that on one occasion Jesus’ teaching was so demanding that a lot of people gave up, and left.  (John chapter 6, particularly v.66 ff)  Jesus has to turn to the twelve, and say:  “Are you lot off as well?”  It is good old Simon Peter who replies on this occasion:  “Where else could we go?”, he says, “You are the one who has the words which give eternal life.”

And that’s the promise – to follow Jesus, to go on the unexpected journey, is to discover the riches of a life beyond compare, beyond blessing.  “He who would true valour see, let him come hither,” wrote John Bunyan in the seventeenth century.  “One here will constant be, come wind, come weather.  There’s no discouragement shall make him once relent his first avowed intent: to be a pilgrim.”  Pilgrim follower, disciple.  Are you a disciple?  I can think of no better vocation, no more exciting journey in 2021 than to get up, shake off the lethargy or the disgruntlement, and to go through the door of life, and look to Jesus, who stretches his hand towards us, and for us to say to him: “Here I am, and where you lead, I will follow.”

Wednesday, 2 December 2020

Bishop Gregory’s Advent Message 2020

When I spoke to you in my Advent message last year, my message was one based upon hope; the idea that Jesus says to us that when things are going wrong or are difficult we should lift up our heads and look to see where God is at work amongst us.

I couldn’t have imaged then, none of us could have imagined, what was ahead of us in 2020 and the fact that this year has been dominated by the virus almost to the exclusion of everything else.  It’s amazing even Brexit has taken a back seat to the way in which we have responded to the virus.

My first thoughts go to all those who have suffered because of the virus. Those who have died or those who have lost family members. Those who have found themselves almost imprisoned in their own homes or through fear because none of us can truthfully know what is around the corner. And yet, our diocese has survived, has been resilient in the face of this crisis. Mission Areas have rallied around. The different levels of the church, Mission Area Diocese and Province have worked together to overcome the difficulties set before us. Clergy have been amazingly inventive on online worship and finding new ways with their congregations to look after those who need care or those who are needy of a good meal or friendly support at a time like this. I am proud of what the Teulu Asaph has achieved and thank you for the part you have played.

Now we come to Advent and then to Christmas. It’s almost certain this Christmas will be a Christmas like no other when all the usual plans have to be set aside. Maybe our family won’t be joining us this year; maybe we won’t be able to do what we usually do and keep those family traditions. And church will be very different as well. We won’t be able to fill the church for the midnight mass or for the carol service or Christingle this year. And that may make you very sad indeed.

I want to return to the theme of hope, and I want to return to the good news that Christmas gives us; of a God who loves us and a God who is on our side. I want to return to the message of Christmas, that says when the baby was born in Bethlehem God came to live amongst us and that He promised that He would remain amongst us to encourage, to inspire, to build a future. And that means that as a church, as the people of God, as those who believe and follow Jesus, that we want to be this Christmas, people of light. People who in the midst of the darkness will bring hope and love and joy and peace to those whom we encounter. And yes, we won’t be able to do it in the usual way. We won’t just be able to invite people in and sing with them or preach to them. We shall have to find new ways of getting our message across, of going out of way to deliver goodness to people’s homes even those we can’t spend time with them. We shall have to find new ways of passing on the gift of peace that comes at Christmas.

I know from the conversations I have had with many of the clergy and with many of the Mission Areas that there are a host of creative ideas out there, new ways of planting the message of Christmas. And I think that’s the challenge of us for this Advent: Not to do as we’ve always done but to think about how by gesture, by action, by online worship, by passing the message on, we can impart the message that God is on our side, that God has been born in the world for us, in a new way.

And it will be my prayer for you in our churches that that the spirit of God may touch you, may speak to you, may inspire you. may support you so that as we go through Christmas and face 2021 (and goodness knows what challenges that year may bring), so as go through Christmas and come to that new year we will know that we carry with us the hope of a saviour who loves us and the love of a God who serves us. 

May God be with you this Advent and Christmas.

Amen

+ Gregory Llanelwy