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.


+ Gregory Llanelwy

Saturday 22 August 2020

from Val

 Dear Friends

The Jesse Tree window in Llanrhaeadr traces the genealogy of Jesus right back to Jesse.  Genealogy was very important to the people of Israel.  At the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus’ line is traced back as far as David, thus fulfilling one of the Old Testament Prophecies concerning the Messiah. Jesus ‘born of David’s line’ as we sing in the Christmas Carol. 

When Jesus asks the question ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ Jesus is not about his own personal search for identity, he knows who he is and where he comes from and he knows where he is going. He received the expected answers, ‘Some say John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the prophets,’ but he wants them to answer for themselves. Jesus asks them directly ‘Who do you say that I am?’ Peter replies ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.’ 

Peter suddenly realises that Jesus is the one they have been waiting for, the Messiah. This is the answer Jesus is looking for, an answer from the heart. For Peter the realisation of who Jesus really is, is something that has grown over time, it has taken a while to register but finally, Peter sees the light and Jesus is delighted. And Jesus gives him a new name, he is no longer to be called Simon, but Peter, meaning rock and he will be the rock on which Jesus builds his Church. This is the first mention of what is to follow, that there will be an expectation on the disciples to continue Jesus’ ministry, to form a community and carry on his work.

Yet what an unlikely choice, Simon Peter who continually says and does the wrong thing, Peter who is uneducated, Peter who in a very short space of time would deny Jesus 3 times, Peter would be the rock on which Jesus would build his church? But somehow Jesus knows that Peter is the man for the job. I wonder how Peter felt, did he think who me? Or was it so far fetched that he simply dismissed it. Peter was a fisherman, he would have known plenty about tides and seasons, about boats and nets, but not about building a Church. But the sort of Church Jesus has in mind is not a building but a community, a community of believers, a Church built on people.   

This is the important lesson we have learnt during lockdown. How to be Church, not in a building, but Church as a community of people who believe in Christ. And Jesus asks the same question of us today ‘who do you say I am?’  We need to think about our answer and then respond. Peter was given a new name and a new purpose. Our names may not change but Jesus has a role for us, a role which will hold both challenges and blessings.  

With Every Blessing…Val

Saturday 25 July 2020

from Val

Dear Friends
This week’s readings focus on the Kingdom of God.Two of today’s Kingdom parables have growing images, the tiny mustard seeds become great trees, the dough added to the flour grows and increases to make the loaf.  But they are also waiting images, the dough of course rises far quicker than the tree grows, but patience is still required. Throughout lockdown we have been waiting for life to return to normal. It has taught us patience and allowed us time to pause and reflect.
We have learnt what is important in life and now we ask God to show us how to use that wisdom as the world gradually unlocks.Wisdom is a great gift.
In the story of Solomon, we have a young man used to a privileged lifestyle who could have requested anything he wanted, yet when God says ‘Ask what I should give you’, Solomon asks not for wealth, or privilege but for wisdom. God is pleased with Solomon’s reply.  And because Solomon had not requested riches or some other selfish gain, God blessed Solomon as a ruler.
Wisdom is something that we can’t learn from a text book, we can’t buy in a shop, more often than not wisdom is gained over many years of careful consideration of the situations around us. Wisdom is gained by the ability to see to the heart of the matter and to discern a way forward. 
A wise old owl sat on an oak,
The more he saw the less he spoke;
The less he spoke the more he heard;
Why aren’t we like that wise old bird?
Written by Edward Henry Richards

We are now in the ‘new normal’, things aren’t quite the same but we are grateful for every step forward. As life picks up once again may we take the time to pause, to seek God, to know that he walks with us every step of the way. God knows the prayers of hearts and he hears us when we call.
Continue to take care and stay safe.
With Every Blessing…Val

Sunday 12 July 2020

from Val

Dear Friends

I hope you have been able to be out and about this week as restrictions on travel have lifted. The joy of being able to drive more than five miles is something we can now treasure after the limitations. Most cars need a good run and the sense of freedom is a joy.

The parable of the sower is well known, we often use it in our schools at Harvest time.  Sometimes when a story is familiar, we need to pause and read it afresh in order to seek out the deeper meaning. The heart of the parable is the coming of God’s Kingdom and how people will receive it.

Jesus is asking us to hear his word, to listen carefully in order to understand.  Just as a seed needs good soil to grow, so we need to allow God to deepen the seeds of faith in our hearts. 

‘Let anyone who has ears hear’ says Jesus. Are you a good listener? Most of us are not that good at listening, we listen with one ear on the television or maybe we are also doing something else. We may get the gist of what is being said, but taking on board the deeper meaning requires us to be attentive, to listen and to respond. There is a quote that says ‘the first duty of love is to listen’ and if that is true of our human relationships how much more is it true of our relationship with God. 

In the parable of the sower some listened but did not want to know, some listened but did not understand, some listened and heard but didn’t feel strong enough to respond, but some listened, heard and responded and their harvest was good. 

In the absence of Church Services we have missed that precious time on a Sunday to be still, to focus and listen. Many of us have found a quiet place within our home and garden to be still and spend time with God. I hope that even when we are able to return to public worship, we will still use that quiet place to be still before God. To be attentive to his word, to listen and then to respond.

As everyday life begins to open up once again, we give thanks for all who have sustained and cared for us in these difficult times.

Keep safe and well.

With every blessing…Val

Friday 26 June 2020


Readings for Sunday June 28th are now available to download from the NEWS page. Please remember to RIGHT-MOUSE to view or download!

Saturday 20 June 2020

from Val

Dear Friends

I hope you all continue to be safe and well. 

The past few weeks have seen the lifting of a number of the restrictions of lockdown.  It has been reassuring to know our efforts to Stay Home have made a difference and we pray that things will continue to improve.  You will be aware it was announced yesterday that Places of Worship can now re-open for private prayer from Monday 22nd June.  This is very short notice and it is not intended that we will open any of our Churches on Monday.  There are a large number of precautions that will need to be put in place if we do decide to reopen.  Please find attached information received from the Diocese.
One of the gifts of lockdown has been listening to the birdsong.  Hearing the birdsong with such clarity has been a great blessing as the birds enjoy the peace that lockdown has brought.
Singing is a great gift and the sad passing this week of Dame Vera Lynn has reminded us that a song can mean so much in even the most trying of times.  The songs of Vera Lynn speak of hope and unity in times of separation and danger.  HM the Queen used ‘We will meet again’ as the closing line of her lockdown speech as we faced the prospect of weeks or months of separation from our families.
In a tribute to Vera Lynn it was said it was not just her immaculate voice that made her one of Britain’s greatest singers, but the warmth and sincerity she was able to put into every song.  She was pivotal in the generation we have recently paid tribute to though the 75th Anniversary of VE Day.  But she didn’t forget those who would serve until VJ Day when she visited Burma to entertain the troops in 1944. 
We may not all be able to sing with wonderful dulcet tones, but singing is a joy and something to be treasured.  Thank you to all who took part in our Favourite Pentecost and Trinity hymns poll. 
The result of the Llanrhaeadr congregation is:
  1. Breathe on me breath of God
  2. Love Divine
  3. Holy, holy, holy & Lead us heavenly Father lead us 

May I wish a very Happy Fathers’ Day to all Fathers, Grandfathers, Uncles, Godfathers and all who have the care and welfare of our children at heart.  The care of our children and young people in these difficult days is of paramount importance and I thank you for your care and support for each and every one of them as we look to the future.
Keep Singing!
With Every Blessing…Val

Saturday 6 June 2020

from Val

Dear Friends

I hope you are keeping safe and well. The weather may have changed but the rain is a welcome sight for the farmers and for our gardens.  

The announcement that our schools will reopen at the end of June has meant it is all systems go for our teachers and school staff. It will be a mammoth task making the necessary adjustments to ensure the safety and wellbeing of both staff and pupils.  Please remember the staff, the pupils and their families in your prayers at this time of transition. 

Today is Trinity Sunday, a day when we ponder the mystery of the Blessed Trinity.  It is a mystery, it is not something we can easily explain or understand, we accept by faith and by God’s grace, for we believe in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Trinity Sunday is a day to reflect on the Holiness of God.  One of the most popular hymns for Trinity Sunday is Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty.  Written by Reginald Heber it was written especially for Trinity Sunday.  No matter which hymn book we use in our different Churches this hymn will always be in it.

Trinity Sunday encourages us to be contemplatives, people who sit quietly and think about the holiness of God through a passage of scripture, an icon, music or prose. Maybe this hymn is a good place to start our contemplation.   
After Trinity Sunday we enter into what is known as Ordinary Time. This includes the weeks after the major seasons of Easter and Pentecost. The liturgical colour is green, a symbol of growth, as we grow and learn more about our faith.
Please find attached the Bishop's Letter, the readings for Trinity Sunday, a Service of Morning Prayer for Ordinary time and prayers of intercession.  
Stay safe.

Every Blessing…Val

Friday 5 June 2020

Trinity Sunday

Readings for this coming Sunday, June 7th, can be downloaded from the NEWS page.

Please note, you do need to RIGHT-MOUSE the link to view or download it - if you simply click on it, it won't work!

Friday 29 May 2020


Password for the Zoom Evening Prayer is


Thursday 23 April 2020

Thoughts on Isolation - notes by a submariner

Sent in by Bishop John Davies.

The following is written by an altar server at St Bride's Scottish Episcopal Church, Glasgow, who is also a submarine commander based at Faslane naval base on the Clyde.

We are naturally sociable creatures. Faced with the prospect of isolation at home, we will have to adapt in many ways. No doubt initially, for some at least, it will be an adventure and an opportunity to get on with all those chores and projects that daily life shunts down the priority list. I, for example, got out an old airfix plane today which had sat in a partly painted state for at least two months. Even those who are most content when in their own company may lose something by solitude being enforced. 

What, in your day to day life, provides the structure to create fulfilment and satisfaction at the end of the day? Work is the core component of a lot of people’s routine. The daily sequence of breaking one’s fast, dressing, commuting, clocking on, breaking for coffee &c. turns twenty four hours into defined, bound chunks. Weekend routine mid-week, from being made to stay at home, can develop lethargy, apathy and restlessness. Without work, something else needs to be created to punctuate the passing hours in the day. 

Those of you that have retired will have already made the transition to a self-driven routine but I suspect that scheduling, for some at least, is new and essential. Rather than looking ahead to a distant and undetermined end date, busyness and focus can be generated by working towards the next short term task. As each is accomplished and rewarded with satisfaction, we gain the motivation to tackle the next task.

On patrol on a Royal Navy Submarine, the commanders know from tradition the importance of routine. The day is split into six hour watches, with everyone on board alternating an on watch with an off watch. These regular handovers make the days pass surprisingly quickly and handing over to the same person four times a day creates a specific sort of social bond which is a hook to support the individual’s overall sense of contentment.

The layers of habit do not stop there. Famously, a sailor knows which day it is by the meal he is served for dinner. Some of these are old traditions with origins in the Church such as fish and chips on a Friday and a Sunday roast, but also curry Wednesdays, Steak Saturdays and other meals throughout the week. Modern innovation creates a Chinese takeaway night or a Nando’s night. The expressions ‘an army marches on its stomach’ and ‘a good chef means a happy ship’ are grounded in truth: food is vital to morale in the armed services and will be to those stuck at home too. Making nourishing meals with what you can will keep you healthy and happy. Perhaps not only for the food itself, but the time spent preparing and the satisfaction of creating.

Of habits that you may have, daily outdoor activity is one I encourage you to keep or pursue. It could be jogging, cycling, walking the dog, or gentle gardening (respecting the rules of social distancing). If you cannot go out, then open the windows and let the outside in, even just for five minutes. For months at a time, submariners are without the simple pleasures of breathing fresh air, looking at the sky or feeling the sun and wind. You do not have to be. Studies have proven that connection with nature can lower stress levels and improve individual’s wellbeing, so make time in your routine to do so.

One other major limitation to life on a submarine is the inability to communicate with family. Everyone on board receives a paragraph of unpunctuated block capitals text from home each week, but the necessity to stay hidden means that nothing can be sent in reply. Thankfully, life under COVID-19 is not quite as restrictive. Indeed, with modern technology we are always connected, and whilst pre-occupied with something else we can send an inane response to a joke that has been relayed from somewhere else. But not being able to support those quick messages with visits and face-to-face conversations will require adaptation. I urge you to schedule dedicated time for a real conversation with your loved ones, whoever that may be, a spouse, parent, child, grandchild or friend. Feeling locked in and alone will be softened by knowing that you have made time for others and they for you.

I expect that the proportion of people who can honestly say that they ‘have not noticed’ the effect of the virus will substantially diminish as we progress in these uncertain times. However, I trust that everyone will find their way through and that the turning point will become clear. We will adapt to new routines and find new ways to connect and communicate. Keep in touch everyone, and stay safe.

Saturday 18 April 2020

from Val

Dear Friends
I hope you are safe and well and managing OK in these unusual circumstances. It has come as no surprise that the period of lockdown has been extended for at least another three weeks. 
Easter was certainly different this year, but the quieter time gave us an opportunity to reflect on the good news of the Risen Lord.  Some found this time extremely helpful, whilst others struggled with the lack of fellowship, but we each marked Easter Sunday in our homes and we are still united as the Body of Christ in this place.
The Gospel reading for Sunday 19th April is the story of Thomas, a story familiar to us all.  I always feel sorry for Thomas after all he has spent 2,000 year being known as Doubting Thomas. Yet he was a very firm believer and Thomas gives us permission to doubt and to ask questions in order to deepen our faith and draw closer to Christ.
Just as Jesus came to the disciples in the locked house, Jesus still comes amongst us in our 'lockdown' homes and says ‘Peace be with you’.  In a special way in these uncertain times the peace of God surrounds and upholds us.   Thomas’ encounter with the Risen Lord was the beginning of something wonderful.  He went on to be a faithful witness to Christ and is credited with bringing the Gospel to India.
May you know his comfort and his peace in these difficult days.
Every Blessing…Val

The readings for Sunday April 19th, and Bishop Gregory's Pastoral letter of April 15th, are available to download on the NEWS page.

Sunday 12 April 2020

from Val

Alleluia! Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Dear Friends

Today we rejoice in the Risen Lord.  The dark days of Lent and Holy Week are over and we walk in the light of his love.  We may not be able to meet in Church but we celebrate the Resurrection in our homes united in God’s love.  We know that these troubled times are far from over and continue to pray for all who suffer at this time.  The message of Easter remains the same and brings hope and promise as we face the future.

I know many of you have family who are front line key workers.  We hold them and you in our prayers. We give thanks for their care and dedication and pray they remain safe and well.

The Church may be closed but we are able to be part of Easter services through the printed word and services on the television and the internet.   By the power of technology we join together united with Christians throughout the world.

I send you joyful Easter Blessings.  May the joy of the Risen Lord fill your hearts and your homes this Easter and grant you his love and his peace.

With Many Blessings….Val

Saturday 11 April 2020

Easter Sunday readings

The readings for Easter Sunday are now available to download on the NEWS page.

Friday 10 April 2020

Good Friday Prayers

Dear Friends

On this Good Friday we know that we are in unprecedented times and there will be more difficult days ahead.  As we unite at the foot of the cross we share with the disciples that sense of despair as we too are caught up in events which are beyond our control.  But we stay strong in faith remembering the events of Good Friday are acts of supreme love;  John chapter 3 verse 16

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life."

Every Blessing...Val

Dear Jesus, who died to save all mankind, we come before your cross to remember your great love for us.  We are sorry for the times when we have not returned your love
Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy

Lord Jesus you were tested by the evil one
Break in us the hold of power and pride.
Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy

Lord Jesus you knew deep tears and weaknesses
Help us to be vulnerable for you.
Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy

You followed to the end the Way of the Cross
Help us to be faithful to you
Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy

May Almighty God who sent his son into the world to save sinners, bring us his pardon and peace, now and forever. Amen.

Jesus, Son of the most high God,
whose love for us knows no limits,
who died the worst death a human being can know,
tortured, mocked, abandoned.
we stand at the foot of your cross in awe.
Just as you finished your work on earth,
complete your work in our lives.
Open us to your Spirit until we are all yours,
and let nothing hold us back
from following you all the way to the cross and beyond.
Jesus, lifted up, we lift up our hearts to you.

Sunday 5 April 2020

from Val

Dear Friends

I hope you and your family continue to stay safe and well. 
As we come to the beginning of Holy Week we are only too aware of the seriousness of the situation we are facing at this time.  We are unable to come together for our usual Palm Sunday and Holy Week services and Good Friday 3 Hours at the Cross.  This is the first time since I have been here that we have been unable to meet in this way.  We are facing dark days but Holy Week reminds us that life and death are intertwined and from darkness comes light. 
Thank you to all who have commented on the services we have sent out so far, we are still Church just a different kind of Church.  
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.
With Many Blessings....Val

A service for Palm Sunday, and the readings for the day, are available to download on the NEWS page

Tuesday 24 March 2020

Church closed until further notice

In line with Government Restrictions
St Dyfnog’s Church will remain closed until further notice
We know that our churches have always been places of sanctuary, peace and wellbeing. However, it is now clear that health and healing are best served by church buildings being closed. All church buildings should therefore be closed until further notice. This means churches should not be open for solitary prayer. Any exception from this action should only take place with the diocesan bishop’s express permission.

Monday 23 March 2020

Bishop Gregory has offered a prayer to be said during this time of anxiety.

Dear Father, who created us, and redeemed us, and who has promised us your love, be with us in a time of danger and of worry.  May those who suffer, or who are ill, know the blessing of your grace, while we who are well be inspired by your Spirit to be wise and to be servants, working for the healing and wholeness of all, each in our own way.  

Keep us calm and cautious, strong and open to service, so that we take care of those around us, and also ourselves. We ask this in the name of Jesus.


Coronavirus Update 17 March 2020

All Church Services are suspended with immediate effect. There will be no services in this Church or any of the Churches in the Church in Wales for the foreseeable future.

The Church remains open to visitors and you are warmly invited to come in for silent prayer and reflection.

May God grant you His peace and His comfort in this time of trial.