Rector’s Letter

 

Fr. John Nice

Fr. John Nice


Rector’s Letter October 2017

admin : September 30, 2017 9:57 am : RectorsLetter

This is, of course, my last magazine letter, prior to my retirement at the end of October. I want to begin by saying that it has been a great privilege to be Rector of the Parish of Llandudno for the last 13 years, and to have worked alongside such wonderful people. I will miss this beautiful town and our wonderful churches, but above all, I will miss you the people of Holy Trinity and St. Tudno’s. Thank you to everyone with whom I have served over these years, for your support, your hard work, and your friendship and humour in Christ. There were some difficult times in my early years but overwhelmingly the experience has been an enriching and enjoyable one.

Just like every other priest I am aware that failure has been mixed in with success and that I have certainly (to quote the 1662 Prayer Book) ‘left undone those things which (I) ought to have done; and….done those those things which (I) ought not to have done’. Thankfully, I think that most of my failures have been matters of omission rather than commission! My inertia has meant that there have been important things that we really should have done that didn’t get done. I am particularly sad that I didn’t push harder to have the Nave Altar Scheme at Holy Trinity carried out, and think that this scheme, or something like it, will have to be tackled sooner or later. But there is much that we have accomplished together or that others – such as the Children and Young Family Group and the work of the fabric committee, just to give two examples, have accomplished with my support. The re-establishment of the healing ministry with the Guild of Health and St. Raphael, and the creation of the Friends group at St. Tudno’s Church are two things I am proud of being involved with (together of course with many other people). I hope above all, that in some way I have brought Christ a little closer to you.

During my 13 years there have been some memorable acts of worship and events, among the most important of these being the 150th celebrations at Holy Trinity in 2015. It has been a great joy to preside at the Eucharist in the grandeur of Holy Trinity Church and in the simplicity of St. Tudno’s; a privilege to be alongside many of you in times of joy and distress, of new life and of death.

I wish the parish – and all of you – every blessing for the future and will continue to hold you – and your new parish priest (whoever that may be) in my prayers. He or she will lead you to new things, whilst (I hope) continuing this parish’s tradition of dignified, sacramentally based worship. If I have one message for you it is this: remain faithful to Christ, to His Holy Church and to His Sacraments and continue to be welcoming to all in His name. It is a matter of great joy that both our churches were awarded the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence this year (based on the comments of visitors), but even more joyful would it be if we drew more people, visitors and residents alike, to deeper faith in Christ.

Retirement for me is stepping down from holding an official position, not from being a Priest. I could no more cease to be a Priest than to be a Christian – for me both are intertwined. I hope to exercise a Priestly ministry in the area in which we will be living for as long as I am physically and mentally capable of doing so, a ministry similar to the one exercised here by the small band of ‘retired’ clergy whose friendship and support I have deeply valued.

Gaynor and I will be delighted to see any of you who would like to visit us in Abergele, but please let us know you are coming so that you know we will be at home to welcome you when you call.

Meanwhile during the interregnum you will be in the very capable hands of Archdeacon Paul, the Area Dean Robert Townsend, and our wonderful Wardens – Geoff and Judith aided by the deputy wardens, Christine, Jennifer, Terry, Cynthia and Eira. A note on the arrangements for the interregnum follows this letter.

With my blessing in Christ,

Canon John Nice SCP, Obl.Ben.

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Rector’s letter September 2017

admin : August 24, 2017 2:10 pm : RectorsLetter

On Sunday 3rd we will welcome Bishop Andy who will celebrate and preach at our 10.30 am Sung Eucharist. We are used to the Bishop coming to us for Confirmations and other special events but on this occasion Bishop Andy will just be coming to visit us as our Bishop and Father-in-God. I say ‘just’ but surely the visit of a Bishop to a parish in his or her diocese is an important occasion in its own right, and it will be good simply to have him with us without there being any special ‘reason’.

The visit of our Bishop reminds us that we are part a much larger family than the church we normally attend or the parish to which we belong. The bishop represents the church universal and also, because he or she stands within the Apostolic Succession and is therefore a successor to the Apostles, represents the church throughout time.

We may think that the parish (or ministry area) is the most important unit of the Church but in fact it is the diocese that truly fulfills this role. From ancient times the most fundamental unit of the Church has been Christians gathered around their bishop. Parishes only developed when the church grew out of the towns and the bishop couldn’t be everywhere to minister to the needs of his people. Priests (or presbyters) were only given the power to celebrate the sacraments and preach the word on their own because the Bishop himself could no longer do these things in person for everyone. So, to this day, priests (and all other ministers) need to be licensed by the Bishop before they can function in their parishes, and when they are inducted the bishop entrusts them with the cure of souls which, as he says during the induction service, ‘is both mine and thine’.

So on Sunday 3rd we will gather around our bishop to celebrate the Eucharist and to experience his ministry in word and sacrament – an important thing to do in its own right. Having said that I know that Bishop Andy also wanted to come to the parish to mark the impending end of my ministry here and so it will indeed be a special occasion for me. I look forward to sharing this event with you all and having an opportunity to experience and rejoice in the ministry of our Bishop.

Fr. John

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Rector’s Letter August 2017

admin : July 26, 2017 10:23 am : RectorsLetter

My recent pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham has set me up well to write about Mary, the Mother of the Lord as we prepared to celebrate her feast day this month.

In the sonnet The Annunciation by Malcolm Guite, we find these words:

But on this day a young girl stopped to see
With open eyes and heart. She heard the voice –
The promise of his glory yet to be
As time stood still for her to make a choice.
Gabriel knelt and not a feather stirred.
The Word himself was waiting on her word.

From the account of the Annunciation in St. Luke’s Gospel, we get the impression that Mary was seriously disturbed by the appearance of Gabriel and by what he said to her, ‘And he came to her and said “Greetings favoured one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.”’ And well might she be disturbed, you and I would be just as disturbed if he came to us with such a message!

Yet Malcolm Guite gives us a new insight into the relationship between Mary and Gabriel.

However disturbed or afraid Mary was, in Guite’s vision it is she who becomes the dominant figure and Gabriel kneels before her – ‘and not a feather stirred.’ Gabriel makes himself small as he waits for Mary’s response to his message, and it is not just he who waits, but the Word of God himself was ‘ waiting on her word.’

We know well what response Mary gave: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” We honour Mary because she was chosen by God to be the means by which God’s Word was to come into our world in the person of Jesus Christ, but we honour her even more because she was the one who said ‘Yes’ to God and is therefore the pattern for all Christians as they seek to respond to God. “Let it be to me according to your word.” Are we all able to say those words wholeheartedly and without hesitation as she did – to assent to God’s will for us even when, like her, we do not fully understand what it means and where it will lead us?

That’s why it is right to honour Mary as the greatest of all saints, and why it is so sad that she has been the cause of such controversy in our church since the Reformation. We do not worship her as we worship Christ her son as Son of God. But we honour her as the greatest of all Christians. From the Cross, the Lord commended her to the care of the apostle John and commended John, and through him, I believe, all Christians, to the motherly care and to the prayers of Mary, Mother of the Church.

On Mary’s feast day in August we are not simply reflecting on the events of the Annunciation but on Mary’s whole life of offering to God. Many Christians celebrate this day as the ‘Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary’, in the belief that at the end of her life here on earth she was taken up directly into heaven in a similar way to that of Christ himself at the Ascension. Whether we believe that or not, Mary’s feast day certainly enables us to celebrate the fact that she is indeed in heaven, the first fruit of the great harvest of souls that will make up God’s Kingdom in due course. From there she continues to love and to pray for us as we continue to struggle here on earth.

I hope that you will join me to celebrate the Eucharist in her honour on Tuesday August 15th.

Fr. John

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