Letters From the Ministry Team

The Rev Andrew Sully The Ven Mary Stallard

November 2018

admin : November 9, 2018 10:35 am : Lettersfromtheministryteam

The unpredictability of our world has been a recurring theme in recent weeks. From the battering of terrible storms and bad weather to the turbulence of our politics at home and diplomacy abroad there is a sense that insecurity is a prevalent feature for many. It can feel particularly unsettling to hear of crises in situations where we might usually expect things to be more stable.

With this year’s ten-year anniversary of the financial crisis, I was surprised to learn from some of the economic analysis that it is millennials – those now in their twenties and thirties – who have been hit hardest by the recent monetary difficulties. This age-group has been most affected by the squeeze on pay, the scarcity of employment and the slump in home-ownership. It is sobering to consider that those, whom we perhaps think of as having the advantage of youth, and with much of the adventure of life before them, might be so held back and constrained.

I have been heartened to hear Archbishop Justin Welby, prominent amongst those who have been responding to this, calling for a fundamental rethink of how our economy might be made to work better for the welfare of everyone.

Finding hopeful ways forward in times of need or in response to crisis takes courage, tenacity and imagination. Weathering life’s storms is a challenge and finding ways to stay hopeful and strong can be intensely demanding.

For Christians, the cross of Jesus is our central symbol of God’s presence right in the midst of a troubled world. The Biblical account of Jesus’ crucifixion brings together the raw reality of pain, suffering and death with an extraordinary, subversive hope for restoration, healing and new life. We are ambassadors for that hope, whenever we seek to reach out to those who are in need and to show them generous love. It may be that all we can offer seems small and rather insignificant, but our faith tells us of a God who takes and blesses what is offered in faith, and who is able to show us a brighter hope than we can even imagine.

Ven Mary Stallard

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October 2018

admin : November 9, 2018 10:31 am : Lettersfromtheministryteam

I have for the past couple of years been receiving daily emails from the Centre for Action and Contemplation in Alberquerque, New Mexico. It is run by an inspiring catholic priest and Franciscan, Richard Rohr. At the end of August, he send a week of meditations on Judaism the last of which I’d like to share.

“The Hebrew Scriptures show an evolutionary development, a gradual coming to see how God acts in human life. God is not changing so much as our comprehension of God changes. Throughout the Scriptures, the people of Israel’s growth reveals the pattern of what happens to every person who sets out on the journey of faith. Over time, we gradually come to know how God loves us and what God’s liberation does for us. But we humans come kicking and screaming.

“Early in the spiritual journey, we start to experience the reality of God and God’s love as more than an abstract concept or theory. At the same time, however, we tend to start by believing that God’s love is limited to just us, just our group! The circle takes a long time to widen.

“Little by little we begin to respond to God’s love, but we still perceive God’s love as dependent on our ideal response. We believe that grace is a conditional gift, that God will love us if we are good, that God will save or reward us if we keep the commandments or go to church.

“As we practice giving and receiving love, we begin to see God’s love is infinite and unconditional, but the implications are just too mind-blowing. We acknowledge that God loves us whether we are good or bad, and that God is gracious to the just and the unjust alike. But we still think that God is doing that from afar, from up in heaven somewhere. We do not yet see ourselves as inherently participating in the same process. Frankly, we have not yet discovered our own soul.

“Finally, we make the breakthrough to seeing that God’s grace and love is present within us, through us, with us, and even as us! We wake up to who we truly are: the image and likeness of God. The mystery of incarnation has come full circle. We can now enjoy God’s temple within our own body as the Apostle Paul teaches (1 Corinthians 3:16-17 and throughout), and we can love ourselves, others, and God by the one same flow. It is all one stream of Love! We fully realize that it is God who is doing the loving, and we surrender ourselves to being channels and instruments of that Divine Flow in the world. We do not initiate the process; we only continue it.

“We are loved and chosen so that we can pass on the experience, not hoard the experience. In fact, if we feel a need to guard it, as if it were limited or scarce, that is the certain evidence that we have not accessed the Infinite Source within ourselves. It has to start with some kind of ‘I got it’ experience which should lead to ‘But everybody else does too!’”

Yours in Christ

Andrew

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September 2018

admin : September 7, 2018 11:44 am : Lettersfromtheministryteam

There’s an infectious sense of new beginnings at the start of September, even if we don’t have children or grandchildren of school age, most of us can remember the thrill and anticipation of a new academic year or starting at a new school. The shops in town are stocked with clothes and accessories for learning and we know that a change in the pace of life is coming as the school holidays draw to a close for many.

Our family has already had the privilege of a new start in this parish since we moved in a few months ago. We’re so grateful to everyone from the town who has given us such a great welcome. Lots of things are new to us here and we’re enjoying learning fresh things each day.

Living close to the Jewish retreat centre on Church Walks means that we’re daily amongst people who have the courage and distinctiveness to wear special clothing as a sign of their faith. It may sometimes be controversial, but I think it’s wonderful to see people wearing signs of their devotion. Just as school children wear the uniform of their school, so our Jewish neighbours (just like our Sikh and Muslim friends) remind us of the value of communicating loyalty to a relationship with God through outward signs of faith.

At the beginning of a new school year, there’s an opportunity for all of us to make a new start in some way and witness to our commitment. Of course, growing in faith takes practice and often involves failure. Sometimes we need to completely change the way that we think or behave: I remember as a child struggling with maths and wanting new equipment every September. There were expensive maths sets you could buy in tins with a ruler, a protractor, set-squares and a compass. I used to think that if only I had these then somehow maths would be easier! It took years for me to learn that it was more important to work to understand the subject than to have the coolest accessories (and I’m not sure I ever really understood what a set-square was for.)

This summer our church community has already embraced new things. In addition to many great activities, one particular joy of the past month has been the daily pilgrim prayer at St Tudno’s. Thanks to a whole variety of people who volunteered to lead this there’s been a regular fresh heartbeat of prayer that has engaged many and been a wonderful source of hope and encouragement.

The practice of prayer is a great place to start if we are keen to renew our faith. Edith Stein – the German Jewish philosopher who converted to Christianity and who died in Auschwitz – spoke about this, recognising the wisdom of being gentle with ourselves as we try to learn new things. She recommended that each day “…when night comes, and you look back over the day and see how fragmentary everything has been and how much you planned that has gone undone and all the reasons you have to be embarrassed and ashamed just take everything exactly as it is, put it in God’s hands and trust it to Him.”

I look forward to continuing the learning journey in your company.

Yours in Christ

Mary

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August 2018

admin : September 7, 2018 11:39 am : Lettersfromtheministryteam

I’ve been here for two months and almost all the boxes are now unpacked at the Rectory. It’s a strange experience seeing familiar things in an unfamiliar context – from pieces of old furniture to our feral cat Albus – but this summer’s fantastic weather has certainly helped with the settling-in process. When the Great Orme is drenched in sunlight, or there’s a stunning sunset on the distant Irish Sea, it’s quite remarkably beautiful, sublime even. It produces in me feelings of connection with the natural world of which we are ourselves a part.

And that’s partly why I’ve been impressed with something else in my new environment – the local primary school, Ysgol San Sior, and in particular its efforts to help children look at and connect with nature and wildlife in its schoollife and curriculum. Pupils are encouraged to get up close and personal with creatures as varied as chickens and tortoises to more exotic insects and reptiles like bull frogs and chameleons. The ethos of giving children first hand experiences –the chance to see things in a different way – has won the school international accolades and a visit last week by Prince Charles.

A couple of years ago I had the privilege of spending a few days next to the Sea of Galilee in the Holy Land. It was early Spring and the sunshine, the flowers, bird life and landscape took my breath away. Suddenly the biblical landscape so familiar in my mind’s eye became an actual, real place of tranquility and extraordinary calm. Suddenly Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount took on another dimension, as the place and the advice of Jesus came together:

“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these.

“And consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. How much more valuable you are than birds.”

So much of faith is about seeing the ordinary things of life in a different light. Simply put, faith can be like seeing the world with fresh eyes, like glasses that have been wiped clean and through which everything is suddenly clear and vibrant and alive. And we in turn are amazed and dazzled by the beauty that is all around us and of the gift of life itself.

Yours in Christ

Andrew

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July 2018

admin : September 7, 2018 11:04 am : Lettersfromtheministryteam

Can I begin by thanking those people who have worked so hard during the Interregnum to keep things ticking over; especially those retired clergy who offered support by taking services and the church wardens who have worked so hard at maintaining the church over these past seven months.

The task at hand for us as a fledgling ministry area is to produce a mission statement about how we are addressing the three diocesan priorities of

  • worshipping God,
  • growing the church, and
  • loving the world.

As disciples of Christ our first call is to glorify and enjoy God – to offer all of our lives to God in service for blessing, and to acknowledge that everything comes from God and belongs to God. Secondly, we are called to deepen and share our faith in God with others – so that the Church grows numerically and grows in spirituality and grace. Thirdly, as disciples of Christ, we are called to love the world by selfless acts of giving and generous attitudes – to love the world by showing and living the hope of the Cross and Resurrection.

To help in this work, I’ll be producing a questionnaire to help get your views and ideas about how we can best work together to further the ministry of the Church in this place. This will involve conversations with people about their hopes and vision for Holy Trinity and St. Tudno’s so that a detailed picture can emerge over time that all will feel able to recognise, to give their consent to and to own. My role is to try and enable these two church communities to deeper their discipleship and to enable the people of God to be the people God is calling us to become.

At the minute so much is new, and I must beg your forbearance and patience as I feel my way into becoming your spiritual leader. Please pray for us as a family as we settle into your midst and journey with you in what will be both exciting and challenging times ahead.

Yours in Christ

Andrew

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