Andreas Apostol : St Andrew
Bydd wrol a dewr iawn! (Josua 1.7)
Be strong and very courageous! (Joshua 1.7)
Is there any good theology behind the idea of patron saints? Today, of course, we celebrate the patron saint of Greece and of Russia, St Andrew (and yes, I know I’m being naughty by not naming the most obvious nation! No disrespect intended.) Patron saints are selected for all sorts of reasons, as a sort of military talisman (England and St George), because of their sphere of ministry when they were alive (Greece and St Andrew), because of the location of especially important relics (Scotland and St Andrew: St Regulus is said to have pinched parts of St Andrew and brought them back to the eponymous city). Less commonly is it because of their own nationality and contribution to national life, as it is with David.
When lots of energy and devotion was put into having friends and patrons at the royal court, it made sense of the saints as petitioners of divine mercies, and almost any “sign” could be leapt upon to be taken as an indication that a particular saint might have a particular concern for a particular nation or sphere of interest. Today, these links may appear whimsical, but I think they do retain some value – if only as an excuse for focused prayer. Somehow, a Saints’ Day just seems a good opportunity to celebrate the Christian life of a nation, and pray for it. We won’t all expect a saintly patron to be interceding in heaven: although many will want to hold on to this concept, and certainly the saints do pray in heaven (Revelation 6.9,10).
If we think of Greece, Russia or Scotland today, there’s a lot in contemporary affairs to be praying about: economic, political and local. Happy St Andrew’s Day!
I would be very interested to receive any feedback to the Advent message and its different formats. The video format remains available on YouTube, if anyone wishes to access it:
I should be grateful if every PPC in the diocese could reflect upon this Advent message, and in particular, the challenge “to do this” to reach out to the community, and not just wait for them to come in. In the message, I suggested that if every Church in the diocese could find one new member – or indeed, one new family, the change into growth would be dramatic. So what can be done by each Church? I look forward to hearing some fantastic small but practical ideas.
Hwyl a Helo
Manon James will be assuming a new full time role as Director of Ministry in February of next year. I am delighted to welcome Manon to this enhanced role, as we seek to develop new patterns of ministry, and work alongside the new national theological education structure, the St Padarn’s Institute.
I am also pleased to welcome an old friend of us all back to the diocese: Huw Butler will be joining us as Vicar of Llay, Rossett and Isycoed in March. Huw has carried forward an impressive project of restoration in Llanilltud Fawr in the diocese of Llandaff, and we look forward to having his skills once more in the diocese.
I am very sorry to report the death of Derek Evans, one of our retired NSMs. Derek’s ministry has been received with great affection for a number of years now, and it was sad to hear that he died suddenly and unexpectedly after taking a service at Llandrillo yn Edeyrnion.
Renewal of Permissions to Officiate
Thank you for all those who have sought renewal of my Permission to Officiate. The Teulu Asaff is most grateful to all the clergy who offer such a dedicated ministry within the diocese. The vast majority of renewals have now taken place but to date there are 40 renewal applications outstanding. Please could applications for renewal be sent to Esgobty within the next fortnight so these can be processed before the Christmas break. Please note that without renewal it will not be possible to exercise a public ministry in the diocese after 31 December. For those who may not be seeking renewal it would be helpful if you could kindly inform my office to this effect.
DAY OF PRAYER FOR REFUGEES – DECEMBER 10TH
Following the emergency motion on refugees at the Church in Wales Governing Body in September, the Church in Wales is joining with Cytun in designating Thursday, December 10, Human Rights Day, as a Day of Prayer for Refugees.
Churches, Churches Together, local groups, or individuals – including members of other faiths (or those of none) – are invited to use the day as they find best. Ideas include:
- 24-hour prayer vigil (if feasible)
- Open church (for a specified period during the day) – for lighting candles and prayers
- Specific times of prayer (e.g. if the church is usually open all day) when prayers can be led on the refugee theme
- Special time of prayer with more formal liturgy – inside the church, outside, or in some central location
- Link with a local refugee project or other relevant agency to hold a ‘mini-vigil’ in some appropriate place
- Invite elected members (Councillors, AMs, MPs, MEPs) to join in
- Don’t forget to pray for decision-makers and elected representatives too!
- Many prayers and reflections already available online, especially from the main agencies such as Christian Aid, US, etc (links will be circulated shortly but please raid them in the meantime!).
- Prayer requests/intentions – at home: a list will be available shortly of refugee projects in Wales for which you can especially pray.
- Prayer requests/intentions – overseas: Embrace the Middle East is producing a list of prayer requests and prayers from their partners in the region, especially for this event (available shortly).
- At least one ‘central’ event is being organised (in Cardiff).
Please share your activities on Twitter! #refugeeprayersDec10, and #refugeeswelcome.
Dates for your diary
Please note these dates in your diary, commend them in prayer, and be encouraged to join us where appropriate.
9 December Diocesan Nicholastide Confirmation, Cathedral, 1830hr.
10 December Day of Prayer for Refugees.
20th January Clergy Synod, all day meeting, St David’s Hotel, Ewloe.
24th March Chrism Eucharist, 1100hr as usual, with lunch afterwards. Please encourage your laity to put this date in their diaries also.
13th April Deliverance Ministry Training, Glasdir, Llanrwst.
25th June General Ordination, 1000hr in the Cathedral.
28th September Clergy Synod, all day meeting, location to be confirmed.
8th October Diocesan Conference, Llangollen.
19-22 Sept Clergy Residential Conference at St Anne’s College, Oxford.
Notes and Queries
We are grateful as ever to Martin Snellgrove for preparing a Concise Almanac for the coming liturgical year.
European Bible Dialogues
John Geary brings our attention to the European Bible Dialogues next year. Please find more information: European Bible Dialogues 2016 Programme and Registration form. John is happy to act as a link and share what he knows about attending a Berlin conference. There is also one in Prague next year.
Lent Prayer Cards
Orders are now invited for the Lent 2016 Prayer Card. This has been composed by Mark Yaconelli drawing on the ‘Unlocking our Potential’ themes that he will be developing with us during his six month residency with us next year, which begins in February. Please would you email Esgobty as soon as possible and no later than Tuesday, 06 January indicating how many prayer cards you would like to reserve. The prayer cards will be available for collection at the Clergy Synod day on Wednesday, 20 January.
Christmas will be with us very shortly. I pray that your celebration of the Nativity will bring you blessing, both in your churches, and in your homes.
Warmest greetings of the season,