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CHURCH NEWS - March 2007
As I write this, the February snows are beginning to melt and I am anxious to see how those early Spring flowers and all the new bulbs we planted in the Rectory garden last autumn have withstood the sub-zero temperatures. I look for them with anticipation, because the re-emergence of the crocuses and daffodils are a sure reminder that spring is just around the corner, and the cold blasts of winter weather will be behind us as the sun climbs higher into the sky.
Easter is a bit like that – we wait longingly for the warmer days, the sight of lambs skipping in the fields, new growth in our gardens and the joyful news of the resurrection, Christ’s absolute victory over the powers of death and destruction. But first comes Lent.
Originally Lent was a time of preparation for those who would be baptized at Easter, but is now recognised as an appropriate time for all Christians to observe a time of self-examination, repentance and prayer, fasting and self-denial. A sort of spiritual de-tox!
Of course, not everyone who reads this letter will be a practicing Christian, and you may feel that none of this has relevance for you. But before dismissing Lent as outmoded or irrelevant, it’s worth remembering that a time of self-examination can be helpful and positive for all of us. It’s good to take stock of where we are now, how the experiences of the past year have shaped us; to re-appraise what’s really important to us and to think about where our priorities in life really lie. Such a review may lead us to make changes – to cut something out, or to take on some new activity or responsibility; perhaps to read a serious book, or to get more involved in an issue that concerns us.
Lent could be a time when we review our attitude to consumerism, resolve to buy only what we need and/or to buy fairly traded goods whenever possible. It could be a time when we make a concerted effort to reduce our personal carbon footprint – doing as much as we can to reduce global warming.
In more recent years, a new emphasis on keeping Lent has been to make it a special time of giving – both in cash and kind – to others less fortunate than us. This could also include giving a little more of our time and attention to someone who needs it.
Many people, whether Christian or not, give up biscuits or chocolate for Lent, recognising that a bit of self-denial does us no harm, and may help to keep our waistline under control! But shouldn’t Lent at its best be about more than limiting our food intake? The possibilities are endless – it’s over to you!
The Prayer Group
What is the Prayer Group? It is made up of members of All Saints’ Church who undertake to pray regularly, on an individual basis, for people who ask us for prayer support.
Who do we pray for? Anyone whom we are asked to remember; these might be people from our church, from our local community or others known to us.
What will you pray about? Anything which you would like brought before God; maybe anxiety due to illness, stress or loneliness. You can also tell us of a special day you wish to be remembered – perhaps for an interview or an exam. Any information will be treated in strictest confidence.
How can I let you know if I would like you to pray for me? You can either telephone Christine (720234), or drop a note through the Rectory door, or complete a card (anonymously if you wish) and place it in a box kept near the church door. Prayer requests will be collected from the box each Sunday morning after the 10.00am service.
Women’s World Day of Prayer(Interdenominational)
Harrold URC Chapel, Friday March 2nd 10.00am
This service has been prepared by the Christian women of Paraquay.
United Under God’s Tent
Paraquay is located in the heart of South America, landlocked between Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia. There is a large gap between the rich and the poor. 1 in 4 Paraguayans is poor and 40% do not have enough to eat. Despite its turbulent history and many problems there are signs of hope. Ecumenical work is carried by WDP with its ongoing programme among women and many churches are involved in schools, universities, clinics, hospitals, social centres, children’s shelters and the fight against drugs.
In every participating country, services will be held throughout the day in many and varied locations. Women, men, children and young people from different backgrounds will pray and worship together.
We look forward to seeing you at the Chapel to help us join in this worldwide day of prayer.
in Harrold & Carlton with Odell
Vision for Action weekend 26-28th January
led by the Rt.Rev’d Richard Inwood, Bishop of Bedford.
This proved to be a very enjoyable and encouraging weekend. Bishop Richard began in Harrold & Carlton schools on Friday afternoon,
explaining to the children the symbolic meaning of his ceremonial robes. After enjoying a splendid buffet in The Bell and speaking with local people, Bishop Richard moved over to the Village Hall to speak to the collective PCCs and URC elders. Using a Powerpoint presentation he outlined the 5 main targets of the Vision for Action initiative being taken up by many churches across the Diocese, (Mission, Ministry, Church Buildings, Stewardship and Children & Young People), and the thinking behind them.
The workshops for church members on Saturday could have been better attended, but everyone who came found them valuable and worthwhile. The open-invitation supper on Saturday evening was very well attended by a good cross-section of people from all three villages. At the joint service on Sunday morning we celebrated with bells, music group, choir and congregation gathered from 5 local churches. Many commented throughout the weekend how good it was to see the different churches not only worshipping together, but also working as a team, getting to grips with the issue of how to share our faith, and providing an array of delicious meals! Many were also impressed by the Bishop’s commitment, and his ability to communicate and challenge at a level all could understand. To complete a very full weekend, he went on to talk with 14 teenagers who met with him over lunch at Harrold URC on Sunday, and put some well thought out questions to him. The one regret was that Bishop Richard had to cut short his talk on Saturday evening as serving supper to 80 people took longer than expected.
However, Bishop Richard has kindly sent the speech in its entirety for publication in our magazine both for the interest of those who were unable to be at the meal and for the many who have expressed an interest in "hearing" it for a second time.
Science and Religion
I thought first by way of introduction, I ought to give some
credentials for addressing this topic.
ØSciences at A level
ØChemistry at Univ., Oxford
Ø2 years as a WR&D Chemist with ICI Dyestuffs Division
ØTheology degree from Nottingham
Having said all this, it doesn’t mean I’m an expert in the Philosophy of Science! What it does mean is that I’ve thought a little about this from both sides.
I want to address five areas of this subject this evening, but also to leave some time for discussion and comments at the end. The 5 areas are: scientific method and the evidence for/of faith; scientific certainties and faith certainties; creationism and the creator; something about science and ethics and then what I call parallel descriptions.
1. Scientific method and the evidence for (and of) faith
Think for a moment about how science (ideally) operates. I say ideally, because science has had its fair share of charlatans who have concocted evidence in order to bolster a favoured theory!
Science is based primarily on observation, on recording evidence and drawing conclusions. So to take a trivial example you put a solid (sugar) into a glass of water, and a quick stir later, the solid has entirely disappeared. However, if you let the water evaporate, the solid reappears and doesn’t disappear into the atmosphere. How do we explain that? Clearly the sugar is still there, but if you taste the mixture you discover that the sugar is present throughout the liquid. You don’t just taste it at the top or the bottom of the glass. So the scientist forms a theory that explains what happens. The molecules which make up the solid sugar must be dispersed throughout the molecules of the water – and so appear to have vanished. Being colourless to start with they are invisible when dissolved.
So the scientist says we can test that theory with a coloured solid – say, copper sulphate crystals that are blue. Lo and behold, they dissolve in the water like the sugar but this time the solution is blue. Not just at the bottom or top or sides, but throughout the liquid.
As I said this is a trivial example but is the way science works. Until only relatively recently in world history terms, the earth was assumed to be flat. When scientists started to observe things that could only be explained by the world being spherical, then the theory had to change to fit the new facts. Then people realised (e.g.) the reason that, on a calm day, they saw the masts of tall ships coming over the horizon before the rest of the boat was confirmatory evidence of the curvature of the earth.
When the evidence convinces people, then a new theory has to be constructed to explain the newly discovered facts.
Let’s now think of the way we approach the evidence for faith (and I’ll say something about the evidence of faith in a moment). Is it not the same process? The evidence for the existence of God has to be examined and a theory constructed in the same way. For many of us, when we look at a universe that’s still in many ways beyond our imagining; when we experience the miracle of conception and birth (I’m into this at present having just had our first grandchild arrive!), it’s hard not to think of a designer but to regard it all as mere chance.More importantly for a lot of us, though, is the evidence provided by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Indeed, the resurrection has been called the best attested event of history. The eyewitness accounts, the effect on the lives of those witnesses, the evidence of others who had no axe to grind of that effect, and so on, are strong evidence which point to the development of hypothesis, if you like, that Jesus really rose, and, if it really happened, what the consequences are for belief in God and a spiritual dimension to life.
Time won’t allow an examination now of all the evidence which points to the reality of the resurrection of Jesus… It is for me, though, a cornerstone of my beliefs.
So Christians look at creation; they look at the evidence of a sense of God in every culture there has ever been; they look at the evidence of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus – and run with the hypothesis. We run with the hypothesis of a belief in God, like scientists run with the hypothesis of theories that explain the way the world is.
Those of us who have, have discovered that the hypothesis works – and until there is strong evidence to prove us wrong – we live by that belief. We have faith in God.
I want just briefly to say something at this point about the evidence of faith, as opposed to that for faith. By this I’m picking up on what I said a moment ago about faith in some shape or form being present in every culture under the sun. This certainly is evidence to me that an awareness of God is not simply culturally conditioned in certain sorts of cultures. It’s a human phenomenon. This is what I mean by the evidence of faith. Where does it come from? Yes, some might say it’s just an uneducated reaction to feeling alone in the world; but there is just as much reason to say that it’s because God is there and makes his presence felt. (Christians would say that he reveals himself in that way.)So the first thing – the scientific method (evidence and hypothesis) and the reasons for faith - is very similar.
2. Scientific certainty and the certainty of faith.
This is rather shorter and follows on from what I’ve said so far. When you read Richard Dawkins and Co., or read reports about what they have said, the implication is that science has categorically proved that God doesn’t exist. But what I have said so far indicates that scientific certainty only exists as far as the current knowledge of science goes. The ‘scientific fact’ remains (or should remain) a matter of the best theory to fit the facts as we know them. Without that attitude, scientists would have missed some of the greatest discoveries human beings have made. Science like faith is provisional about its certainties. Indeed science is a form of faith.
It is just as much a step of faith to say that my study of science leads me to believe there is no God, as it is to say my examination of the evidence for faith leads me to believe that God does exist. There is one big difference, of course. The second conclusion will have consequences for the way a person conducts their life.
One other brief thing under this heading: don’t be bamboozled by ‘cod-science’. I love the story of the classical scholar who went to the doctor because he had a sharp pain between his ribs. Oh, yes, said the doctor, you’ve got ‘intercostal neuralgia’. The classicist, looked puzzled and said, I just told you that. All the doctor had done was to name it, but it sounded like a diagnosis. Sometimes scientists can be a bit like that. Scientific proof is in the end just the best theory to fit the evidence at this present time; the history of science is littered with examples of certainties being overturned by fresh evidence and fresh understandings. It doesn’t look much different from faith, in actual fact. You put your trust in the ‘best-fit’ theory going.
3. Creationism and the Creator
You will be aware of the (in my view) sterile debate about creationism and evolution in the school curriculum. It’s sterile because in my view, you can have a Creator without creationism, and you can have evolution with a Creator. (However, do remember what I said about best-fit theories. That’s all evolution is. There are in fact huge question marks over how it all happened.)
But in the light of this I thought it might be helpful to explain my approach to Genesis 1-11, though this is of course, a personal view and others here may differ.
A caricature of the false debate is this. One side says, ‘Science has disproved Genesis 1-11.’ This assumes, however, that the purpose of Genesis was originally to give a late second millennium scientific account of creation. As Genesis was written at least 2500 years before our sort of science was common currency, it doesn’t seem to very likely that that was it’s purpose. The writer or probably writers of these chapters were much more concerned about communicating the truth about God and his relationship to the world and to humanity that they were in cosmic origins. So this account could be regarded as a different description; one which is complementary to rather than in opposition with a scientific account.
The other side of what I’ve called this sterile debate says, science has got it wrong; the Bible is clear in its description of creation, and it’s God’s revelation to us of how it happened. If there are conflicts with science, then so much the worse for science. But I don’t need to say this leads to, frankly, tortuous attempts to deal with the scientific evidence of the real age of the earth, and so on.
In my view there is a complementarity – as I said before – which enables full weight being given to science in terms of cosmology, but also full weight being given to theology in terms of the truths Genesis is promoting. Genesis 1-11 can be regarded as stories about facts to explain truth.Let me give just one example from the Genesis narrative to illustrate this. Adam and Eve, after they have eaten the apple are depicted as hiding from God. But this is not scientific description of a game of hide and seek with a God who is all-seeing and all-knowing, but a profound comment on the nature of humanity’s relationship with God. In the lives of men and women, we feel the need to hide metaphorically from a holy God. We are all aware that we are not perfect and we try to hide that fact from others as best we can – and are ashamed of ourselves before God. It’s a story about facts which conveys in a vivid way the truth the author was seeking to put over.
I hope I’ve said enough to demonstrate what I said at the outset that you can believe in a Creator, without embracing creationism as it’s popularly known. This takes me to the idea of:
4. Parallel descriptions
Another way of looking at the science and religion debate is to view the two disciplines as answering different sorts of questions.
Science tries to answer the questions ‘what’ and ‘how’, whereas religion tries to answer the questions ‘who’ and ‘why’. What science can never do is answer the question about why we are here. What’s the purpose of life? Why do people suffer? What happens after death?
Conversely faith is not designed to explain how gravity works or why chlorine sterilises water. These are parallel description and are complementary ones rather than opposed ones.
5. Ethics of Science
This is a huge issue which I’m just going to touch on by saying that people of faith have a huge responsibility to bring ethical considerations to bear on scientific matters. It’s very easy for scientists to get into a mind-set which says, if it’s possible to do something then it must be right to do it.
Often you’ll hear what seems to be a knock-down argument for why some procedure which is questionable ethically ought to be allowed because of the benefits it may bring. But a moment’s reflection may cause you to question whether that’s always the case. Is a good result always justification for a morally doubtful process? A non-medical example might make that clearer. - e.g. the war in Iraq. Did the good achieved by the removal of a tyrannical and murderous dictator warrant the suffering which ensued for so many? I’m not providing an answer to this question, though I have a personal one of course, but rather using it as an example of the need for people of faith to ask ethical questions of experiments which potentially have good results, but at what cost to human dignity?
I think I’ve said more than enough – but I hope the idea of complementarity of descriptions has been helpful.Richard, Bishop of Bedford
Church Electoral Roll
Every five or six years, the Church Electoral Roll is revised and this is the year when we need to compile a new one. It consists of residents of Odell, and those who are churchgoers but live elsewhere who have habitually attended public worship in the parish and who wish to be voting members of the Church of England.
Briefly, you qualify to be on the Roll if you are baptized, 16 years old and one of the following applies:
1. You live in Odell and are a member of the Church of England (or a Church in communion with it).
You don’t live in Odell, but have been worshipping in the Church for at least six months, and are a member of the Church of
England (or a Church in communion with it).
3. You have been worshipping in the Church for at least six months, and are a member of a Church not in communion with the Church of England, but which subscribes to the doctrine of the Holy Trinity and also declare yourself to be a member of the Church of England.
Letters with the necessary forms are being delivered to those in the village on the existing roll and those who come to church. Please complete them and return them to the church or to me by 18th March at the very latest so that the new roll can be drawn up and displayed before the Annual Parochial Church Meeting on April 29th. If anyone else would like to be included please ask me (tel: 720348) for an application form.
Catherine Corkery, Electoral Roll Officer
All Saints’ Amblers
All Saints’ Amblers were promised a ‘mud-free’ walk by Nick & Roberta Goodman on 17th February, and so it turned out to be – well almost! They chose a designated recreational trail in Milton Keynes that began at Lodge Lake, fringed with tall reeds and colourful dogwood. Following the trail along Loughton Brook we struck north to take in the ruins of Bradwell Abbey and a Roman villa at Bancroft – as well as the notorious concrete cows! An excellent lunch at The Swan Inn, Astwood, was made all the more enjoyable by an accommodating landlord, who without fuss, swiftly rearranged the furniture so we could all sit together, and made us feel very welcome.
The next walk and pub lunch will be on Saturday 17th March. Meet
outside The Bell at 9.45am – transport provided to start of walk if needed. Everyone welcome, including children and dogs on leads!
Time to jazz up your Spring wardrobe?and shop ethically at the same time!
Come to the Fairtrade Fashion Show
at St.Andrew’s Church, Kimbolton Rd.,
7.30pm on 17th March.
Tickets cost £1.50, available from Christine at The Rectory (tel: 720234).
Fairtrade Coffee Morning
All welcome at a FairTrade Coffee morning-
1 The High Street, Carlton
on Saturday 3rd March, 10.00-12.30pm.
Fairtrade refreshments and lots of Fairtrade goods on sale!
Also - look out for FAIRTRADE FORTNIGHT promotions in your
Church Spring Clean
March 31st 10.00am
Come and help with the church and churchyard spring clean and clearing. Bring any tools you have for the gardening.
The next meeting of the PCC will take place on Wednesday 21st March in the Rectory at 7.45pm.
Our Giving inMarch is to tear fund
Please give generously to this charity dedicated to helping struggling people in third-world countries.
The thunder of tumultuous seas,
The sleepy drone of honey- bees,
The roar of rapids, crash of falls,
Ice formation’s sunlit halls,
The patient strength in working horse
And wonder in ourselves, of course,
The quiet eye of milking cow,
Our God made these,
None else knows how.
The muscles in a toiling arm
The trees in garden, park and farm
Wood and iron and tin and stone
The skill of hand, the growing bone,
Compassion in the wilful breast,
Devotion in the wild bird’s nest,
The power of mill, the swish of plough,
Our God made these,
None else knows how.
Wed 14th 10.30am at Doris’s, Goodly Heritage, The Bury, Pavenham
Wed 28th 10.30am at The Rectory.
The Children’s Society – Collecting Boxes
March is the month for boxes to be opened. Please could box holders give their boxes to me, bring them to church on a Sunday or telephone me to let me know when it would be convenient to collect them. Many thanks.
Catherine Corkery 720348
Odell Church Flower Rota
Many thanks to those willing to do flowers in Church again this year. The Rota which is based on last year’s Rota, will begin at the end of March and will be published monthly in the Magazine. Copies of the Rota will be sent out soon.
March 25th Eileen Shakespeare
There will be a meeting in the Bell for Fete committee members and everyone else who is interested on
Monday, March 5th at 8.00pm.
A date for your diary: the Fete working day will be held on Monday 7th May.
Birthdays in March
Happy birthday to Liane Fulford on 4th March
And to everyone else with a birthday this month!
Fri 2nd 10.00am Women’s World Day of Prayer Harrold
Sat 3rd 10-12.30 Fairtrade Coffee Morning, 1 High St Carlton
Mon 5th 8.00pm Fete Meeting in The Bell
Wed 7th 12.30 for 1.00 Senior Citizens Fish and Chip lunch, Village Hall
Tues 13th 7.30pm W.I. Village Hall
Wed 14th 10.30am Meeting Point at Doris’s, Pavenham
Thurs 15th 10 – 2.00pm HOCP Making garden obelisks
Sat 17th 9.45am All Saints’ Amblers meet outside The Bell
Sat 17th 7.30pm Fairtrade fashion show, St. Andrew’s, Kimbolton Rd.
Wed 21st 7.45pm PCC Meeting at The Rectory
Sun 25th 11.00am Joint Service at St. Mary’s Carlton
Mon 26th 10.00am Friends of HOCP Conservation
Wed 28th 10.30am Meeting Point at The Rectory
Sat 31st 10.00am Church and churchyard spring clean
Please send all entries for the April 2007 magazine to Tricia Hudson (mag1at odellbeds.net) or Catherine Corkery by March 12th 2007 at the latest. May we remind you that the editorial team exercises the right to edit, shorten or alter any items that are submitted. Also, the opinions expressed in the articles are those of the contributors and are not the responsibility of the editorial team.
Electronic mail address
email is mag1 at odellbeds.net
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