Parish Newsletter (December 2017)

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Dear Friends

December sees the turning of the year, the new Church Year beginning as Advent starts, with a season of fasting, penitence and prayer, taking us through the longest nights of the year, with, towards the end, our Christmas celebrations, when we remember Emmanuel, God made man. Then comes the secular New Year. Rather than simply lamenting the secular commercial take-over of Christmas, I hope our Advent series this year will help make spiritual space where there is very little physical time as we are all caught up in the Season. My hope and prayer is that we may all grow in our relationship with a God who has made us for just that, and who meets us in Jesus Christ.

Fr Stephen (Dawson) in his Advent assembly for the children at Settle Primary school reminded us that many of our Christmas traditions, including in particular our Advent ring, are of pagan origin. This is not to say that they are, or were, wrong and indeed the early Christians knew that expression of the religious instinct in humanity needs to be rightly directed, rather than simply ignored or overridden.  So the northern tradition of bringing in evergreens and using candles to look for and celebrate the turning of the year from increasing darkness to increasing light becomes our Advent ring with the candles signifying elements of the Christian life and story.

Fundamental responses to light, life and love (and the absence of them) are built into the physical stuff we are made of and expressed in our spirituality. Some would say that spirituality is an accidental product of a random evolutionary process, how, or even if, it is expressed is not important. Christians say that we are made in the image of an all-powerful creator God whose nature is love, made manifest in human form in Jesus' life, death and resurrection, and that our response to that fact is of fundamental importance. It is for each to decide where we stand, and that is the stuff of faith. Science does not settle this question one way or the other, though some scientists (or more often those who interpret their work) and some religious people would like to claim otherwise.

Maybe it is a sign of advancing age and failing intellect, but I have grown weary of both sides of this argument.  Belief in the God whom we worship is not on a par with belief in fairies, unicorns and Santa Claus, but nor is it the product of linear arguments subject to tests which cannot be challenged beyond any doubt. 

So, this is a time for remembering that the light will return, both as a fact of science and a tenet of faith. Let us live as people of faith (not superstition) putting our trust in the One who is the Light that shines in darkness, and cannot be extinguished.

Love from Hilary

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Events Past

Tom Twisleton Centenary
This venture, was planned with Settle Stories by John Twisleton, clergy son of Settle, to include, at our invitation, a service in Settle Church. It proved a wonderful day in which a family was gathered, some of whom hardly knew of one another's existence, and some of Settle and surrounding area's history was articulated, shared and celebrated. Most importantly, the project was for young people to connect with and be inspired by local history, with some super new poetry set alongside Tom T's dialect verses. The project will, we hope, have considerable legacy outcomes as well as having been a thoroughly worthwhile event in its own right. Two pluses for the church in Settle – John preached to us the following day, and the service he and Hilary put together was attended and appreciated as most moving by friends old and new.
Watch this space for developing ideas spawned from this event, which we hope will partner with The Folly and Settle Stories. Holy Ascension 180 celebrations are being planned for next year. If you would be interested to be part of planning, which has just begun, for this season of activities, do speak to Hilary or Edith Diggles.

Robert Starling RIP
Many of Robert’s friends and acquaintances, from local churches and many other organisations, attended the memorial service for Robert, following a private interment at 'Brocklands' woodland burial site in Rathmell. The manner of the event itself, containing as it did wide-ranging recollections of Robert, and bringing together in mutual respect  people of wide-ranging views, was a tribute for him. Much gratitude goes to Christians from different denominations, Robert's community links, and Roberts own family who are non-believers, for their contributions to the event. Robert, who was passionate about the natural world and human relationships with it as well as about the  behaviour of human beings to one another, would I am sure, approve. Tributes remained in church but will be moved in the first week of December. Well done and thank you to everyone, you know who you are.
Robert's House Plants are available at the back of St Alkelda’s church, free to a good home.

Settle Orchestra Concert, Holy Ascension Church November 18th 2017
It was a joy to welcome Settle Orchestra back to Settle Church for a most successful concert, following a couple of years' absence due to capacity problems at church.  Despite a hitch with the heating not being on early enough for the rehearsal, most of the orchestra heartily welcomed the return, made possible by some ingenious (very temporary) front pew relocation – Thank You, Danny. We look forward to welcoming the orchestra again in February – when we will be more on the ball with the heating, and we hope to see them in our church on many more future occasions.

New Service Pattern
Please help one another to find and attend the right service as the new service pattern comes into play this month, and let Hilary, Ray or Wardens know if anything else would help.

Future Events

Holy Ascension Settle 180 -  the actual anniversary is in October, but a programme of events, possibly linking the churches, is envisaged, see TT celebration news and watch this space.
Visiting Choir Arrangements are almost finalised for a concert and sung input to a service by St Cyprian's choir, in which Paul Kelly's daughter sings. This will take place on the Half Term weekend, in February 16th-18th 2018. At this stage is seems likely that the concert and service will be in Settle, possibly linked to the 180 celebrations. Again, watch this space.

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December Prayers CtiSD prayer meeting takes place at Settle Church on Monday 4th December.
As part of our Hope 2018 we are looking to pray and support one another and our community better. Come and join in – a possible focus for action will be the Tuesday lunch gatherings at Settle Church where we are introducing prayer for, and with, anyone who would like. We pray for one another and for our leaders as Bible Together and the new service patterns are under way.