Once upon a time, a long time ago, in a little village in a far northern country, there was a carpenter’s workshop. One day, when the carpenter was away for a while, a mighty quarrel broke out on the workbench, among the tools. The dispute went on & on, & became more & more embittered. The argument was about the need to exclude certain tools from the community. “we really have to exclude Sister Saw” one of the tools began “she bites & she grinds her teeth. She has the most peevish character anyone could imagine.” “we absolutely can’t keep Brother Plane among us any longer.” another tool chimed in. “He has a cruel nature, scraping at everything he touches.” “as for Brother Hammer” a third insisted “I find him such a bore, & rowdy with it. He thumps away all the time & gets on all our nerves. Let’s get rid of him.” “& what about the nails? how can we be expected to live alongside such sharp characters? they are a positive hazard to us all..& the file & the rasp as well, they are a constant cause of friction..& while we are about it, we should send the sandpaper away, because she seems to be the reason why this workshop is in such a fractious mood.” The dispute became a battleground, each tool trying to out-shout the other, & the outcome was that all the tools found themselves excluded! The fracas came to a sudden end on the return of the carpenter; all the tools fell silent when they saw him approaching. He picked up a plank of wood, & cut it with the biting Sister Saw. He smoothed it down with cruel scraping Brother Plane. With boring rowdy Brother Hammer he drove in the sharp hazardous nails. Using rough-natured Brother File & abrasive Sister Sandpaper he made a velvet finish on the wood.. ..not a single one of the tools was left out as the carpenter went about his craft of creating ..a manger.. a manger to receive a little child..
“to come out of this crisis “[& to enter this season of Advent] “ better than before, we have to do so together, not alone.. together” [Pope Francis 22 Nov 2020]
We hope to have news of the ongoing Tiered restrictions once the lockdown is lifted next week, with our Bishops having given authorisation for the resumption of Masses as from Wed 2 Dec; our first Mass will be on Thursday at 9.30am. On the provision of Masses over Christmas, Bishop Terence reminds us that the restrictions on numbers & good practice we followed before this latest lockdown has to continue. It seems we will be able to have our usual four Christmas Masses, two Christmas Eve, two Christmas Morning, to a maximum of 160, whereas our usual overall attendance at Christmas totals nearly 400. Use of the Hall as an overflow for all four Masses will allow more to come, albeit “at a distance”. We will have to implement a booking system, with hopefully our little band of musicians agreeing to cover a Mass each so we have music at all four Masses please. We will also need four ministers of welcome at each of the four Masses, as I expect a number of people who don’t normally join us except for Christmas will come expecting to be able to join us, & I will be at the back of Church to try to settle their disappointment & to pray with them before Mass begins. Private prayer before the Blessed Sacrament continues this Sunday 2.30pm to 3.30pm, & opportunities for Confession or to see me for any reason, continue, so please don’t hesitate to be in touch. Do please remember to book again for weekend Masses, as we begin again next weekend, the Second Sunday of Advent.
I was with Class 4 in St Benedict’s PS on Tuesday for my one visit to one bubble a week, ensuring best practice in covid prevention. It was a joy to be among them, as we practised some lectio divina, where we went so deep we only “mined” one word.. at the beginning of the gospel of Canaanite woman’s daughter…the word “left” [departed] ..unbelievable! the replacement internal lighting to the Church is imminent as we await a definitive date to do the work, hopefully before we re-open for Mass next Thursday morning. Last weekend I invited you to offer your wise counsel & hopefully consent to proceed with the installation of a new boiler for the Church, & I have now asked BATA to go forward with the work commencing on Monday week 7 Dec hopefully completing by Wed evg 9 Dec 2020.
Our Parish continues to provide food through the Food Initiative at a cost of £200 a month. I hope those in our own Village who may be struggling to provide food for their children either in the holidays, or indeed at any time in this ongoing & increasing crisis in health & in the economy, will be encouraged to benefit from our Food Initiative, where it is possible to approach Ray & Deb in the Village Shop, & quietly ask for a bag of food essentials which will be delivered to your door?. This has been working well since the lockdown began, & it could be more of us in the Village will find themselves in ever deeper need of help, & we would encourage them to ask.. it isn’t charity, it is basic good bread & butter Christian discipleship which, at such times of crisis, is asked of us in our plenty. Across the Village there is deep appreciation for the good natured & generous service given by Ray & Deb throughout the crisis, who regularly go the extra mile for us. Food donations to Middlesbrough Food Bank via cash in envelope to Parish House or direct via email@example.com With my love & prayers. Fr Bede