Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Church Matters

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Church Matters

Article excerpt

Byline: By Francis Wood

Thanks be to mum

"so it's Free Gift Sunday this weekend?" said the taximan in his usual challenging way. "What d'you mean?" I asked. "Well, flowers for Mothering Sunday, eggs for Easter, palm branches on Palm Sunday. That's how to keep your congregation. Give them a free gift."

Strange to say, I told him, the Christian religion is the most materialistic of all religions. God works through material things to bring us a blessing. Water at baptism, a ring at a wedding, holy oil for anointing. Outward and visible signs bring inward and spiritual grace. When Jesus chose bread and wine to be the heart of Christian worship he showed us how to get in touch with him. To hold in your hand this precious gift makes God personal to all who receive him.

Mothering Sunday flowers are part of a long-standing tradition. On the fourth Sunday in Lent, masters used to give their apprentices time off to return home, taking flowers to mother. Mothering Sunday is full of free gifts and the best of these are the flowers.


AMONG the many legends of St Cuthbert, my favourite tells how he was riding in the Chester-le-Street area during a violent storm. He and his horse took shelter in a barn. Cuthbert lay down and wondered where his next meal would come from. The horse, however, had other ideas. He reached up and pulled down some thatch from the roof and began to eat. Then through the hole there fell a bundle wrapped in a napkin. It contained bread and cheese for Cuthbert. The story is related by the Venerable Bede and I asked an authority of Holy Island, Canon Kate Tristram, whether we should believe such a tale. She replied, "The important thing is that those who lived in those days believed it." That is where I stand along with the cuddy ducks which gathered under the altar where the saint celebrated mass. St Cuthbert's Day is Wednesday next.


TWO weeks ago I wrote that all depends on trust. Now the unbelievable. We cannot trust the children's programme Blue Peter. …

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