Church Services - Eastwick, Gilston and High Wych
1. On this page you will find the details of Church contacts.
2. Church services for the month within the Benefice.
3. The Priest in Charge monthly news letter.
1.CHURCH CONTACT DETAILS
Rev Anthony Giles 01279 726476
Joy Galliers-Burridge 01279 444870
Roger Burridge 01279 444870
June Denton 01279 723714
Rick George 01279 721875
Sarah Bagnall 01279 441644
Lois Smith 01279 431123
Hazel Scorah 01279 418061
2. BENEFICE OF HIGH WYCH AND GILSTON WITH EASTWICK FOR JUNE 2014
|1st June||Easter 7||8.00am||St James, High Wych||Parish Eucharist||Readings - Acts 1: 6-14, 1Peter 4: 12-14, 5: 6-11, John 17: 1-11|
|9.30am||St James, High Wych||Family Service|
|8th June||Pentecost||9.30am||St James, High Wych||Parish Eucharist||Readings - Acts 2: 1-21, 1Corinthians 12: 3b-13, John 20: 19-23|
|11.15am||St Mary's, Gilston||Parish Eucharist||Readings - Acts 2: 1-21, 1 Corinthians 12: 3b-13, John 20: 19-23|
|10th June||Tuesday||10.00am||6 Falcon Close||House Group|
|11th June||Wednesday||7.30pm||The Rectory||House Group|
|14th June||Saturday||2.00pm||St Mary's, Gilston||Wedding of||Penelope Purkess & Benjamin Turner|
|15th June||Trinity Sunday||9.30am||St James, High Wych||Parish Eucharist||Readings - Isaiah 40: 12-17, 27-31, 2 Corinthians 13: 11-13, Matthew 28: 16-20|
|22nd June||Trinity 1||9.30am||St James, High Wych||Parish Eucharist||Readings - Jeremiah 20: 7-13, Romans 6: 1b-11, Matthew 10: 24-39|
|11.15am||St Botolph, Eastwick||Parish Eucharist||Readings - Jeremiah 20: 7-13, Romans 6: 1b-11, Matthew 10: 24-29|
|29th June||Peter & Paul, Apostles||9.30am||St James, High Wych||Parish Eucharist||Readings - Acts 12: 1-11, 2 Timothy 4: 6-8, 17-18, Matthew 16: 13-19|
BENEFICE SERVICES OF HIGH WYCH, GILSTON ANS EASTWICK JULY 2014
|6th July||Trinity 3||8.00am||St James, High Wych||Parish Eucharist||Readings - Zechariah 9:9-12, Romans 7: 15-25a, Matthew 13: 1-9, 18-23|
|9.30am||St James, High Wych||Family Services|
|8th July||Tuesday||10.00am||6 Falcon Close||House Group|
|9th July||Wednesday||7.30pm||The Rectory||House Group|
|13th July||Trinity 4||9.30am||St James, High Wych||Parish Eucharist||Readings - Isaiah 55: 10-13, Romans 8:1-11, Matthew 13: 1-9, 18-23|
|11.15am||St Mary's, Gilston||Parish Eucharist||Readings - Isaiah 55: 10-13, Romans 8: 1-11, Matthew 13: 1-9, 18-23|
|20th July||Trinity 5||9.30am||St James, High Wych||Parish Eucharist||Readings - Isaiah 44: 6-8, Romans 8: 12-25, Matthew 13: 24-30, 36-43|
|26th July||2.00pm||St James, High Wych||Wedding of Colin Roper & Sarah Mills|
|27th July||Trinity 6||9.30am||St James, High Wych||Parish Eucharist||Readings - 1 Kings 3: 26-39, Romans 8: 26-39, Matthew 13: 31-33, 44-52|
|11.15am||St Botolph, Eastwick||Parish Eucharist||Readings - 1 Kings 3: 26-39, Romans 8: 26-39, Matthew 13: 31-33, 44-52|
|9.00am||St Botolphs, Eastwick||Morning Prayer|
Wednesday not 2nd
|9.00am||St James, High Wych||Morning Prayer|
|9.00am||St Mary's, Gilston||Morning Prayer|
|9.00am||St James, High Wych||
PRIEST IN CHARGE JULY LETTER 2014
To err is human, but to really make a mess you need a computer!
Apologies to those who read the recent Parish News Letter and found the non-deliberate mistakes in the table of Services and Activities on the back. As you probably worked out all of July comes in July, not June, and Lent Groups only occur in Lent. At other times, particularly 11th June, we call them House Groups. I am very sorry and ask for your forgiveness. I must try harder next time.
The heading is, of course, a misquotation. It should read, “To err is human, to forgive, divine.” We are all very good at fouling up from time to time. That is why in Church we start almost all our services by saying sorry to God for the wrongs we have committed or the thing we should have done and haven’t. We do so in the belief that if we are truly sorry then God will forgive us because Jesus died for our sins. The Bible tells us that when God forgives he chooses to “remember no more” all the sins we have committed. He restarts our relationship with him as if nothing bad had happened. He gives us a clean sheet. We know we will make a mess of it again but God treats us as if we won’t, until we do. Then if we “repent”, as the Bible calls it, he gives us a new clean sheet, again and again and again. God’s forgiveness allows us to move on from our mistakes, to learn from them and to grow as people and as Christians.
For us to forgive each other like that is almost impossible. We can probably manage a level of forgiveness, which says, “I will not seek revenge”, but to carry on as if nothing had happened is very much harder. We all have memories, particularly about hurt feelings. We cannot often “forgive and forget” however sincere an apology might be. Forgiving someone who has hurt or offended us is very hard but it is the only way for relationships to develop and grow. It is the only way that both sides can move on and grow. Forgiveness is a fundamental part of any meaningful relationship. It is something we must all try to do.
Most of us will know the lines from the Lord’s Pray, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. If God forgives us he expects us to forgive others. Perhaps it is only when we have felt the full power of God’s forgiveness that we can begin to forgive others in a way that approaches how He forgives.
Have a good July.
PRIEST IN CHARGES LETTER FOR JUNE 2014
Sumer is icumen in,
Lhude sing cuccu!
Groweth sed, and bloweth med,
And springeth the wude nu –
Sing cuccu! (anon c 1226)
I used this poem to start my letter in July last year. Let’s hope that summer has come a little earlier this year. If you haven’t seen St James church recently come and have a look. The scaffolding has gone and the church is resplendent in its new roof. The vestry and west doors have been refurbished and apart from a few minor details all the work is finished. We are now just sorting out the last details of the internal modification with the diocese. We hope to put on a display of the plans in the church in due course. I have given up trying to predict dates. We will just have to wait and see. Better to get it right than do it quickly. We are also beginning to see house building activity at the Terlings Park site in Gilston. The churches there are beginning to think about how to welcome new residents when they move in.
June brings with it the Feast of Pentecost. We seem to have given up on the English name of Whitsun, White Sunday because of the tradition of wearing white robes on this day. When I was young the summer half term was at Whitsun regardless of the date. Now it is always on the late May bank holiday. Pentecost was originally a Jewish harvest festival celebrated fifty days after the Passover so it has now become a Christian festival fifty days after Easter. In New Testament times it was a festival where many Jews from all over the world would travel to Jerusalem to celebrate. The book of Acts records that on this day the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity, descended on the disciples of Jesus with the sound of gale force winds and the appearance of flames on their heads. That is why bishops wear those pointed hats. Pentecost marks the start of the Christian Church. After it the disciples went out peaching about Jesus and many thousands of the people became Christians and were baptised in a very short time. They took the message back home so that when people like St Paul were travelling round the Mediterranean they often found groups of believers already established and keen to join in the work.
Please remember and pray for all the children who are getting ready to either start school in September or to move to a new school. It can be a very scary experience and they need our support.
God bless you all.
PRIEST IN CHARGE LETTER FOR MAY 2014
May! Queen of blossoms,
And fulfilling Flowers,
With what pretty music
Shall we charm the hour?
(May by Edward Thurlow)
I started my article last May with the same poem and looking back what I write this month is very similar to what I wrote then. The work on the roof of St James’ Church is all but finished and the scaffolding is fast disappearing to reveal the beauty of the new tiles. The detailed negotiations about the interior changes are well advanced and we hope to see that work started in the next few months.
For most, Easter will be a memory but for Christians the season of Easter goes on into June this year. This is the time when we remember the gospel stories of Jesus’ appearances to his disciples after his Resurrection, his coming back from the dead on Easter Sunday. They include the story of his meeting two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke ch 24) when people who had known him well did not recognise him until he broke bread with them, reminding them of the Last Supper. They also include his meeting with Peter and six other disciples by the Sea of Galilee (John ch 21). This was the incident where Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him, to match the three time Peter had denied knowing Jesus during his trial (John ch 18). Peter is forgiven and given the task of feeding Jesus’ sheep, that is, caring for the infant church. There are many characters in the Bible who had to learn what failure felt like before they were allowed to succeed.
Despite his failings Peter went on to be one of the principle leaders of the early Christian Church and eventually gave his life for following Jesus in Rome in about AD 70. Many of us sometimes feel like the Peter of the gospel stories, an impetuous man who led with this mouth and then had difficulty in dealing with the consequences. If Jesus could forgive and restore him to a position of leadership in the Church after he had publicly denied knowing Jesus then that same Jesus can forgive us for anything wrong we have done and restore to a full living relationship with God.
That is the message of Easter. Because of Jesus life, death, resurrection and his Ascension back into heaven, which we will be celebrating on Thursday 29th May, we can all be received back by God into a new relationship through faith in Jesus. This is what the Bible calls Eternal Life, a life that starts now in partnership with the risen Jesus and takes us through the rest of our lives into his loving presence after we die. It is my prayer that we will all come to share in that life so that we can travel through it together.
PRIEST IN CHARGE LETTER FOR APRIL 2014
Are we nearly there?
I hope so. By the time you read this I hope we will all be looking wondrously at St James’ new roof. As I write the scaffolding has been removed from the tower to reveal the newly gilded weathercock and the new cedar shingles on the spire. Peering through the plastic cocoon we can see the new tiles waiting to be exposed to the elements once all the work has been completed.
There is something of a picture here of what we will be celebrating in the middle of the month, Easter. The church with its worn out roof was entombed in scaffolding and plastic and now six months later is resurrected to a new life, for another 150 years or more. With Jesus that change only took 36 hours from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning. (Re-roofing a church in that time would really be a miracle.)
The death and resurrection of Jesus is THE central distinctive belief of Christianity yet it is the one, which causes most problems. How could a dead person come back to life? Was he really dead? Did the disciples make up the story or just imagine that they saw him after he was buried? Christians have always asserted that Jesus was really dead, after all the Roman soldiers who crucified him knew their business. His body was placed in a tomb, which was sealed by the authorities. Then at some point between Saturday night and Sunday morning he was restored to life again, but not just the same life. The Gospel accounts describe a person who could pass through locked doors, appear and disappear at will and travel distances instantaneously. After 40 days Jesus was taken up into heaven from where he had come and he is now present with us by the Holy Spirit. We celebrate Jesus Ascension at the end of April and the coming of the Holy Spirit in early June.
Did Jesus rise from the dead? If God is God then a resurrection is no problem at all. The real miracle was that the Son of God died. Christian theologians from St Paul onwards have pondered the meaning and the effect of the death of Jesus and libraries of books have been written about it. By dyeing, or allowing himself to be killed, Jesus took on to himself all that was wrong with the world of human beings. Now by faith in him we can know that all the wrong we have done has been forgiven by God and we will spent eternity with him.
Please look for details of our Easter services in the magazine and we look forward to welcoming you at one or more of them.
PRIEST IN CHARGE LETTER FOR MARCH 2014
We’ve been here before!!
A week or so ago I was in St James’ church when one our roofing contractors approached me. He presented me with something they had found while removing the tiles. The package consisted of part of a copy of the Daily Telegraph dated Wednesday 6th November 1963. Inside was a copy of the High Wych Parishioner, the parish magazine, dated March 1966. Amid the notices about parish activities including details of the Lent Study Groups was an article on Church Repairs which I have reproduced below. It appears that the work involved was the internal panelling of the nave ceiling done to deduce the draughts. Note the size of the cheque they had to hand over – if only! The print in the magazine is too feint to photocopy but I hope to have it transcribed with a view to selling souvenir copies to anyone interested. Why the magazine was wrapped in a three year old newspaper is unknown but perhaps the crossword, which was incomplete, had proved particularly difficult. We hope that the current roofing repairs will be completed during March and I hope to place a copy of this magazine back in the roof space for future generations to find.
March brings with it the start of the season of Lent. For many centuries Christians have observed the six weeks or so before Easter as a period of self-denial and reflection. Originally any luxury food was banned. This included meat, eggs and dairy produce. This was to help them remember the forty days and nights that Jesus spent fasting the Wilderness and being tempted before he began his public ministry (see Luke 4: 1-13). Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent when one was shriven – confessed ones sins to the priest and received absolution in preparation for Lent – was also the day to use up all banned food. That is the origin of the pan cakes which we enjoy on Shrove Tuesday. Today many Christians give up some luxury item of food as an act of self discipline to identify with Jesus’ fasting. They also use Lent as a time to study and deepen their faith. We will be running at least two Lent Group where we will be considering how to share our faith with others. If you would like to attend either of these please see details elsewhere in this magazine or contact me for information.
PRIEST IN CHARGE LETTER FOR FEBRUARY 2014
We can see Daylight!
There are several places now in St James’ church where you can look up and see daylight. That means that work on the roof is accelerating. Of course we are protected by the false roof above and the plastic sheeting so we shouldn’t see any water dripping in. The old original tiles are being removed and soon the roof with be covered with felt and insulation (bats permitting) and then re-tiled. We still hope that the work will be completed on time. Then we hope to start work on the interior including installing a kitchen and toilet.
With Easter being so late this year nothing much happens in February as far as the Christian Year is concerned. The one high light is Sunday 2nd when we celebrate the Presentation of Christ in the Temple also known as Candlemas. Jesus was six weeks old when his parents took him to the Temple in Jerusalem. The ceremony did two things. Firstly, Jesus, as a first born son, was being redeemed or bought back from God. This tradition goes back to when the ancient Israelites escaped from slavery in Egypt after the ten plagues, the last of which was the death of all the Egyptian first-born males (Exodus ch 7-15). God, through Moses made a law that all first born males belonged to him. If they were animals which could be sacrificed, that was their fate. Other animals and first born sons had to be bought back. That would have cost Joseph something like two week’s wages.
The other part of the ceremony was to purify Mary after giving birth. For that they had to make a sacrifice of a pair of turtle doves. This ceremony has survived into the Book of Common Prayer as the Thanksgiving of Women after Child-birth or the Churching of Women. This fell into dis-use in the last century and has been replaced in our modern liturgy by a Thanksgiving for the Birth of a Child. The Feast of Presentation was also the time in the medieval church when the candles were dedicated for the next year, hence the alternative name of Candlemas.
All this talk of buying back children and purifying mothers seems worlds away from modern Christianity but the story in Luke chapter 2 also tells us about an old man named Simeon who saw the baby Jesus and recognised him as the coming Saviour, Messiah or Christ. He spoke the words of what we call the Nunc Dimitis which we still use in Evening Prayer or sometimes at Funerals. Simeon also foresaw that that Jesus would have to suffer and this would bring pain to Mary.
The Presentation of Christ in the Temple is one of a number of incidents we celebrate at this time of year when Jesus was proclaimed as the Saviour of the whole world. In January we celebrated Epiphany (6th), the coming of the Wise Men when Jesus was proclaimed by their gifts to be the King and Priest for the whole world who would suffer for it. The Baptism of Christ (12th) was when a voice from heaven declared Jesus to be the Son of God with whom he was pleased.
I’ll finish with Simeon’s prayer about Jesus, the Nunc Dimitis, for us all to think about.
‘Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles (non-Jews) and for glory to your people Israel.’ (Luke 2. 29-32)
PRIEST IN CHARGE LETTER FOR JANUARY 2014
Happy New Year!
This is the one you were expecting, the start of the Gregorian year 2014 instead of the start of the Christian year last month. January find St James’ Church shrouded in scaffolding and plastic. We survived the high winds of early December but fell prey to a small number of brown long-eared bats who caused a delay while we arranged alternative accommodation for them. We still hope that the roofing work will be finished by the end of March.
We are progressing reasonably well with our plans to re-order the inside of the church which will involve installing toilet and kitchen facilities. This will give us a much more flexible space for community activities such as the very successful harp concert on the 9th December.
From the beginning of this month we are going move some of our services around. This is so that we can hold our Family Praise Service on the first Sunday of each month. This a family friendly service of worship without Holy Communion and is a very easy place to start attending church if you are unfamiliar with it. We look forward to welcoming you to worship with us on these occasions. In order to do this we need to move the 11.15 a.m. services at Gilston and Eastwick back a week so that the Gilston service will now be on the second Sunday and Eastwick on the fourth.
A new year is traditionally a time to reassess our live and perhaps make New Year’s resolution to do better in some way. The first Sunday of the year is when we will be celebrating Epiphany. The Greek word means “to show” or “to reveal” and it commemorates the coming of the Wise Men to worship the baby Jesus and to give gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. They saw some sort of arrangement of stars or planets in the sky, realised that this indicated the arrival of someone significant and spent the next two years working out where they had to travel to and then getting there. What they saw and what they did about it changed their lives. If we have heard the message of the baby at Bethlehem, what lessons are we going to apply to our lives and our relationships in the coming year? What resolutions do we need to put in place and ask God’s help to carry through?
A very happy and prosperous New Year to all.
PRIEST IN CHARGE LETTER FOR DECEMBER
Happy New Year!
The vicar is off his trolley again and starting the new year a month early. Well actually, he isn’t. Advent Sunday, 1st December this year, marks the beginning of a new year in the Christian Calendar. For Christians the year starts on Advent Sunday and our services follow a pattern which goes right through the year and has its last Sunday on the Feast of Christ the King which was on 24th November. Starting the calendar year on 1st January only came in in 1652 when England adopted the Gregorian Calendar. Before that, New Year’s Day was 25th March, Lady Day or the Feast of the Annunciation when the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary. For Christians in the sixth century this seemed the obvious time to start the cycle of Christian festivals. This was when the BC(BCE)/AD(CE) system of year dates was introduced.
Advent has always been seen as a sombre reflective season particularly when most Christians believed that Jesus would physically return to earth in glory and establish his Kingship over the universe. As they prepared to celebrate Jesus’ coming as the baby of Bethlehem they were also preparing for his Second Coming when they would have to answer for kind of lives they had lived. Advent is a time to reflect on the meaning and implications of Christmas for our lives through the rest of the year. One way of doing this would be to consider how we could share the joy of Christmas with others.
Many of us will have done something to raise funds for the Children in Need appeal or sent money to aid the hurricane victims in the Philippines. These needs will be very great for a long time to come and will need our continued support. There may also be other smaller, more local needs that we can help with. There will be people who will be homeless at Christmas who would benefit from a few days of shelter over the festive season. There will be many who would spend Christmas alone unless someone arranges a share Christmas dinner for them. Many organisation undertake these project and would benefit from our help in time or money.
As you plan your Christmas festivities I hope you will take time to reflect on what we are celebrating and perhaps join us for one or more of our Christmas Services.
A Very Happy Christmas to you all.
PRIEST IN CHARGE LETTER FOR NOVEMBER
PRIEST IN CHARGE LETTER FOR OCTOBER
Autumn days when the grass is jewelled
And the silk inside a chestnut shell.
I expect that many of you have walked past St James Church recently wondering when you will see some evidence of the re-roofing work. Well! we are expecting work to start on the 30th September (yes, this year). The first four weeks will be taken up with erecting scaffolding and a false roof so that work can continue throughout the winter. The new roof and other external repairs should be completed by mid-February next year. All the work is external and will not affect the use of the Church. School visits to the church will continue but just to be extra safe we will be asking parents bringing their children to school to use the path along the back of the churchyard rather than walking close to the church building.
The discussions over the internal re-arrangements are going apace and we expect this work to begin in April next year. It will involve installing a toilet and kitchen facilities and clearing some pews to provide open space for tables for coffee mornings, Messy Church etc, etc. Once the details are settled we will organise a display in the church to show what we intend to do.
I hope that you will find time to join us for our Harvest Celebrations on the first weekend of the month (details elsewhere). As usual we welcome non-perishable harvest gifts which will be passed on the Women’s Refuge in Harlow. Collections taken during the services will be sent to the Bishop of St Albans Harvest Appeal which, this year, will be used to help poor farmers in Ethiopia. Perishable gifts will probably be turned into jam or chutney by Doreen Cunningham and sold in aid of the church.
This month we are starting a new monthly series of services designed for anyone who would like to be prayed for because of illness. The first one will be on Sunday 13th October at 3.00 pm at St James Church. The format of the service will be informal and not too long. It will start with tea and coffee and the opportunity to complete a prayer card so that you or a loved one can be prayed for by name (or anonymously). There will also the opportunity to pray individually with experienced Christian helpers.
I hope, by now you will have received our Autumn News Letter giving details of our activities to the end of November. We will then do a new version giving details about Advent and Christmas Services.
Enjoy your autumn.
3. PRIEST IN CHARGE LETTER FOR SEPTEMBER
Part of the Furniture.
I am beginning to feel like part of the furniture. I have been in High Wych for two years now and I have already moved house in that time. We are still working towards the re-roofing and re-ordering of St James the Great High Wych and beginning to address the church’s response to the forthcoming housing development at Terlings Park.
September brings a new set of challenges for our young people with the start of the new school or college year, new schools, new classes, new teachers and new friends to make. Please keep all of them all in your thoughts and prayers as well as the teachers who will be trying to lead them through the maze, which is education today.
We are approaching Harvest Festival season and we start with the Gilston with Eastwick Harvest Festival at St Mary’s Gilston on Sunday 29th September at 6.00 pm followed by refreshments. 29th September is also Back to Church Sunday when many churches hope to welcome back people who have perhaps lost contact over the years. It is a good time to come back to church or to start coming for the first time. It really isn’t as scary as it sounds. Christians are just ordinary human beings with a particular view of life that we would like to share with you.
Then High Wych celebrates with a Harvest Supper in the Memorial Hall on Saturday 5th October (see separate advert) and our Harvest Festival service on Sunday 6th October at 9.30 am. We look forward to seeing at any of these events.
September sees the re-start of our House Groups after the summer break. We meet on Tuesday 10th September at 10.00 am at 6 Falcon Close Sawbridgeworth( contact Jan Dixon on 723557) or on Wednesday 11th September at 7.30 pm at the Rectory (contact me on 726476). We will be continuing our study of Growing as a Christian.
Finally we are going to re-vamp one of our services to make it more family friendly and inclusive. Starting in Sunday 22nd September we will be holding a Family Service at 9.30 am at St James Church on the fourth Sunday of each month. We hope that this will attract families who perhaps find our normal services a bit formal.
I hope everyone will feel able to try out at least one of the opportunities outline above.
4. PRIEST IN CHARGE LETTER FOR AUGUST
Great is the sun, and wide he goes
Through empty heaven with repose;
And in the blue and glowing days
More thick than rain he showers his rays.
Summer Sun by Robert Louis Stevenson
Nothing seems better designed to keep the English moaning about the weather than a cold wet spring followed by a blistering summer. However, by the time you read this the heat wave will probably be over and we could be back to a normal damp cool August that we can continue to moan about. My normal summer attire involves a sun hat and an umbrella in the hope of staving off the two extremes and settling for a happy medium of warm overcast skies.
It is very easy to always see our glass as half empty when in fact it is usually more than half full. We tend to compare our own lot with some idealised notion of what our life should be like and then become aware of where it falls short. If we were to compare ourselves with others in this country and abroad who do not have the freedoms and opportunities we benefit from we might come to a different conclusion and see ourselves as part of the privileged minority. It is easy to see the shortcomings of the education system or the National Health Service and lose sight of the enormous advantages we have in this country over many other places in the world.
Privilege always brings responsibilities. If we have more than others we have a responsibility to see that other people’s basic needs are met, be that education, health care or just clean water to drink. As St Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus, we should all work honestly with our own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy (Eph 4v28). He was actually addressing people who had been thieves before they became Christian but it does applies to us all. When writing to his assistant Timothy he said, “there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that we take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these.” (1 Tim 6: 6-7)
So, let’s try to stop complaining and exercise the Christian virtues of contentment and charity. I hope you enjoyed the heat while it lasted.
5. PRIEST IN CHARGE LETTER FOR JULY
Sumer is icumen in,
Lhude sing cuccu!
Groweth sed, and bloweth med,
And springeth the wude nu –
Sing cuccu! (anon c 1226)
I knew that summer had come when I got back from my holiday in Spain half away through June and stood at Stansted Airport waiting for my taxi, wearing a straw hat and staring at the pouring rain. I had gone south telling people that the rain was warmer there but in the event the rain in Spain stayed away although their spring had been pretty awful and there was still snow to be seen on the Sierra Nevada. I was quite a beautiful sight.
This is the time of year when we expect to be sitting in our gardens enjoying the sunshine and watching everything grow. If you are younger it is a time of anxiety about exam results and new schools and colleges. Please carry them all in your thoughts and prayers, and all their teachers who are desperate for a well-earned rest – I know, I’ve been there.
The end of July, Thursday 25th, brings the festival of St James the Great, who is the patron saint of High Wych Church. He is called “the Great” to distinguish him St James the Less. James the Great was the Galilean fisherman, brother of John, who become one of the first of Jesus disciples. If you look up at the roof of the chancel of the church you will see that it is decorated with a fishing net. Jesus called him and his fisherman friends to become “fishers of men” who were to preach the Christian Gospel throughout the world. That is what we at St James, St Mary’s, Gilston and St Botolph’s, Eastwick continue to try to do. (By the way, St James the Less was the son of Alpheus and may have been a relative of Jesus. He is celebrated with St Philip on 1st May)
James was one of the first Christians to die for his Christian faith, probably the second after St Stephen. Acts chapter 12 tell us that he was murdered at the instigation of King Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great who tried to do away with the infant Jesus (Matthew ch 2).
Sadly there are still parts of the world where people, not just Christians, suffer because of their religious faith. There are persecuted, driven from their homes or killed just because they are different from the majority. It is the same kind of tribalism that sees people persecuted because of their skin colour, ethnic origin, or sexual orientation. In Tudor times we English did our fair share of religious persecution with Protestants burning Roman Catholics and vise versa.
If we are to live together peaceably in our global village we have to show toleration to people of different beliefs and cultures. Toleration is not agreeing with what they believe. It is giving them the right to be different from the majority and doing what we can to defend that right to be different. It treating others as we would like to be treated, or as the Bible puts it, loving our neighbour as ourselves.
Have a good summer.
6. PRIEST IN CHARGE LETTER FOR JUNE
Because of the relatively early date of Easter we enter June this year in what the Church calls the season of Trinity. This lasts from Trinity Sunday, 26th May, when we recall and celebrate the Christian understanding of what God is, right up to the end of October. It is also part of what is called Ordinary Time. Church hangings and vestments are green except when celebrating the feasts of martyrs, such as St James, when we wear red. After the excitement of Christmas and Easter and all the events of the life of Jesus that are celebrated, Ordinary time is a period of getting on with growing in our faith and putting into practice what we have learned and celebrated in the high points of the Christian year. We all have these dull periods of our lives when what we are and what we believe has to be lived out in our daily existence. This is when the reality of our faith, whatever it is, is proved true or suspect. Mountain top experiences are great but it is what we take back down into the valley of ordinariness that really matters.
Over the next month or so I hope that everyone will begin to see changes at St James’ Church, starting with the scaffolding. He hope to start the long overdue process of re-roofing the church. At time of writing we do not have a start date but we hope that the work will be completed by the end of the summer. Then we will turn our attention to some internal renovations including the provision of toilet and kitchen facilities. I will keep you updated as we progress.
For our younger people this is exam season. Please remember all school pupils and students in your prayers at this time together with their teachers. Many hopes and dreams hang on the outcome of the next few weeks.
7. PRIEST IN CHARGE LETTER FOR MAY
May! Queen of blossoms,
And fulfilling Flowers,
With what pretty music
Shall we charm the hour?
(May by Edward Thurlow)
Crossing all the fingers we can muster and touching wood, it does look like spring has finally arrived in our part of Hertfordshire, at last! The primroses in our churchyards were wonderful and St James’ church is sporting a new notice board. Look out for another notice board at the car park gate to the churchyard in the next few months. These were given in memory of the late Stan Dixon who was a prominent member of our church and community. I also hope that the Rectory will soon be sporting a new notice to replace the temporary one pinned to the fence.
For the next couple of weeks the church is still celebrating Easter with all the symbols of new life that point us to the resurrection of Jesus. On Thursday 9th May we celebrate Ascension Day, when Jesus was taken back into heaven at the end of his earthly ministry. For the early disciples this a very worrying time. They knew what Jesus had taught them but had not worked out what it all meant. Then ten days later we celebrate Pentecost when God sent the Holy Spirit on the disciples and the Christian Church took off and began to preach about Jesus to ends of the earth, a process which still continues today.
The wedding season has already got underway and we look forward to more couples celebrating their love and commitment to each other over the summer.
In the next few months we hope to start work on re-roofing St James’ Church, so I will apologise in advance for any inconvenience this causes. Then we hope to do some re-ordering inside the church to provide a toilet and other facilities. The aim is the make the church a more useful centre for church and community activities.
All of this renewal of life should point us towards the new life that Easter speaks of, that we can all share in the resurrection life of Jesus which will invigorate our lives and take us on into and eternity with God.
8. PRIEST IN CHARGE LETTER FOR APRIL
O to be in England
Now that April’s there,
Home-thoughts, from abroad, Robert Browning.
If you check back you will see that that is how I started last April’s letter. It’s the only poem I know about April. I hope that by the time you read this the weather will be a bit more April and a bit less November. Last year’s letter was about Easter but that was at the end of March this year. We are still in the season of Easter when we continue to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus and the difference that makes to our relationship with God. Easter goes on until we celebrate the Ascension, Jesus’ return to heaven, and then on to Pentecost or Whitsun in mid-May when we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit on the first disciples and the birth of the Christian Church.
I had scour my diary to look for some other high lights for this month to write about. It’s the end of the tax year! – O joy. Also, in the Church of England, April is Annual Parochial Church Meeting season when we chew over the past year, approve our accounts and elect our Church Wardens and new members of the Parochial Church Council. The PCC is the decision making body of the local church and helps to keep the vicar on the straight and narrow.
The APCM is a time to take stock, to review plans and try to see the way our way forward for the next year as any other organisation would do at its AGM. In the coming year we hope to re-roof St James’ Church and re-organise the interior including installing a toilet and kitchen facilities, and removing some of the pews. The aim is to make St James a more flexible space for church and community activities. We have yet to finalise our plans – so look out for more details as they emerge.
The end of the tax year may prompt us to review how we spend your money. Despite the recession and incomes not going up in line with inflation, we are still among the richest people in the world. We have a moral responsibility to care for those in this country and in the developing world who do not enjoy the things we take for granted; clean water, effective sewage treatment, adequate food, education and health care. These are the people who also suffer disproportionately from climate change and natural disasters.
Many of us will have done various silly things to raise money on Red Nose Day, well done if you did. When I was teaching I went to school on one Red Nose day having shaved off my beard and wearing a wig. The poor pupils thought they had a new IT teacher. No such luck, just the old one in disguise. All of the money you raised will, I am sure be put to good use. But, what about making a regular, perhaps monthly, payment to an organisation of your choice that will help somebody less fortunate than yourself. Many charities ask for £2 or £3 per month, but would we really miss £10 or £20 per month or more? Think of how much good that would do.
Finally with our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters we celebrate the start of the ministry of two new leaders of our Christian Communities, Most Reverend Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury and Pope Francis I. Please join with us in praying for them that they will be effective and inspiring leaders in the Church and in the wider world.