August is supposed to be a laid back, quiet month.
In one of my previous parishes, Wash Common in Newbury, it was always said that “God went on holiday in August” and the parish did likewise, with the church pretty much closed for the duration.
Not so here.
We have the aftermath of the glorious maelstrom of the “Big Top” Holiday Club with the Holiday Club Service on the 4th, which will be fabulous. (“Roll up Roll - up all welcome!!”)
There will be the Community Leaders’ Lunch on the 7th August with upwards of 30 people from the Town Community: really good for networking & also fun!
Then I have a number of Barbeques happening including one on 24th August for members of the Plurality P.C.C.s and one on the 31st August for all comers where all will be welcome! 12.00 midday – 3.00 p.m. both times. Put them in your diaries!!
I’ll be using the magnificent Barbeque you all gave me for my 30th anniversary of Deaconing (thank you so, so much!) & I am looking forward to it.
I take real pleasure in feeding people & love opening the Rectory for a whole number of does & events. (Sophie loves it too – she welcomes everyone into her pack and is ever hopeful for dropped hamburgers & sausages!)
I think hospitality is an important part of a Parish Priest’s role, not just because I enjoy doing it, but because I think here is something about hospitality which is part of the core Gospel message.
Our central act of worship is based on a shared meal (our Holy Week Agape Meal focuses this) and I think it reflects in the self – giving of Jesus something of the hospitality of God as He shares his Love with us all, inviting us to be caught up in the relationship between the Persons of the Trinity.
This August, I hope you have fun in (hopefully!) the sunshine & see you at the Rectory. Hurrah!
Love, Fr. John
Nature Notes August 2019
It is now high summer, mid-July as I write. I have just returned from a 1100 km eight week walk in the wilds of southern France and northern Spain along the pilgrimage routes of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. The habitats and wildlife that I encountered along the way were frequently amazing. We started by walking across the very flat and sandy forest of Landes de Gascogne in Aquitaine, just a few metres above sea level. This is reputed to be the largest forest in Europe, and has been a source of French timber for several hundred years. Much of the forest is planted maritime pine, but the natural ecosystem is oak dominated woodland, with strawberry trees and heathers, which still persist in much of the area. I was amazed at the number of nightingales that I heard singing, not only in the French forests but also along Spanish sections of the Camino. There were also many wood warblers, both of the afore-mentioned species are increasingly rare in Britain.
A very rare plant that I have studied in Sussex because of its rarity called the spiked rampion was also frequently encountered along the French part of the Camino. Similarly, I studied the very rare early spider orchid on the South Downs near Brighton, but these were also frequently encountered along both the French and Spanish sections of the Camino.
Once out of Aquitaine, we were in the Pyrenean Mountains where we quickly encountered vultures, black and red kites and other birds of prey. However, the weather was so challenging with rain, wind and cold that it was not very conducive to nature study. Once over the Pyrenees we were on the high plains and further mountains of Northern Spain, encountering altitudes up to 1500 metres above sea level. The wild flowers in these areas were truly amazing, along with further rare birds such as the red-backed shrike, crested larks, cetti’s warblers and curl buntings. One of the most remarkable encounters was at the many churches along the Spanish Camino, the majority of which had one or more pairs of white storks breeding on the roofs and spires. Most of these were seen during May and June after arriving from their African wintering quarters, and had quite large nestlings. The adults, who are very mate faithful and long-lived, greeted each other frequently with clackering of their beaks sounding like the banging of a hollow log with drumsticks.
Church Times - Diary February 2019
I’ve just experienced the longest Sunday Morning Service I’ve ever been to. I was on my usual post Christmas break in Barbados (the tourist police still haven’t caught up with me yet to say that vicars aren’t allowed in the Caribbean, which is a sneaking feeling I get every time I go) and I was in St James, one of the historic Anglican Parish churches on the island. It was the Parish Eucharist with the Baptism of four babies. Two & a half hours it took , including an edifying sermon a smidgeon under 35 minutes. A number of obvious visitors melted away, but the regular congregation took it breezily in their stride. I was impressed. If I tried the same approach in my own Parishes, there would be restlessness at the hour and twenty mark, with an intervention by church officials armed with Churchwardens’ staves at the hour and a half. Mind you, one morning in a spirit of mischief I might be tempted to have a go…..
Barbados is actually a hugely religious island. There are supposedly some 300 churches of assorted denominations dotted around the countryside, as numerous as the Rum Shops. Well, almost. That works out staggeringly as a church per 1000 residents, which puts our church numbers in the shade. As well as the main Anglican parishes (which are the chief administrative units on the island) there are Methodists, Baptists, Seventh Day Adventists and pretty much any grouping you can think of. I remember being rather taken with a jaunty little pink hut that called itself the “Little Jerusalem Deliverance Center”- the spelling suggesting it’s American origin, I suspect.
But the presence of the churches is not just physical buildings, but everywhere. One day, a van cut in front of me; it’s back doors were decorated with the sentences “Jesus is coming. Are you ready?”, which took me by surprise. Similarly a number of bus stops have been adopted by church groups who have inscribed “Be still and know that I am God”, which on reflection is a splendid thought for people compelled to sit and wait in bus queues.
All the bells were purchased from the Whitechapel foundry of William Mears and bear the company’s name, the date 1779, and inscriptions.
Church Clock Restored – 10th November 2011.
|4th Jul 2011||
Five months after the Clock was removed (on the 4th July 2011) for cleaning and overhauling, the mechanism was reinstated, and together with the repainted, and re-gilded, clock faces the town has its landmark timepiece back in action.
|12th Nov 2011|
The clock was made in 1883 and although on the clock’s ‘setting dial’ it bears the name of a local man and the word Uckfield, it was, in fact, made by Thwaites and Reed of Clerkenwell in London. It is typical of their design at that time and very similar to their clock in the Knightsbridge Barracks in London. The clock features dials that are unusually placed, being on the out-built mountings on the four sides of the spire. Likewise the clock itself is also unusually mounted because it is above the bell-frame in the belfry and on a level with the base of the spire.