As I write, the first rose is out in my garden: it is an Ena Harkness, a deep red, highly scented hybrid tea rose.
I planted it last year and although it grew vigorously, disappointingly it didn’t flower. This year it is the first of the season & has upwards of thirty buds so promising a magnificent display. It shows that summer is truly on its way, that the cycle of the year is turning, that Winter having given way to Spring, is a distant memory and we are now looking towards the warmth (hopefully!!) of June, July and August.
We are in the middle of the cycle of the church’s year too: Eastertide will come to an end at Pentecost on the 9th June, when we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the first disciples in wind and fire, pouring the energy of God onto the new-born church.
As we see the world opening up in summer beauty and abundant life around us and as we think of the church empowered and growing, so we can as individuals respond in wonder and excitement to the world and to God, that we may grow in faith and in joyful response to the wonder of creation with which he has blessed us.
And remember: 22nd June is Midsummer’s Day, when the evenings will start to draw in & Autumn will be waiting in the wings.
Give thanks for the beauty of the present: give thanks for the wonder of God’s presence in the circling years of our lives, and trust in Him to lead us ever onwards.
Love Fr. John
Martyn is currently somewhere along the “Camino de Santiago” (more about that later). However, I am sure he would have made comment about how the changeable weather of May has affected nature. The wonderfully long hours of daylight that we are blessed with during May and June kindly encouraged deciduous plants to come into full leaf. However, the chilly weather of early May certainly held back development. At times it seemed as if our summer came on Easter Sunday this year, because by the following week temperatures had dropped almost 20C a lot for migratory birds to handle, and indeed the RSPB reported that the west to east migration of some species came to an almost abrupt halt in May, as their expected source of insects had ceased to be available. What happened to the Spanish Plume that was reported in the ‘media’ to sweep in and bring the associated high temperatures? I think one can safely say that was just ‘hot air’ based upon falsely interpreting the long term weather outlook – no change there then. The chilly weather from the north west certainly cooled down the Spring Bank Holiday, and ‘soup’ rather than ‘salad’ became the favoured menu choice. However, at least cool weather resulted in the bluebells staying out in full bloom for a lot longer than last year, when the heat over the holiday weekend caused the blooms rapidly fade and flop over.
As Christianity spread in Spain regions west of Navarra became linked by the Camino de Santiago – known in England as the Way of Saint James – is a network of well over a dozen recognised pilgrimage routes leading to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia (north west Spain). During the Middle Ages it became one of the most important Christian pilgrimage routes, along with those to Rome and Jerusalem, and is reputed to have encouraged the growth of several striking Cities. Then the Black Death, the Protestant Reformation along with political unrest in Europe during the sixteenth century saw a marked decline in pilgrimages. By the 1980s only a few hundred pilgrims registered each year, and then in 1987 the route was declared the first European Cultural Route, and was quickly followed by some well documented guide books. In 1985 690 people registered and then in 2018 some 327,379 pilgrims registered. In Holy Years – this when the feast of St. James (25th July) falls on a Sunday - there is a significant increase in numbers in 1993 some 99,436 registered in 2010 just over 272,700 registered, so by the next Holy Year 2021 the number could exceed the 400,000 mark.
Traditionally pilgrims undertook the Camino de Santiago from their home, and this what Martyn is intending to do, but not from Uckfield instead he will commence his pilgrimage from his house in Casteljaloux (near Marmande) in France. I imagine he will then head some 160+ miles to St. Jean Pied de Port (still in France) near to Ostbat in the Pyrenees, and a traditional starting point for the journey. Considering the nature of some of the terrain he will encounter this would take about two weeks. From there Martyn will be able to follow a well trodden pathway marked by Scallops – the symbol for the “way of Saint James” – and then some 500 miles later, after at least 35 days, Martyn will have reached his destination. The route will pass close to Pamplona, Puente Reina, Logrono, Burgos, Leon, Astorga, Ponferrada, Lugo (or Ourense) and seen him in closeness to the nature of the Basque country Navarra and La Rioja, and then in to Castilla y Leon and finally in to Galicia.
Just one question remains. Will Martyn opt to undertake the additional pilgrimage that some embark upon, and that is to continue to the Finisterre coast where Saint James came ashore?
M J F
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.