Father James's Blog

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Keeping in Touch 29: Waiting for the Light

Dear Friends,

First of all, thank you to Andrew Wragg for writing in the newsletter last week. It’s great to hear from someone else – for you and for me! And a timely reminder as we continue to navigate this pandemic of the value of those small human connections, and the need to remember that everyone’s experience is different.

It was to make a truly human connection that God came to earth as a human baby. And it is to the story of that birth, the hope and light it represents, that our minds are turning as we head into Advent. The Church is about to get into that season of anticipation, whose name means ‘coming’, while the world in general is already well on the way to the ‘Christmas spirit’ – the lights are up in the High Street, Christmas songs are creeping onto the radio, and of course Christmas products have been in the shops since September.

You may expect some ‘baa humbug’ to follow these observations. In a normal year, perhaps it would – lamenting the lack of patience, the commercialization, the lack of understanding that Christmas only starts on Christmas Eve – and Christmas Eve after sunset at that! But this year it seems to me that the lights, the songs and the Christmas goods are an indication of just how much many people in our communities are looking for some light and some hope. In a year which has been dark and uncertain, and looking towards a Christmas which will still not be normal (though the three household ‘Christmas bubble’ will help), these symbols of the anticipation of light and hope are more important than usual.

All Saints is offering light in the darkness through the ‘Let there be light’ event on 4th and 5th December. You can get involved in this by coming along to see the candlelit church of course, but also by sponsoring one of the large bulbs on the yew tree by the porch in memory of a loved one. Dedications will also be written on tags and placed on a Christmas tree in the Lady Chapel. Please contact Sheila Ashman if you would like to sponsor a bulb and to arrange a dedication: 07785 516690.

In our Sunday services we will also have our usual symbol of anticipating light and hope with the Advent ring (thank you to Sandra and Alex Hunt for decorating and engineering!). This year it will be slightly different, as instead of four red candles there will be three purple and one pink candle. Purple is the colour for Advent, representing not royal purple as is often assumed but the dark and expectant night waiting for the dawn. The pink candle represents a moment of joy on the third Sunday of Advent (‘Gaudete Sunday’), when traditionally Rose vestments were worn and the Advent fast (yes, Advent is meant to be like Lent!) could be relaxed.

I will be lighting the first purple candle with Rachel and Jill on Sunday as worship will still be virtual. But from Sunday 6th December I’m pleased to say that public worship will resume in church building. We’ll be returning to the system we had up to 1st November – there will be limited capacity at services, with social distancing and face masks and we ask you to please email us to let us know you will be coming: allsaintskingslangley@outlook.com. This helps us to manage numbers and assists us with complying with NHS Test and Trace so we would be very grateful if you could help in this way.

I hope you are finding moments of light in the dark as we await the one who is coming into the world.

With my love and prayers for you,

All Saints Vicarage,

Thursday 26th November 2020

Keeping in Touch 28: God with us in uncertainty

Dear Friends,

With Remembrance marked, all thoughts turn to Christmas. What will it be like? How will we celebrate in church, at home, with family and friends? These are questions that are all a bit ‘up in the air’ for all of us. They depend on whether the present lockdown ends as advertised on 2nd December (hopefully it does!) and what kind of restrictions we will be moving to afterwards. Even with the announcement of a potentially effective and viable vaccine, it doesn’t look like life will be back to ‘pre-Covid’ over night.

The first Christmas was all about uncertainty too. Mary’s uncertainty when faced with the Archangel Gabriel’s announcement ‘you will have a child and he will be called the Son of God’; Joseph’s uncertainty about whether to still marry Mary; the shepherd’s uncertainty about what it could all mean; the Magi’s uncertainty about what, or who, exactly they would find illuminated under that star of wonder. Maybe I am getting ahead of myself to be thinking about Christmas. We have Advent to wait and watch through first! But, like most of us I think, it’s Christmas that is on my mind, not Advent. And it was in the midst of that first Christmas of uncertainty, God took his first uncertain breaths, his first uncertain, vulnerable movements as one of us, as Emmanuel.

Usually, Advent is my favourite season of the Church year: waiting and watching for light and hope to dawn in darkness. Perhaps that is a helpful corrective this year as we count down to an uncertain Christmas. Advent says, wait and see – have patience. Not easy, as children of all ages know – ‘wait and see what Father Christmas has brought!’ – but important to practice, especially this year. Wait and see.

Below is an outline of our Christmas activities and services. Where services are (hopefully) to be in person please bear in mind that places will be limited and bookings will be on a first come first served basis. We will open these for booking nearer the time.

And if watching and waiting sounds like your idea of a nightmare(!) then look out for some information next week about two practical ways to bring some light into people’s uncertain lives this Advent and Christmas.

With my love and prayers for you,

All Saints Vicarage,

Thursday 12th November 2020

Keeping in Touch 27: Uncertain times

Dear Friends,

This week I have been following the twists and turns of the US presidential election. If you like drama it’s certainly a good place to look for it! As I write, things are fairly evenly balanced. It looks as if Joe Biden will win the White House, but Donald Trump is mounting legal challenges, alleging electoral fraud and making every sign that if he loses he will not be going graciously or quietly. As if we would expect anything else. An uncertain result is not what either party wanted. But that is what it looks like they must navigate a course through.

Uncertainty is something we are all learning to live with. The semi-normality of the last few months has been a welcome respite in living through this pandemic. But the announcement of a second lockdown reminds us that we are ‘not out of the woods yet’. Again many of us will be isolated, again we are relying on key workers and essential services, again we are faced with uncertainty. In the midst of this, our wellbeing is important. I am including below a list of 10 tips for mental well being, which I have included in my letter before. Alongside prayer and keeping connected to our spiritual life, some of these ideas may prove helpful in the next few weeks.

As in the first lockdown, we will be continuing our worship online instead of in person. We will be live streaming the 9.30am service via Facebook – we hope to do this from Church rather than from the Vicarage. That is the plan for this Sunday, so we will see how it goes! To tune in, head to our Facebook page or you can join via the online worship page on the website.

On Remembrance Sunday we would also usually host the packed out village Remembrance service. We had hoped to hold this in the churchyard, then we planned to hold it in the building with community representatives only, now it will be a recorded service online. A good illustration of living with uncertainty! And adapting as we go along. I’m pleased to say that the service will still include representation from the other churches in Kings Langley and members of the community. It will be available at 3pm via Facebook and our Youtube channel, and via the online worship page of the website.

With Christmas around the corner Boris Johnson seems determined not to be ‘the Prime Minister who cancelled Christmas’. I guess we will wait and see what happens with the numbers and what the scientists have to say – we’ll continue to live with uncertainty and to adapt as we go along. But even if the lockdown is extended, Christmas won’t be cancelled, just as although we cannot gather in the building, Church isn’t cancelled, kindness isn’t cancelled, prayer isn’t cancelled, caring for each other isn’t cancelled, and the presence of God isn’t cancelled. ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today and forever’ (Hebrews 13.8). Lockdown or not, pandemic or not, Christmas ‘as normal’ or not, the love of God we see in Jesus is the same. Living with that love is our certainty in an uncertain world.

With my love and prayers for you,

All Saints Vicarage,

Thursday 5th November 2020

 

10 Top Tips for Mental Wellbeing
Relating The people around you offer a valuable pool of support so it’s important to put time into strengthening those connections. Try turning off distractions to chat with friends or family.
Exercising Regular activity will provide an endorphin boost and increase confidence. Try finding an activity that suits you and your schedule.
Awareness Taking time to switch off autopilot and ‘be in in the moment’ is a great tool to combat stress. Try paying attention to your senses – what can you see, hear or feel around you?
Giving Holding out a helping hand makes other people happy and will make you feel happier too. Try asking friends, family or colleagues how they are and listen without judgement.
Trying out Learning new things is stimulating and can help to lift your mood. Try out a new hobby, club or activity that interests you.
Direction Working towards positive, realistic goals can provide motivation and structure. Try choosing a goal that is meaningful to you, not what someone else expects of you; remember to celebrate progress along the way.
Meaning People who have meaning in their lives experience less stress, anxiety and depression. Try prioritising the things that bring you the strongest sense of purpose.
Resilience Although we can’t always choose what happens to us, we can often choose our own response to what happens. Try finding an outlet such as talking to friends or writing it down.
Emotions Positive emotions can build up a buffer against stress and even lead to lasting changes in the brain to help maintain wellbeing. Try taking time to notice what you’re grateful for and focus on the good aspects of any situation.
Acceptance No one is perfect. Longing to be someone different gets in the way of making the most of our own happiness. Try being kind to yourself when things go wrong.

Keeping in Touch 26: Not on our own

Dear Friends,

This week the clergy and readers of the Deanery had our first in person meeting since before the Pandemic began. We have seen each other in ones and twos and via zoom but ‘it’s just not the same’. I don’t think we’d realised how much we’d missed being together, worshipping together, sharing ideas and support and having a bit of a laugh! We held our meeting in the context of the Eucharist, Mike the Rural Dean only dismissing us after we had had our catch up and some time for ideas sharing.

It was reassuring to know that all the other ministers and churches in the Deanery have the same things on their minds as we do at All Saints. How do we do our main services as well as we can within current constraints, how might we provide something appropriately pitched for children and families, how can we continue to serve the community, how do we keep on top of ‘keeping in touch’ with our people, what are we doing for All Saints, All Souls, Remembrance and, dare we say it, Christmas! In fact there is more (or less!) about these upcoming seasonal events in this newsletter or in signpost.

Knowing that we are not the only church asking these questions is helpful. In general in life, we human beings don’t want to feel alone. The idea that we are the only person feeling like this, or thinking like this is really difficult. And that is only exacerbated during a time like the one we are living through now, when many people are physically and socially lonely.

Knowing that we’re not alone in all this counts for a lot. We have in place an ‘official’ pastoral telephone network and I know there is a lot of ‘unofficial’ contact going on too! Thank you for all you are doing to support each other and those around you. Can I encourage you to keep picking up the phone, to keep emailing or texting, and to keep (safely) knocking on each others’ doors and visiting. Don’t underestimate the value of that contact, the value of showing someone else they’re not on their own. We are the body of Christ, through us the Holy Spirit makes Jesus present to each other. By support and caring we show each other that God has said:

‘Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the LORD your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.’ (Deuteronomy 31.6)

With my love and prayers for you,

All Saints Vicarage,

Thursday 22nd October 2020

 

This week at All Saints:

9.30am Family Eucharist  also live-streamed via the website and available afterwards via the website and YouTube

Keeping in Touch 25: Holding the Balance

Dear Friends,

October is a month when I am often thinking about my maternal grandfather, Kenneth Chitty. It is the month of his birthday and of the anniversary of his death. This year isn’t a significant anniversary (11 years since he was promoted to glory) but it does have some extra poignancy. My grandmother, Sheila Chitty died last year, so my Mum and my Aunt inherited Grandma and Grandad’s house: this month they have finally been able to sell it.

I’m finding that I’ve got all sorts of mixed feelings about it. I’m relieved that my parents haven’t got the stress of the sale, surveys, solicitors and estate agents hanging over them anymore, and I’m really glad that my Aunt will be able to move somewhere more up to date and nearer my parents, and I share part of their relief. But I am sad too. I have lots of happy memories of spending time in that house and in the huge (and immaculate!) garden, with my Grandad in particular. And because I am not nearby, I feel a bit like I’ve not had chance to say ‘goodbye’ to the place.

I realize that I am in danger of being overly sentimental! It is sensible for my aunt to move nearer to my parents and it is good that the new family who are moving into Grandad’s house will be able to make new memories there. But this is the stuff of life. We balance how we feel with what is practical and sensible; we weigh what we want on the scales with what we know is good and life giving for others; we hold the specialness of people and places in our past with the potential for new things in the future.

In my report to the annual meeting last week I mentioned our aspiration to pursue a reordering project as part of our Mission Action Plan. All Saints is at a season in its life where we are holding the specialness of what we have inherited on the one hand with the need to adapt and renew our building for the future on the other. We are balancing how we feel about the place, with how our building can best serve others. The generations before us sought to balance the same things as they responded to the needs of their times. It is surely right for us to consider the same questions. Doing so is about faith and hope in God’s future. It is about supporting our vision for our church family, making All Saints a truly welcoming place for all, a place of inspiration and encounter in worship and prayer and more widely used by and connected to the community we seek to be at the heart of.

There will be more information from the reordering committee in the coming weeks about the needs that we want to meet in those three areas (welcome, worship, wider community use) and there will be opportunity for everyone to contribute their feedback and ideas. We will all no doubt have a mixture of feelings as we consider the possibilities and balance the specialness of what we have inherited with the future to which God calls us. But before we were known as Christians, the Church was called ‘the way’. We are a pilgrim people, a people on the move. And sometimes we need to ask God to help us see different possibilities so that we can follow him more closely on the way. Just as I need to see things differently about the loss of Grandad’s house. It doesn’t mean that any of what was good in my experience is lost, and the way to remember is to live out the care and fun that we had in my relationships with those around me now.

With my love and prayers for you,

All Saints Vicarage,

Friday 16th October 2020

 

This week at All Saints:

9.30am Family Eucharist  also live-streamed via the website and available afterwards via the website and YouTube

Keeping in Touch 24: Dreams and visions

Dear Friends,

This Sunday is our delayed Annual Parochial Church Meeting (APCM). Like churches across the country (apart from a few super-keen ones who had already held theirs in early March!) we had to put our annual meeting on ice, just as we had to close the doors of our buildings and suspend much of our regular activity.

But since then we have managed to make some great progress in this brave new world! Despite things being more limited and feeling different, we have not only overcome the obstacles Covid-19 has flung at us, we have also taken the opportunity to do new things. In the initial weeks of the lockdown we moved our services online and increased our presence on social media. When churches were allowed to re-open we not only opened the doors, we also started an open table foodbank to serve those in need. Faced with a much bigger deficit than forecast, many people have responded with great generosity – either in one-off amounts, or by increasing their planned giving. We have brought the choir back, we are looking for ways to reconnect our men’s group, we have begun two Bible study groups and a stall at the Local Produce Market. Thank you to everyone who has contributed in so many ways over the last 6 months.

The APCM is a time of looking back. We hear reports on what has happened, usually over the last year, but this time over the last 18 months. But it is also a time to look forward. It’s a time for reflection and re-focussing as well as for reporting. Last Autumn we had a process of looking at what being called ‘All Saints’ means and a review of our Mission Action Plan. The pandemic has impacted on all the things we wanted to take forward. The enquirers course moved online, the All Age Eucharist started well but was then put on hold, and we have not started a café church. We began finding more ways to pray for growth but rightly our prayers have had a different focus, and we have made less progress in taking forward the reordering of the church building.

But now is a time to look ahead again, ‘forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead’ (Philippians 3.13). What will our plans be now in a Covid-19 world? We recognised that we needed to better welcome and nurture new people and to engage more with children and families, that we needed to commit this to prayer and develop our building to support this. How might we meet those needs now? Despite a changed world we have already shown that we can not only adapt but also be creative. How do we take our vision forward?

To that end I am inviting everyone to a ‘virtual parish lunch’ and Mission Action Plan (MAP) discussion at 12noon on Sunday 1st November, All Saints day. Get yourself sat down with something to eat and something to toast each other with (some fizz perhaps, it is our patronal festival!). I will then welcome everyone and give a short talk reminding us about our MAP and the vision that underpins this. We’ll then have small group discussion of ideas for growing in prayer, service, generosity and numbers in ‘break out rooms’ before coming back together to feedback. I will then take all this away to reflect on with the PCC, so that we can decide what to take forward on an updated MAP.

I know many of us are not huge fans of Zoom, but I would like to encourage you to put this in your diaries and take part. It is an opportunity to reflect together on the way forward. At the APCM we will hear about what was achieved in 2019, and how we have responded so far to Coronavirus in 2020. This is an opportunity for us all to offer answers to the question ‘what next?’ God speaks through his Church, not just through clergy and PCCs! So, come and share your ideas, you never know what might turn out to be a word from God:

Thus says the Lord:
  I will pour out my spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
   your old men shall dream dreams,
   and your young men shall see visions. (Joel 2.28)

With my love and prayers for you,

All Saints Vicarage,

Thursday 8th October 2020

 

This week at All Saints:

9.30am Family Eucharist  also live-streamed via the website and available afterwards via the website and YouTube

Keeping in Touch 23: O sing unto the Lord a new song

‘One who sings, prays twice’, attrib. St Augustine of Hippo

Dear Friends,

It is my great pleasure to tell you that our choir are back! In line with recent advice from the government, allowing up to 15 people to sing together, we can once again enjoy this much-valued part of our worshipping life. Sadly, congregations still don’t have a green light to join in. Thank you for your patience! If you find yourself unable to wait any longer to sing ‘hymns, psalms and spiritual songs’ (Col. 3.16) then why not join the choir? Jill McAdam, our director of music would be delighted to chat to you if you’d like to join: 01923 266667 jilly_mac@sky.com. Choir practice is at 6.30pm on a Friday for a fun and friendly hour of warm-ups, hymns and anthems. You just need to enjoy singing!

Our worship has been ‘stripped back’ in the last few weeks as we re-entered the church. Some of you may have enjoyed the quieter style – a chance for reflection and stillness in this uncertain time. You may also have enjoyed the shorter service time! There’s been less music, less movement and fewer readings. But we have still had the core of what we are about – gathering around the Word, sharing in Christ at the Altar and connecting with each other, though admittedly in a more limited way. Whether virtually or in person this is what forms us as God’s people and nurtures us to serve our community. We have done our best to continue to follow in the footsteps of the early church:

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved. (Acts 2. 42-47).

You may remember that we referred to this passage when we reviewed our Mission Action Plan last year – this description of the early church is an important basis for our vision and values. Our vision is to be, ‘All Saints: church in our community; community in our church’, and our values are ‘Growing, Open, Joyful, Caring and Prayerful’. Now that we are heading cautiously (with everyone else!) towards the ‘new normal’ we can return to our vision and values to help us shape the next leg of our journey. What is the song we are called to sing in this place in this time – the ‘new song’ to echo the eternal Song of God’s love.

Many people have enabled us to hold two services over the last few weeks, and I am very grateful to you. But a return to one main service at 9.30am, enriched by the voices of our choir, is a great step on our journey towards that ‘new normal’. Next stop: coffee!

I would also like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has been able to respond to the recent Stewardship letter. And it’s not too late to respond if you haven’t done so(!). If you would like any help with setting up regular giving, gift aid, or transferring from the envelope scheme to a standing order please speak to Eric Martin: 01923 267604. And if you can sign up to Gift Aid you can find the form HERE. I know that some of you will not be able to review your giving at this challenging time. If you are in any need please get in touch with me or the Churchwardens, or get in touch with Kings Langley Good Neighbours: www.klgna.org or 07790 668672.

If you haven’t looked in on a Sunday service for a while, then perhaps this week is a good one to venture back. With a few more of us present, and the choir to encourage us with their voices, I hope it will lift your spirits.

With my love and prayers for you,

All Saints Vicarage,

Feast of Gregory the Great, Thursday 2nd September 2020

 

This week at All Saints:

9.30am Family Eucharist  also live-streamed via the website and available afterwards via the website and YouTube

Keeping in Touch 22: Falling Acorns

Dear Friends,

During my time off earlier this month, Rachel and I had a short break in the New Forest. I’ve been visiting the New Forest since I was a small boy and it is a place I love to return to. The woods, the heathland, the streams, the ponies, the sea – and the tea shops! We had a lovely few days walking, including a dramatic final leg into Lyndhurst on the last day when the sole of Rachel’s left boot completely broke off (they have seen many years of faithful service).

Although the leaves had not begun to turn, the berries, fruits and seeds were ripening and the acorns were beginning to fall. It is still definitely summer, but autumn is round the corner. With the falling acorns comes the rounding up of the semi wild cattle by the New Forest Commoners and soon after the deer begin the annual rut. Just as we see in the fields around Kings Langley, nature depends on and flourishes with the changing of the seasons. The cycle of change is what brings growth, and fruit and life – the decay of autumn and the stillness and rest of winter prepare the ground for the shoots of spring and the ripening of summer. Nature flourishes through change.

We are all living in a time of great change. A time that we often hear is ‘unprecedented’. And many of us feel that it is unprecedented. It is true that none of us has lived through anything like the lockdown we experienced from March to July/August. It is true that we have never experienced this coronavirus before or lived through a response to a global pandemic like this one. And for all the invocations of the ‘blitz/Dunkirque spirit’ from some in the media and the government, it is not fair or realistic to compare this experience to the experience of those who lived through the Second World War.

But (you knew there was a ‘but’ coming!), it isn’t completely true to say that this is an ‘unprecedented’ time. The details may be different, but this is a time of change and we have experienced many times of change in our lives as individuals, community, nation and world – and as a church. And we have grown through those times of change, they have brought opportunities as well as challenges, new ideas as well as difficulties. At All Saints we have made several changes in the last few months – with online services, a new weekly newsletter, a pastoral ‘phone network and a new open table foodbank. As the situation continues to unfold, we can keep asking how else we can adapt, what new ideas we can try, to encourage one another and to grow as a church, in numbers, in commitment to God and in service of our local community.

The churchwardens and I would love to hear from you if you have ideas to share for socials, nurture, fundraising or worship. We have really valued your feedback during the last few months. And we have valued all your support, especially in recent weeks whilst we have held two Sunday services. Please note that from September 6th we will have one service only at 9.30am with a capacity of 40 and please do continue to send us your test and trace details each week to help us record that information and to gauge numbers. Email allsaintskingslangley@outlook.com or ‘phone the churchwardens.

Having said that we appreciate feedback, I would like to take the opportunity to ask for some here. I would like to bring back coffee in the church hall after the 9.30am service, if we can find a way to do this safely, but it would be helpful first to know how many of you would like to stay for coffee if we did so. If you could email me (or ring me if you are not online) to let me know that would be much appreciated.

Change can be tiring and confusing, but it is also the ground for new life and growth. This ‘unprecedented’ time of very much ‘precedented’ change gives us opportunities amidst the challenges. I would like to thank you for all your continued support as we negotiate this season together, and sign off with a prayer adapted from the service of compline:

Be present, O merciful God,
and protect us through these uncertain days,
so that we who are wearied
by the changes and chances of this fleeting world,
may repose upon thy eternal changelessness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

 

With my love and prayers for you,

All Saints Vicarage,

Thursday 27th August 2020

 

This week at All Saints:

9.30am Family Eucharist (A-L if possible) live-streamed via the website and available afterwards via Facebook and YouTube

11.00am Family Eucharist (M-Z if possible)

Keeping in Touch 21: Planting, watering, harvesting

Dear Friends,

Earlier this week, Rachel and I went for a walk up the other side of the valley. We’re pretty familiar with the paths around the village and over towards Chipperfield now, but we hadn’t yet ventured across the railway tracks (except for the Easter Monday pilgrimage last April). Despite a few wrong turns, missing one footpath about halfway up Harthall Lane, and some debate over whether another footpath went through Hyde Farm, we enjoyed finding new paths, new fields and new views. The rural idyll wasn’t as quiet as the chocolate box caricature: the harvest was starting, combines cutting their way across the hill sides.

Jesus was a great one for an agricultural image. He often used the idea of a seed to talk about the Kingdom or about faith – in both cases, it may be hidden or tiny, but it has great effects. He also talked directly about the harvest too: ‘The harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few’ (Matt. 9.35), ‘Look around you and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting’ (John 4.35), ‘The harvest is the end of the age and the reapers are angels’ (Matt. 13.39). But there is no harvest if the seeds are not planted first. This is one of the ways that Jesus characterised his ministry, as a sower. And, alongside harvesting, it was one of the tasks he left to the apostles and to the early church. St Paul used a similar image when he wrote about how different styles of ministry compliment each other, ‘I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth’ (1 Cor 3.6).

Each of us has a distinctive ministry to offer to the Church and to the community. Some of us will be planters, some waterers and some harvesters. We have different skills, and talents, different ways we can serve, and a unique character to express – the unique person we are, planted in God’s image and nurtured into the likeness of Christ.

Over the summer, as we do every year, we have been encouraging you to be creative with your talents in order to raise extra funds for All Saints. You might be making cakes to sell at the village market, you might be knitting things to sell, you might be offering your services as a gardener for a donation to church. Thank you if you have used your talents to help us raise funds, I hope you have had fun! And if you haven’t had chance yet, the summer is not yet over! I wonder what your talent is and how you could get creative with it?

As well as our talents, time, and skills, we have also been blessed with the resource of our money. And we are called to sow this in generosity too. This weekend you will receive a further letter from me and the Stewardship team which will give more of an outline of our current financial situation. For now, I will say that it is really important for all of us to review our giving. We are unable to hire out the hall or to run fundraising events as we usually would, and this has had a big impact on our ability to meet our running costs. If you have reviewed your giving already since March, thank you. If you haven’t, please can I encourage you to do so? And if you do not yet give regularly to All Saints then please consider doing so. The best way is to give by standing order from your bank account which can be set up online in a few minutes. It’s really important to gift aid your donations if you are a UK taxpayer as we can then claim 25% extra on your gift. For more information about gift aid or to set up a standing order if you’re not online, please contact Eric Martin on 01923 267604. To find out about our bank details to set up your own standing order, or if you have other questions about giving please contact our treasurer Patricia Humberstone: allsaintstreasurer@btinternet.com.

I am very aware that not everyone will be able to increase their giving at this challenging time. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you are in need of any extra support. But for those of you who are able to, your generosity enables us to sow and water and nurture and harvest in this corner of God’s vineyard (to slightly blend my metaphors!): your generosity in financial giving as well as in your time and talents. I am very grateful for what each of you does and for the Church family we belong to.

With my love and prayers for you,

All Saints Vicarage,
The Feast of the Transfiguration Thursday 6th August 2020

This week at All Saints:

9.30am Family Eucharist (A-L if possible) live-streamed via the website and available afterwards via Facebook and YouTube

11.00am Family Eucharist (M-Z if possible)

Keeping in Touch 20: An Easter People

A reminder of Lockdown Easter

Dear Friends,

Remember Easter? That was a long time ago now! But I’m sure Holy Week and Easter 2020 will always stick in your mind. It will certainly stick in mine! Only a week or so into Live Streaming and using zoom and we were trying to find ways to celebrate the greatest Festival of the Church’s year from the isolation of our homes. Although there was a lot to do, Rachel and I enjoyed leading Holy Week and I was glad we were able to share it in some way.

One of the things we didn’t do was light the Paschal candle. So, this Sunday we are going to catch up! I will be lighting the Paschal candle as part of both services this week. It will be another marker that we are moving forwards now that we are able to meet for worship and as we begin to host Weddings and funerals again.

For those who don’t know, the Paschal candle is the large candle that usually lives by the Font. We get the word Paschal from the word the early church used for Holy Week and Easter: Pascha. Early Christians in turn had borrowed this from the Jewish word Pesach, meaning Passover. So, it is the candle representing the Christian Passover of Easter, the death and resurrection of Jesus, whose risen life is represented by the flame of the candle. The candle is a symbol in its own right, but it is also decorated with other symbols representing the victory of Jesus. This year the main symbol on our Paschal candle is a phoenix, signifying the resurrection. There are also the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, Alpha and Omega, reminding us that the resurrection vindicates Jesus as God’s Son, as the eternal Word through whom all time has come into being. When it is lit, nails are placed at five points around the design to remind us of Christ’s wounds.

And the current year 2020 is also marked on the candle. For many of us, 2020 probably doesn’t feel like something we want to celebrate. I think lots of people are feeling that it is something to be got through – which is understandable, many people have had and are having a difficult few months. But the Paschal candle always has the current year marked on it to remind us that the wonder of Easter, the Paschal mystery, the love God shows us in Christ, is the same every year, no matter its challenges. We celebrate Easter every year to enter into that mystery again. In fact, we celebrate Easter every Sunday – it is our sabbath because it was on Sunday, the first day of the week that the disciples found the empty tomb. So, the Easter season may have ended two months ago but, in the words of St Augustine, ‘we are an Easter people and alleluia is our song’. We still can’t sing together yet (something I am really missing being able to do together!), but we can gather as God’s Easter people. We remind ourselves of that by lighting the Paschal candle.

With my love and prayers for you,

All Saints Vicarage,
Thursday 30th July 2020

This week at All Saints:

9.30am Family Eucharist (A-L if possible) live-streamed via the website and available afterwards via Facebook and YouTube

11.00am Family Eucharist (M-Z if possible)