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May 2019

This month’s message comes from Anne Futcher

I’m writing this having just returned from a flying visit to Cyprus. I was there for a forum, convened by the Anglican Church, which focussed on refugees and people who are trafficked.  The day was an introduction to my ministry there from September, which will include responsibility for co-ordinating the Diocese’s response to refugees on the island.

At the forum, there were representatives from various secular and religious organisations, both from the north and the south of the divided island.  As each stood to speak, I was struck by their shared energy, passion and commitment. And this was in the light of a refugee situation that must have felt overwhelming. For in 2018, Cyprus exceeded every other EU member state in asylum claims, mainly from people fleeing Syria.

Stories were told from different perspectives, and many were very moving.  They spoke of large numbers of people dislocated and traumatised; of the daily challenges faced by strangers in a strange land. 

As the day went on, it seemed to me that the work of every group, whether secular or religious, was underpinned by pretty much the same three messages: ‘We stand with you.’  You have worth.’ ‘Things can be different’.

Messages of solidarity and of hope and dignity; messages we would all want to hear in times of very real need, wherever, and whoever, we are.

And these three messages resonate absolutely with the Christian faith. Throughout his life on earth Jesus bestowed time and attentiveness on those whom his society deemed insignificant – women, foreigners, the poor, the maimed, and those who were unwell, either mentally or physically.  His very presence signified to each of them: ‘I am with you’;  ‘you have worth’; ‘things can be different’.  Through an encounter with him, their lives were transformed.  And those who later met the risen Christ – the disciples, the soldiers, the two Marys – experienced profound change too.  Their confusion, shame and fear dissipated.  And Jesus bestowed on them, through his attentive love, a sense of worth and hope and dignity.

Our world today is every bit as wounded and wounding as it was in Jesus’ time.  And it’s every bit as wonderful, too.  For within each of us lies the potential to bring new life and possibility to another.  Every act of compassion, every good deed, every fair and honest act of business, every kind word, really matters.  Each act says to another person: ‘you are cherished’, ‘you have worth’; ‘things can change’.  Each of us, wherever and whoever we are, can make a much greater difference to someone else than we might ever have imagined.

Over the past few years, I have been so touched by the care and warmth in this community. It’s been a privilege being here.  Thank you.  I look forward to my work in Cyprus hugely and I take with me precious memories.

God bless you


Vacancy for New Rector

We’re looking for a Rector with clean wellies to inspire and guide us in God’s work amidst the best of East Devon’s coast & countryside. We work as a caring and co-operative team, with five parishes at the heart of community life – Branscombe, Colyton with Colyford, Musbury, Northleigh and Southleigh.

Please click here for the Mission Community profile.

We’re seeking a priest to strengthen our Mission Community, bringing a Christian faith that is evident, grounded and capable of inspiring others. We anticipate an affection for many worship styles and an appreciation of quality in liturgy and music. We hope for a natural warmth, with openness, diplomacy and tact. We expect him or her to have collaborative leadership skills and experience in nurturing teams. We in turn can offer great lay, clergy and administrative support, a children & families worker, and cake at the drop of a hat.

For an application pack and Mission Community Profile please contact: The Archdeacon of Exeter tel. 01392 425577

Closing date: 14 May     Interviews: 4 June 2019

This post is subject to an enhanced DBS disclosure

Rewilding the Garden

Anne Swithinbank talks in St Andrew’s Church at 7.30 on May 9th.

Summer children’s activities

Noah’s Ark for toddlers and Messy Church for primary age children return in the summer term with a full programme of events where everyone is welcome.

Noah’s Ark continues at the Colyford Memorial Hall from 1.15-2.45 on alternate Thursdays; dates: April 25 (with egg hunt), May 9 and 23, June 6 and 20, July 4 and 18.

Messy Church at the Reece Strawbridge Centre in Colyton from 4.00-6.00 monthly on the second Sunday: dates: May 12, June 9 and July 14.

Messy Church is also meeting on Good Friday, 19 April at St Andrew’s Church Colyton.

Vacancy for Organist at Musbury

St Michael’s Church at Musbury is in need of an organist or a pianist to share on a rota with others or possibly full time to play at Sunday services. To discuss the post further please contact Sue Irving on 01297 552440 or by email (select contact from email contact form on Contact page)

Noah’s Ark egg hunt and tea

Noah’s Ark returns after Easter with an egg hunt and tea on Thursday 25th April at the usual time of 1.15-2.45. The afternoon will start at the Memorial Hall as usual and then the egg hunt will take place in the garden of St Michael’s Chapel (weather permitting). All pre-school children and their carers are very welcome.

April 2019

Welcoming the Dayspring

Easter Sunday is, as normal, a day packed with services but for many the most memorable will be the dawn service held at 6am at the Hillhead picnic site in Colyton. It’s well before most people are out of their beds, so there will be little traffic and a chance to enjoy birdsong and a stunning view across the Axe Valley. There really is no better time of day to celebrate Easter, which all began with a surprise very early one morning. A group of people had seen their visionary friend arrested, and then seen him executed in the cruel method reserved for those most hated by the Roman Empire. Their friend Jesus had been buried, and they thought their story was over.

Early the next day something new and strange happened to a young woman, Mary, a friend of Jesus. Someone appeared to her, and whether it was mist or the uncertainties of dawn light, she thought the man talking to her was a gardener. Something powerful had happened, something so strange that witnesses fled in fear, and people passed on the story in hushed voices. Death hadn’t closed down the story at all – just the opposite. What seemed like an ending, the ending of everything important, was in fact the beginning of something new and life-giving.

We know the story well. A story of something that happened in the uncertain early light of a spring day, and an event we constantly associate with spring, green shoots, new growth. Spring is always a wonderful pick-me-up after a hard winter. This season has something extra on offer – things bursting into flower, sunlight, and the promise of warm days ahead.

Dawn has always been seen as an important moment in all religions. In Islam and Christianity it’s the moment when the first prayers of the day are said.

Dawn is of course not a moment, but a transition from pitch black to full sunlight. Photographers talk of the ‘golden hour’ before the sun breaks through, when the light is much warmer and softer than the harsh light of noon. It’s a time when we come round slowly, allowing all our senses to kick in and enjoy the early hours, wondering what the day might bring.

A lovely old English word for the dawn is ‘dayspring’, in regular use at the time the King James translation of the Bible was composed. It sometimes meant the exact point on the horizon where the sun was predicted to rise, a point that changes as the year turns. The word Dayspring is used to describe John the Baptist as the one who brings light to those who live in darkness, and was later and much more frequently used to describe Christ himself, not just the light bringer, but the light of the world.

So much for history and theology, so much for thinking. Perhaps it’s equally good to enjoy the golden dawn light as the created world sings itself awake and fills us with new hope.

Revd Prebendary John Lees, Associate Priest