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December 2021

From the Rector

As always, Christmas has come upon me suddenly and unawares. No sooner is Remembrance Sunday out of the way, we inevitably seem to skip Advent, the Christmas marketing shifts up a gear, and I am already panicking about posting my Christmas cards in time and wondering what on earth to buy for my wife.

It can be easy to feel out-of-step with things and generally behind at this time of year, until we remember that, despite the advertising campaigns and even the early Carol Services in church, Christmas doesn’t officially begin until 25th December. Not only that, the Christmas season proper lasts well beyond the Twelfth Night, until the feast of Candlemas (2nd February). Yet we invariably celebrate it early and by the time New Year comes we are itching to pack away the decorations and put Christmas behind us, even though it has really only just begun.

As we shift Christmas back a month and begin the familiar celebrations early, we can often take the extraordinary story of Christmas for granted. At Christmas we celebrate the fact that God saw a world which is out-of-step with his loving and generous purposes and so he sent his Son, a tiny and vulnerable baby, to redeem creation. All of that took preparation, and a journey.

As they travelled along, Mary and Joseph, as they prepared for the coming of Christ in the stable at Bethlehem that first Christmas Day, must have felt under-prepared and anxious about the huge responsibility placed upon them. The lead-up to Christ’s birth would have been difficult and challenging and very hard to prepare for.  Yet they managed, and the Saviour of the World was born in an inadequate, temporary home in Bethlehem, a somewhat disheveled and unglamorous city south of Jerusalem. Despite that inauspicious start, Mary and Joseph trusted in the message of God delivered by the angels—‘fear not’—and the angels continued to attend and reassure them, shepherds and kings drew close, and the baby grew out of human obscurity to reveal the fullness of God’s love. A love to conquer all fear; a love stronger than death.

The lead-up to Christmas should not be a time of anxiety or worry, but a time of fruitful preparation and expectation. The angels gave to Mary and Joseph the most often-repeated message of the Bible as they prepared for the birth: ‘fear not’. The message occurs 365 or more times (in one way or another) in the text of the Bible—that’s one ‘fear not’ or ‘do not be afraid’ for every day of the year.

However out-of-step or underprepared we may feel, there is plenty of time before Christmas. Fear not. The full effect of God’s love will arrive with us on 25th December and will stay with us: God did not send Jesus as a temporary decoration, but to be with us in all seasons, our saviour and friend forever.

Come and celebrate this with us this year. Details of our Christmas services and events can be found in this magazine and online. There are lots of opportunities to join us in any of the six churches which make up our group, called the Holyford Mission Community. The full pattern of services has been up and running for most of the year now and at Christmas there will be all the usual services at Colyton and Colyford, Branscombe, Musbury, Southleigh and Northleigh, plus other events. If you are still worried about attending busier services because of the threat of Covid, you may wish to consider coming along to one of the smaller churches to celebrate the festive season, or attend our outdoor crib service at Colyton on Christmas Eve (indoors if wet). Please see our website (Holyford.org) Facebook page (@holyfordmission) or contact a churchwarden or me for details of the types of services there will be, and times. 

On behalf of all of us at the six churches of the Holyford Mission Community, I wish you all a happy, joyful and peaceful time as you prepare for Christmas.

With every good wish and blessing,

Fr Steven.

November 2021

Rise to the Moment relay – Same storm, different boats. Christian Aid. 

As I write this piece it is still October, with the leaves just changing colour in all their glory, and the evenings getting shorter and cooler.  It is a time of year when we think of harvest with it’s all its abundance of fruits and vegetable for us all to enjoy.

 When I give children’s harvest talks and assemblies at this time of year, I often mention how we can cultivate the soil, plant the seeds, and water them, but we rely on the sunshine and the rain to be provided.  For this we need to be grateful and thankful.  We need to be mindful of how we can do our part in caring for this wonderful planet that has been entrusted to us to care for.

When I last wrote for the magazine, I mentioned the Waves of Hope that children all across the UK had produced with conjunction with Christian Aid.  This was intended to draw attention to the climate summits to be held in the UK with year, with the Cop 26 due this November.

 This month I was again drawn to what young people and children were doing to care for our beautiful world, and I discovered that a group of young people were carrying a boat in relay, between Cornwall and Glasgow, the places of the two UK summits this year. The aim is to highlight the climate crisis as part of the Rise to the Moment relay, in collaboration with the YCCN (Young Christian Climate Network).

https://www.christianaid.org.uk/news/big-moment-events-yccn-relay.

Locally, we created some boats out of windfall apples, and discovered a little more about the small changes that we can all make to care for our planet.

We do need to be grateful and thankful for all we have and look to the example of some of these young people and children, as we strive to care for our world.

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Psalm 19 v 1  

Best wishes

Linda Joy – Children & Families Worker – Holyford Mission Community

All Souls’ Services

You are cordially invited to either or both of these services for the whole mission community. Sunday 31st Oct at 6.30 and Tuesday 2nd Nov at 7.30.

Musbury harvest flowers

Musbury church looked beautiful for the harvest festival service with some lovely floral displays such as these:

October 2021

As we begin October we well and truly enter into the ‘Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’, as the poet Keats put it. Each season has its own character. Autumn is a particularly beautiful time. Although it is sad to bid farewell to the summer, we know that a new depth of beauty will reveal itself through the bare branches as the leaves turn and fall.

            At the very end of October we begin a period of remembering and thanksgiving. Halloween has become a caricatured, pagan celebration, when we think of ghosts and ghouls, tricks and treats. This is all good fun, but it is far from what All Hallows’ Eve is really about, which is the first day of three where we celebrate and give thanks for the saints and all the faithful departed.  In the Holyford Mission Community we shall be keeping the feast of All Saints on Sunday 31st October. There will also be services for All Souls at Colyton on the Sunday evening (6.30pm) and on Tuesday 2nd November (All Souls’ Day), to which all are welcome. If you would like to remember someone who has died by having them named in the service at St Winifred’s on 31st October, there will be a list in church where you can write their name, or email the office:  office@holyford.org.

            In September I was involved with the celebrations of an Anglican martyr, born and bred in Devon: Bishop John Coleridge Patteson. He founded the Church in Melanesia (Solomon Islands) and was murdered on 20th September 1871 on Nakapu when he was mistaken for a blackbirder (slave trader).  Patteson was by all accounts well-loved by the native people of Melanesia. He brought them the benefits of education and taught them the Christian faith, and won their deep respect because he didn’t force British ways and customs on the islanders but encouraged them to keep their culture.  Patteson is still very well-known and honoured in Melanesia today. When I visited there in 2017 lots of people wore t-shirts with his name and picture on and children are often still given his name at baptism.

            The Melanesian Mission UK is a charity which supports the work of the Anglican Church in Melanesia. In September they held their annual AGM at Exeter Cathedral, attended by the Archbishop of Canterbury.  To mark the 150th anniversary of the martyrdom of Patteson, a new pilgrimage route has been established from Feniton (where he was born) to Exeter Cathedral, which has some of his relics; the pulpit there has scenes of his martyrdom is carved on the panels around it.

            The Christian faith is very strong in Melanesia. There are several religious communities there, including the Melanesian Brotherhood, a monastic order that was founded by a Melanesian policeman, Ini Kopuria in 1925. It is a very popular community as men (there is also a separate order for women) can take vows for a few years at a time, rather than take vows for life. I was privileged to spend some time with them when I spent a few weeks in the Solomons.

Saints are not simply things of the past, and the Brotherhood has produced its own, modern-day saints. In 2003 seven members of the Melanesian Brotherhood were kidnapped as a result of ethnic conflict in the Solomon Islands. The Brotherhood had been very active, trying to persuade the various parties involved to lay down their weapons. They worked hard to restore peace and encourage disarmament. One of the Brothers went to negotiate with one of the leaders. When he did not return, six of the Brothers went out to find the one.  None of them returned alive. They are martyrs because they lost their lives for love: for love of God, truth, justice, and their neighbour.

Like leaves from a tree, they turned and fell, but new growth came and the Brotherhood is as strong as ever. The winter of conflict turned into a spring of peace, thanks to the ministry and witness of the Christians inspired by Patteson. And it all started in Devon.

This year St Andrew’s, Colyton will be hosting a meeting of the Devon Companions of the Melanesian Brotherhood on Saturday 30th October. There will be a service at 11am followed by a picnic lunch and meeting.  If you would like to find out more, you are very welcome to come along.

As always, there is lots going on in the six churches within the Holyford Mission Community, especially in the lead-up to Advent and Christmas.  As I write, plans are coming together for the celebration of Branscombe’s Patronal Festival around St Winifred’s Day in early November—do keep an eye on our website or Facebook page for details, or the church notice board for services and events.

With every good wish and blessing,  Fr Steven.

Violin and Piano Concert 16 October

Priscilla Daniels accompanied by our own Nicholas Brown will play at St Andrew’s Colyton on 16th October at 7.30pm.

Priscilla was for a time a professional violinist in Australia and has made her home over here so we are very pleased to welcome her to play.

The programme will include a Handel Sonata (in D major), a Mozart Sonata (in B flat major), Beethoven’s Spring Sonata and Brahms’ Sonata no. 3 in D minor.

We hope to see you there – adults £10, children free.

Colyton’s Flower Festival

There will be a festival evensong at 6.30 on Sunday 3rd October at which the Bishop of Exeter will bless the installation of the new lights.

New lights in St Andrew’s

The project to renew the lighting and electrics inside the church has been completed and we are now enjoying the brilliant interior which shows to more beautiful effect. Thanks are owed to the Friends of St Andrew’s who helped fund the work. There will be a special services of thanksgiving with the Bishop of Exeter on Sunday 3rd October at 6.30pm, at the culmination of the weekend flower festival.

Work in progress in the Pole Chapel

New lighting in the Lady Chapel

New lighting in the nave

Electrics in the clergy vestry….. before…

….and after….

September 2021

At the time of writing this short article, the Olympic Games are in full swing in Japan and every morning I catch up with the previous night’s events on what is usually Breakfast TV on BBC. The usual presenters are there but instead of the usual diet of close analysis of what is happening with the Covid pandemic and the repercussions of Brexit, we are treated to a short news bulletin and the weather forecast and the rest of the programme is devoted to sport. I applaud this shift of emphasis because watching sport for me is more therapeutic and mood enhancing than endless debate about seemingly insoluble problems. I wonder however what has happened to all the news and views that filled the air waves for the last 16 months or so.  The truth is that something more important has come along in the view of the TV editors and so much of the news and views have simply vanished.

In life in general greater priorities push out lesser ones. Of course people vary as to what they consider to be a top priority. What are your priorities in terms of your ambitions, time, money, talents? The everyday decisions we make reflect our deeper priorities. The BBC decided that an Olympic Games that we had waited 5 years for warranted moving other material to less prominent billing, if any billing at all. Maybe they decided that the nation’s morale would benefit from some relative frivolity. How I spend my money, how I use my talents, how I make use of my time reflect what I think is ultimately important.  

The Bible talks about priorities many times. “Seek you first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you.” “He who seeks to save his life will lose it”. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth”. “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Nigel Freathy

Alex achieves gold award

Regular worshippers at St Andrew’s and viewers of the online services will be delighted (but perhaps not surprised) to learn that Alex McNeice has been awarded the Royal School of Church Music Gold Award. This has been the fruit of a great deal of hard work, assisted by a little talent as well, of course. Since the Gold Award has been running (about 15 years or so, I think) there have been to my knowledge 9 awarded in Devon and Cornwall, so that tells you something about Alex’s achievement.

For the exam (held in late July in Sarum College, Salisbury) Alex had to prepare a hymn, a psalm and a major solo (“But thou didst not leave his soul in hell” from Handel’s “Messiah”), the tenor parts of two major anthems, five further anthems in which he needed to be able to sing other voice parts, sight reading, a service which Alex had to devise, including writing his own prayer, writing programme notes on the music he was singing, and lots of questions on the church’s year and appropriate music. Needless to say the exam took about an hour. 

We will be presenting the award officially at Evensong on October 3rd, and it will also be presented in Exeter Cathedral on 23rd October.

Lantern Shop sale and parish picnic

Saturday 11th September from 12.

Songs of Praise on the beach

SUNDAY 22nd AUGUST at 6.00pm at Branscombe beach.

The popular songs of praise service with Honiton Town Band returns and all are welcome. Car parking is free from 5.30 (you need to give your registration). Please bring a picnic to have afterwards if you wish. If it’s wet the service will be held in church.

August 2021

From the ministry team

The first of August is known as Lammas day and the word Lammas literally means ‘loaf mass’.  It is a celebration of the first fruits of the harvest which were used to bake a loaf which was brought into church to be blessed.  This tradition seems to go back to Anglo-Saxon times but more recent changes in farming practice have reduced its relevance as the harvest period in this part of the world is extended over a much longer period.

Irrespective of such practices the importance of bread in our daily lives cannot be denied and judging by the amount of supermarket shelves devoted to it we must eat quite a lot of it! I remember that when on camping holidays, especially abroad, one of the first things to identify locally was where bread could be bought and the word for it in the local language!

The word companion literally means one who shares bread and reminds us that food in general is not just about satisfying our own needs but also the importance of social contact when we perform some basic activities. Food (and drink) sharing and eating together is a means of social cohesion not only in human groups but also other social animals and it is one thing that we have lost in the current pandemic and it is not surprising that people yearn for it to return as in pre-pandemic days.  In our modern culture bread is now a very diverse product and perhaps reminds us of our own social diversity, but eating and drinking together becomes a means of laying aside our differences and appreciating what it means to be truly human.

The  New Testament records that in Jesus in his last hours before his crucifixion shared a meal with his disciples which included both bread and wine; a meal of both sorrow and reassurance of a Father’s love for his Son and each one of us too and which is still remembered in Church services today.

Charles Hill

Piano recital 27 June

Our own Nicholas Brown will be playing for us in our first out of lockdown concert, with tea and cake, in St Andrew’s on Sunday 27 June at 3.30pm.

New toddler group

All parents/carers and toddlers welcome! 9.00 Tuesday mornings in St Andrew’s during term time. No session at half term, 1st June.