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December 2017

This month’s letter comes from Rev’d Anne Futcher.

We’re now well into the season of nativity plays.  And every time I watch one, I’m taken back to my son’s first ever public performance.  His playgroup was staging a nativity tableau.  James was desperate to be the drummer boy.  We awaited the casting decision anxiously.   The news wasn’t good.  He’d been cast as Joseph.

The day arrived.  James came on stage looking solemn. Clearly he was taking his paternal responsibilities to heart.   Mary looked depressed.  The little boy playing the donkey was insistent in placing his orange felt carrot inside the crib.  Maybe he meant it as his gift for the baby.  But James was equally insistent in removing it.  We watched, helpless with laughter and tears, as the carrot went in and out of the crib – over and over again.  That nativity is a cherished part of our family story.

Back in August, nearly thirty years later and newly married, James visited Rwanda with his wife, Katie.  On their return, James and Katie presented us with a beautiful set of crib figures, made by a wood carver in Kigali. There are shepherds wearing traditional robes. There are the three kings each bearing a differently shaped casket.  Mary in local headdress, smiles serenely.  A bareheaded Joseph looks suitably solemn. And there is baby Jesus in his crib.  He’s attended, not by an insistent donkey brandishing a felt carrot, but by a sheep and a long-horned cow.

I learned that this long-horned cow, called an inyambo, is considered by Rwandans to be very special indeed.  Under the traditional Rwandan monarchy, inyambo were bred specifically for ceremonial purposes and sent to the king’s palace.   There they were trained to listen, and to move, to traditional songs.  Bedecked with jewels, they’d then take part in elaborate parades to honour the king.

By including the inyambo among his crib figures, the Rwandan woodcarver was welcoming and honouring baby Jesus in the best way he could.  And by embellishing the Christmas story with local detail, he made it his own.

Each time we retell the nativity we make it our own too.  It’s no longer a story about an insignificant family in an insignificant village long ago.  It becomes a story that transcends time and place:  It’s James’ story. It’s his and Katie’s story.  It’s the woodcarver’s story.  It’s yours and it’s mine.

And above all, it’s God’s story.  It’s the story of the God who chooses to come to us, as vulnerable as a baby, across time and place.  He comes to us in Palestine and Rwanda and England, in the first century and the twenty-first.  Over and over again, God overflows into our lives and our stories with love.

This Christmas, like that boy with his felt carrot; like the woodcarver with his inyambo, let us welcome him and honour him in the best way we can.

 

Advent compline, Colyton

Do join us for these reflective short evening services in St Andrew’s Church:

Monday 4th December at 7.30
Monday 11th December at 8.00
Monday 18th December at 7.30

Christingles in our churches

Our Christingles take place on the following dates:

Branscombe – Monday December 4th at 6.00pm

Colyton – Sunday 10th December, service at 5.00pm and Messy Christingle making beforehand at 4.00pm

Southleigh – Saturday 16th December at 4.00pm, carols, Christingle and procession.

Everyone of all ages is welcome to join us in this beautiful celebration of the light of Christ. Retiring collections for the Children’s Society.

Advent Carols at Branscombe

We mark the beginning of Advent in Branscombe this year on Advent Sunday, 3rd December at 6.00 with the Advent Carol service for the whole Mission Community – and all are welcome.

 

Branscombe Churchyard Dec 4th

Consecration of Branscombe Churchyard

St Winifred’s now has a larger churchyard thanks to the hard work of many people.  The new piece of ground has been fenced and prepared, with the help and support of the Friends of St Winifred’s, and now it is ready to be consecrated.

We are delighted to welcome the Bishop of Crediton, Rt. Revd Sarah Mullally, who will be visiting Branscombe to do this on Monday December 4th at 2pm. The consecration will take the form of a short act of worship outside in the churchyard.  Everyone is welcome to come and mark this historic event.

Creative Advent

Making Space for the Light

All are welcome to come and join Rev Shuna George and others in the Colyton Sunday School Building for an informal creative session exploring the advent theme of light with pictures, words and your imagination.

Thursday 30 November 7 – 9pm or Friday 1 Dec 2-4pm

 No experience necessary. Open to everyone – all ages and abilities! For further information and to book a place please call Shuna on 07971 759997

Breakfast Service 19 November

All are welcome once again for this lively event!

November 2017

In May this year, the Ecclesiastical Insurance company launched a competition inviting churches to submit a piece of art work which captured and celebrated the role their church plays in its local community.  Many churches entered, and now the winning entries have been made into a 10 metre long and 3 metre high ‘Great Community Mural.’  The mural was unveiled at St Paul’s Cathedral on October 2nd and is currently touring the country.

EIG said the following about this year’s competition:

It has really highlighted the wide and varied role that churches play in their communities. We’ve seen all manner of activities represented in the artwork; from helping the elderly and the lonely to running youth clubs, mother and toddler groups, and advice centres that support those with alcohol and drug problems. Much of this work goes unnoticed and we hope that this competition sheds some light on the important contribution churches make to society.

It was an inspired idea because churches are loved by many people, not just church goers.  Many of us have favourite churches, perhaps because of family associations or because they are in places that are dear to us.  It might be that they evoke particularly happy or poignant memories, or have striking architecture or a wonderful atmosphere.  Of course, for many people, churches are places where we come close to God, through worship, prayer and fellowship with others. And they are hubs for the wider community, providing social activity, friendship and support. Often a written description falls far short of properly capturing a beloved church or special place.  We quickly reach what Rowan Williams calls ‘the edge of words’.  It is then that we turn to the imagination to capture our favourite places through paint, poetry, photography or other artistic media.

We are blessed to have such beautiful churches in our Mission Community.  What is special to you about them? How would you capture their peace, beauty and significance?  You might have a wonderful photograph or painting, or you might have written a poem about a favourite church.  Or you might feel inspired to create or compose something.  Whatever each one of us feels about our beautiful churches, what unites us all is that ‘these places are our places.’  In this season of Remembering it is good to remember that our churches are safe, peaceful and holy meeting places – places for everyone.

 Hilary

Luka Okros Piano Recital

The Friends of St Andrews present the return of the acclaimed Georgian pianist Luka Okros on 18th November at 7.30pm

Remembrance Sunday

We will be marking Remembrance Sunday in all our churches again this year, with the following service to which all are welcome:

9.30 Southleigh
10.50 Colyton
10.55 Branscombe
10.55 Musbury
3.30 pm Colyford

Messy Church will also meet at the Reece Strawbridge Centre from 4-6 pm.

Hilary becomes a Prebendary

We are delighted that our Rector has been honoured with the post of Prebendary at the Cathedral. She will be collated and installed there on Tuesday 14th November at 5.30 pm, and all are welcome to go and support her – please sign up for the coach.

Annual Memorial Service

 

Holyford Mission Community Annual Memorial Service

Sunday November 5th at 6:30 pm

There will be a special service at St Andrew’s Colyton to remember loved ones who have died.  If you have had a bereavement, whether recently or longer ago, you are warmly invited to come to this quiet service of reflection and light a candle in their memory.

Community cafe at St Petrocks

St Andrew’s  community café is supporting St Petrocks, the charity for homeless people in Exeter, this year. On the 6th October café organisers took along a further £250 which brings the total given so far this year to £350.

The café is also collecting the items they desperately need from now until the end of December. The poster below lists items St Petrocks needs, which can be brought along to the café . Many thanks for your support.

Colyton Harvest Breakfast

Colyton’s harvest festival on Sun 15 October at 10.45 includes breakfast at 10.00. Please bring a toy tractor for the procession and/or non-perishable food for the food bank.

October 2017

“Forget Norwegian fjords and Icelandic glaciers. Some of the most breathtaking landscapes are right here under our noses.”

That was the advice of one daily newspaper last October when the UK was ablaze with its glorious Autumn colours.  And our corner of it was no exception.

The newspaper’s advice came back to me when I visited Iceland for a few days in late August.  I was impressed by the barrenness of its lunar landscape; at the unpredictability of its spurting geysers; and at the power of its waterfalls.  It was stunning.  But I couldn’t help feeling there was something missing.

Then the penny dropped.  Where were the trees?

I gathered that the early settlers had cut most of them down to create farms, and to build and heat their houses. So by the 1950s only 1% of the land had trees.  Since then, there’s been a huge national replanting programme.  But from the little I saw, the trees still seemed very few and far between.

Icelanders may have the fleeting glories of the Northern Lights, but how can you have an Autumn without trees?

The turning of the leaves from green through a myriad of vibrant hues of yellow, gold, red, and finally brown is simply a wonder and a delight.

Yet Autumn is a season of paradox.  A time of exhilarating beauty and steady decline.  The days shorten and cool.  Summer’s abundance starts to decay.  We have the inevitable ‘touch of frost’ and the trees shed their glory.

In his poem “Spring and Fall” the Jesuit Father and poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, was compelled to make up new phrases to try to express just this paradox.  And so he gives us “grieving over goldengrove unleaving” and the lying “worlds of wanwood leafmeal”. Phrases filled with wonder and sadness.

And we may grieve with Manley Hopkins as beauty goes to ground. But with the “unleaving” is so very much promise.   Seeds are being planted, and that “wanwood leafmeal” composts the earth ready for another springtime.

At the heart of the Christian faith is the promise of renewal and hope, of yet another uprising of green.  Silently and lavishly, the seeds of new life are always being sown – not only in the natural world but in each one of us.

So this October, let’s enjoy our trees in all their vibrant glory.  And as we do so, let’s celebrate that God is forever making all things new.

Anne Futcher