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October 2022

Autumn is always a season of change, and during September we saw a huge amount of change, with a new Prime Minister and a new King in one week. I don’t think we shall ever forget it. The death of Queen Elizabeth was not unexpected, yet, when it happened, it was a shock and great sadness.  On the evening of the announcement, our tenor bell was tolled by Keith Smith, our Tower Captain. The sound of the bell drew people to church, so I quickly had to unlock, as people wished to come in to pray. It was heartening to see a steady stream of people coming into church that evening. Operation ‘London Bridge’ (the plans we had ready to follow in the event of Queen Elizabeth’s death) came into force, and the Books of Condolence were out the next day. Many pages have been filled with expressions of appreciation and love for a unique and special person. The books of condolence we have had out in the six churches of the Holyford Mission Community were taken into schools and nursing homes for people there to sign, and will now be collected and sent to the county archives, where our pages of tributes will be added to others across the region.

 On Proclamation Day, Simon Richards raised the Union Flag to full mast for 26 hours, before it was lowered again. The proclamation of the new King took place in Colyton on the Tuesday after the Queen’s death outside the Feofees Town Hall and it was good to see a small crowd gather, including children from our ColyTots group and Colyton Primary School attended, together with the Headteacher of Colyton Grammar, Councilors, Feofees and townsfolk.

On the Sunday after the Queen’s death, we held special services in all six churches. It was lovely to welcome so many to St Andrew’s and St Michael’s in this parish. All through the period of mourning people came in to church to pray, light a candle and sign the book. The following Sunday Evensong at St Andrew’s was a commemorative service, and it was fitting that our eight bells rang for an hour before, half-muffled. On the day of the Queen’s funeral, we tolled the bell again, before we live-streamed the service in church. Our thanks to Simon Ford and his team who arranged the live-stream; they did an amazing job. The sound quality and picture were so good in church, it felt like we were in an extension of Westminster Abbey. Cake, sherry, tea, coffee and tissues were passed around as we watched the Queen make her final journey.

The Queen was a remarkable person, and a great lady of faith and humility. She was a lady of wonderful contrasts. She was deeply religious, but not in any pious or showy way; hers was a testament of unassuming witness, rather than an argument or apologetic of any kind. The Queen was Supreme Governor of the Church of England, yet did not push State religion, or get caught in up in some fashionable, bland moralism. She wasn’t afraid to talk about Jesus Christ, and did so often, in a real, normal way; she was never pushy or gushing. Her faith was practical, deep and secure, which made her open to other faiths. She saw the Church as a kind of umbrella, offering shelter to anyone who needed it. When all the beauty and splendour of her funeral fades, this is what we will remember of her. She has made a deep and lasting impression on us all.

Queen Elizabeth I once remarked: ‘…though after my death you may have many step-dames, yet you shall never have a more natural mother, than I mean to be unto you all.’ Whatever of Good Queen Bess we admire, Elizabeth II felt like a natural mother to millions. What an incredible and encouraging legacy.

‘I know how much I rely on my faith to guide me

through the good times and the bad.

Each day is a new beginning.

I know that the only way to live my life is

to try to do what is right, to take the long view,

to give of my best in all that the day brings,

and to put my trust in God…

I draw strength from the message of hope

in the Christian gospel.’ 

Queen Elizabeth II   (1926–2022)

HM Queen Elizabeth Funeral Service Screening & Commemorative Evensong

Go, Goliath! Event Postponed.

The death of Her Majesty the Queen

Musbury Silent Auction Saturday 16th September

Good Grief Tea & Chat

Big Church Picnic @ Pecorama – Postponed

This Event has been postponed due to the death of Her Majesty the Queen.

August 2022

The eighth month of the current (Gregorian) calendar and the sixth month of the earlier Roman Calendar (Sextillis) renamed Augustus after the first Roman emperor.  The word august also means respected, distinguished or venerable as derived from its Roman origins.

For many it is the month of summer holidays; of sun, sand sea and more, especially for those with children. It also becomes an opportunity for a change of scene and routine and may bring lasting memories which endure once normal life resumes. The end of August is also the busiest time for removal companies although this may also be linked to the start of the new school year in September.

In her song, ‘August’ Taylor Swift uses the words

’Lost in the memory, August slipped away into a moment in time
‘Cause it was never mine…’ 

Which captures some of the ephemeral nature of the month and escapism needs no apologies if it recharges our batteries to face the challenges of everyday life. 

This need for a time to pause is also reflected in the wisdom of the Fourth Commandment in that a seventh day of rest is to be set aside, not so much as a rule of religious control but rather as a source of both physical and mental health.  When my life becomes more hectic than it should be, I sometimes reflect of the words of William Henry Davies,

‘What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare…

Indeed, I believe that rest is one of God’s gifts to humankind – not so much as an opportunity to stop completely, but rather to gather the resources to continue on life’s journey, as is expressed eloquently in George Herbert’s poem, ‘The Pulley’….

When God at first made man,

Having a glass of blessings standing by,

“Let us,” said he, “pour on him all we can.

Let the world’s riches, which dispersèd lie,

Contract into a span.”

So strength first made a way;

Then beauty flowed, then wisdom, honour, pleasure.

When almost all was out, God made a stay,

Perceiving that, alone of all his treasure,

Rest in the bottom lay.

“For if I should,” said he,

“Bestow this jewel also on my creature,

He would adore my gifts instead of me,

And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature;

So both should losers be.

“Yet let him keep the rest,

But keep them with repining restlessness;

Let him be rich and weary, that at least,

If goodness lead him not, yet weariness

May toss him to my breast.”

Charles Hill

Coffee Time Concert with Nicholas Brown – this Sunday!

Branscombe Arts Festival

Quiet Day at Southleigh Thursday 16th August

What will you be doing this Summer?

Of all the seasons, many people look forward to summer, with the promise of sunshine, long days and a break from school and work. After around two years of Covid restrictions, I wonder if the freedom of summer will be even more precious to us all this year. I love the song ‘Summertime and the living is easy’ written by George Gershwin and sung so beautifully and soulfully by many fine artists over the years. For me, it speaks of hazy, lazy days relaxing and ‘chilling’ as the young ones say!

What will you be doing this summer?

Perhaps you have planned a trip abroad or maybe a Staycation in our own beautiful isle, or perhaps days out to local beaches or beauty spots. The freedom that we now have to meet and enjoy picnics, parties and holidays is something to really celebrate and be thankful for. The lack of such freedoms in recent years makes this even more precious this summer. With all the platinum jubilee celebrations that were enjoyed in June, we have had much to draw us together as communities in our shared joy and celebration. For me, it has been wonderful to see all the bunting, swaying joyfully around local towns and villages and long may the summer memories last.

Whatever you are doing this summer, let’s join together in celebrating this season and being glad and grateful that we have freedom and remember those who do not.

Ecclesiastes 3: verse 1

For everything there is a season, A time for every activity under heaven.

Blessings and best wishes

Linda Joy

Children & Families Worker

Holyford Mission Community

Ninebarrow Concert

Hosted by FoStA at St Andrew’s, Colyton on Saturday 16th July, 7.30pm

Holyford @ Prayer

June: when we celebrate a great Jubilee and a significant Birthday

On Sunday 5th June the Church celebrates two great events: the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen and the Feast of Pentecost (otherwise known as Whit Sunday). Pentecost is celebrated each year as one of the key festivals, like Christmas and Easter. It focuses our attention on the Holy Spirit—the third person of the Trinity (which is: Father, Son and Holy Spirit).  Pentecost occurs fifty days after the celebration of Easter and marks the occasion, fifty days after his resurrection, when Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to accompany his disciples in their faith and assist in their ministry. It is an event recorded in the Bible (in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 2), where the disciples—fearful about how they would keep the faith and do all the good that Jesus had asked them to do in the face of many trials and challenges—were filled with a surge of love and encouragement which drew them together to form the Church. The Holy Spirit transformed a group of fearful disciples (meaning ‘followers’) into a courageous band of apostles (‘ambassadors’). In a very short space of time, thousands learned of Jesus and were baptized. This is why Pentecost Sunday is celebrated as the birthday of the Church.

What exactly is the Holy Spirit? It is often explained as the ‘breath’ or ‘energy’ of God, but there is no single, adequate word to explain what Christians essentially understand as a mystery. It is an indescribable help and tangible power which is at work in us as a gift from God. We use many signs and symbols to help us to understand the nature of the Holy Spirit, including fire, doves, and holy oil, his is because Christians often pray to the Holy Spirit for grace, energy, power, peace and healing.

The prayer of the first followers of Christ—indeed every follower of Christ—is that God will assist us and give us everything we need to live a good and useful life, even when we fail or feel overwhelmed. This is where the Holy Spirit comes in.

Six months before her Coronation service, the Queen asked all people of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth to: ‘Pray that God may give me wisdom and strength to carry out the solemn promises I shall be making, and that I may faithfully serve Him and you, all the days of my life’. This is what we do each week at least two of our services, and shall be doing on Sunday 5th June in the Holyford Mission Community when we will celebrate the Jubilee. What has the Holy Spirit got to do with the Jubilee, or the Queen?

Seventy years ago, on 2nd June 1953 the Coronation was televised—all apart from one moment, which was deemed too sacred to be shown on television. It is where, after a prayer to the Holy Spirit is sung (the Veni creator), the Queen was anointed with holy oil—a symbol of the Holy Spirit coming upon her in affirmation and to assist her in her life’s work. As Handel’s majestic anthem, Zadok the Priest echoed around Westminster Abbey, the cameras turned away as a canopy was brought to cover the Queen to enable her some privacy. This is because at this point in the service some of her clothing was removed. All the symbols of her earthly status were shed—the crimson velvet robe she was wearing, her diamond diadem and the coronation necklace—leaving her in a simple white dress. At that point the Archbishop anointed the Queen with oil (poured over her hands, chest and head). This oil was a symbol of God’s grace and the Holy Spirit. It was used at this point as she was set apart to serve and love her people, vowing to do so through all her actions, with all her heart and with all her mind. The meaning of the ceremony is based on an understanding that the Holy Spirit is called to witness and hallow the oath of her office, and empower the Queen herself to fulfill it.

At her coronation, Elizabeth II promised to follow Christ’s example, to be set apart to serve, not simply to be served. After the anointing, St Edward’s Crown of solid gold was placed on her head. This is how the Holy Spirit was called upon to be there at the birth of a new reign. A Royal biographer, William Shawcross, said that the Queen found this intimate and profound moment to be not only the most significant part of the service, but ‘…the most solemn and important moment of her entire life.’

            It is very appropriate, then, that we should celebrating and honouring that oath—the birth of the longest reigns in British history—on Pentecost Sunday.  It is a well-known fact that the Queen is a lady of deep faith.  That moment, when the Holy Spirit was asked through prayer to assist the Queen, has proven to be a source of strength and inspiration to her for over 70 years, through all the ups and downs of her reign.

            The Queen is special, of course, but each one of us is equally important and loved in the sight of God. The Queen, as a committed Christian, knows this, which is why she takes her job so seriously. It is not only the Queen who has been anointed by the Holy Spirit or has access to God’s grace;  all baptized Christians are anointed by the same spirit, to draw on God’s presence and grace to strengthen our faith and service to others. This is what the Queen does, it is what the first disciples and apostles did, and what generations of Christians have been called to do for over 2000 years.

            On Sunday 5th June we shall be celebrating two events in which the Holy Spirit played a key role: the birthday of the Church, and the birth of the longest and most successful reign in British history.

            Each church in the Holyford Mission Community will be holding a special Jubilee service on Sunday 5th June. Join us wherever you can and celebrate with us. There will be services at 8am and 10am at St Andrew’s, Colyton; 10am at St Michael’s, Musbury; 11.15am at St Giles’s, Northleigh and St Lawrence’s, Southleigh; at 3pm at St Winifred’s, Branscombe, and at 3.30pm at St Michael’s, Colyford. All are welcome.

With every good wish and blessing,

Fr Steven.