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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

May 2021

This month our letter comes from Rev Nigel Freathy

The disciples of Jesus had made great sacrifices to follow Jesus. They had left their homes and occupations and for three  years they observed from close quarters Jesus’ miracles and listened to His teaching. Then came the nightmare of His arrest, trial and execution. Had it all been a mistake?

Three days after Jesus’ crucifixion, the disciples started to see Jesus again in the flesh. They could touch Him and see Him eat. For forty days on numerous occasions they met with the risen Jesus. Following Jesus had not been a mistake after all. The love of God in Jesus had conquered death and the sin  of humanity that had put Jesus on the cross in the first place.

Then one day they went to a mountain in Galilee and met Jesus once more and there he gave them His final instructions along with the promise that He would be with them always to the very end of time. St Mark tells us that  then Jesus is taken up into heaven as does St Luke who also tells us that, despite the fact that the disciples are not going to see Jesus in bodily form again, they return to Jerusalem with great joy.

The reason that they are so joyful is that Jesus has promised them that He will be with them always and in St Luke’s account of the incident in the book of Acts Jesus specifically says, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.” So they return to Jerusalem full of joy and there they await God’s promised gift.

This month we celebrate the ascension of Jesus on May 13th and the subsequent coming of the Holy Spirit on the disciples at the Jewish festival of Pentecost which this year is on May 23rd. Like the disciples we can rejoice that through His Holy Spirit Jesus is indeed with us here in East Devon empowering each one of us to carry out His mission to the world for we are His body here on earth.

February 2021

From the Rector

I hope that this finds you well.  I am writing this in the middle of January, deep in lockdown. Our churches have remained open for individual prayer, but several of the PCCs within our benefice have decided that we should cease public worship for now. At the time of writing a lot still seems to be up in the air. We hope that there will be some public worship back in some of our churches during February—please see our website (Holyford.org) or contact me or a churchwarden for information. 

Despite not gathering in person as a church on Sundays, the services and prayers continue, individually in church, online, over the ‘phone and on Zoom.  Please be assured of my prayers for you all, every day.

There is a general feeling that we are on the ‘home straight’, but that the immediate future will still be tough.  President Joe Biden in his inaugural speech included a quotation from the Psalms: ‘Heaviness may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning’ (Psalm 30.5). This is an important and powerful prayer during this period of heaviness.  Yet we know it will pass, and joy will come in the morning.

February sees the beginning of the season of Lent; a time of penitence and preparation for Easter. It is about preparing for joy, but in a deep and measured way, with patience. As we hope and prepare for the future, we have learned over these past months that we are unlikely to return to normal with a whizz bang and a party (more’s the pity!) So we must be watchful of the expectations we place on ourselves and others.

The last words of St David to his followers, who were facing many challenges and problems, come to mind: ‘Be joyful, keep the faith, and do the little things’.  Little by little the heaviness will become lighter and the morning will come.  ‘Be joyful, keep the faith, and do the little things’. We will get there.

With every good wish and blessing,

Fr Steven   (tel. 01297 553180)

January 2021

From the Rector

It is always tempting at this time of year to make predictions and resolutions. Whilst it is no bad thing to begin January with ideas or dreams of what we wish to achieve, it seems more difficult than ever to know or predict what will be likely, or even possible, as we make plans for the next twelve months.

            The only thing I can predict with any degree of certainty is that, unless I stop snacking between meals, my clothes shall grow even tighter during 2021…

            Setting to one side thoughts of biscuits etc., allow me to turn our attention towards the Holy Family: Jesus, Mary and Joseph. What can they teach us about plans, resolutions and predictions?

Their plans, intentions and new year’s resolutions went by the board that first Christmas. Yet in all the uncertainty, Mary trusted and embraced her future with God, as she accepted the call to be the mother of Jesus. This upset various plans. After the shock of learning of Mary’s pregnancy, Joseph’s compassionate intention to quietly release Mary from their engagement, is overturned.  After he learns the truth from an angel, the depth of Joseph’s goodness is revealed in his decision to heed God’s call and support his wife-to-be. He and Mary travel the long distance and begin their family in the temporary and uncertain surroundings of the stable. Soon after the birth, despite the visit of the Kings and the promising signs, they are forced to flee and become refugees. So begins the rather underwhelming and uncertain earthly life of God. Yet great things happen.

            The Holy Family clearly lived very much in the present during those days, dealing with what was in front of them calmly. I think one of the most striking things about the account of Jesus’ infancy is the remarkable equanimity which shines through as characteristics of Joseph and Mary. Their plans have gone out of the window, yet they remain calm, faithful and hopeful.  They had with them the child: Emmanuel, which means ‘God with us’.  God with us in good and bad, certainty and uncertainty, there in love for us however we feel, to share in whatever we take to him and no matter what form of words our prayers take. 

Our Christmas services went well across the parishes. My thanks to all those who attended for their patience and cooperation with the various Covid-measures we have in place. It has been good to hear that people have not only appreciated the services, but also felt safe whilst in church, and of course, at our outdoor Crib Service in Colyton. 

As we enter Tier Three restrictions (as of 31st December), our churches will remain open for public worship. We continue to have strict social distancing measures in place and everyone is taking great care to ensure the churches are places where we can feel safe and confident. We continue to pray for all who are unable to be with us in church at this time.

            We have aimed to provide access to church services for all, whatever situation you find yourself in during these times. Those remaining at home can join us via the online service, those at home without the internet can join us via the telephone service on Sunday afternoons. There are a range of services you can attend in church, too.  We have the usual Sunday services, often with music, provided by choristers at a safe distance; or if you are worried about gathering in larger groups, there are smaller, shorter Eucharists at St Andrew’s on Wednesdays at 10am or Sundays at 8am, or daily Morning Prayer (Mondays to Fridays at 8.30am), or Evensong (Tuesdays to Fridays at 5pm) where groups of around 5 to 15 gather.  You may wish to attend one of the smaller village churches, perhaps Southleigh or Northleigh, where there is plenty of room available for people to spread out. Details of our services and church opening times can be found via our website Holyford.org or Facebook page, @holyfordmission.

            Whatever lies ahead, we continue to celebrate the wonderful fact that God is with us. As you plan for what will hopefully be a brighter year, may you know God with you and continue to draw strength from the power of his love.

            With every good wish and blessing for the New Year,

            Fr Steven.

December 2020

This month’s letter comes from Charles Hill:

This is being written early in the second period of lockdown this year when nothing in December can look certain and in this season of Advent our preparations for Christmas will be getting underway. Christmas is a season of hospitality and for many this involves the giving and receiving of food and drink and the sharing of time with friends and family.

Mary and Joseph must have been extremely grateful for the hospitality shown to them by the Innkeeper and although perhaps not meriting many stars the accommodation was no doubt a huge improvement over any alternative.  In turn, Mary and Joseph were able to offer simple hospitality to the shepherds and wise men and possibly others not recorded.   

The birth of Jesus was also a sign of God’s hospitality towards each one of us as a reminder that he invites us to be part of his family.  In the Eucharist (a celebration of Jesus hospitality to his disciples and their successors) the following words are sometimes said in a prayer after Communion ‘Father of all, we give you thanks and praise that when we were still far off you met us in your Son and brought us home’.

At the heart of hospitality is love. Love which seeks to recognise the needs of others and meet those needs either through own actions or by supporting others. Such hospitality can be shown in so many ways; through the offering and receiving of food and drink, through personal presence and presents! but also through a kind word by phone or other means, through the carrying out of a simple errand or just a smile (face masks permitting) at the appropriate time and other possibilities may well come to mind.  Through our own acts of hospitality our own love for others and that of a loving heavenly Father can become manifest.

I wish you a blessed and peaceful Christmas Season.

Charles Hill

PS  each week on Friday or Saturday an email is sent out to about 200 email addresses with details of what is happening on the Sunday and coming week.  If you think you should be receiving this please check your Spam folder as attachments on the email could be routing the email here. If you are not receiving such updates and wish to do so, please get in touch.

National Christingle Service

Sunday 13th December with other details to be announced

Please see https://www.churchofengland.org/resources/preparing-advent-christmas-2020-comfort-and-joy

Mission Community Carol Service

This will be a short service (5 carols) on 23rd December at 5pm via Zoom (incl telephone) and hopefully facebook too, aimed at the whole community

November 2020

This month’s letter is from Reader Jan Lees

The harvest is in.  The clocks have gone back. The year is turning, drawing to a close.  Later this month the church year ends and we begin again with Advent. It’s a time to consider endings and to look towards new beginnings – whatever they may turn out to be. 

Doing things differently because of the strange times we’re living in has been a mixed thing, hasn’t it?  I rather enjoy the slower pace of my life at the moment – the going out less, but when I run into a friend I haven’t seen in a while I don’t enjoy keeping my distance. I look forward to the day when I’ll be able to give them a hug.

Advent is supposed to be a strange time, I think.  We’re supposed to watch and wait, to long for God to come to us, to hope for his coming.  But it’s hard to do that when we’re already thinking ourselves into Christmas.  We’re like time travellers with one foot in the departure lounge and one in arrivals…

This year will be different.  Quieter.  Make the most of it.  As we stand at the tail end of the church’s year do a little inventory.  There might be some things you should just let go.  Do that.  There will be some things you need to give thanks for.  Do that.  The year begins afresh any minute now.   And the new growth might be just like the old.  Or it might be something new and surprising.  God delights in surprising us, I think – delights in making all things new.  So we move on doing things differently – or maybe just doing different things.  Either way we’re not on our own.  God is with us every step of the way.  Enjoy the journey.

Jan Lees

October 2020

This month’s letter comes from Linda Joy:

As we move now into the autumn and the leaves are starting to change colour and fall, it heralds a new season beginning, and a reminder from nature that all things are constantly changing.

We have all lived through changes that would have seemed unimaginable at the beginning of 2020, and today, as I write, the regulations and guidelines around Covid 19 are changing again.  These changes are new ways of life that we have had to learn to adjust to as we seek collectively to protect and care for one another at this time.

For young and old alike, it has been a time of great uncertainty and change and continues to be so for us all.  And yet, amongst it all there has been wonderful signs of togetherness, love and hope.  One such event for me was the wonderful wedding day of my daughter and son-in-law – a simple, beautiful day, full of love and hope for the future.

 Another sign of this togetherness and hope for many was the release of the UK Blessing, where many churches came together to produce a beautiful song that can be enjoyed through this link to Youtube.

“The Lord bless you and keep you

Make his face shine upon you

And be gracious to you

The Lord turn His face towards you

And give you peace

In the morning, in the evening

In your coming and your going

In your weeping and rejoicing

He is for you, He is for you

Amen”

In ever changing times we can rely on the love and presence of God with us.

Blessings

Linda

September 2020

This month’s letter comes from Revd Victoria Chester:

Where have the last 12 months gone?  Even though so much of the spring and summer has been spent indoors or no further than the garden gate, both seasons seem to have raced by; how can it already be September?!  Although, as someone said, time proceeds at the rate of one second per second most of us have a sense of it speeding up or slowing down at different times in our lives, even at different times of the day.  The slowing down seems to happen when we wait for something, looked for or dreaded, or are held awake in the small hours of the night; while the speeding up seems to take place when we’re in the midst of ‘living’ – special family events, holidays, even sleep can seem to whisk by when the alarm goes off before we’re ready to get up.

I can hardly believe it is almost a year since I was ordained deacon in Exeter Cathedral.  That day was so full of family, friends, music, joy in a great coming together in thanks for all that had been and all that was to come.  Looking back now that day seems to belong to another time, we didn’t have to wear masks, we could embrace and greet each other and sing our socks off!  Just 12 months on I look forward to being ordained priest in the Cathedral on the 26th of September with just 5 tickets to offer friends and family, no singing, masks and hand-wash replacing embracing; and yet I feel there is still so much to give thanks for, and hope for all that is to come.

Thanks most especially for the support, patience and generosity of our communities, colleagues, and congregations as I have learned new ministries in taking baptisms and funerals, and the privilege of sharing these life moments with people.  Thanks too for being part of new ways of worship, creating new links, new friendships within and beyond our communities in our Telephone and online services.  And hope, that in another year we can be together outside our bubbles, sing together, have time to lament and look forward together. 

Time can seem to pass very slowly waiting for life to ‘return to normal’ though, and I was also recently struck by these words from the American poet Maya Angelou, “since time is the one immaterial object we cannot influence, neither speed up nor slow down, add to nor diminish, it is an imponderably valuable gift.” 

So that is perhaps another hope for the year to come; that however time seems to pass, in our waiting, our living and our hoping, we can welcome whatever it brings as a gift.

August 2020

Our letter this month comes from Rev Preb John Lees

Enjoying the moment

It’s a shock isn’t it, seeing so many people in East Devon. It’s good for our local economy, and good that people can have a holiday of course, but we have got used to things being…… well, quiet.

Many of us have missed seeing friends and family in person. Others have enjoyed the calm and peacefulness of life with less traffic and less frantic dashing from one event or meeting to another. It’s been good for us, in that respect, because it’s enabled us to find time to reflect, to enjoy our countryside and gardens – and we have had more time to connect with people, by phone or on screen.

I’m writing this just after coming home from the first church service I have attended since March. It’s good to be back, even with restrictions, and one of the best things was to see people face to face, all of us comparing hair very much in need of a cut.

People are good for us. Everyone has their preference about how much company they like. Some people say they don’t know what they are thinking until they talk to someone else; they get their energy from other people. Quieter types are usually happy in their own company, but not all the time. It’s good to have conversations even if they are about nothing in particular, to enjoy companionship.

Companion – that’s a good word. Literally, people we break bread with. Perhaps what we have missed most is having a meal with friends or the whole family sitting around one table. It’s what our communion services are really all about – coming to a table, sharing a meal, celebrating all the gifts we are given. Other kinds of meals are also special moments, where we can just be ourselves and not want to be anywhere else but in the moment, enjoying each other’s company.

A writer I came across this week talks about the way happiness is linked to the way we think about the future. If I can save more, work less, ease back on some of my retirement activities, if I can find time for the things that matter, then I’ll be happy. Of course, when the future arrives it’s never as perfect as we hoped. Of course happiness isn’t far away. Being in good company reminds us that all we need is here in the moment; right now.

Jesus was asked when the kingdom of God was coming. His answer was that the kingdom isn’t something you to be observed, nor is it somewhere far off in the future. He said something which turned his listeners’ world upside down: the kingdom of God is among you. We know it’s here by the way we live together, and because we see God in all things.

Don’t always feel you have to match the world’s speed, its hunger for activity. Hang on to peace and quiet if it’s been good for you. Enjoy what you have, and who you are with.

Revd Preb John Lees, Associate Priest

July 2020

This month’s letter comes from Father Steven:

‘Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!” (Genesis 28:16).  This verse is often heard during services which celebrate the dedication of a church—the actual dedication after the church building is finished, or on the yearly anniversary. Jacob realises that the Lord is there with him and says ‘this is none other than the house of God!’.  Our churches are meant to be houses of prayer; God’s house, where we can feel and know that he is with us.

During this period of intense restriction and lockdown, we haven’t been able to go to God’s house. Yet the prayers and worship of the church has continued, not least in our homes. ‘Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!’ During lockdown, rather than go to God’s house, people have invited God into their home and have been surprised at how close they have felt to him. As thoughts turn to God, so comes the realisation that he is always there for us wherever we are, waiting on us to share the ups and downs, or even the ordinary day-to-day. 

God comes to us.  Many people have told me how they have found spaces at home where they have been able to pray as they have in church, places where they have felt the Lord beside them. Our homes, out of necessity, have become our churches. Although I was very glad to be back in church a few weeks ago to celebrate the Eucharist there again, it was sad to be dismantling the make-shift altar in our dining room. It made me appreciate, like Jacob awaking from his dream, that the Lord is everywhere, if we did but know it.

Our church buildings are now open for private prayer and soon, if the situation continues to ease, we shall be able to begin inviting people to take part in services. This is all good, but I hope that although we will be back in our beautiful, spiritual church buildings, we shall continue to know God to be with us at home, and continue to pray as often and deeply at home as we can in church.

Your parish church is God’s house. It is also your house and is there for you as a spiritual home and you are welcome there.  Please continue to pray wherever you are. When we pray, either at home, in church, in the car, on a walk—truly the Lord is in that place. Open your heart to him in trust and honesty and he will come to you. 

Please pray especially for those suffering from the virus, for those who have died and their families, and for all those caring for the sick, elderly and vulnerable.  

With every blessing,

Fr Steven

June 2020

From Revd Victoria Chester

As a confirmed armchair gardener I have two favourite kinds of garden. Those such as lovely National Trust gardens, where someone else does the hard work and I can enjoy the results. And second, those shown on ‘Gardener’s World ‘ on TV with the wonderful passion of the presenters for the plants in their care.

What I also love though, in any garden, is the way that plants have of scuppering our best laid plans.  Despite the very best our garden centres can offer there are still weeds that seem to survive relentlessly. Which of us hasn’t marvelled at the state of our hedges and borders, when everything else struggles for survival, but the brambles and nettles still grow at a rate of knots?  Even amongst carefully tended house plants, shoots of quite different stalks and leaves can appear seemingly from nowhere overnight.

But the bramble doesn’t realise that it’s a weed nor does the daisy in the middle of the lawn. There is something quite wonderful about their pride in blazing into flower in the most inappropriate place, gloriously unaware that they don’t fit into our plans.  No matter how good a gardener we are, weeds, soil and the weather all  help remind us we are not entirely in control. We can fertilise our soil, but if it is acid, it is unlikely to become alkali – and the plants that thrive will reflect that. Some years we think we have done all the right things, but still there are plants that don’t flourish as we might hope and ‘weeds’ that flourish all too well. But after all, it’s been said that “a weed is just a plant in the wrong place”.

I sometimes wonder whether our gardens can offer us some important lessons, particularly in these strange times when not being in control of what we otherwise take for granted has been a big feature of life for so many of us.  For Jesus, it was the wild flowers and weeds of the field that had so much to teach us.  In his parable of the mustard seed the wild black mustard plant was the perfect example of the potential and blessings of the kingdom of God that come when we let something grow as our Creator intended it.  What for the farmers of his time was a pernicious weed, was for Jesus a vital source of shade from the burning sun and shelter for birds and animals alike.

For those of us blessed with gardens, allotments or houseplants over the last few months they have been oases of calm, refreshment, colour and activity.  But perhaps there is a bigger message growing there for us too; that our Creator delights equally in all that he has made, in each lily of the field, in each mustard seed, and in each one of us.  His love encompasses the weeds as well as the flowers wherever they grow, planned or unplanned, because they are all signs of life, growth and the hope of his kingdom.  In the words of one of our best loved hymns:

All things bright and beautiful

All creatures great and small

All things wise and wonderful

The Lord God made them all.

May 2020

Where do we find God (and ourselves)?

Writing at a time when our churches are closed for public worship some may find the question a challenge. Indeed our churches are sources of beauty, peace and inspiration to many and the commonplace term ‘House of God’ adds to expectation. 

The word Church is often associated with a building but perhaps the Greek word used in the New Testament is more helpful in that it means ‘a gathering’ but this does not mean that we cannot find God when we are alone and in some cases we are able to use the benefits of technology to ‘gather’ in new ways. The young Jesus would have been familiar with the noise of the carpenter’s workshop, the bustle of daily village life and no doubt found opportunities to enjoy His heavenly Father’s presence in those circumstances but also in the times when He found a quiet place to be alone without other distractions. 

In isolation we need to find God’s presence in new and perhaps surprising places and reflect on Jesus’ promise to His disciples to be with them always.

Isolation also challenges us as to how we value ourselves: it is often by the work we do and the wealth it produces but in the current crisis those working in caring for others have found a new or increased and well deserved value in the eyes of many.  If we are unable to work or contribute our sense of value may be diminished but it is important to remember that our faithful heavenly Father values each one of us not by what we do but as by what we are, a precious child of God, whether we recognise this or not, and the events remembered in Holy Week and Easter remind us of the costly love God released to show us how much we mean to Him and, through the resurrection, the new creation we can become, confident of the value we have in God’s sight irrespective of the circumstances in which we find ourselves.

In conclusion I offer the following reading, Footprints, which you may find helpful in times of uncertainty;

One night I dreamed a dream.  As I was walking along the beach with my Lord, across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.  For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand, one belonging to me and one to my Lord.

After the last scene of my life flashed before me, I looked back at the footprints in the sand and I noticed that at many times along the path of my life, especially at the very lowest and saddest times, there was only one set of footprints.

This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said once I decided to follow you, You’d walk with me all the way. But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life there was only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most why You would leave me.”

He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you. Never, ever. During your trials and testings, when you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”

Charles Hill, Reader

April 2020

Cheap Chocolate.

No – this isn’t a piece about child labour on cacao plantations and the importance of fair trade, although bearing it in mind is always a good idea.  No – it’s a piece about Easter.  When we lived in the North West a neighbouring family never bought their children Easter eggs until the afternoon of Easter Day (at the earliest) and more often on Easter Monday because by then the supermarket had slashed its prices to clear the seasonal stuff off the shelves.  They were proud of this thrifty move.  It pleased them enormously.  It made me sad.  Because there is definitely a place for extravagance in our lives and I think Easter is it.

Christmas brings extravagance out in almost everybody – whether they’re a church-goer or not – Easter not so much.  The story of Easter is far less user-friendly than the Christmas story.  There are no stars, no kings, no angels, no baby – nothing to coo over, no romance.  There’s mockery, cruelty, earthquakes and an apocalyptic eclipse. Good Friday is the grimmest of stories before the strangeness and wonder of new life on Easter day.  And that contrast between frightening events and an eventual fresh beginning is a story we very much need to hear now.  Things have changed for us almost overnight from a free and easy lifestyle to lockdown.  Fear is (almost literally) in the air.  Things are tough and might get tougher.  It’s all in the Easter story.  In the blink of an eye, Jesus goes from hero to zero in the eyes of his people. Things get tough for him and then they get tougher. But that isn’t the end of the story any more than lockdown is the end for us.   

Easter has no cuddle-factor. The bunny is an interloper from a whole different story – as is the egg, but Christians aren’t daft, we know a good symbol when we see one, so we co-opted the egg.

And I have to say the chocolate egg is a wonderful thing.  There’s something about the taste and feel of a thin sliver of chocolate eggshell that is quite magnificent. It is not at all like a chunk from a bar.  And it is extravagant.  My neighbours were right about one thing though – an Easter egg is a very expensive way to buy chocolate.  But at Easter that’s the point.  God loves us.  Completely.  Extravagantly.  And loving us cost him everything.  If you manage to buy an Easter egg this year, when you pay for it remember that Easter is the very opposite of cheap. 

This Easter will be different for all of us.  No family visits.  No trips out.  But we are a community capable of great things – of sharing so that everyone has something and no-one has nothing; of keeping in touch so that no-one feels lost or alone.  Let’s care for each other extravagantly.  We are of God – looking after each other is built in to our nature.  Have a good  (though different) Easter.

Jan Lees

March 2020

In celebration of Mothers

This month holds a very special celebration on the third Sunday of Lent.  It is Mother’s Day or Mothering Sunday as it was more traditionally called.

Mothering Sunday was originally a time when people returned to their ‘Mother Church’, the one in which they were baptised or where they attended services when they were younger. This meant that families were reunited and returned to the towns and villages where they grew up. In time, it became customary for young people who were working as servants in large houses, to be given a holiday on Mothering Sunday. They could use this day to visit their own mother and often took a gift or food. In turn, this moved towards the modern celebration, which we know today.

Many families get together around their mother and celebrate with a special meal out and I love to see generations of the same family all gathered together. The shops are bursting with beautiful bouquets and bunches of flowers to give as gifts to our mothers and the array of special cards are in abundance too.

However, for some it can also be a sad time, remembering the mother they can no longer hug, or perhaps some wish they had a different or closer relationship with their mother. Others may not be a mother yet and long for a day when they might have a child.

I love the image of a mother hen in this verse from Luke 13 v 34

‘How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings’

That feeling of love, safety, nurture and warmth is so necessary for young to thrive and a human need in us all.

However we will be spending Mother’s Day this year we can be sure that God longs to gather us up and meet all our needs in Him.

Services will be held around the Mission Community on Mothering Sunday 22nd March to which you are all warmly invited.

Linda Joy

Children and families worker

Holyford Mission Community

February 2020

Glimpses of spring light

January is a time of year for promises and resolutions. February is perhaps a month for reckoning – asking ourselves why we’re already slipping back on those commitments. This cold, hard month can be a bit of a reality check.

However, when the lights no longer go on at 4.30pm, we know spring is on its way. We find things to look forward to – holidays, things to do when the weather improves. These simple plans show how important it is to look forward to better times, to live in hope that good things are on their way.

This is what the church year is doing right now. Christmas is an explosion of light, colour and sound and, even though decorations get put away early in January, the song of the angels keeps ringing in our ears – good news for all. The message is simple and clear – God has come among us, and remains with us.

Hope lives on, long after the recycling lorry has carted away the Christmas wrapping paper. The stories of Epiphany are full of signs and wonders – stories such as the time Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding in Cana, and the moment when Jesus is himself baptised as an adult by his cousin John. When Jesus bursts out of the river water the sky above him is filled with God’s blessings, for him and for us all.

Yes, Lent is coming, a time of quiet, reflection, sometimes sadness. But even now in these dark days of winter we can see the light of Easter in every early glimpse of spring flowers magically appearing in foggy lanes.

Light in darkness – an idea as old as time, and yet a reminder that we live in a world where goodness prevails.

That isn’t just an uplifting message. There is some science behind it. The Gottman Institute has studied relationships for 50 years, discovering that people are generally happy if they have five times more positive experiences than negative ones. In passing, this research suggests that in general people are content with life, because on balance more good things happen than bad things. We are perhaps more generous, caring, helpful people than the daily news would suggest.

If that glimpse of hope isn’t enough to cheer the winter blues, what is?

Revd Preb John Lees, Associate Priest