God calls each one of us in a unique way, doesn’t he?
And sometimes he calls us in unexpected ways to uncomfortable places.
Over the last years and months, I have felt blessed to be called to be in these parishes and have come to love our churches – but more importantly the people in them. Both Geoff and I have come to love this part of the world and these communities. We feel at home here, and have never been happier.
Increasingly, though, I have become aware that God is calling me to be alongside the people in our communities who might never darken the door of a church, but in whose lives God is most certainly at work. In my time in our pubs and among our school parents, etc I have learned how much of God’s work we in the Church miss!
I am aware, too, that the importance of this work is sometimes difficult for people in our churches to understand.
I believe that God is saying, therefore, that it’s time for me to leave Stourdene, and to step outside, and see what God has in store for me next!
It is important that you know how much I love our churches and our villages here, and that it has been a very difficult decision to make.
The timing of this is not accidental – I will be leaving at Christmas, and Ali will still be here for a year before she moves on – you will have two clergy to see you through the interregnum.
I am deeply grateful to my colleagues John and Ali, who have been very supportive and understanding through all of this.
There is a great deal to be done in the next 5 months, so I would ask that we all work together to make sure that our parishes are in the best possible position to meet the challenges ahead.
With my love to you all,
Saturday 23rd May 10.00 am to 12.30 pm – Newbold Plant Sale – Saint David’s Churchyard, Newbold.
A wide variety of plants all at great value, plus
If you would like to donate plants please contact Gilly Marsden on 01789 459168 or deliver to St David’s Newbold on Friday 22nd May between 3 and 7 pm. Any donations will be much appreciated!
Easter is behind us. The days are becoming longer. The daffodils are gradually peaking as are the primroses. There is a wealth of wonderful plants coming out in gardens and hedgerows. From the house we can see the pale green of a willow emerging into full leaf. This is a speciall time of year designed to lift the lowest spirits with hope and expectation.
There is so much promise around not least in the fields where autumn -sown crops are storming ahead and their spring planted counterparts are rushing to catch up. Farmers are working hard to apply timely sprays and dressings whilst also tending the new lambs frolicking in the fields.
On Sunday 10th May two of our churches will be marking ‘Rogation Tide’, a time to give thanks and pray for our farmers and their crops. If you would like to join in this seasonal festival Alderminster will be having a Rogation Eucharist at 10 am whilst at Pillerton they will mark Rogation at 3 pm with a service that will move around the village and end with tea in church.
May also includes Ascension Day when the risen Christ returned to his Father in heaven from earth. As he left he commissioned his disciples to continue his work here and we will celebrate that on Thursday 14th May joining with others from around the Deanery at 7.30 pm for a service in Barcheston Church.
As Jesus left this earth he told his disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28 verse 19). But his timid bunch of baffled and bemused followers were not expected to take on this task alone and unaided. They were promised the help of the Holy Spirit who came to them at Pentecost, ten days after Ascension. We celebrate this event in all our churches on Sunday 24th May.
Pentecost was when God’s Spirit gave his followers the gifts they needed to build his church, gifts we need today if our churches are to grow and be relevant to the life of all our communities in the twenty first century.
This is a season of gifts; gifts given by God to his people to help his church, plus gifts to nourish us and bless us in the year ahead. The spiritual and the physical elements of life go together and May is a great month to note that.
This year it is also a good time to recall those around the world who cannot enjoy the many gifts we have because of war and persecution, and to consider prayerfully who is to form our next government. Will it be of people who care not only for our land and people but those less fortunate than us? If it is not, ours will be a much poorer nation!
In the Stourdene Benefice we believe that passing on the stories of the Bible is an important part of our ministry. We have an active and enthusiastic team of volunteers who visit 2 local primary schools at Ettington & Newbold and Tredington regularly.
Storytellers or Open the Book is a programme for schools organised by the Bible Society. Bible stories are presented at school assembly at Ettington school one week and Tredington school the next throughout the term. We have great fun presenting the stories in dramatic form which means we get to dress up and use lots of props. We involve as many children as possible in our productions and they are amazing, especially as they have only 5 or 10 minutes preparation time. The team has a bit more rehearsal time, usually meeting the week before to practice. Rehearsals are great fun and involve a lot of laughter. At the moment we have 2 teams of storytellers.
A team of volunteers visit Ettington and Newbold and Tredington schools every week to share Godly Play. We sit together in a sacred circle to listen to a Bible story which is told using appropriate props. Then we have time for ‘wondering’ when the children are encouraged to talk about the story. Thursday is Godly Play day – with visits to Ettington in the morning and Tredington and then Newbold in the afternoon. Godly Play time is very special as we explore with the children such questions as: ‘How big is God?’ – ‘ Who was God’s grandma?’ – ‘Did Jesus travel to Jerusalem in a car?’ (Let us know if you know the answers to any of these.)
New volunteers for the Storytellers and/or Godly Play teams would be very welcome. If you would like to get involved in this important work with children, while at the same time having a lot of fun, do contact us. You don’t need to be available for every session and any help would be greatly appreciated. Please contact: Ali Massey, firstname.lastname@example.org (07837124508) or Peter Waters email@example.com (01789 740823)
For families with primary school age children we hold ‘Messy’ church at Halford on the 4th Sunday of each month at 4pm. We use the Godly Play format to share a Bible story, using the props and discussing the story afterwards. Then comes the fun bit – making a mess as we respond to the story with some craft activity. If you would like to bring your children to these fun sessions, just turn up at Halford on the 4th Sunday and help us make a mess. You will be most welcome.
Family Gathering with Sunday School
Each second Sunday of the month in Pillerton Village Hall at 11.30am we hold a family get together, a chance for parents to catch up with one another over a coffee and bacon butty, with a brand NEW Sunday School for children of all ages. Each ‘Get Together’ has a theme and there are lots of fun activities for children to get involved with. Why don’t you come along to enjoy a butty and a chat?
Church News February 2015
Writing in January after a very cold spell and with strong winds, rain and snow forecast, it still seems very much like the “bleak mid-winter”, but we are now past the shortest day and the hours of daylight are steadily lengthening even if it is not yet very obvious. A good deal of mild weather has brought out the bulbs and the very earliest signs of spring are there to be seen if we look carefully. Primroses, snowdrops and hellebores are already starting to flower in sheltered corners.
The new spring growth supported by longer days and gradually warmer weather is always a great encouragement to all of us accompanied as it invariably is by increased bird activity in our gardens and in the hedgerows and fields. We are about to enter what often seems to be one of the most encouraging seasons of the year when the death and darkness of winter eventually gives way to the new life and increasing daylight of spring.
The Church’s calendar reflects similar patterns and February sees the start of Lent with Ash Wednesday falling on 18th February this year. We will mark the day with a special service of Holy Communion and ‘ashing’ at 7.30 pm in Halford Church to which everyone is most welcome.
Once Lent followed straight on from Epiphany but today it is associated more with Easter which is “the principal occasion for baptism and for the reconciliation of those who have been excluded from the Church’s fellowship for apostasy or serious faults”. It has historically been a time set aside for “self-examination, penitence, self-denial, study and preparation for Easter”[i]. It was also seen as a time for alms-giving. Ashes have traditionally been a sign of penitence and since the middle ages it has been the custom to use them to mark the sign of the cross on people on Ash Wednesday.
In this Benefice, Wednesdays in Lent have also been an opportunity to support Christian Aid and their important work overseas through our annual ‘Lent Lunches’ held in the different parishes on all five Wednesdays of Lent – it is also a very good opportunity to sample an excellent array of home-made soups! Details of the February and March Lent Lunches are:
25th Feb – The Pillertons (Village Hall)
4th March - Halford (Village Hall)
11th March - Newbold (Village Hall)
18th March - Alderminster (Village Hall)
25th March - Ettington (Church)
As we all long for the arrival of spring so we can also anticipate the festivities of Easter, early this year, on Sunday 5th April. As in the natural world there is darkness and death, so too spiritually we go through a period of penitence and self-examination reflecting on our own lives and those of Christ who died on the cross before breaking into the light and great joy of Easter and the resurrection. Please don’t look on Lent negatively! It is a time to be positive and embrace all that God has for us, a time for renewal as we approach Easter.
[i] Common Worship, Times and Seasons, Church House Publishing.