While we are waiting for a new Priest-in-Charge for the Four Rivers Benefice, the other clergy are writing the messages for the monthly magazines; our message for October is from Revd Chrissie Smart.
Who would have thought that within a few days of the last parish news we would be mourning the death of our gracious Queen Elizabeth II? I suspect that many of you have found the last few weeks quite emotive – I know I have and I have been surprised by the folk who want to talk and share their memories and so I hope that our parish magazines may encourage contributions to that effect over the next month or so.
In the meantime, let’s pray with Maple Class from Bedfield Primary School who wrote the following prayer.
Dear God, Thank you for letting Queen Elizabeth be our queen for so long. We thank you for her reign of 70 years. Thank you for looking after her castles and special homes while she was queen. Thank you for looking after all the animals that The Queen loved so much – her corgis and her horses. Thank you for helping The Queen be so kind, respectful, happy, smiley, caring and loving. Please help us pray for The Queen’s family at this sad time and we hope that they feel happier soon. We thank God for our new King Charles and hope he has a long reign over us and has a lovely time settling into his new job. We will welcome him by singing ‘God Save the King’. Amen.
Prayers and blessings to all, Revd Chrissie
While we are waiting for a new Priest in Charge for the Four Rivers Benefice, the other clergy are writing the messages for the monthly magazines; our message for September is from Revd Chrissie Smart.
In dwelling upon what to write for the September magazines, I began to think about the harvest and all that has been going on around us – the fire in Brundish and Worlingworth and elsewhere and the threat to crops due to the hot weather. Most of the Harvest Festivals for the Benefice are either in September or early October when much seems to be gathered in so should we be thinking of having earlier services next year? Certainly Lammas occurred after the first wheat had been cut.
And then I started to think about the Bible passages of turning swords into plowshares (Isaiah). In looking this up, I remembered also the verse turning plowshares into swords (Joel) and wondered about the seeming conflict. Perhaps folk believed that the only way to keep peace was by the sword and to defeat the enemy and keep them in their place, more swords would need to be made from the plowshares. Of course, my prayer is for Russia, Ukraine and other war torn countries to find peace with one another and I ask that you join in with me in this.
Now there is the potential for new growth in the Four Rivers Benefice. Like me, I am certain that folk are looking forward to when the vacancy is filled. What might potential applicants see when looking at our parishes? How do we work together as a team? What is growing, where is there new growth, what may need nurturing and how we might sustain one another through the difficult days of winter with the hike in prices that may prevent many of us from turning on our heating or our lights?
So much to ponder. Let us join together in thanking the good Lord for what we do have and looking forward to how we may be, in that well known saying, Stronger Together!
While the Four Rivers Benefice is in interregnum (with no priest-in-charge), the letters are being written by the other clergy in the benefice.... this month, Revd David Mulrenan.
Dear friends and neighbours
Well, it’s August and we are well past the halfway mark in the year now. Many people will be looking forward to some quality time to spend with their family and friends in the hope of balmy weather, barbecues and holidays.
Of course not everyone has the time or perhaps the money, at the moment, to travel to exotic destinations but whatever your pocket can run to, it’s very important to put aside that time to rest and recuperate.
I remember as a child at school being asked what my favourite month was. I couldn’t decide between May (when my birthday is) and December (because of Christmas). Both of these months meant celebration to me and, to some extent, they still do. A lad called Clive was asked the same question. He answered August. “Why is that?” said the teacher, “is that when your birthday is?” Clive gave an irritated grunt and answered, “No! That is the only month in the year we don’t have to go to school!”
I recall being confused by that answer as I always liked school, but now I see his point. He associated that month as a time he can fully relax, wind down and have some fun.
Spending time with your family, especially as they live a fair bit away as mine do, is essential to our well-being. It’s an opportunity to catch up with and give those you love your full attention. The same applies to your friends.
Christian church-goers often get a bad press for being severe, hard-labouring and abstemious. That is far from the truth in my experience as we take a good example from Jesus to very often share food and drink with our friends. Lent Lunches, Parish Picnics, Harvest Suppers are to name but a few occasions. Jesus himself was not in any way averse to rejoicing with his friends. The Bible relates to many get-togethers and sometimes with those who were considered a very inappropriate choice of dinner guest.
He is reported to have spent a great deal of time on his own, retreating to meditate regularly and even falling asleep in a boat on Lake Galilee during a violent storm.
The fact is, that now it looks like the imminent danger of COVID appears to be subsiding, we owe it to ourselves and those closest to us to have some downtime. Constant striving is not beneficial to our well-being, medically, physically or psychologically.
So let’s be kind to ourselves these pitifully short months of summer. Take a lead from Christ!
David Mulrenan, Associate Priest
Times, they are a-changing *
In everything we see and experience, life changes and this is normal, but can be hard to cope with. It all depends on what else is going on. Everything else going on as normal allows us to cope with change, but when we throw into the mix the fatigue and stress caused by the pandemic, lockdowns, cost of living crisis, war in Ukraine and other parts of the world, as well as famines and natural disasters, it all begins to pile up and make it difficult to cope.
For our benefice too we have to add in the effects of being in an interregnum (the time without a paid priest mainly focused on our benefice). For some they fear that this means we are without a leader or guide. Fortunately, this is not the case, as we have other leaders within our church who oversee the benefice during this time. For the Four Rivers, this is our Rural Dean, Revd Canon Susan Loxton. She will help to provide stability and leadership throughout the interregnum, supporting our SSMs and lay people, including our reader and elders. It is during times such as this that we can appreciate the stability brought within our parishes by those who perform unsung tasks within our communities; those who get on with their job, often with little thanks and who need our support, help and prayers.
We have a year in which we can support another type of service and stability. In celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee throughout 2022, we have the opportunity to reflect on the stability of her reign and the many changes that have happened during this period. Whether your main celebrations took place back in June, or whether they are still continuing with a plan to plant your contribution to the Green Canopy later in the autumn, stop for a moment to reflect on all the changes that you, the nation and the Queen have come through.
For Christians there is also an important leader that I have not yet mentioned, but who is the most important of all. This is the one who has created and continues to sustain us throughout all the changes and transformations that we experience. We can rely on the presence of God and in our knowledge of him through getting to know Jesus better each day. This is what led the hymn writer to say, O thou who changes not, abide with me.** Remember that you are loved and supported by God in all the change you experience and can always turn to him, for he will help you to find peace and stability
God bless. Rebecca Revd Rebecca Artiss
*Song by Bob Dylan, The Times They Are A-Changin’ lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC ** Hymn, Abide with Me, Henry Francis Lyte
Very best wishes Virginia Skoyles Four Rivers Benefice Administrator Benefice in interregnum 01379 586708 Anytime 07900 350117
Dear friends and neighbours,
I thought I would take this opportunity to tell you what is going on in the benefice after the retirement of Revd David Burell.
In an interregnum (time between rectors) the Rural Dean acts as the incumbent for legal reasons as well as trying to support the remaining ministry team, both lay and ordained.
Ministry in and around our parishes is carried out by our lay elders, self supporting ministers and members of the churches. There is also an army of volunteers who help keep our church and churchyards in good order and enhance what the churches have to offer. I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all of you who support and help; from cleaners to bell ringers, flower arrangers to fundraising support. We could not be here for our parishes without you.
If there is someone in the benefice to whom you usually go for help, encouragement or a baptism or funeral, please continue to go to them. Nevertheless, if you have a problem and do not know where to take it please feel free to email me or leave a message on my landline.
Church buildings are wonderful and can give us a sense of belonging and peace. However, God's love and presence can be found walking in a field, watching a sunset or looking up at the stars and we can also find his love in one another. No matter who you are, where you come from, what you have done, there is a place for you in God's family and he loves you whether you acknowledge him or not because he is love. If you want to know more about God or faith, speak to one of our ministers; they would be happy to chat.
Revd Canon Susan Loxton - Rural Dean
firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 01379 388493
Virginia Skoyles the Benefice administrator
Tel number 01379 586708 or 07900 350117
" Hello I'm David Mulrenan, Associate Priest for the Four Rivers Benefice to which Worlingworth, Southolt and Tannington belong. If you don't know me, I live in Brundish.
Now that our Rector, David Burrell has retired and we await news of a new Rector, I hope to acquaint myself with some of you via what might be happening in the three villages. I will be responsible for weddings and baptisms in Tannington and Worlingworth and Southolt too, if asked.
If at any time you would like to speak regarding matters of the church or of your own personal spirituality, please feel free to contact me. I'd love to hear from you. I'm not an "in yer face" type of church person, leaving people to make their own minds up about how, when and if they would wish to be involved.
You will find me on 01728 628063, 07881 481745 or email@example.com
With my blessings, David Mulrenan
It’s instructive to go back to a time before the laws of libel and slander (and certainly before political correctness) to see the angle that Shakespeare took about people who were ‘different’. He explored what it was like to be an outsider in Renaissance Venice, and what happened to the outsider’s character when those inside continually abuse and undermine him. Many people think the ‘Merchant of Venice,’ is anti-Semitic. It isn’t, though some of the characters say some appalling things to and about Shylock the Jew. He is useful as a money-lender to Christians, but when he protests his equal humanity with them the Christians treat him with contempt. Small wonder that he behaves like a cornered animal and tries to exact a cruel revenge. At the end of the famous trial scene, Shakespeare appears to have turned the tables when Shylock’s revenge is thwarted, but the shameful behaviour of the Christians leaves such a nasty taste that the dramatist surely means us to be uneasy and unsure about where right and wrong truly lie.
To be back in the 16th century Venice was to be even more conspicuous as an outsider. Othello is successful, but lacks true confidence, not surprising when you hear some of the racist comments of some of the other characters. Iago undermines Othello where he is happiest but most insecure, in his marriage to Desdemona.
The outsider was someone particularly special to Jesus of Nazareth. Zacchaeus the tax collector, the woman taken in adultery, lepers, beggars and prostitutes were all claimed by him as citizens of the Kingdom of God. He warned that the ‘Children of The Kingdom’, those who considered themselves as insiders, were liable to be left outside. The irony was that he himself became an outsider too, flung outside Jerusalem as a condemned criminal and nailed to a cross between two thieves. (Unlike Shylock’s contemporaries we do not hold the Jews solely responsible and therefore cursed). We shall be recalling those events in a special way on Good Friday, April 15th. Please mark this as a solemn day and join us in our worship. Follow the whole Easter story from Palm Sunday April 10th, to Easter day April 17th Look at what services and events that are on in this and Aprils magazine.
There was no happy ending for Shylock or Othello. Jesus Christ could have been just another tragic hero, but this tragedy did have a happy ending, the triumph of Easter Day. Share it in a Church near you! David
I hope you all had a very good Christmas which sadly has come to an end and the world seems empty and back to its old grey aspect again.
It is strange how Christmas has become so important especially in a world where it is easier to hate your neighbour than love them. This is what causes wars, and suspicion between peoples who hold differing views and beliefs. There are religions and peoples in this world it seems that are looking for things to get upset about, and once upset it seems blood-shed is the only way to appease them.
Christmas has grown to include something greater, it has become a festival for all, a time when those who would not darken the door of a church during the year will come and sing carols or at least enjoy hearing them on Classic fm. Christmas is the only time of year when the good memories outweigh the bad and where everyone makes an effort to be nice.
Christmas above all things is an expression of love; love so great that even if you cannot believe in the story behind it; like a cup running over it spills out and includes everyone. What makes Christmas for me is the celebration of midnight mass on Christmas Eve. But I can remember as a little boy sitting up looking out of my bedroom window hoping beyond hope to see Father Christmas fly by. I never did see him but when I got up in the morning the evidence that he had been was plain to see, the empty whisky glass, the mince pies half eaten and the carrots taken, not to mention the presents under the tree. Christmas is a magical time of year and made more so by the decorations and tree lights. At Christians we believe that the love that was given was God’s love and as such is unfathomable, far be it from me to say only Christians are included in that love.
We are now at the beginning of a new year wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could simply keep a little, or a lot, of that Christmas love in our hearts throughout the year. Because I believe God so loved the world that he sent his only son into the world that through him all might be saved. A love so great is worth celebrating even when it’s not Christmas.
Answers to Carol Quiz in December
1 Good king Wenceslas 2 While shepherds
3 We three Kings 4 O little town of Bethlehem
5 See amid the winter’s snow 6 Away in a manger
7 Angels from the realms of glory 8 The holly and the ivy
9 Ding dong merrily 10 Twelve days Christmas
11 White Christmas 12 I saw mum kissing Santa
Winner of Carol Competition is Jill Stevens
January can seem so dull and lacking in the colour of Christmas. But even though the celebration of Christmas, presents and parties have finished the joyful message goes on. Christina Rossetti writes a wonderful poem that was turned into a Carol, In the bleak midwinter.
Rossetti begins with the birth, the Incarnate One, the Light of the World, who brought warmth into the most forlorn and dreary of sinful situations.
In the second verse she makes the point that the eternal One whom "heaven could not hold" nor "earth sustain" appeared during the "bleak winter" of human existence where "a stable place sufficed." We have all learned the meaning of bleakness these past few months but is this going to overwhelm us?
The third and fourth verses are centred on love and remind us of the intimate union of Mary and her child. Where the heavenly glory of gathered "Angels and archangels" and "cherubim and seraphim" trumpet the news abroad Mary his mother "worshiped the beloved with a kiss."
The final verse provides a social commentary when Rossetti wrote these words women were largely excluded from the professions and from higher education." Like the shepherds, she was not employed; like the wise men, Rossetti held no degree. But her contribution is not invalidated by that and gives a special sharpness and poignancy to the last verse for those who wish to find it."
She invites us to offer our own gift to the Christ Child just as the shepherds and wise men did. Rather than the present of a lamb or expensive gifts, we offer the most important gift -- our hearts.
The point is Christ is not just for Christmas, if we give Christ our hearts he is there for ever.
Happy new year David
Message from Rev Chrissie Smart
Dear Friends, So the year is drawing to an end and what a year it has been? Who would have thought that Lockdown would go on and on and here we are twelve months on and still aware that COVID 19 and its variants are still with us. Let us hope and pray that we will be able to be with our loved ones this Christmas. What do you want for Christmas? Well, I had the best present ever when I was Ordained as a priest back in July! Of course, I cannot forget the wonderful present of the Creation Festival that surrounded that weekend and showed the brilliance of our community in Bedfield, it's resourcefulness and its ability to work together. For this Christmas, these words drawn from Robert Louis Stevenson is my prayer for our communities:
“Close the doors of hate and open the doors of love all over the world and Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting. Deliver us from evil by the blessing that Christ brings and teach us to be merry with clean hearts. May the Christmas morning make us happy to be your children And the Christmas evening bring us to our bed with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus’ sake. And never forget that Bedfield is ‘Stronger Together!’ Amen. “
And may those who have lost loved ones this year know that they are never far away. God bless all and have a blessed Christmas and a joyous New Year.
Prayers and blessings, Chrissie
We are coming up to a season of remembering.
Remembering is as tainted by our fallen human nature as any other activity. It’s so easy only to remember that Germany provoked two world wars and spawned perhaps the most evil ideology that there has ever been. It’s harder to remember that no German under the age of 90 can possibly be held responsible for World War II or Nazi doctrines, and should therefore not be pilloried or caricatured for evermore. We also need to remember that heroism and suffering were not confined to the Allies.
As well as remembering the fallen at our special services on Remembrance Sunday we also remember this month Guy Fawkes. We often forget that he and his fellow plotters were motivated by genuine grievances, but these were ignored because of what we should now call the terrorist plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Modern plotters should most definitely ‘remember, remember the Fifth of November’. The cause of Roman Catholic emancipation was set back for two centuries because of public outrage.
Many churches hold Requiems on All Souls Day, November 2nd, during which the names of the congregation’s loved ones are read out. In this benefice we carry out this act of remembrance during Advent (details in next month’s Magazine). But it is not only we who remember those whom we love but see no longer, or all those who fought for their country. God remembers. The writer of Psalm 88 might say pessimistically ‘I am… like the slain that lie in the grave, like those whom you remember no more, for they are cut off from your hand’. He had no concept of life beyond death. The thief on the cross, on the other hand, begged Jesus to remember him. He was saying more than he knew. We believe that God remembers, holds in his mind and heart for good, all his human creation living and departed, until the day when our souls and bodies are reunited. David
In the old Celtic Calendar October 31st was New Years Eve, and was thought to be a time when the unquiet spirits those who had died came back to the places they knew as home. Bonfires were lit in the hopes of dispelling these spirits and also to beg the sun not to desert the world completely over winter.
We celebrate October 31st as Halloween. These celebrations can be great fun with the making of pumpkin lanterns and ghostly parties, but there is a more important thing to remember. Halloween (All Hallows Eve) does what it says on the tin, it celebrates the eve of All Saints day. By following a day in which we indulge in dressing up as witches and devils with a celebration of the saints we are proclaiming Christ’s victory over all that is evil. Under his love we are all safe for his power comes directly from God.
That is why traditionally Christians used to cross themselves, when afraid or when being blessed. The sign of the cross was a protection as well as a reminder who it is cares for us.
Halloween can become a celebration in itself, and if your celebration finish there then you have only part of the story and you have left out the good news. After all Halloween is the anticipation of Christ’s love. There is nothing wrong with celebration Halloween, especially with party food, buns on strings, apple bobbing and blind man’s buff because it is followed by All Saints Day which tells us we are loved by Jesus Christ our friend and God. David God Bless you
‘Creation’ is somewhat of a loaded term these days thanks to famous atheist writers such as Richard Dawkins. They often paint the idea that Christians believe that God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh, precisely and literally as it is written in the first chapter of the book of Genesis in the Bible, a view of creation which is called Creationism. Actually, the reverse is true – Creationism is a minority and unorthodox view amongst Christians. The point of the various creation stories in the Bible (there are at least three different ones) is not to give a scientific account of how the universe came to be but rather to explore the relationship between God and humankind. In Church, we use the term ‘Creation’ to refer to everything that exists because, fundamentally, Christians believe that everything we have, including our very life and being, is a gift from God – it is not about the mechanics, but the relationship. Remembering that everything we have is a gift helps us to appreciate even more everything we do have and be even more thankful for it. It also makes us better realise our responsibility to look after the gift of Creation, which does not belong to us but is a gift we hold for a little while before we pass it on to others to care for.
The Bible shows us is that God wants to share the gift of life, the gifts of Creation, with us; God wants us to understand that gift and to care for it; God wants a relationship with us and for us to have a proper relationship with God and all that is around us.
What the Christian faith teaches us is that it is not Creation vs Big Bang in a pseudo-Science vs. Religion debate, nor Creation vs humanity, as if the world around us needs to be tamed, subdued, controlled and exploited, but Creation and relationship. It is about our relationship with God, our relationship with each other, our relationship with the wider world and environment around us.
This September we will be celebrating our Harvest Festival in Worlingworth on 12th at 6pm, and at Tannington 2.30pm and on September 26th at 6pm in Wilby. In October we will celebrate harvest 3rd Oct 10.30 in Bedfield, 6pm in Brundish and on 10th 6pm in Cratfield, we will be thinking about Creation as a gift and our role and our place within it come and find out more. David
As a community we have been through a difficult time. Not because of tumult or disaster but simply for the ability of people to get out meet one another. We all need to feel loved or part of something. The poet Rupert Brooke paid a ‘dirty little boy’ sixpence to wave to him from the Liverpool quay as he set forth to the United States. It was just a longing for friendliness in a lonely hour.
We are complex individuals and our interior space can be so different from our exterior persona. The point is we all need to be loved. Tolstoy said, ‘People think there are circumstances when one may deal with human beings without love, but no such circumstances ever exist. Inanimate objects may be delt with without love, you can bake a brick or hammer iron without love but human beings cannot be handled without love. If you handle bees without care you cause harm to the bees and yourself. So it is with people, because mutual love is the fundamental law of human life’.
During lock down many people would have gone without love if it had not been for those individuals who went out of their way to do their shopping, to bring them needed supplies and very much needed human interaction, all be it socially distanced. I am not going to mention a long list of names but I am going to say thank you. Thank you for being there, thank you for showing that you cared and most of all thank you for showing someone who may have felt isolated that they are cared for and loved.
We are not out of the woods yet the virus goes on causing illness and disquiet.
Some of us may feel great joy that lock down has been lifted but this is not universally welcomed. Let us make sure that in the coming weeks and months we keep an eye out for those for whom lifting of restrictions is a fearful thing.
Lock down has finished and we are opening up. The churches will be open and we will soon be able to sing hymns once more. The wearing of masks is down to individual choice but should you see someone wearing a mask please be aware of their personal space.
Remember what Jesus said Truly I say to you what you did for the least of these my children you did for me.
God Bless David
The other day I was looking at a old map of Suffolk and Norfolk dated 1648. The thing that struck me most was the age of the churches in both counties. They were all there pretty much as we know them today. The spelling of their names may have changed and the communities that they serve may have changed but the churches have remained pretty much the same. This map was drawn up fourteen years before the Book of Common Prayer was finally produced, one year before Charles I was beheaded and five years before Cromwell became Lord Protector of England. These churches, our churches have stood with congregations of ordinary folk like you and me, worshipping God from week to week, moth to month, year to year.
Their towers and spires stood out like light houses silently reminding generation after generation, there is a God. These churches have stood through thick and thin, they have seen revolution, war and peace.
Since the map was drawn, we as a nation have gained an empire and then given back a commonwealth, we have learned to fly, even to the moon. Fashions have changed from the sombre puritan black to the many colours and layers we see today. Electricity has replaced candle and oil light, the car has replaced the horse. Since 1648 when the map was made the world has changed many times. However one thing that has not changed, and this is represented by our church buildings and that is the Good News given to us from God via Jesus Christ. Society may have changed its attitude to God but God has remained constant and loving to us.
Next time you are in the church, for whatever reason, just think of those countless thousands who, just like us have used these buildings for our prayers or family occasions, happy or sad. Are we worthy successors? Do we show the care that is represented in our churches? Don’t worry the church building is there to remind us of God’s love and that that love is constant.
If you have not set foot in church for many years or even ever! Please come, you are welcome, most of our churches are now open each day, (I think only Monk Soham is closed, even so it has a beautiful church yard), come and enjoy the quiet and the welcome. God loves you and the churches have stood and will stand as evidence of his presence in each community for many years to come. David
It is interesting when we read our newspapers and watch the TV to see how easily others are condemned, vilified and made out to be monsters. No one can deny that Radovan Karadzic did evil things but can we take the moral high ground and say we had nothing to do with it. NATO forces saw what was being done but were not allowed to intervene, Colonel Moammar Gadhafi was not condemned whilst it suited the West for him to stay in office. Should the West shoulder some of his guilt?
When the woman was caught in adultery Jesus asked the people in the crowd who were ready to stone her to death that he who is without sin should cast the first stone. Each one in the crowd melted away there was no-one who could cast the stone. None of us are guiltless. “I have done nothing wrong,” you may say but can you really claim that? We all say and do things that hurt others whether meaning to or not. It is part of life, we rub against one another, get things wrong, make mistakes; it would be a very fortunate person who travelled through life without causing some upset. The point is we none of us are in a position to cast the first stone. Don’t get me wrong, perpetrators of evil should be tried and found out in their guilt, but any verdict or judgement should be tempered with the knowledge of our own culpability.
'The Last Supper' by Leonardo Da Vinci took seven years to complete and all the figures, apostles and Jesus Christ, were painted from live models and there is a thought provoking story that goes with it. It may be true or it may be not!
Jesus was chosen first, a young man of nineteen and Da Vinci took six months of painting before he was satisfied. Over the next six years other characters were added with just one space left, that of Judas Iscariot, the betrayer, and Da Vinci searched hard for a person who he considered to have the looks of such a person who could betray his best friend.
Finally he found him, a prisoner in a dungeon in Rome facing a death penalty for murder and other crimes. He was unkempt and had a face that displayed a character of viciousness and greed.
Da Vinci worked on him for months until at last he finished and told the guards to take him away for the last time. Suddenly the prisoner broke free from his guards and rushed up to the artist. "Don't you know who I am?"
"No I don't know you," answered Da Vinci. "I'd never seen you until you were brought from your dungeon that first time."
"Oh God, have I fallen that low." The prisoner cried. "Look at me again; I am the same person you painted just seven years ago. I modelled for Jesus Christ."
Now you may argue that we all make choices in life and all have the opportunity to choose rightly or wrongly, and the vast majority make the right choice, but I wonder if that young man who posed as the person of Christ would have recognized and acknowledged the man who posed as Judas. They were the same person with only a wrong choice between them. It is so easy to condemn but thank God you have not been tested to the extreme, and acknowledge that there but for the grace of God go you or me.
Dear Friends Matt 25:14-30
It was with genuine sadness I heard the news that Prince Philip had died. He was a man who spent 70 years in the public eye serving his country and queen but in all of that faithful service he has managed to remain himself. He has been a good and faithful servant not overawed by his task and willing to innovate and take risks. "He was the first royal to give an interview on television, trying to be up to date and on trend, as they say in some quarters. However his relationship with the press, that became obsessed with his gaffs skewed the public image of him. He was seen as bellicose and unfeeling with little understanding of discretion. In his 90s Prince Philip was still taking on 300 engagements a year and in his whole 70 years of service he has never turned up late, worn the wrong uniform or gone to the wrong place. Up until he was 90 he had only missed five engagements and this was due to illness. Yet we love to hear that he talked about the slitty-eyed Chinese and suggesting that an old-fashioned fuse-box must have been put in by an Indian; and the question to an Australian aboriginal leader in 2002, asking whether he still threw spears.
I do not know a single person who through their life have not made mistakes and gaffs. This man has served his country for seventy years it would have been surprising had he not made some errors of judgement. But Prince Philip has another side to him a side that takes in his faith, his sense of duty and his love for his wife. It could not have been easy for a man, an alpha male, to take on the subsidiary role as consort and yet he did and has been at the queen’s side supporting her in public until only last year. He is faithful to God and believes the task he was given was given to him by God and he fulfilled that task as best he was able. When our Lord comes to a reckoning with him he will say, I am sure ‘well done good and faithful servant.’ Some of the things he has done is to be a long term patron of the Royal National Institute for the Deaf. Prince Philip had a keen and questioning mind, he wanted debate and conversation. He liked to fill silences and did not suffer fools gladly. T quote his friend Giles Brandreth, Vicars, called to preach before the royal family at Balmoral, report daunting lunchtime conversations afterwards, with the duke beadily dissecting the flaws in their sermons. His study library, contained 11,000 books, includes works of comparative theology and other more surprising texts: the poetry of TS Eliot. And he read them.
Prince Philip was never apologetic for his brusqueness he had to learn to be resilient and self-reliance very early in his life. He was abandoned by his father, who went to live in the south of France, his mother confined to an asylum following a breakdown and out of contact with him for many years, his older sisters marrying Nazis, he was shuffled between relatives, educated in spartan boarding schools in Germany and Scotland and then trained for the British navy, in which he served through the second world war. Then, once married to his bride and with his career as a naval officer taking off, he was forced to give it up when his wife ascended the throne, becoming the new Queen's consort and pledging at the coronation to be her "liege man of life and limb and of earthly worship". He was condemned to a lifetime of walking a few paces behind, making conversation, shaking hands, inquiring politely. Because and despite this he followed some of his own interests such as the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme, encouraging young people to volunteer for community service and engage in teamwork and outdoor activity. There have been over 4 million teenage participants over 65 years (he still attended many of the ceremonies to give out gold awards). He became president of the World Wildlife Fund and of the National Playing Field Association and many others. On his 90th birthday the Queen said “he has been "my strength and my stay all these years". He has been a good and faithful servant and he will be missed.
Well I hope you have/are/will be enjoying your Easter eggs. Due to the vagaries of the timing for this magazine you might be reading it after/before/or during Easter. So I thought I would write a catch all introduction and hope you are not all too confused. Anyway Happy Easter!
This is the most important of all Christian Festivals. Easter is important because it is the celebration of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus from the dead, thus promising to all of us eternal life and ultimate salvation. There will come a time when all our burdens of sin and guilt will be lifted from us and God will welcome us home as his beloved children. What is it that we can do to earn our place in heaven with God, well the Good News is we can’t. God gives it freely through his great love for us.
‘So we can just sit back and do nothing’ you might say. Well yes you could but when someone shows extravagant love towards us we may feel beholden to them, we want them to know that we appreciate the love that we have been shown. We might even want to say thank you.
A little boy came home from Sunday School on Easter Sunday and said to his mum, ‘I can understand about Christ but not the roses.’ Then he asked his mother ‘Why was Christ a rose?’
A priest was walking along the cliff tops near Eastbourne one Easter afternoon and he met a fisherman one of his congregation. The old fisherman greeted him with Christ is risen parson. The priest was intrigued by the old man’s faith. How do you know Christ is risen?’ he asked. The fisherman paused and then pointed to some isolated cottages near the cliff tops. ‘See those cottages, well when I am far out at sea, I know the sun has risen by the light that is reflected by their windows. Likewise I know Christ is risen when I see him reflected in the faces of some people I meet, which in turn reminds me of the glory I feel in my own life.
Christ is risen, he is risen indeed.
Why are eggs associated with Easter? Why are they such a powerful symbol of resurrection? The word needs some care. It is not resuscitation, as if Jesus were simply brought back to life, like Lazarus or the widow’s son at Nam. Resurrection is transformation. So then, why eggs and Easter? An egg is totally changed. What is yellow and white liquid becomes alive with feathers and a chirp. A liquid goo becomes a chicken – a sea gull, crow or magpie. Another Easter symbol is the seed, or acorn. You can look at a seed and never imagine what colour it may turn out to have. Similarly with a caterpillar and butterfly. These are resurrection sym-bols because they become something else, totally unforeseen and beautiful. And yet there is continuity: the egg becomes a chicken; an acorn becomes an oak-tree; a caterpillar becomes a butterfly.
The resurrection is an invitation to look around to see transformation, to see what is evil being changed, what is immature becoming adult; what appears inert like an egg or seed sprouting life.
Jesus “was raised on the third day.” Who raised him? The Father by the power of the Holy Spirit. When we look at the resurrection appearances we associates or disciples. The Risen Jesus is then the same but different. This can be put in another way by saying that Jesus is not resuscitated, but is resurrected.
Christ is risen, and has promised to take us with him. This life is not the end; we too will be transformed in endless life and beauty. Human life is good, but it will end. The resurrection gives hope and meaning to our existence, what is raised is imper-ishable. It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body (1Corinthians 15:42-44).
Happy Easter enjoy your eggs.
Candlemas Day - February 2
For the Romans and the Celts February was the start of spring, but it was not part of the original Roman calendar and along with January was inserted by a chap called Numa Pampilous when the calendar was extended from ten to twelve months. The word February comes from februa which means cleansing or purification and reflects the many rituals that took place before the start of spring.
The Anglo Saxons called February Sol-monath (cake month) because cakes were offered to the gods during the spring festival. In Shakespeare’s time the second month of the year was called Feverell and one hundred years later in the time of Isaac Newton it had become Februeer. The modern name which reflects more closely the original Roman name only came into use about one hundred years ago.
The 2nd February is celebrated in Church and is called Candlemas day. This ancient festival marks the midpoint of winter between the shortest day and the spring equinox. Candlemas marks the end of the Christmas season where we turn from the celebration of Christ’s birth and make ready for his death and resurrection at Easter. Robert Herrick in his poem ‘Ceremonies for Candlemas Eve,’ writes:
Down with rosemary and bay,
Down with mistletoe;
Instead of holly, now up-raise
The greener box (for show)
On Candlemas day all the candles that were to be used in the church and at home in the coming year were brought to church and a blessing was said over them thus the festival day or mass for candles.
And candles were very important not only because there was no electric or gas light but because they were thought to give protection against plague and illness and famine. For Christians they were a reminder of something even more important. Before Jesus came to earth, it was as if everyone was ‘in the dark’. People often felt lost and lonely. With the Advent of Jesus with his message that God was with us and loved us so much he came down from heaven to live among us. Jesus became the guiding light to Christians and he was given the title ‘Light of the World,’ so we light candles to remind us of this.
Candlemas is important in the Church year because not only does it remind us of the God of love who came to be with us but also the changing of the seasons. And as the season changes so does the mood of the Church, the Christmas joy is modified by the impending approach of Easter. Although Easter too is a great joyful celebration we must first pass through Holy Week and especially Good Friday the day when Jesus died on the cross. To be a Christian means we must be grounded in our faith and it needs to be real we shall be celebrating Candlemas on 31st Jan in Tannington Church and on zoom, do attend if you can. David
The Answers to the Christmas quiz:
1 Christmas, 2 The Angel Gabriel, 3 Caesar Augustus, 4 Immanuel, 5 John the Baptist, 6 Egypt,
7 Bethlehem , 8 St Mark, 9 Nazareth, 10 Elizabeth, 11 The Holly and the Ivy, 12 While shepherds
13 Silent Night, 14 Good King Wenceslas, 15 We three kings, 16 Ding dong merrily, 17 O come all ye faithful, 18 I saw three ships, 19 Little donkey.
We had four winners so their names went in the hat and the overall winner was Gwen Chambers
Well done Gwen some chocolate will be heading your way soon.
The winter of 1836 was particularly bad in Suffolk. It started snowing two days before Christmas, and continued for nearly a week, putting a stop to all business. Some villages in Suffolk were com-pletely isolated for six days. There was a strong NE wind which laid the high land bare and gorged the narrow roads and valleys with snow. Between Yoxford and Halesworth the drifts, in some places, were from 15 to twenty feet high. Two days after Christmas the coach from Ipswich to Yarmouth tried to make the journey. Nine horses were attached to it but its progress was slow. At Yoxford it became so entrenched as it could not move and had to be abandoned.
There was no communication between west and east Suffolk from Christmas to New Years eve. Communication only being restored when a man on a horse managed to get through. Men work-ing in gangs of 20 – 30 tried to keep sections of road open.
The post was entirely disorganised. The guard of the Yarmouth mail coach had a perilous jour-ney. Finding it impossible to proceed with the coach, he exchanged this for a post-chaise. In some places the snow was too much even for this and the guard had to unhitch his horse and ride that carrying the post bags on his back. He arrived in Woodbridge sixteen hours late, much fa-tigued and bruised from many tumbles.
It must have been hellish for our ancestors trying to survive such a winter that seemed to have no let up. But they did survive and did not give up. We have just lived through the worst year ever with disruption, lock downs, businesses failing, hospital full to overflowing. We have however come through it, or at least survived so far. We must have faith that all will be well to believe that God will not abandon us but be with us every step. The people of Suffolk in 1836 believed in God’s love and the promise of Spring. We too can believe in God’s love and the promise of a vaccine to come. Let us therefore believe and trust that this year 2021 will be a new beginning and that we will be free to live our lives once more. David
Remembrance Sunday services will take place in each parish and will probably be outdoors where possible. As well as remembering the fallen at our special services on Remembrance Sunday we also remember this month Guy Fawkes. We often forget that he and his fellow plotters were motivated by genuine grievances, but these were ignored because of what we should now call the ter-rorist plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Modern plotters should most definitely ‘remember, remember the Fifth of November’. The cause of Roman Catholic emancipation was set back for two centuries because of public outrage.
Many churches hold Requiems on All Souls Day, November 2nd, during which the names of the congregation’s loved ones are read out. In this benefice we carry out this act of remembrance in Laxfield Church 4pm 31st Oct and online. But it is not only we who remember those whom we love but see no longer, or all those who fought for their country. God remembers. The writer of Psalm 88 might say pessimistically ‘I am… like the slain that lie in the grave, like those whom you remember no more, for they are cut off from your hand’. He had no concept of life beyond death. The thief on the cross, on the other hand, begged Jesus to remember him. He was saying more than he knew. We believe that God remembers, holds in his mind and heart for good, all his human creation living and departed, until the day when our souls and bodies are reunited
Rogation days, were at one time an occasion of prayer and fasting instituted by the Church to appease God's anger at man's transgressions, to ask protection in calamities, and to obtain a good and bountiful harvest. The Rogation Days are usually around the 5th Sunday of Easter (this year it is 17th May). Rogation came at that time of year when the dawn chorus and beautiful sunrises recall the Resurrection, and, looking about, we cannot escape the beauty of creation in a world of spring bursting with divine Love. There is a freshness in the air, a newness in the sunlight, an awaking of beauty in places one would never seek
The advent of Spring is the surest promise of life after death, of resurrection even though all seems dead and the world is caught in the withered hands of winter, life will win through. Corvid virus has had us in its icy grip and many have died and many have been dreadfully ill. However through all of this there has been a sense of community, a sense of people working together and loving one another. We need to applaud those who selflessly worked in our hospitals, in the care homes, in the homes of those who need support. Even though the virus caused the death of carers and medics alike the rest carried on, their sense of duty and care pushing them forward. We also need to applaud our police and ambulance workers and firemen who have carried on regardless. In fact so many shop workers who turned up for work knowing they were exposing themselves to the possibility of infection. Don’t forget also our government who have tried to do the right thing and shepherd the country through unprecedented times. And finally those volunteers in all our communities who have taken responsibility in looking after their neighbours.
This world disaster has, on the whole, brought out the best in people and I want to applaud that. When this is all over are we going to carry on caring in these significant ways or will we forget? I have felt the connectedness of the community over the past weeks.
The future is still uncertain we have a way to go but as we travel from Spring into summer remember this time, how we all pulled together, worked for one another, appreciated one another and keep that in mind for when all is well once more.
Keep well, keep safe you are all in my prayers David
On 3rd March 2006 the Prime Minister Tony Blair appeared on Michael Parkinson’s TV programme and, when pressed, said that he believed that in the end God would judge him for his actions. According to the media the whole nation raised its hands in horror! TV newscasters reported on the great danger that the nation would be in if the Prime Minister made decisions according to Christian principles, and on the offence that his words would give to those of other faiths. After about 12 hours of this when the sky didn’t fall in and another world war didn’t start, it all quietened down although there were still those op-posed to God or the Prime Minister, or both, who distorted the remark that he had made. It all goes to show what a mess our society is in about religion in general, and Christianity in particular.
It seems as if we are being persuaded that it’s not quite the thing to be a Christian – if you are you had better keep quiet about it. It might be just alright to admit to it at Christmas with the baby and the angels and the shepherds – but now we are approaching Holy Week which is about a cross and nails and blood and death – followed by an incredible miracle of a crucified man rising from death and about a promise of eternal life to all people. Society isn’t com-fortable with those who recognise or celebrate that – it’s much safer to think that Easter is about bonnets and bunnies and eggs; and possibly hot cross buns, although there are those who would prefer the buns without the cross.
“We don’t do God!” said Alistair Campbell in an effort to stop the Prime Minis-ter talking about his faith. In a so-called multi-cultural society it is assumed that a kind of neutrality is obtained by not mentioning God at all – by present-ing a world without God: but that is atheism. Atheism is not neutral ground. It is an extreme position – every bit as extreme as a particular religious stance – indeed the great religions of the world have more in common with each other than they do with atheism.
During the early days of the Church in the Roman Empire, Christians were said to be “enemies of the human race”. They met in secret – so people didn’t know what they did or what they believed; ignorance led to fear, and fear led to hatred and persecution. We haven’t got to that stage now, thank God, but the recent event has shown that there are those who fear Christians who act on their beliefs. The risen Christ commanded us to proclaim the gospel to the world. We need to take that command quite literally. We need to show the world that Christians are “lovers of the human race”, that we are not opposed to happiness and laughter, that we are not opposed to all the discoveries that sci-ence has made about God’s world, and that our belief is reasonable.
I wish you all a very Holy Week and a very joyful Easter
What is local ministry?
Local Ministry is the name given to a new way of recognising and encouraging the importance of leadership within the life of each church and congregation. In this diocese they are to be called Local Ministers. In the new, emerging model of ministry that is developing it is envisioned that each church will be led by one or more Local Ministers. Local Ministers are the ‘go to’ people in a particular local congregation who, supported by the vicar, provide leadership and oversee the mission and pastoral care in each church. The detailed nature of their role will vary from place and place and should reflect the nature of both the church and it's community. Local Ministers are ‘ever present’ people who provide leadership and care, particularly in situations where the rector, (That’s me) has over-sight of several churches or congregations.
In this benefice we are gradually introducing local ministers, these people need not be ordained. They will be the people who keep a look out over the parish to make sure parishioners are well and to let me know what is happening. They will be a part of the community and take some of the burden off the churchwar-den’s role. I would still be in charge but the Local Ministers will be my eyes and ears.
As for services these will carry on as normal and where the local minister is ordained they will take services but not all the services because I would want to keep in touch with you all. Our villages so far have had such people identified these are Rebecca Artiss in Monk Soham, Chrissie Smart in Bedfield and David Mulrenan in Tannington. Having a Local Minister does not mean the rector has no contact in the village, far from it, having a Local Minister means I will have a better idea as to where my energies will be put to best use.
I encourage you to use these people and give them your support.
David Burrell (rector)
Happy New Year!
The start of a new year is always a good time for taking stock of our lives and making plans, though this year we will all have to consider what changes Brexit may bring. As in all things, there will be winners and losers. I was reminded of this after the recent election when, the following day there were scenes of jubilation alongside scenes of dejection and sadness. This has ever been the case in elections, as in life in general, for some, a time to weep and for others a time to laugh (Ecclesiastes 3.4) and I daresay it will always be the case in this life. Jesus gives us hope through a very famous sermon, called ‘the sermon on the mount’ (Matthew 5). In essence, he says that he is going right the wrongs and make all things just and equal. The first few verses to me, are the most profound:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
In the period before Christmas – Advent, or ‘the coming’ we not only celebrate the coming of Jesus in his birth, but we look for the second coming when Jesus will return and bring about the Kingdom of heaven where there is no inequality just love, joy and harmony. Imagine a world where there is no need for elections or referendums, no politics and no-one jostles for first position without consideration of anyone else! As we approach this period of uncertainty pray for each other and if you are a winner, remember those who have not fared so well and ask yourself: ‘what can I do to level the playing field? What can I do to realise Jesus promise and bring the Kingdom of God nearer?
With my prayers and best wishes, Ron