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Library News – March

I’d like the children’s books to be taken out of the Library. I’d like them brought back again, as well, of course. The books in the Library aren’t there just to keep children happy during the service. They’re there in the same way the adult books are. To be taken away and enjoyed at home. They’re there for the same reasons as the adult books are, too, though they do it differently.
They are there to help our children find their way around the Bible. To find the legends, the law, the histories, the poetry, and the prophets. To help them learn about Jesus and His teaching, and how God redeemed us through Him. And to learn about the beginning of the church.
They’re there to help our children learn something of the nature and the ways of God, of His love, His truth, His forgiveness, how He challenges us and trains us. We want them to learn how to listen to Him and to trust Him, and how to pray.
We want them to understand that there is a spiritual underpinning to our lives; we want books that give them a sense of wonder.
And we want them to learn about the ceremonies of the church, and how they help us to live the life God has planned for us.
I’d like to be able to say we have books do all this. We don’t. But most of our books do some of it. We have books for a wide age range, and how they go about doing all those things is wildly varied. Some don’t do it very well. Some do it so subtly you scarcely notice (think Narnia). Why don’t you look out some books for your children from the Library, and take them home with you? And bring them back. Eventually.
Rosemary Smith read more

From the Rectory – February

The impala is by all accounts an unremarkable medium sized antelope that can be found in eastern and southern Africa. Unremarkable except for their astonishing ability to jump distances of eleven metres and to heights of more than three metres. Despite the huge leaps that they can make, impalas can be kept in any zoo enclosure with a wall that is only three feet high. As they aren’t tall enough to see what’s beyond the barrier, impalas won’t attempt to escape as they can’t see where they might land. read more

Library News – February

Much as I enjoy the services as we have them now, I regret that we do not together, as a congregation, recite the Bible any more. We have two Bible readings in most services, we taste the Old Testament and hear the Gospels and Epistles, but we have lost the songs and the poetry of the Bible.
We used to say or sing the psalms. We used to say together the great New Testament poems, Mary’s Magnificat, Zechariah’s Benedictus, Simeon’s Nunc Dimittis. Week by week the poetry embedded itself in our memory, as poetry does. And with the poetry came prayer. We have lost a way of talking with God.
I suspect the clergy haven’t noticed this. Each Anglican priest says Morning Prayer each day, and so recites the psalms in order through the year. The poetry and the prayer runs through their minds still, and they may not see what their people have lost.
I urge you to return to the psalms. We have some books in the Library that can help. C.S. Lewis’ “Reflections on the Psalms” is a thoughtful look at the psalms, and what they were written about. David Garnsey’s “Songs From a Dry Land” is a useful brief description of each of the psalms, with some odd comments. Dietrich Bonhoeffer “Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible” is a tiny book, urging us to pray with Jesus through the psalms, showing us how in the psalms, God is teaching us what to pray.
I would recommend starting with Eugene H Peterson, “Psalms: Prayers of the Heart” (A Lifebuilder Bible Study) to understand the psalms as both poetry and prayer. He takes twelve psalms and leads us (in study question style) through the different ways of prayer each gives us. He shows us how to use them all. Try it. read more

From the Rectory – January

If you make a New Years resolution, how long do you think it will last? Is it going to be something of a complete life change, which means you’ll never go back to the previous way of doing things? Or is it something that will likely last no more than a couple of days? A survey from an American University back in 2012 suggested that a surprisingly high 75% of resolutions would last a week, and an equally surprising 46% will go for six months. If you’re younger the chances are better as well. Four in every ten people in their twenties will achieve their resolution, but if you’re over 50, it drops dramatically to below 15%. The list of the top ten New Years resolutions contains the usual suspects, lose weight, quit smoking, stay fit, spend less. My favourite though came in at number 8 – “help others in their dreams.” read more

Library News – January

My granddaughter wrote, as her final year dissertation at university, an essay on “The Apocalypse in Video Games”. The Disaster At The End Of Time…
“The Day of the Lord” the prophets called it, and strangely they seemed to welcome it. Isaiah positively relishes the destruction he describes. The early Church looked forward to it. The Book of Revelation and all that…

But isn’t the apocalypse a huge disaster? Think of all those end-of-the-world disaster films. Why would anyone welcome it? Is there a difference between the way Christians see the apocalypse and how non-believers see it? read more

From the Rectory – December

If there was a list of the most surprising Christmas traditions that happen around the world, Japan would undoubtedly come near the top. In a country where it isn’t even a national holiday, the astonishing success of Kentucky Fried Chicken at Christmas is remarkable.

It began some forty years ago, when foreigners who were living in Japan struggled to find a whole turkey or chicken anywhere else, so ended up purchasing a yuletide KFC. Ever the masters of marketing, the company seized on this and now offers specifically themed traditional Christmas party barrels. This family pack includes fried chicken, a salad, and a chocolate cake. So popular are these barrels that customers have to pre-order, and it’s not unusual for them to sell out more than a month before Christmas Day itself. read more

Library News – December

I was trying to paint a picture for a meditation – a devotional picture – and I found I couldn’t do it.

I’m a moderate artist. I can paint a landscape, I can illustrate a story, I can draw birthday cards with mermaids or monsters to amuse my grandchildren. But a devotional picture has to do more than that. It has to show you the landscape of the soul. It has to take you right through the story to the truths beneath. It should be, says one writer, “a window for our earthly eyes through which we can see the Kingdom of Heaven.” I can’t do that. read more

From the Rectory – November

In 1760, the engraver and cartographer John Spilsbury mounted a map onto a sheet of hardboard, and using a marquetry saw, produced the first jigsaw puzzle. Originally known as dissections, these ‘dissected maps’ were used to teach geography, as the pieces were cut along national borders.

It wasn’t until around 1880 that the name ‘jigsaw’ became associated with the puzzles, when fretsaws began to be used to cut them up into pieces. Why they were not called ‘fretsaw puzzles’ seems to have been an accident of history. In the following years, subject matter became more varied. From cityscapes to pastoral scenes, steam trains to film posters, there is now no theme off limits. read more

Library News – November

What do you do when you can’t find God? When you can’t hear Him? When you ask a question and get no reply?

He’s there. You know with your mind that He’s there, but your heart is dry and empty, or you’ve asked Him in prayer for guidance, and you’re getting nothing. What do you do?

You carry on, that’s what you do. You pray, and you read the Bible, and, most important, because we are not alone with God, you hang out with other Christians. That means go to church, and read books by Christians. And with neither your head nor your heart, but with your will, you trust God to show himself to you when He sees you are ready. read more

From the Rectory – October

As well as being an expert on the history and culture of Italian Cuisine, Mario Batali is an accomplished chef, restauranteur and media personality in his native America. Like most chefs he is passionate about the quality of produce that he cooks with, and he’s especially keen to see that the fruit and vegetables that are often discarded are put to good use. And it’s not just because of the waste. As Batali says

“We need to figure out a ‘harvest system’ to collect the produce that stores don’t put out for customers to buy because it’s not perfect looking. Frankly, the stuff left to rot in the storeroom is more beautiful to me than the perfect carrot. I’m a gnarly carrot kind of guy.” read more