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From the Rectory – June

Of all the rather odd celebrations that take place around the globe, the month of June has several that ought to rank quite highly. The ever popular Canadian Rivers Day is on the second Sunday of June, and Singapore International Water Week starts this year on the 16th. If you’re looking for something that lasts for the full thirty days, there’s nothing more appealing than the Great Outdoors Month in America. Or if you don’t fancy the travel then stay closer to home. Dentists of the UK will be overjoyed if you send them a card, because June is National Smile Month. read more

From the Rectory – May

At more than 2300 episodes that have aired over the last 55 years, the BBC’s Songs of Praise is one of the most recognisable shows broadcast in the UK. Originally location specific, with hymns from a single church, the style of the programme has changed to being more of a magazine format. This reflects the wider Christian audience across the country. Now it would now not be unusual to hear a classic John Wesley hymn from a church in Wales, and then later in the same show a modern worship song from a central London setting. read more

From the Rectory – April

There is no shortage of places that songwriters can go to when they are looking for a subject to write about. Falling in love, being in love and falling back out of love again seem to be the main themes for a good number of lyricists. But nothing is off limits.

The Beatles successfully sang about life under the sea in Yellow Submarine, the garden of a Salvation Army children’s home in Strawberry Fields and loneliness & separation in Eleanor Rigby. Mind you, they also sang a great deal about love as well. read more

From the Rectory – March

On the walls of St Paul’s Cathedral there hang two large white crosses that, viewed from a distance, seem somewhat uneven. Up close though the reason for their irregular nature becomes clear. There are intricate models of contemporary and historical settlements, that have been decimated by conflict, woven in to the arms of the crosses. These twin sculptures by London artist Gerry Judah sit at the very head of the nave, and at more than six foot high, they are strikingly imposing. The reality of the consequences of war, fixed to an instrument of death – which in itself is a symbol of life eternal, in a place that glorifies the God of peace. It’s a powerful image. read more

From the Rectory – February

All Change!

On the north wall of our church, there is a list of past Rector’s of Lawford, and nearly 800 years of history lies behind those names. The last person on the list is my predecessor, Pat Prestney. My name doesn’t yet adorn that list, at least in part because when I stared here in 2011, it was as priest-in-charge rather than Rector.
istock_000019422608xlarge-changes-aheadThe reason for this is all to with the way that the Church of England works. As the established church, there are legal requirements that need to be met when appointments are made. Equally, if there need to be some changes made in the structure of a parish or a benefice, then that is far more difficult if there is a rector rather than a priest-in-charge.
There is going to be just such a change at Lawford in the coming months. The benefice will be enlarged so rather that just the parish church of St Mary’s, we will be joined with the parishes of Little Bentley and The Bromleys.
Owing to the legal nature of the change, which at its end point will mean it being signed off at the highest level of state, this is likely to take some time.
However we are eager to begin working together as soon as possible. So in the meantime, we will be using a mechanism where I am appointed as Curate-in-charge of the other two parishes, before at some time in the future, becoming Rector or vicar of the three parishes.
Change can be difficult. We will have to find new ways of being church across our communities. But it is also an exciting time where we each bring talents and skills together as we work to see God’s kingdom grow in this part of North Essex.
If you have any questions to do with this, please contact me. My phone number and email address are inside the front cover of this magazine. read more

From the Rectory – January

I wonder what promise is the one that is used most often?

It could be the promise to tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Stand inside any court in the UK and you’ll undoubtedly hear witness after witness start their testimony with this.

Or how about the promise to ‘love honour and cherish’. Doe eyed couples standing hand in hand utter these words in every marriage service up and down the country hundreds of times every week.

But both of these though are nothing compared with one promise that is constantly used millions of times every day. ‘I promise to pay the bearer the sum of…’, it’s printed next to the Queen’s head on the front of every single bank note. There are more than one and a half billion £20 notes in circulation, let alone the billions of £50s, £10s and £5s. That’s an awful lot of promises. read more

From the Rectory – December

If there had been a daily newspaper at the time of Jesus birth I wonder how it might have reported the events? A screaming headline on the front page of the Bethlehem Gazette – “Baby Boy Born In Bovine Booth”. Or perhaps in the Herod Herald “Imposter King – It’s a right royal mix up”. How about a feature article in the full colour ‘Halo’ glossy magazine. ‘“Mary and Joseph share their joy as they show us round the one room maternity suite and introduce us to their beautiful son”. Maybe it wouldn’t have deserved a mention at all. 1newspapers_2714706b read more

From the Rectory – November

What is important to remember?

The names of your best friends from school? Family birthdays? Where you left your car keys? Memory experts suggest several ways which make it easier to recall important information. The same techniques can also be used to spectacular effect. Multiple times World Memory Championship winner Dominic O’Brien describes the spoken numbers challenge as one of the hardest memory disciplines. Competitors are read out strings of numbers at a rate of one a second. You have to listen to 400 of them and it’s sudden death. Most people can remember six or seven, but the current record is 364. 76a54a70-8974-413f-977c-e8055fd2b871 read more

From the Rectory – October

Harold Wilson, the former Prime Minister of the UK, is the man who is attributed with first saying ‘a week is a long time in politics’. The pace as which political opinion can be radically transformed is extraordinary. A pariah one moment is a messiah the next. In the digital age, where information is available as it happens can also shift public opinion with similar speed. The sea change in the press coverage of the Syrian Refugee Crisis has been remarkable.

One of the better selling tabloid papers moved from the front page alarmist headline ‘Migrants: How many more can we take?’ to describing the same situation as a ‘human catastrophe’ just six days later. Although newspaper editors might like to think that they help to form public opinion, so often they are reacting to it. read more

From the Rectory – September

Between 2009 and 2013 the number of albums in the UK that were sold on CD near enough halved from 112 million to just over 60 million. In the same time frame digital sales, on iTunes and other online retailers more than doubled. For music retailers on the High Street it was a difficult time. HMV, the ninety year old company with outlets all over the UK faced disaster, and at the beginning of 2013 it was rescued from administration but saw significant store closures and job losses.

Record Spinning on Turn Table

Somewhat surprisingly only two years later HMV is once again making profits, and has just announced it is to to open new shops across the Middle East. It is also in talks to expand into Australia, China and India. They have seen year-on-year CD, DVD and Blu-Ray sales increase by small amounts, but the real star is vinyl albums where the number sold has increased by 170%. read more