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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

From the Rectory – August

Alongside sandcastles, donkey rides and ice creams, rock is part of any good summer seaside holiday. These multi-coloured sticks of confectionary wonderfulness involve the careful mixing of sugar, liquid glucose and various colouring, and then after a process of twisting and turning and pulling and stretching, the final product is formed. Having kept dentists in business for many years rock is as popular now as it ever was.

stickofrockIt’s not only the brightly coloured sugar that make up a stick of rock, it often features the name of the seaside town or resort as part of the rock itself. Not just lettering on the outside, the letters run right through its middle. Every bite you take from one end to the other and there it is. read more

From the Rectory – July

There have been some recent press articles about the difficult nature of at least one of the GCSE exams this summer. One recorded how students had left their EdExcel Maths paper and taken to social media to complain that one of the questions was ‘impossible’. The truth of the matter was that it was indeed very difficult, but for the most mathematically able of the students it was solvable.

Another more amusing account came from the GCSE Chemistry paper, where a short teaser posed to students near the beginning asked them to finish the sentence ‘Limestone is Calcium ______’. If there was any doubt over the answer from those taking the exam, a cursory glance through the rest of the paper would have helped considerably. One of the questions further on began with the statement Donboscocambodia0001‘Limestone is Calcium Carbonate.’ read more

From the Rectory – June 2015

I caught a show on one of the more obscure television channels recently with the title ‘Day of Gluttony’. The premise of the programme is that over the course of twenty-four hours, the hosts, Harry and Bruce, visit 24 eating establishments in a particular city. Thankfully for their state of health, they don’t actually have a meal at every stop. Alongside restaurants there are also milkshake shops, juice bars, and for me the most interesting, coffee roasters.

The choice of coffee that is available at these places can number as many as a dozen or more. Each of the beans is roasted in house before being lovingly brewed into a cupCoffee-and-Breakfast of steaming hot deliciousness. The hosts don’t know what these coffees are going to taste like before they take their first sip, but they seem to revel in the opportunity of trying something new, something different, something unusual. There’s always the possibility that they may well find the perfect cup. read more

From the Rectory – April

I wonder if you have ever found out something surprising and unexpected about someone that you thought you knew really well? Maybe you have an aunt who unknown to you was once a downhill skier in a winter olympics. Or perhaps you have  second cousin who behind their mild mannered exterior, is actually an operative for MI5.

20_SureflapSir Isaac Newton was an English physicist and mathematician who formulated the laws of motion and universal gravitation – supposedly inspired by having an apple drop on his head. He built the first practical reflecting telescope and developed a theory of colour from observing the decomposition of white light through a prism. There are also stories that among his huge scientific achievements and contributions to our understanding of our world, Newton played a significant part in the homes of thousands and thousands of people. He invented the cat flap.  read more