From the Rectory – December

Following a recent survey, the retailer Matalan reported that 82% of people own a Christmas jumper and that young adults between 25-34 year were the most likely to purchase one. Over three quarters of people buy their festive jumper to wear for an event at work. More than half wear one on Christmas Day. The options are near enough limitless, from a traditional Christmas tree, snowman or reindeer, to the less conventional ‘We Three Gins’ or Darth Vader in a Santa hat. Even computer game character Sonic the Hedgehog is available for the discerning fashionista looking for an original take on festive attire. read more

Library News – December

December. Christmas. The stable in Bethlehem. God here, human among us…
We walk through December step by step towards that stable, and the amazing act of God within it. We kneel, finally, in the straw, on our knees before the Child, and when we do, we find we are not alone. The stable is crowded. Not only the Holy Family, not only the shepherds, the donkey, the cows, the sheep, the place is filled with people.
A throng of strangers kneeling together, a most peculiar mixture of men, women, and children, dressed in the strangest, outrageous, mixture of clothing. We see a frock-coat here, jeans and tee shirt there, a Roman toga, someone in feathers and deerskin, in a sarong and flowers, a woman in a high mediaeval wimple, a battered looking man in chain-mail, ruffs and doublets, bare feet and rags, the uniforms of a hundred armies. The walls of the stable have faded out of focus.
Perhaps at our shoulder we see Simon or Sally, others from our church and our benefice, but who are the rest? It is the church, us Christians, gathered together in a worship that stretches back two thousand years. We are not alone as we follow Jesus. We have around us all the saints of God.
Our Library has books about saints. “Saints on Earth” by John Darch and Stuart Burns gives thumbnails of the people we remember day by day through the year. Janina Ramirez’ “The private Lives of the Saints” tells us the histories and backgrounds of the saints in early Britain. We have books about people, from thoughtful biographies (“Michael Ramsey” by Michael De-la-Noy) to racy stories of conversion and mission (“Taming the Tiger” by Tony Anthony). All of us are saints together. All of us kneeling in the straw of the stable in Bethlehem. Not strangers at all. The loving family of God.
Rosemary Smith read more

From the Rectory – November

Interspersed among the cynicism and tiredness that comes across so clearly in the Biblical book of Ecclesiastes, are moments of humour, glimpses of pathos, as well as passages of insightful wisdom. Over the course of the book, the writer, an unknown preacher, teacher or king explores the meaning of life. He reflects on wisdom and its use, he compares youth and old age, and in the third chapter he records some lines of near poetry that rather surprisingly became a huge international hit for the American folk rock group The Byrds in 1965. read more

Library News – November

How do you build trust? Trust in a person, or a group of people. We are alone indeed if we have no-one we can trust.

We should, as Christians, know that we always have God whom we can trust. That’s easy to say, but do we actually feel we can? How do we learn to trust God?

Trust is something that has to grow bit by bit. It’s not something that arrives in a thunderclap of revelation. It’s not like falling in love. You learn to trust a person or a group by doing things together, work or leisure, over time. Listening to each other. Over time you come to trust yourself to them. read more

From the Rectory – October

Did you have any childhood heroes? Not necessarily the kind that wears a mask or a cape or swings from a spiders web or leaps from tall building to tall building in a single bound. Maybe the more normal down to earth kind. Someone who you admire because of some character trait or other. Someone you look up to It might be a teacher you had who made a genuine difference to your world view. It might be a family friend who was always there. It could be someone more famous. an activist or religious figure. It could even be a politician! read more

Library News – October

From the Library

By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept” says Psalm 137. “We hung up our harps in the trees …. for how can we sing the songs of Zion in a strange land?” It is the most vivid description that I know of forced exile and captivity. “If I forget thee O Jerusalem, may my right hand wither …”

I have just bought for the Library a small book by Khaled Hosseini, called “Sea Prayer”. It is an unashamedly emotional book, telling of a refugee family from Homs in Syria. They are refugees, fleeing into exile from destruction rather than captives as the Jews were in Babylon, but the desolation of their loss is the same. “Sea Prayer” is written to remind us that the refugees who are washing up on the shores of Europe are people wrenched from their homes by war. read more

From The Rectory – September

Of all the myriad of applications, or apps, that are now available for Smartphones, there are some that are truly pointless.

“Celebrity Heights” enables the user to see how tall famous individuals such as Barack Obama, Tom Cruise or Madonna are, although why you might wish to know that is a mystery.

“Fan Cooler” shows a video of a spinning fan. The angry messages from those who have bought the app, and were then surprised and disappointed to discover that it doesn’t actually produce a moving breeze, is somewhat disturbing.  read more

Library News – September

How would you link hermit monks in the Egyptian desert 1500 years ago with Aslan, the Lion of Narnia? Well for a start they’re both Christian things, They’re rather different, perhaps, but both speak of the ways we all experience God. Closer to home, they are both subjects of books by Rowan Williams, and we have both of them in our Library, “Silence and Honey Cakes; the wisdom of the desert.” and “The Lion’s World; a journey into the heart of Narnia.”

I am very taken by Rowan Williams’ books; we have half a dozen different ones in the Library. He has spent much of his life as an academic, as well as being Archbishop, and he knows how to teach. He knows how to draw you into a book, and how to reveal to you new ways of looking at his subject. You get fascinated with what he is showing you, and then suddenly you find you’re deep into theology you never knew you could cope with. But don’t worry. He takes you through on such an interesting journey that you follow safely. read more

From the Rectory – August

If you ever take a cursory glance at the collected musical works of writer and composer Lionel Bart, you’d be forgiven for thinking that he had more than a passing fondness for the exclamation mark. Having had moderate success with both Lock Up Your Daughters in 1959, and then Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’be later the same year, the runaway popularity of his most famous work Oliver! just twelve months later encouraged Bart to write the World War Two themed Blitz! Despite a run of more than a year, Blitz! didn’t achieve the global popularity that Oliver! had. Bart put this down to its subject matter resonating more clearly for UK audiences, although playwright Noel Coward described it as ‘twice as loud and twice as long as the real thing’’. read more

From the Rectory – July

For church junkies who enjoy nothing more than travelling around the country and visiting places of worship – and there are some – the lack of imagination when it comes to the naming of Anglican Churches must be quite striking. St Mary is far and away the most frequently used. More than 2300 churches in the UK are dedicated to her, with the catch all ‘All Saints’ the next most popular, followed by St Peter, St Michael & St Andrew.

This makes it even more noticeable when a church is dedicated to a Saint that is unique to one particular place. read more