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From the Rectory – March

I have a coffee mug at home that has some large friendly letters emblazoned on it. Should you have the opportunity to have a drink at the Rectory, you’ll be overjoyed to have the chance of discovering what the words on the mug say. But why wait? I’m not one to hide my light under a bushel. According to the mug I am ‘The World’s Greatest Dad’. 

It’s quite an honour.

The honour is somewhat reduced in the knowledge that there are probably 1000s of other fathers up and down the country who are repeatedly sipping from exactly the same mug.  read more

Library News – March

I have just put into the Library four books by Jonathan Aitken.  Two are memoirs which have gone on to the “People and their Lives” shelf, and two have gone into “Prayer and Meditation”.   

In the two memoirs “Pride and Perjury” and “Porridge and Passion” Aitken tells a remarkable story.   Born into wealth and privilege, he took for granted his superiority.   Eton and Oxford, journalism, politics, he took, for his class, a well-trodden path to money and power.   He says of himself, looking back, that he was arrogant and greedy, but that was the expected thing too. read more

From the Rectory – February

The days when every child could tell you about the heroes of the bible are long gone, but the story of Jonah is one that is often recalled. It’s because the tale of a man who tries to run away from God is totally unforgettable. And these are the highlights.

God tells Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh and tell the citizens that God is going to destroy every last one of them because of their wickedness. Jonah doesn’t much fancy acting on God’s request, so he boards a boat going in the opposite direction. While aboard, a violent storm batters the ship, and Jonah realises that the only way that the ship can be saved is if he is thrown overboard. The reluctant crew do as Jonah asks and the storm subsides. Jonah meanwhile is swallowed by a giant fish where he spends three days coming to his senses. The fish spews him  on to dry land, Jonah goes to Nineveh to deliver the message form God, the people of Nineveh repent, and God decides that having turned from their evil ways he will not bring the destruction he had threatened.  read more

Library News – February

She rang up and said she couldn’t come after all.  She’d woken up with a bit of a cough and didn’t want to risk going out.  “It always goes to my chest” she said, “I have to be so careful.”  Poor woman.   She watches over her health like a hunting hawk.   There’s always some sniffle or ache that stops her joining in.   She’s entirely absorbed in caring for herself.

My friend Elizabeth barged in waving a crutch.  “Damn ankle” she said, “I’ll slow you down a bit, I’m afraid, but wouldn’t miss it!  D’you mind?” read more

From the Rectory – January

Discovered on stone tablets inscribed more than 4000 years ago, the ancient civilisation of Sumer in Mesopotamia can lay claim to be the first people to record a recipe. And theirs was for beer! They began a long tradition of the writing down of ingredients, and a method of combing them, so that others could copy and recreate a dish of some sort.

Isabella Beeton in the middle 1800s was a pioneer of the modern cookery book. Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management sold 60,000 copies, and cemented her place among the greats of the genre. In more recent years, TV favourites James Martin, Mary Berry, Jamie Oliver and the Hairy Bikers have sold hundreds of thousands of volumes, regularly writing new books to satisfy the appetite of a hungry public. read more

From the Rectory – December

Usually found only between two halves of a burger bun an all beef patty and special sauce, gherkins are one of those food items that divide consumers neatly in two. Those that find them awesomely delicious, and those that would chew off their own fingers rather than eat one. Quite why they should become a popular if somewhat surprising decoration for the Christmas tree in some nations is something of a mystery.

Of the most popular origin legends, one from Spain suggests that it is done in honour of St Nicholas who rescued two young boys who were being held captive in a pickle barrel. Another from Germany originating in the 16th century has it that a pickle is hidden somewhere in the branches of the tree, and is then given as a gift to whichever child can find it. An exciting treat for some, world’s worst treasure hunt for others. read more

Library News – December

Here it is Christmas time again. Here we are, welcoming the Christ child in the stable again. We offer Him our adoration, bring Him gifts. Sing “What shall I give him, poor as I am? …. .. Yet what I can, I give him, give my heart.”
It’s a lovely sentiment, but do we understand what we are singing? In welcoming the baby Jesus we are welcoming God. And giving Him our hearts means giving Him our lives. Which can end us up in some very tedious chores. Because giving our lives to God means serving Him. And serving Him means serving the people He loves. And the people He loves are … guess what … the poor, the lonely, the sick, the lost, the strangers.
Service to God is not glamorous or high status. It can be uncomfortable or undignified – washing peoples’ feet – ugh! Or time-consuming, or frankly irritating. Visiting a grumbling old lady not just once or twice but regularly. Being patient with a surly teenager. Giving lifts, washing up, helping at the night shelter. Working in one of the serving professions, most of which are not well-paid.
“The church,” Archbishop William Temple once said, “is the only society that exists for the benefit of those who are not its members.” We in the church are the ones who are there to serve other people, whether it be the neighbour next door, or the clients of the organisations we work in. Most of them will not be fellow Christians.
We have an excellent book in the Library that explores how our lives can be lives of service. It is “Celebrating Service: Loving and serving our neighbour” by John and Agnes Sturt. Do find it and read it. And think, as you kneel before that child in the stable, what you are offering Him.
Rosemary Smith read more

From the Rectory – November

Early on in JRR Tolkien’s epic masterpiece, Lord of the Rings, there’s a passage describing a birthday party and accompanying firework display, put on by Gandalf the Grey, a wizard of Middle Earth.

In the book, Tolkien describes how the local inhabitants had not seen fireworks like these for many years, as trees, flowers, birds and sailing ships were all created by the wizard’s work with coloured smoke and light. The finale was a large dragon that breathed out fire and, circling over the heads of the guests, was the signal that supper was to begin. read more

Library News – November

I found myself in Holy Trinity Church in Sloane Square the other day, a monument to the Arts and Crafts movement. Beautiful, elegant, and mysteriously dim. Dim because of the windows. Our windows here in Lawford are clear and plain and fill the church with sunlight, these windows glowed with people.
Every square inch of glass it seemed was filled with faces and figures of saints, martyrs, prophets or priests. Each was holding something, or stood in some posture that told you who they were. St Catherine held the wheel she was martyred on, St Hugh had his swan, bishops held their crooks aloft, monks held bibles, all in beautiful pre-Raphaelite style. And the light shone through them.
It seemed appropriate. God’s light shines through the lives of his saints into the world around them, as it should shine through all of us who are the church. The church is us people, not the hierarchy or the buildings. And all through the church year we remember people who were the church before us. Still are, in the timelessness of God. They are a mixed bunch. In November, we have Leonard, a sixth century hermit, and Archbishop William Temple, who died in 1944. There’s St. Denys, patron saint of France, who is probably mostly myth, and Isaac Watts who wrote hymns in the 18th century that we still sing, there’s Queen Margaret of Scotland (d. 1093) and St. Cecilia, martyred in 230, patron saint of music…..
We have a book in our Library that tells the stories of these people. “Saints on Earth” by John Darch and Stuart Burns gives a short biography of the people we remember through the year – look them up by date. Fascinating. It’s on the shelf in the Library labelled “People and Their Lives” along with a rather random (but interesting) collection other biographies. Browse through them, learn about our fellow saints.
Rosemary Smith read more

From the Rectory – October

In the world of sport, scoring systems range from the simple and and easily understood to the downright bizarre.

Football is straightforward enough, as are hockey, badminton, volleyball and squash. Tennis though seems needlessly complicated.

A match in tennis consists of three or five sets, the winner being the first to two or three sets, each of which has a number of games. The aim is be the first to get 6 games to win a set, and be ahead by two. If the number of games is tied at six each then there is a tie breaker to decide who wins a set. Unless it’s the final set, then the players keep playing until one of them is two games ahead. Each game sees the players seek to be the first to score 4 points, and be ahead by two. But rather than points increasing in the obvious progression of 1 – 2 – 3 – 4, instead the scoring system goes 15 – 30 – 40, and then the next point the game is won. Unless they are at 40 for each side, in which case it’s called ‘deuce’, and the next player who wins a point moves to ‘advantage’, then winning the game if they successfully take the next point, or moving back to deuce if they don’t. read more