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

Library News – October

The church’s budget, says Archbishop Justin Welby “is applied theology expressed in numbers.” Now there’s a thought for our PCC!

I have been reading Justin Welby’s book “Dethroning Mammon”. It is not quite what I had expected. Welby does not say that money is unimportant. Quite the contrary, he explains that money is central to the working of human society. But money deceives us. It is because money is important that we need to see it clearly for what it is. What he is showing us is how to handle money, and the power it brings, as Christians. read more

From the Rectory – September

‘The times they are a changin’ was an attempt by the American songwriter, singer, painter and writer, Bob Dylan, to write an anthem of change for the moment. Which for Dylan was 1964. At the time it was released the single was a moderate hit, squeaking into the top ten. Unlike many of the the songs that charted above it, Dylan’s has had astonishing longevity, has been covered by artists from the Beach Boys to Phil Collins, and was recently voted one of the greatest songs of all time. The social moral and political upheavals of the 1960s found their voice in Dylan’s song. It not only reflected a sentiment that was already happening, but also anticipated what would come later.  Change can be exciting, exhilarating and thrilling. But just as easily it can difficult and demanding. Change though is necessary, not for its own sake, but because without it there is only decay. As the American author and lecturer Gail Sheehy said ‘If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.’ Which is all along way round of explaining the changing of the times we will be holding Sunday services in our Benefice of Lawford, the Bromleys and Little Bentley.

The wheels of the Church of England move exasperatingly slowly. Our decision to join together as a single Benefice of three parishes was taken some time back, but the legal niceties have still yet to be completed. Despite this, we have been working more closely together over the past year or so, and it has become clear that we need to change the times and nature of some of our Sunday services to better use our clergy, readers and lay preachers, and to see where God might be working so that we can join in. read more

Library News – September

Someone had laid a small bunch of wildflowers on the plain stone altar. We were not the only visitors that day.

We had climbed up onto this high stony hill to see the chapel of St. Antoine, perched above the fields and woodlands of the valley, nearly a thousand years old. The village church was down amongst the houses. We had expected a ruin up here. But no. It was bare, but not empty. A few rows of benches were the only furniture. What it was full of was beauty and a sense of worship. The rounded sanctuary was painted from floor to ceiling, a simple pattern in faded colours. Clear light glowed on the walls and the arches and lit up the little side chapel. The whole space sang of the worship of God, and it was full of prayer. read more

From the Rectory – August

French military leader and statesman Charles de Gaulle was a man with a good grasp of attempting the impossible. While serving as President of France he asked the presumably rhetorical question ‘How can you govern a country which has two hundred and forty-six varieties of cheese?’ Understandably, he didn’t attempt an answer.

De Gaulle understood the impossible. Others less so.

William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin was a hugely successful mathematical physicist, engineer and inventor. Among other things he was knighted for his work on a transatlantic telegraph cable, he determined the lower limit of absolute temperature, and had had the scale of temperature measurements named in his honour. He wasn’t always right though. In 1895 he declared that ‘heavier than air flying machines are impossible. It was just eight years later that he was shown to be completely and utterly wrong. read more

Library News – August

All through July we did Romans. Simon and Sally have expounded St. Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, week by week, bit by bit, until we ought all to know the text and understand Paul’s message. Shouldn’t we?

Well, you can’t cover the letter to the Romans in four sermons, and Romans is only one of Paul’s letters. So I looked in the Library to see if we had any books that would help us carry on listening to what Paul had to say.

It’s important to listen to him. His letters are the earliest accounts we have of Christian experience and Christian thinking, earlier than the Gospels by about twenty years. In them he thinks about and explains the transformation God brought about through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. His thoughts have been the foundation of our Church’s doctrine and practice ever since. read more

From the Rectory – July

Several years ago, the company that make Swan Vesta matches encouraged their employees to make suggestions that might improve their business. History doesn’t record how many different ideas they were presented with, or how truly dreadful the majority might have been. One however, ended up with a change to the business that had a significant financial impact.

Every box of Swan Vesta matches had a strip of sandpaper stuck to both sides of the box for the matches to be struck on. The ingenious member of staff asked why two were necessary – surely one would be enough. read more