Library News – June

If God were small enough to be understood, He would not be big enough to be worshipped.” wrote Evelyn Underhill.

I picked up the February newsletter of the St. Edmundsbury Cathedral Library the other day, and found this splendid article by James Knowles.

“Although Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941) wrote poetry and novels, she is best remembered for her prolific writings on spirituality and mysticism. Spirituality, contemplative prayer, and mysticism have always been part or Roman Catholic personal devotion, but until the early 20th century, the Church of England and other Protestant traditions had viewed them with suspicion. Through her writings, she was instrumental in changing this. As well as being an author, she was much in demand as a retreat conductor, and in promoting the retreat movement, which is now part of mainstream Anglicanism. She was the first woman to be invited to be a member of the theological faculty of Oxford University. read more

From the Rectory – May

The Shepherd Gate clock that is mounted on the wall outside the gate of the Royal Observatory in Greenwich is unusual in one key respect. Designed to display Greenwich Mean Time to the public the clock, that was constructed and installed in 1852, has a 24 hour analog dial rather than the usual 12. Originally the clock indicated astronomical time, where the counting of the hours starts each day at noon. In the 20th century this was changed to the more familiar system of the counting of the hours beginning at midnight. read more

Library News – May

Having a cataract operation on one eye has made me see very badly. My eyes are out of balance, my glasses don’t work, everything is out of focus with or without them. It’s horribly frustrating. I wait with longing for the optician to give me new glasses to see properly again.

There’s often an echo between physical things and spiritual things. What would it be like, I wondered, to see so badly with my spiritual sight? To see only through a fog the way that God has laid out for me? To see Jesus all out of focus, so I can’t recognise Him? Where would I find a spiritual optician who could give me a way to see Jesus clearly? read more

From the Rectory – April

The seventeenth century dutch artist Johnannes Vermeer was a slow but careful painter, often using expensive materials to produce his pictures which mostly depicted domestic scenes of middle class life.

Although he remained largely ignored for more than 200 years after his death, by the nineteenth century, his reputation began to grow and he is now considered a significant figure among the painters of the Dutch Golden Age.

Among his most popular paintings is ‘The Guitar Player’. It depicts a young girl – probably one of Vermeer’s daughters – wearing a full green dress, yellow fur trimmed shawl, and clasping a finely made guitar. read more

Library News – April

I’ve just ordered a couple of books for the Library that I think may be fun. Get to know your way round the Old and New Testaments through cartoons!

Jay Sidebotham is an American priest whose first profession was as an animator and cartoonist. He uses his skills now to tell the story of God’s love for us.

He also draws his cartoons to help us take a good look at ourselves in our Church life. Does this look familiar? I hope not.

You can say things in a cartoon, “ Jay says,”that you can’t say in any other way.” So his “The Old Testament from A-Z” and “The New Testament from A-Z” may be lighthearted, but I hope you’ll learn something while you’re laughing. read more

From the Rectory – March

Friendship, family, prayer, celebration, relationship, welcome, worship, spirituality, support, belonging, ritual, sacrament, thanksgiving, love.

For all these reasons, and for many more, people have been coming to Lawford Church for at least 700 years. Over the centuries, the Church has stood at the heart of our village, a place to meet with friends, family and God.

This year, in order to maintain the day to day running of this ancient building, and to continue to offer ministry to those who need it, when they need it, we will have to raise more than £1,500 per week. read more

Library News – March

I’d like the children’s books to be taken out of the Library. I’d like them brought back again, as well, of course. The books in the Library aren’t there just to keep children happy during the service. They’re there in the same way the adult books are. To be taken away and enjoyed at home. They’re there for the same reasons as the adult books are, too, though they do it differently.
They are there to help our children find their way around the Bible. To find the legends, the law, the histories, the poetry, and the prophets. To help them learn about Jesus and His teaching, and how God redeemed us through Him. And to learn about the beginning of the church.
They’re there to help our children learn something of the nature and the ways of God, of His love, His truth, His forgiveness, how He challenges us and trains us. We want them to learn how to listen to Him and to trust Him, and how to pray.
We want them to understand that there is a spiritual underpinning to our lives; we want books that give them a sense of wonder.
And we want them to learn about the ceremonies of the church, and how they help us to live the life God has planned for us.
I’d like to be able to say we have books do all this. We don’t. But most of our books do some of it. We have books for a wide age range, and how they go about doing all those things is wildly varied. Some don’t do it very well. Some do it so subtly you scarcely notice (think Narnia). Why don’t you look out some books for your children from the Library, and take them home with you? And bring them back. Eventually.
Rosemary Smith read more

From the Rectory – February

The impala is by all accounts an unremarkable medium sized antelope that can be found in eastern and southern Africa. Unremarkable except for their astonishing ability to jump distances of eleven metres and to heights of more than three metres. Despite the huge leaps that they can make, impalas can be kept in any zoo enclosure with a wall that is only three feet high. As they aren’t tall enough to see what’s beyond the barrier, impalas won’t attempt to escape as they can’t see where they might land. read more

Library News – February

Much as I enjoy the services as we have them now, I regret that we do not together, as a congregation, recite the Bible any more. We have two Bible readings in most services, we taste the Old Testament and hear the Gospels and Epistles, but we have lost the songs and the poetry of the Bible.
We used to say or sing the psalms. We used to say together the great New Testament poems, Mary’s Magnificat, Zechariah’s Benedictus, Simeon’s Nunc Dimittis. Week by week the poetry embedded itself in our memory, as poetry does. And with the poetry came prayer. We have lost a way of talking with God.
I suspect the clergy haven’t noticed this. Each Anglican priest says Morning Prayer each day, and so recites the psalms in order through the year. The poetry and the prayer runs through their minds still, and they may not see what their people have lost.
I urge you to return to the psalms. We have some books in the Library that can help. C.S. Lewis’ “Reflections on the Psalms” is a thoughtful look at the psalms, and what they were written about. David Garnsey’s “Songs From a Dry Land” is a useful brief description of each of the psalms, with some odd comments. Dietrich Bonhoeffer “Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible” is a tiny book, urging us to pray with Jesus through the psalms, showing us how in the psalms, God is teaching us what to pray.
I would recommend starting with Eugene H Peterson, “Psalms: Prayers of the Heart” (A Lifebuilder Bible Study) to understand the psalms as both poetry and prayer. He takes twelve psalms and leads us (in study question style) through the different ways of prayer each gives us. He shows us how to use them all. Try it. read more

From the Rectory – January

If you make a New Years resolution, how long do you think it will last? Is it going to be something of a complete life change, which means you’ll never go back to the previous way of doing things? Or is it something that will likely last no more than a couple of days? A survey from an American University back in 2012 suggested that a surprisingly high 75% of resolutions would last a week, and an equally surprising 46% will go for six months. If you’re younger the chances are better as well. Four in every ten people in their twenties will achieve their resolution, but if you’re over 50, it drops dramatically to below 15%. The list of the top ten New Years resolutions contains the usual suspects, lose weight, quit smoking, stay fit, spend less. My favourite though came in at number 8 – “help others in their dreams.” read more