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From the Vicarage.
October

Dear Friends

For the last few weeks Jeremy and I have been sorting out ready for the move at the end of November. As usual it amazes me how much we have accumulated!

 

Personally we have come across such things as: books we had forgotten we had and want to read again; photographs from many years ago (didn’t we look young!); birthday and anniversary cards that evoke very particular memories; gifts that have been stored safely and surprise us when we open them; remnants of our children’s toys (which have now come in very handy for the grandchildren). And we could go on….

 

Parish-wise we have come across a whole range of things that remind us of what has happened over the last 16 years. For example I still have copies of the new heating plans for each church and many other improvements made.  I have minutes of groups that are no longer in existence here, such as Mother’s Union at Parkend and the Wednesday Open Group at Viney Hill with their wide range of meetings, activities, outings and fund-raising for charities. I have found programmes and photographs from Flower Festivals at both churches with a whole range of themes, each one of an incredibly high standard. School assemblies, Open the Book and Storytellers programmes are also there going back at least 14 years. I remember Little Rainbows, our Mum and Toddlers Group, which went on for several years, the children of whom are now at the top end of our primary schools or have started secondary school. What a lot we have done together over this time and I could go on…

 

Then there are the services. On the computer I have copies of services going back to 2002! When I started here we were still using the Alternative Service Book (ASB) and over the next year or so moved on to Common Worship (CW). There has been such a change in liturgy over this period. I think of all the baptisms, weddings and funerals that I have taken and the emotions they bring of joy and sadness. Our regular times of worship together are so important, whether on a Sunday morning or evening, midweek or festivals, they are what join us together as we focus on God, his word in the Bible, his Word made flesh Jesus Christ and his Holy Spirit poured out on us all.

 

Sorting out brings so many memories, but the time comes for all of us when we need to move on to something new. I am reminded that at the centre of all we do is the One who does not change. As Hebrews 13.8 says Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. May we keep Him always at the centre of our hearts and minds and lives.

 

With every blessing                 Philippa



 

September

September is here! Autumn is beginning, the harvesting is drawing to a close and we begin to focus on celebrating all being ‘safely gathered in'.

 

In today’s culture it is easy to forget how important the farming year and cycle is for the well-being of us all. Today the majority of us are totally dependent on what is in the shops to provide our daily bread. It doesn’t take much to find that some shelves are empty, such as when a continental cold snap in January this year reduced the number of salad and vegetables in our shops.

 

This is only a minor inconvenience to many, but for some unexpected personal events, such as redundancy or an unexpected bill on a low income can mean there is actually no money to buy food. Food Banks are often a life line in such circumstances, but the demand is growing and many have suffered from stock shortages this summer as school meals are not available.

 

The Trussell Trust was set up in 1997 by the Hendersons from Salisbury. The charity is based on Christian principles and works with people of all faiths and none. They are inspired to do so by the words of Jesus in Matthew 25.35-36 says ‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me’.

 

Initially the Trust helped feed children in Bulgaria, but in 2000 a desperate call came from a local mother and it was discovered that significant numbers of people locally faced short term hunger as a result of a sudden crisis. The Salisbury Foodbank was started in a garden shed and garage providing three days’ of emergency food to local people in such cases. In 2004 the UK Foodbank Network was launched teaching churches and local communities how to start their own foodbanks. Visit www. trusselltrust.org for more. Sadly the need is still increasing and donations are still desperately needed.

 

Both our Harvest Festivals will be collecting food for the local Food Bank and also toiletries for the Haven Centre in Spa Road, Gloucester. Established in 1988 they help disadvantaged and vulnerable families in Gloucestershire, providing a safe place to receive much needed practical help. Visit www.thefamilyhaven.com to find out what they do and what is needed.

 

May our gifts this Harvest time be a particular help to those in need locally.                

 

                              With every blessing       Philippa


 




August

Dear Friends

 

On 16 July fourteen families opened their gardens to help raise money for the monthly Yorkley Newsletter. It seems to have been very well supported from what we saw of people arriving just in our local area. Sadly we only managed to visit two gardens due to other commitments, but at both there was a warm welcome and both gardens were really inspiring.

 

Reflecting upon all the work that goes into gardening made me think of the cycle of sowing, growing, harvesting and resting, all of which are necessary.

 

Sowing or propagating in whatever way is appropriate means that new growth is possible even if the conditions are not always favourable. That growth takes time and patience; some will grow very quickly, others will take a very long time. There is much beauty during this time with the wonderful range of colour of flowers and the ripening of the crops. Then there is the time for reaping and harvesting which often becomes very intense in the summer and autumn. Help may well be needed and produce is shared or stored as appropriate, so we can all be fed. Then things begin to die down with the beauty of autumn being a final gift and the time of rest comes as the cycle starts all over again.

 

This also made me reflect on the fact that schools have now broken up and the children are in holiday until the beginning of September. The last year has been a time of ‘sowing, growing and harvesting’ for them too; they have all learnt so much and moved on so much. Now they have a time to play, to explore, and to visit different places and people over the holiday period preparing for the next stage of their lives. For some, the coming year will be a particularly significant step, maybe starting school or a new school, or going on to college or university or starting work.

 

In both examples we see transition happening. It is happening for us too here in the parish. On 18th November I will have been your parish priest for 16 years. Together we have grown on the foundation of what went before; we have sown new seeds; we have had periods of resting and growth; we have had times of reaping and harvesting. Now it is time to move on and let that cycle take place again for all of us; for the parish to prepare for a new incumbent and for Jeremy and I to take the step of retiring. This was announced on 16 July and my Farewell Service will take place on 26th November when we celebrate Christ the King.

 

There is a time and season for everything and this, It seems, is the right time for us all!

With every blessing                 Philippa

 




July

Dear Friends,

 
With the summer now upon us we are entering a time of school sports days and other activities. I wonder how many of you reading this will be the proud parent, grandparent, other family member or friend standing at the sidelines shouting encouragement?

 
I remember doing this at so many events when our children were young – football 
matches for our son, gymkhanas and swimming events for our daughters. Just being there was an encouragement to them, but actively shouting out their names would also spur them on. Even if things didn’t go particularly well at least they had taken part and tried hard. 
 
The word encouragement has the word ‘cour’ at its centre, which means ‘heart’. When we encourage, we give heart! Offering encouragement is a gift, especially in an age when it is so common to find people discouraging others, knocking them down by words and actions.

 The word encouragement has the word ‘cour’ at its centre, which means ‘heart’. When we encourage, we give heart! Offering encouragement is a gift, especially in an age when it is so common to find people discouraging others, knocking them down by words and actions.
 
We have had some dreadful things happen over the last few weeks in our nation and in our world. Many are hurt and angry about what has happened and there is much that needs to be done to answer their questions and make sure right things are put in place. But, at the same time, we mustn’t lose sight of the generosity shown and the support and encouragement given at such times by so many.
 
In the Acts of the Apostles, we are told about a Levite from Cyprus called Joseph whose name was changed to to Barnabas meaning Son of Encouragement.

He became one of the most significant apostles in the Early Church introducing Paul to the leaders of the Church in Jerusalem and working with him for a time.


We all need encouragement, but we also need to be encouragers. How might each of us encourage someone today, be alongside them and give them this precious gift?

 

                       With every blessing,  Philippa
  





On Sunday 21 May we celebrated Rogation Sunday and thought about our Forest of Dean and all that we have to give thanks for in this beautiful part of God’s creation. We also thought about the wide variety of activities that are dependent upon things above, in and below the Forest. There is  so much here for us to enjoy as well as  to provide all our basic needs. We also reminded ourselves of our responsibility to care for our world and others who may not be so fortunate, working together to do so.

Thinking about this reminded me of the well known verse:

All things bright and beatiful,
All Creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful
The Lord God made them all

This hymn is a popular request for christenings and weddings and is appropriate for these as it builds on one of the most basic of Christian beliefs, as seen in the very first line of the Apostles’ Creed namely

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

The hymn was first published in 1848 by Mrs Cecil Alexander, whose Anglican clergyman husband later became Bishop of Derry and Archbishop of Armagh.

She also wrote: “On a hill far away” and “Once in royal David’s city.”

All things bright and beautiful was published in her book “Hymns for Little Children” written to raise money for charitable causes.  Apart from the third verse, about the rich man in his castle usually now omitted, it is the same as it was when published.

Various ideas have been put forward for the inspiration behind the words used. One is that a verse from S T Coleridge'sThe Rime of the Ancient Mariner” was a link :

"He prayeth best; who loveth best; All things great and small;

For the dear God who loveth  us; he made and loveth all."

Alternatively the composition of the hymn's text has been attributed to a location in Govilon, Monmouthshire with the words "The purple headed mountains, The river running by" possibly referring to the Sugar Loaf and Blorenge mountains and to the River Usk.
 

But whatever the story behind this hymn, it is a good reminder to us all to appreciate what God has given us and to remember that it is his gift, one which it is our responsibility to care for and  appreciate. As spring and the time of sowing passes and the summer proceeds with all its lushness of growth moving towards harvest and the gathering in the crops, we see that gift repeated again, and give thanks for it.

 

                              With every blessing       Philippa




 

From 27—30 May, 11.00 am5.00 pm,  a Flower Festival will be held at
St Paul
’s Church, Parkend, entitled:

 

Parkend 1917—Meet the People.

Beautiful flower arrangements will illustrate a range of figures made by Dorothy Basson with help from her husband Arnold. There is a nurse and a wounded soldier, a railway porter, the local Vicar, a cricketer, a stone worker, a member of the band and many more.

The history of Parkend dates back to the early 17th century. In the 19th century it was a busy industrial village with several coal mines, an ironworks, stone works, a timber-yard and a tinplate works. The village had several pubs including the Fountain Inn and the Woodman (also known as the New Inn) still open today.  Until the 1920s it also had the British Lion.

Change was ahead, however, with some industries beginning to close including the ironworks, the former engine-house of which became in 1910 the country’s first Forester Training School.  During the War there was a high demand for coal so Parkend was still a busy place, although, as the War Memorials bear witness,  the War was taking its toll on those called up to fight.

 

10 years or so later, however ,there was a loss of markets and general industrial decline meant the mines closed, the railway stopped carrying passengers and a couple of years later the stone works also closed.

 

So our Flower Festival will take us back 100 years to commemorate all who lived in the village and the surrounding area at this time. On Sunday 28 May at 10.00 am in  St Paul’s Church we will have a Service of Morning Prayer from the Book of Common Prayer Service with hymns sung at the time.  Suitable dress is welcomed!
           

                With every blessing                    Philippa





April

Every Sunday we say together the Collect, a short general prayer assigned to that particular Sunday. It originates from the Latin word collecta meaning the gathering of the people together. Each prayer tends to follow a particular structure. Normally, but not always, each addresses God the Father and then describes an attribute of Him. This is followed by a petition or request and its desired result. Finally the mediation of Jesus Christ is invoked and the prayer ends with the people’s response Amen.    

The Collects are not only for use in services, but also a valuable resource for the personal prayers of all Christians. The seasons make a particular mark on the Collects, with each one reflecting something of the season’s themes and flavour. As we celebrate Holy Week and Easter this month, I thought you might like to use the following Collects from Common Worship Additional Collects (İThe  Archbishops’ Council 2004) for your devotions at this time. As you see the progression of the Collects both as individual prayers and as marking the story of this special week, I hope they
 will draw you closer to the One who died and rose again for us—the Living Lord.





March


“What a miserable day” was the comment that went round the waiting room.  It was one of thosewet, misty, dark and dismal days which was really rather depressing.  A couple of hours later, however, the sky had cleared, the sun came out and feelings began to improve.  What a difference a few hours can make to how one feels.

We are drawing to the end of a long winter period and many of us feel “down”.  Lack of sunshine affects us, as do the various viruses going around that leave us feeling debilitated.  Yet there are now clear signs of spring with the snowdrops, crocuses and even daffodils coming out.  It is good to see the lambs and hear the birdsong.  The days are beginning to lengthen which makes such a difference.  Our feelings begin to lift and we look forward to the spring and summer months ahead.

As many of you know, Jeremy’s Mum died on 11 February.  We were fortunate to be up in Lincolnshire that week and to share with other family members watching and waiting at her bedside.  Granny was 96 and she and Grandad  (92)  would have been married 70 years on 29 March so there is great sadness in the family.  Yet she had a good, long life, did many things and had a great faith in God.  Although we  miss her hugely we have comfort in knowing she is now with the Lord.  We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their cards and expressions of sympathy.  It has made such a difference.

How we feel goes up and down with the weather, the season and the circumstances in our life.  In the Bible we read in Ecclesiastes 3 ”there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under Heaven.”  So when we are in sad and miserable times may we remember that, after the rain comes the sunshine and that, in God, we can know peaceand comfort even in difficult times.        Philippa


January

Dear Friends
      

Stewardship and Giving to Help Your Churches Blossom and Grow           

 

Thank you most sincerely for contributing so generously to the ministry, mission and maintenance of our churches through both regular and occasional giving. We are most grateful.

 

Like me I am sure you like to look at your contributions at some point each year.  As with all things expenses always seem to rise whilst income can remain rather static or even go down. It is, of course, no different with the church. Your contributions cover a whole range of things including service needs (candles, wine, wafers etc), utilities (oil and electricity), insurance, licenses, buildings and churchyard maintenance. We are obviously very careful with our expenditure, but have to cover certain things to keep our churches warm, legal, safe and maintained.

 

The greatest responsibility we have is for what is called the Parish Share which pays for ministry including payment of the stipend (monthly living payment), pension and provision of a Vicarage. The total for this is shared among every parish in the Diocese and increases each year at a pre-given rate over a 5 year programme. Our share for 2017 is £42,761 an increase of £2,467. We are pleased that we have paid the share request for several years now and very much hope we will also be able to pay this year's share in full. However, on our current income we can only commit to increasing our monthly Direct Debit by half the required amount.  A realistic regular income is the responsible way of ensuring that we fulfil our commitments and keep our ministry growing and blossoming in this parish.

Thank you again for your current generosity and your prayerful consideration of your freewill giving in the coming year.  

                         With grateful thanks and every blessing  


December

Dear Friends.                 

 
Having Grandchildren who might find Christmas of rather more interest than 12 months ago, I found myself
saying ‘Christmas is Jesus’ birthday so we are going to have a big party.’ I’m not sure the concept of ‘birthday’
and ‘party’ has filtered through yet, but they have been to some such celebrations so you never know!


Then I went onto thinking about the preparation for parties and especially the shopping. I am, I confess, a terrible shopper, at any time of year. I do what has to be done, that is the household shopping. I still prefer to ‘go myself’
rather than shop online, so I fit in a visit to one of the  local supermarkets or get the odd thing from a local shop
 as I can. Christmas shopping, however seems to have a different dimension.

 

I am not fond of crowded high streets or shopping malls so took the opportunity recently to visit one of the
local Garden centres for inspiration. It was really lovely with lots and lots and lots of ideas and beautiful
displays, but it was also overwhelming. I started off okay getting a box of Christmas cards, crackers,
serviettes and  two Christmas stockings, but then struggled. ‘I like that .. but it is WHAT PRICE?’ and then
dithered ‘if I got it the recipient might not like it/not want it/already have it etc’. I came out with a a few small items
 and a feeling of ‘Oh dear!’ Still there is still time to try again … I hope!

 

But somehow, it’s all a parallel to that first Christmas. Joseph and Mary, and the shepherds didn’t have a present shopping list,
although the Wise Men did think of it - but only 3 items! What all these people had, however, was an agenda of
 their own; a task ahead that needed to be completed. Tasks that were probably planned, but beset by problems
 to be dealt with – inns all fully-booked, angels interrupting the evening on the sheep pastures, cranky camels and clouds obscuring the stars. But they all stuck to the task, completed their agendas in spite of everything, and once
 it was all done, the world had been given the greatest gift of all, Emmanuel, God with us, the Light and Hope of the World, in the form of a tiny baby.

 
Perhaps I’ll go back and see things through the eyes of our 19 month old twin grandsons; the fun and joy of
being together, with special decorations and food, and presents given in love, and sharing in a birthday party
for the true glory that is Christmas, the glory of God.     

                   


November

Dear Friends       

In October we were fortunate enough to spend time on holiday in Cornwall. It is a favourite county of ours with its wonderful coastline, mining heritage, churches, historic houses and, of course, food!  As we explored some of these I found that I was reminded of much more….

The Coast … We were staying on the north coast and were able to walk some of the South-West Coastal Path. The views were spectacular! What struck me, however, was how difficult it often is to get down to the sandy coves and, once down there, how careful you had to be to get back again before the tide came rushing in. It made me remember those who ‘sail on the sea in ships’ and the dangers they often face. It also reminded me of Jesus sleeping on the boat on the Sea of Galilee when the storm arose and how he brought peace and safety to those in distress.

Mining … The mining areas of Cornwall always fascinate me, particularly the obvious remains of the copper and tin mines, and this year we visited the East Pool Mine. Interestingly, we could see the engine house and chimney, but couldn’t find our way to it as it is now surrounded by a  housing estate and a large supermarket! What came across here was the danger of working underground. How important to work together in such circumstances, as our own Forest miners knew so well, and how good it must have been to find their way home as they came from the darkness into the light. This reminded me that Jesus, the light of the world, asks us to be lights too, working
together and helping each other in his name.

 

Churches and Historic Houses … We like to use holidays to explore the houses, gardens and churches where we are staying, but what caught my attention this year was a pilgrimage walk across the sand dunes, which local church people use once a year to remember the faith of those who have gone before, and to renew their own faith in Christ who leads us through life. On top of one of the dunes is a cross marking their destination close to a church now hidden by the sand - a visual reminder of the Christ who is always with us.


Food … I cannot finish without remembering Cornish pasties, Cream Teas and seafood!  Food is so essential, not only for sustenance, but also as a sign of hospitality and sharing. Each time we share the bread and wine of Holy Communion together, we follow Jesus’ instruction to ‘do this in remembrance of me’. It is a special moment as we hold out our hands to him in the midst of busy lives—a holy moment.

The holiday is now over, but it has reminded me to look out for the ‘God moments’ all around us. As we go into the darker months may these 'God moments' sustain and help us.

With every blessing       Philippa  




October

Dear Friends         

Last month we received faculty permission to put in a path between the car park and  Church path at St Paul’s, Parkend. This has now been completed and is being used which is very helpful to those attending services. We are very grateful to Ken Ducker and Trevor Richings who spent several days doing the work for us. Thanks to both of you; it is a splendid job.

 

Also last month, sadly, we saw an incursion of boar into the Lych-gate Churchyard at Parkend. They seem to have come under the wire fence and then over a section of wall that had fallen down in the bottom right hand corner. The worst damage was in that lower quarter and along the bottom wall with some damage further up the yard as the animals turned over the turf to look for food. Grateful thanks go to Trish and Ken Ducker who spent time building up the wall again and  treading down of the turf. We will be keeping a close eye on this. Keeping the churchyard gates closed is essential and we do ask all visitors to be vigilant with this.

 

On a more cheerful note, at All Saints, Viney Hill on 28th of August, we had a lovely Praise Service for children and their families, with the theme of 'God’s World'. The children made shakers and streamers which they used to accompany songs. Pass the Parcel was popular with various reminders of God’s World in the layers; animals, birds, stars and so on. We listened to the song ‘What a Wonderful World’ and watched slides which showed the beauty of the earth, but  also the  ways it has been harmed and the inequalities in it.

This was followed by writing or drawing prayers on post-it stickers to place on a large map of the world. At the end we had a wonderful party and sang Happy Birthday to those celebrating a variety of ages! Many thanks to all the families who attended and to Linda and Louisa Davies, Hilary and Trevor Richings and Trish Ducker for making this a very special time.

With every blessing                                                                             

                    Philippa        


Journeying Together—Next Steps: So Far So Good!;-

 

As you know +Rachel has called us to a visioning process as we journey together with God and each other on the next stage of our Diocesan vision.  It all began with a day of prayer at Gloucester Cathedral when hundreds gathered to pray for the development of our new Vision.  Through multi-sensory displays, silence, play, and words, people prayed in many different and creative ways. 

 

For the next couple of months there was the period of conversation with many different people and groups to get a variety of views. As this came to a close there was ‘a flurry of emails and responses on the website as people shared their data and reflections from the myriad of conversations they had held around the Diocese.’

 

The feedback has now been collated and some early indications as to what direction the conversations have headed in from schools, community and churches can be found on the website at:-

https://storify.com/GlosDio/vision-2016-so-far-so-good

Five areas have been highlighted (in alphabetical order)

Buildings, Finance & Human Resources;

Community Engagement & Social Justice;

Mission;

Prayer, Worship & Spirituality;

Relevance to Modern Life.

From Schools - Prayer, Worship & Spirituality stands out together with the Church’s engagement with, and support of, schools in a variety of ways.                                            

From Communities - support from the church and engaging with the community was highlighted as was the need for better use of  media and social media.

From Churches - all areas were highlighted especially the importance of a warm welcome, good communication and connecting  with young people and children.

 

On Monday 12 September the key themes and priorities will be shared through a newsletter and on the vision website.

Please reflect prayerfully on the material and let me know any thoughts to take to the Clergy Conference at the end of the month.  

In Advent our new vision will be launched with a big party celebrating the next phase of our work and life together.

 

Please pray for all involved in this process of discernment, as our vision for this Diocese for the next five years continues to take shape.

With every blessing                       Philippa 


August

Dear Friends


As Christians we know we have heard Good News (which is what the word Gospel means) and that we are called to share what we have discovered about God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are the Church, with a capital C, because we are God’s people, his children, here today responsible for caring for his world and the people in it, strengthened by worshipping together and learning how to serve the Lord in our lives.
 
Our churches (with a small c) are the places in which we hold regular worship; there for all the community; open to all visitors; places of prayer and of interest historically and architecturally. In themselves they are a wonderful witness to God’s presence and love.
 
We are very fortunate here to have two very special churches at St Paul’s and All Saints. We are also very fortunate to have people who give their time to caring for and maintaining them. Some things, however, are just too big for everyday maintenance. It has been most interesting reading the Revd Alec Smith’s account of the restoration of All Saints’ between 1958 and 1965. 50 years or so later we face another challenge with the roof at  All Saints, Viney Hill  with an estimated cost of £125.000. However here is some good news from  Fred Bancroft, one of our Churchwardens and PCC Treasurer: 
 

        All Saints Church, Viney HIll - Roof Repair Grant

"The Parish of Parkend and Viney Hill has successfully applied for a grant through the Government-funded Listed Places of Worship: Roof Repair Fund, and is to benefit by the sum of £91,900.This money will be used to effect major repairs to the roof above the Chancel and Vestry. This part of the roof was identified in the church'sQuinquennial Report as being in need of urgent repair.

This money is part of a wider funding package of £22.9million to 401 historic places of worship across the UK. The fund was launched by the Chancellor in his Autumn Statement in December 2014 and the funding package has now seen a total of 903 places of worship across the UK receive a share of £55million. The Fund is administered by the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) on behalf of the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS)." 

Thank you to Fred for all his work in applying for this grant, which was the maximum they will give and the highest given in this diocese! The work has to be done within the next 12 months and there will still be about £10,000 to raise, but this grant means we can get started and so preserve this place of worship for now and for future generations, just as parishioners did in the past. To God be the glory! 
 
With every blessing



June

Dear Friends
Last month I drew your attention to Bishop Rachel’s Diocesan Call to Prayer between Ascension Day and Pentecost (5-15 May). I thank everyone who took this call seriously. It was really good to see initials on our prayer sheet so that every section of the day was covered.
We now go on to the Bishop’s second Call which is to "Conversations". Bishop Rachel writes: "In 2012 a Diocesan vision statement was produced: Journeying Together 2012 - 2016. It underlined our desire to share the transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ with people in and around Gloucestershire. Four areas of commitment were identified: 
              Worship together 
              Share our Christian faith and values 
              Provide a visible presence in every community and parish 
              Serve the wider world
The aspirations and commitments in all of this remain unchanged, and the next steps are to build on what we have achieved and move forward on our journey."
 So we are now in a period devoted to conversations around some core questions, the responses to which will help shape how we share the transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ in some new and distinctive ways over the next five years.

Questions for the church community:
1. What is the Holy Spirit saying to us in this Diocese?
2. What is your dream or vision for the Church in our Diocese in five years’ time?
3. What could we do to realise this vision?

Questions for the wider community:

 1. What is your impression of the Church of England  in your local community?
 2. What is your hope or vision for your local community in the next 5 years?
 3. How might the Church be a part of this?

Please look out for opportunities to take part in this in the next few weeks.                                 
 
With thanks and every blessing 
Philippa




May

Dear Friends

Before he ascended into heaven Jesus told his disciples, ‘I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed from on high.’ Luke 24.49. They all joined constantly in prayer until the Day of Pentecost ten days later when they were filled with the Holy Spirit as he promised and went out to witness to what God had done. It was the Birth day of the Church!

This year Bishop Rachel has called us to a particular focus of prayer during the ten days between Ascension Day and Pentecost and then to follow it up with a series of Conversations across the Diocese between 15 May and 20 July.

She writes ‘In 2012 a Diocesan vision statement was produced: Journeying Together 2012 - 2016.
It underlined our desire to share the transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ with people in and around Gloucestershire.

Four areas of commitment were identified:

Worship together

Share our Christian faith and values

Provide a visible presence in every community and parish

• Serve the wider world.  

The aspirations and commitments in all of this remain unchanged, and the next steps are to build on what we have achieved and move forward on our journey. I now invite the whole Diocese to be part of a vision process to identify some key priorities to be launched in Advent. This process begins with an emphasis on prayer, leading into a period devoted to conversations around some core questions. My hope is that together, we will discern what the Spirit of God might be saying to us about how we share the transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ in some new and distinctive ways over the next five years.’

So please note the following and take part in as many ways as you can: 
1-15 May Prayer Stations at the churches available to focus our prayers and an invitation to commit to Prayer Times throughout the Ten Days of Prayer.

5 May Ascension Day - 11 am and 8.30 pm at Gloucester Cathedral - opportunities for prayer from different traditions.

15 May – 20 July  Conversations will be held to help us listen to what God may be saying to us through those amongst whom we live and work.

This is a wonderful and exciting opportunity to join together to discern God’s guidance in different ways!

With every blessing.                Philippa



April
Dear Friends
Alleluia Christ is risen! He is risen indeed Alleluia
 
Lent is a time of fasting and prayer, of self-assessment, of looking seriously at our life in Christ and taking time to change anything that is stopping us serving him in the way we should. It is followed by Passiontide and Holy Week, the journey of Christ to the cross and then to the dreadful events of Good Friday. It seems like the end of all the hopes and dreams of Jesus’ followers, but, of course, on the first Easter Day everything changes. There is hope, there is joy, and there is wonder.  Something new, incredibly new, has begun and spreads out into the world. 
 
David Adam* gives a useful illustration to show how this series of events can help us be renewed and refreshed to serve the Lord anew. He talks of a heather moor which in the winter is twisted and gnarled, no longer producing food for the birds or even the tough moorland sheep. He notes that it has
become useless to the life it usually sustains. So it is burnt, but with a controlled burning so that, although it looks totally destroyed, it is not. Under the ground the roots are safe. This means that in the spring the old heather is gone, but new shoots are appearing. The heather is rising from the earth, fresh and as useful as ever. What was destroyed is back with newness of life.
 
Christ died and rose again and so we are fed, refreshed, renewed and so in our turn can feed and encourage others as we share the difference this joy and hope gives us.
 
*David Adam Sermon Illustrations (2011, Kevin Mayhew)


Dear Friends,             

I came across this piece written by the
Very Revd Stephen Lake, Dean of Gloucester  Cathedral in The Messenger which I felt was really worth sharing.
As we continue our journey through Lent this month it is a timely reminder of what our faith is all ab

“Recently when on retreat I came across a tiny chapel in a remote northern valley. It is left open at all times and so I went in to say Morning Prayer. On a typical ‘Church of England’ board for hymn numbers, there was the sign - ‘Next Service, Easter Day.’ Lent had not yet begun.

This made me reflect; firstly how good it was that I had found shelter and secondly, how good it was that I could join in with centuries of prayer in this place. But also, as I prepared myself for the coming days of Lent, it reminded me that we are the Easter people every day and that every Sunday is a celebration of the resurrection.

We live in the light of God’s greatest gift in Jesus, the gift beyond the boundaries of this life and the gift of unbeatable hope. Needing shelter and a long way from home, the -greatest reassurance had been found in an unexpected place just as Jesus meets us whenever we need him and wherever we look for him, for he is constantly looking for us. There are times we all need to see a sign like that - ‘Next Service, Easter Day’ and to celebrate.”

It reminded me of the first time many years ago when I heard that phrase ‘Easter People’ and began to reflect on what it meant.  Yes Easter Day is a wonderful celebration, but so is each Sunday and each day we live in the light of the living, risen Lord.

With every

Philippa





February

Dear Friends,   

I wonder if you know this story called God’s Embroidery?

A child played at his mother’s feet while she was embroidering. As he looked up all he could see was the underside. He complained about how messy it looked: such a jumble of bright and dark threads! His mother told him to be patient for a while and then she would show him the finished work. This she duly did, explaining to him that on the top was a design she was following. ‘You saw it as messy,’ she said, ‘but now look at it from my side.’ He couldn’t believe the beautiful picture he saw.

The child grew into a man and many times through the years he looked up to heaven and wondered what God was doing. It all looked so messy to him, so jumbled, the threads so dark. ‘Father, why can’t it all be clear and bright?’ he asked. Then remembering his lesson as a child it seemed that he heard the Father reply, ‘My child, continue in my way and one day I will bring you to heaven. Then you will see the plan from my side!’

Things do look messy, jumbled and dark at times and it is not unusual to wish everything would be put right and be bright again.  Yet wishing doesn’t put it right. Trying to look at things through God’s eyes, can prove a help in the difficult times. Continuing in his way, despite what is going on, takes a lot of faith, but by doing so we can both receive blessing and bring blessing to others.

10th February is the beginning of Lent. It is a good time of take a step back and to see things the way God sees them, growing in faith as we walk his way. As you will see in the magazine and elsewhere on this site, a Lent Course will help us look at Worship. Liturgy and Festivals and understand this important part of our Church life. 

We also have four Lent Lunches and return to our weekly Midweek Communion pattern which give us an opportunity to do something extra together at this contemplative time. May this Lent bring us a new and refreshing understanding of God’s love shown through Jesus.

                       

                   Philippa


December
 

Dear Friends,   

This month our focus is very much on preparing for, and celebrating, Christmas. It is a time of anticipation for children and a time of busyness for adults. Buying presents, sending cards, putting up decorations, preparing special food, going to parties, Nativity Plays, Christmas Concerts, and Carol Services add to the expectancy. It is a special time as we rejoice in the birth of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, and spend time with our families and friends.

For some families, however, this will be a difficult time, a time of loneliness for some and sadness for others. Some may also be asking how our celebrations of the birth of the Prince of Peace fits into a world where we see the relentless flow of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea and other places escaping from conflict where normal life is impossible. A world in which we see terror attacks, such as those in Paris, by those who wish to destroy what we value, the freedom to live our lives in peace and safety.

Perhaps it might help to recall that Jesus was born into a turbulent time. His country of birth was occupied and the rule was brutal. His place of birth was due to a dictate that demanded registration in your home town, often many miles away. At a young age he became a refugee as his parents fled the
brutality of the massacre of children in
Bethlehem for safety in Egypt. Even the destination of their return was decided because it still wasn’t safe to return to the area of Jerusalem.

God’s Son was born into an unsettled, difficult time, but he was also born into a loving, faithful family who cared for him, protected him, taught him a craft and gave him a settled home life. There he learnt to know and love his
Heavenly Father and to willingly obey him even when his life ended in death on the cross. We cannot underestimate the importance of Emmanuel, God with us, risen and ascended, showing us the way of righteousness and peace, asking us to stand firm in this way even when others are making opposite choices and bringing horror and dread.

Archbishop Justin Welby says that the world is engaged in a ‘global and
generational struggle against an evil cult that chooses death and fear’, but with confidence declares ‘We choose life and hope, to overcome hate with the power of God’s love.’ May we too choose life and hope as we celebrate this Christmas, looking out for those for whom this season is difficult, and standing steadfast in faith in the God and Father of Jesus Christ.

With every blessing this Christmas
                                                           Philippa
 



November

Dear Friends,   

November is the month of Remembrance. The darker nights and colder days seem an appropriate time to remember the past and to recall how the Light of Christ overcomes the darkness.

November 1st, is All Saints’ Day when we remember the saints of the Church. The evening before, Hallowe’en, may seem a fun time of dressing up and doing scary things, but it reflects a darkness in the world that needs the Light of Christ to dispel. All Saints Day reminds us that His light is stronger than any darkness and that the saints of the past show us how that light shines through us, the saints of the present, as we stay close to Him. 

November 2nd is All Souls’ Day when we remember those we love who have passed from this life to the next. This time of separation is a very difficult time, a time of darkness, yet their light continues to shine in our hearts and lives. As we remember them, we also remember that Jesus too died and was buried, but into the darkness burst the light of his resurrection.TheLight of Christ
dispels even the darkness of death and brings us hope.

November 5th is Bonfire Night when we remember the plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament. This is a reminder of the darkness of the use of violence to destroy the stability and security of everyday life. The arrival of so many refugees into
Europe over the last few months also shows this. The Light of Christ is needed to show the way through this darkness.

November 11th is Remembrance Day when we remember those who gave their lives for their country in war. We live today because of them. The Light of Christ shines in the darkness of war and conflict to bring peace in hearts and lives.

At the end of the month, on the last Sunday we have one more day of remembrance which is not so well known as all of these and yet is just as important. It is the last Sunday of the Church’s year when we remember  Christ the King. The Light of Christ shines every day in all circumstances. It shines through all who follow Him and seek to live as he taught us. The darkness is shattered in his light. He is the King of the whole world.

May we each shine as lights in the world to his glory and remember him - the Light of the World - with every step we take.

 

With every blessing,




October

Dear Friends,             

WELCOME TO BISHOP RACHEL

Last month I told you about our journey to Canterbury in July for the consecration of our new Diocesan Bishop, the Rt. Revd Rachel Treweek. Now she is here and we welcomed her in our Cathedral in brilliant sunshine on Saturday 19 September on the same day as the first Rugby World Cup game at Kingsholm between Georgia and Tonga. In her sermon Bishop Rachel admitted that she knows little of rugby and had a lot to learn, but thought it was significant that she arrived at the same time as the World Cup!

In a magnificent and moving service we travelled with Bishop Rachel on a journey that began with her entering the West Door, simply dressed in white, and being asked at the Font ‘Who are you? And why have you come to us?’ She answered, ‘I am Rachel, a pilgrim and servant of Jesus. I have come as one seeking the grace of God’.  She continued her journey along the Nave stopping at various points until she came into the Quire where she was anointed at the High Altar. Now dressed in her cope and mitre, she was placed in the Cathedra, her seat, and was reminded by a small girl that she was a child of God before praying and receiving her crozier. Back in the nave she was greeted with great applause before sharing the peace.

In her sermon Bishop Rachel reminded us that all who have said ‘Yes’ to Christ in baptism are called to make a difference. All who are soaked in the waters of baptism are called to leave a’ trail of wet baptismal footprints’ and witness to Christ wherever they go. It was a very memorable illustration in a service in which baptism was an important theme. The service ended with everyone gathering on College Green and being sent out with God’s blessing, but not
before enjoying a party of celebration!

We welcome Bishop Rachel, look forward to her ministry among us and in due course to welcoming her here in Parkend and Viney Hill.                             

Philippa




September

Dear Friends,              

O for a thousand tongues to sing,

my great Redeemer’s praise!

 So began the service in Canterbury Cathedral on Wednesday 22 July as we gathered for the consecration of Rachel Treweek as our new Bishop of Gloucester. A couple of hundred of us had travelled over 200 miles to be present at this very special occasion in my home city!

 

With so many people space was at a premium, but was very carefully managed. We sat in the South Transept with the Quire in front of us, filled with Bishops! Unfortunately we couldn’t see very much, but were able to hear everything.

 

The service was very moving, but one thing that really struck me came towards the end when Bishop Rachel was given her special pectoral cross. It was created from bullet shells found on the battlefields of Mozambique’s civil war.  Bishop Rachel was very involved with a link with Mozambique during her time as Archdeacon in London.  The pectoral cross tells the story of Mozambique’s journey to peace after the post-colonial civil war which ended in 1992.  In 1995 the Christian Council of Mozambique set  up a project called Transforming Arms into Plow shares in which recycled weapons of war are turned into art as a tool for peace-building and more importantly, peacekeeping in post-conflict societies.

 

On Saturday 19 September at 4.30 pm Bishop Rachel will be welcomed to
our Diocese at a ticket only Inauguration Service at Gloucester Cathedral.
Although numbers are limited there will be other opportunities to meet her including, in due course, a three day visit to this deanery.  

The Consecration Service ended with the giving of the instruction:

Keep watch over the whole flock in which the Holy Spirit has appointed you shepherd.
And we replied: Encourage the faithful, restore the lost, build up the Body of Christ

May Rachel be a blessing to us and we a blessing to her.                  

Philippa





Dear Friends,                                                                                      

In August we continue to read from St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians as the second reading for the Principal Sunday Service. In Chapter 5 he encourages those to whom he is writing to live as ‘children of light’ (v8) and ‘… to be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ' (v.18b-20).

The popular long-running BBC Television programme Songs of Praise illustrates this so well! It was first aired in October 1961 when it was broadcast from the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Cardiff. Over the years there have been many presenters and venues and several modifications as the programme keeps up with changing times. For many it is their Sunday worship by which they are fed and inspired. 

Singing old and new hymns and spiritual songs is a key part of the programme, of course. When we lived at Highnam, Songs of Praise was filmed in the church of Holy Innocents. It was fascinating to see how the programme was put together and filmed. We were well led by the Music Director and Choir Master and certainly ‘made a joyful noise’!

 

One of the most interesting and moving parts of Songs of Praise, however, are the interviews in which a wide variety of people share their faith and tell something of their story. Following Jesus Christ is worked out in so many different ways and shows the difference placing our faith and trust in him makes. Stories shared show us how we are his hands and feet, eyes and ears, his voice today.
 

I wonder… What hymn is your favourite? And what story would you tell of your faith? Well remembered hymns and encouraging stories help us in our faith and remind us to give thanks to God for so many blessings!

With every blessing                                                                             Philippa

 



July

Dear Friends,

 

Much to my regret I have never been a particularly ‘sporty’ person! I was never very good at rounders, netball, hockey or tennis at school and I was usually the last to be chosen for any team. I was slightly better at individual events such as running or swimming, but not being particularly competitive or fast I was usually among the last to finish the race. I am more a rambler – or ambler, whichever you prefer! I did enjoy, however, watching and cheering on our children at their school Sports Days, football matches, gymkhanas or martial arts events. I am also reasonably knowledgeable about golf and vicariously proud of the many competitions won by a certain member of the family!

I have great respect for those who do well in their individual sports, whether professional or amateur and recognise the hard work put into training and building up strength, stamina and skill. It takes time, effort, determination and perseverance to get to be the best you can.

Although I am not very competitive, I can persevere in whatever I am doing, not wanting to give up until the task or goal is reached. The Bible interestingly speaks about training and perseverance in spiritual terms. 1 Corinthians 9.24-27 speaks about training and discipline so that we are equipped to run the race well. In Hebrews 12.1 we read ‘let us run with determination the race that lies before us’.

Working at our spiritual disciplines, Bible reading, prayer, fellowship and worship, is vitally important and takes time, effort and determination, for only thus will we be equipped to run the race with Christ.

 

        With every blessing                                                                 Philippa

 




               

June


PETS’ SERVICE

28 JUNE @ 5.00 pm ALL SAINTS’, VINEY HILL

Dear Friends         

At the end of this month we are holding another Pets Service at All Saints, Viney Hill. Please note the slightly
earlier starting time of
5.00 pm which we hope will be more suitable for families. All pets are welcome –
suitably restrained or contained! If it is not suitable to bring your pet then stuffed toys, photos etc. also welcome!

Pets are an important part of our families. In our time we have had cats (3), gerbils (3), hamsters (4 and babies),
rabbits (2), guinea pigs (2), numerous fish (including about 20 small ones all called Luke), dogs (5),
horses (6) AND a Giant African Land Snail!!! Each has been an important part of our lives and those of our
children as they grew up. They have taught us so much about caring, patience, wonder and fun!

God’s creation would not be the same without the animal kingdom, without the birds, the insects, the reptiles,
and the fish. Each has an important part in this world and link in together. The complexity and beauty and
interactive nature of creation never ceases to amaze me. What an incredible God we have who said
‘Let there be…light and darkness… sky, land and sea...all kinds of plants…sun, moon and stars…
living creatures.’ Finally he made humans to be like him and to care and look after all he created.
God blessed all that he had made and saw it was good (see Genesis 1 and 2).

Our pets are part of our task from God and also a blessing to us. I hope you will be able to join us for our Pets
Service to celebrate God’s gifts to us.

 

      With every blessing, 

 

      Philippa


May

Dear Friends

 

Towards the end of this month we have three important Church Festivals which can be overlooked in the wider world. The first is Ascension Day celebrating the time when the disciples said farewell to Jesus as he is take from their sight, but with the command to wait prayerfully in Jerusalem for the gift of the Holy Spirit. 

The second is Pentecost (Whit Sunday) when we celebrate the dramatic coming of the Holy Spirit in wind and fire, inspiring, motivating and driving them out to share and spread the amazing Good News. 

The third is Trinity Sunday when we remember that God is Three-in-One, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The creator God who loves this world so much he sent his Son so we may be restored to eternal life with him. We are invited to join in his active love for the world through the Holy Spirit.

This month each of these Festivals will be celebrated in special ways. We
celebrate Ascension Day on Thursday 14 May with a service at
7.00 pm at St Paul’s, Parkend and begin a 10 day prayer initiative called ‘Try Praying’. Special booklets will be available in each church asking people to ‘take one and give one (or more) away.’ There is more information on the
Home Page
, and in the magazine.

We begin our celebration of Pentecost on 24 May at 10.00 am at All Saints, Viney Hill with a Family Festival Communion including a Children’s Talk and Activities which is always a special time of blessing for us as a Church Family. At 6.00 pm at St Paul’s, Parkend we host a Christians Together Songs of Praise celebrating with our wider Christian Family in this area.


Our special celebrations come to a fitting climax from 29 – 31 May with this year’s Flower Festival at St Paul’s, Parkend entitled ‘The Fellowship of Saints’ reflecting the witness of those early disciples. More informationcan be found Here and also in the magazine. On Sunday 31 May at 10.00 am we will celebrate Holy Communion at St Paul’s, amidst this wonderful reminder to us that we too are sent to live and share the Good News of Jesus! I do hope you can join us for these special times.

 

With every blessing                                                                             Philippa




        April       

 Very soon after receiving this magazine we will be greeting each other with the words 

Alleluia Christ is risen! – He is risen again. Alleluia!

They are powerful words, important words because they shout out the very meaning of our faith that Jesus Christ is not dead – he is truly alive! Because he is alive we have hope in this world and the next as we accept his invitation to share in the love and community of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Because he is alive we can have a relationship with him that fills our hearts and bursts out of us to shine his light in the world.

I was particularly reminded of this at the recent solar eclipse. The world began to grow dark, the shadows lengthened, it became rather quiet as if all creation was waiting for something to happen. One could appreciate the fear in times past that the world might be coming to an end. In just a few minutes the moon moved across the sun and in some places covered it completely. The incredible thing was, however, that the world was not left in total darkness – the sun’s rays were still seen round the circumference of the black moon. There was still light on earth. Then in a short space of time the full light of the sun shone again.

On Good Friday, as the Light of the World, Jesus Christ, was crucified, the world entered into darkness, but three days later the life and light of the Son of God shone through the darkness.   It is an incredible and beautiful glimpse into the heart of God.

As we journey together this Holy Week and Easter may the light of Christ shine in our hearts in a new and enlightening way!

 

Happy Easter to you all! 

 With every blessing                 

 Philippa




March

Dear Friends                

Lent began on 18 February with Ash Wednesday and our services of Holy Communion and the Imposition of Ashes as a sign of penitence. During Lent we are joining with the parishes of Newnham, Awre and Blakeney to share together our Lent Course using the reflections based on the film ‘Chocolat’ by Hilary Brand in her book ‘Christ and the Chocolaterie’.

We begin this course all together on Wednesday 25 February at 7.15 pm at All Saints’, Viney Hill. After that we will continue to meet on a Wednesday evening at All Saints’, Viney Hill, but there will be groups meeting elsewhere if anyone wants to join them. In Holy Week we meet on Wednesday 1 April at 7.00 pm at St Peter’s Newnham to shared meal and Eucharist.

 

The five group sessions are about change.

Week 1 – Giving up – the prelude to change

Week 2 – Giving out – the power of a gift

Week 3 – Getting wise – the possibility of change

Week 4 – Getting real – the power of acceptance

Week 5 – Growing up – the process of change

 

Our Christian journey is one of discovery as we journey together. Sometimes we are walking ahead briskly and confidently, other times we may turn aside to gaze and wonder, still other times we may slow down or even stand still as difficult times affect us. Journeying Together, however, means we are in the company of others and can help and encourage each other.  Along the way we change as God touches us, teaches us and the Holy Spirit works in us. This course we will help us be more aware of these times and of their importance. Do come along and be part of this!

 

If anyone would like to be confirmed this year or to reaffirm your faith (19 April at St Andrew’s, Awre) this is a good preparation course. Let me know!

 

                              With every blessing                Philippa







January


Every Blessing for 2015 from All at the Vicarage!  

To a troubled world, peace from Christ

To a searching world, love from Christ

To a waiting world, hope from Christ

We ask God’s blessing in this new year of 2015.

Dear Friends,  

We do not know what this year will bring, but we do know who will be with us every step of the way during 2015. There will be opportunities that will take us into new directions we never thought would happen. There will be things to celebrate which will bring us great joy. There may also be things that will challenge us and may bring us sorrow. Whatever this year brings Jesus will be alongside us, an ever present listener to our prayers and an ever present voice in our hearts to guide us. He is present in each of us as we journey together through this year in faith and hope and love. As a church family we have the responsibility and privilege to be channels of his grace to others, to pray, to help, to be his hands and feet.
 

This month we encourage you to be with us to celebrate the Festival of Epiphany on Sunday 4 January. There will be a Festival Family Communion at All Saints’, Viney Hill at 10.00 am. Please bring the children to this service as there will be special things for them to do. In the evening we will have our first Epiphany Carol Service at St Paul’s, Parkend at 5.00 pm. singing some of the lovely Epiphany hymns. As Epiphany is about the visit of the Wise Men to Jesus and the gifts they gave him, we are asking that you consider bringing a gift for the Food Bank to either service. It will be a really practical sign of serving God.

May God bless you and your families in your journey with Him each day of this New Year.

With every blessing

Philippa





December

         

This month we prepare again to celebrate the birth of Jesus our Saviour. As we ponder and acknowledge this wonderful gift, we in turn consider the gifts we will give which reflect this. I thought you might like to read what Bishop Martyn, the Bishop of Tewkesbury says about gifts this Christmas.

“Most of us, when we picture the perfect Christmas, think of the young child waking early and rushing to see what has appeared under the tree. Every present is touched, shaken and inspected with a sense of awe and wonder.

It is a wonderful tradition. Gifts are a way of creating or deepening relation-ships. They draw us into community and give us a shared sense of belonging. They require thought, care and preparation. But they also create a sense of obligation: how will you return the gift? Or how will you pass it on?

This Christmas we will hear again from the shepherds and angels. And we will ponder the supreme gift of God’s own Son. A gift offered to us with the intention that it (he) draws us into relationship and into community. But such a gift also creates an obligation. How will we respond? How will we pass it on? Giving to God our devotion and our love is our supreme gift. But love for God cannot be divorced from love of neighbour. I hope this Christ-mas, we will also give to our neighbour in Syria, Iraq, or Sierra Leone or to the homeless and isolated in our own town or village or to the person using the food bank or the credit union. Such gifts may create new relationships, which will bring us much blessing and joy.”

I hope you will be able to join us for some of our services this Advent and Christmas. Through this may we too create new relationships which will bring us much blessing and joy now and in the New Year to come.

With every blessing 

Philippa

 




November

Dear Friends


November, as we all know, sees particular changes of the season. Daylight hours are shorter; there is a drop in temperature; the weather worsens; the leaves fall from the trees and winter begins.

In the church there is also a change in season, from Sundays after Trinity to a season of remembrance. We begin November with All Saints' Day, remembering all Christians in time and space and All Souls' Day when we remembered the departed. The second Sunday in November is Remembrance Sunday, that very moving time of remembering those who have given their lives to their country in war. the last Sunday of the old Church Year (23 November) is Christ the King, when we consider the reign of Christ, and what that means in ‘Kingdom values'.

Kingdom values come in a variety of forms and are modelled in the New Testament for us to model in our turn. Jesus put God's Kingdom values in action. He put his Father first in all things through prayer; he reached out to the needy, the sick, the outcasts; he showed what righteousness, love, hope, forgiveness, patience truly mean. He showed what authentic faith means.

The apostles and first disciples imitated the Kingdom values that they saw in Jesus and which changed lives. These values were central to all they did. Their faith had to be nothing less than authentic; they had to live what they taught, otherwise it would not have been ‘real' nor made any discernible difference to their way of life. As they lived them, they also modelled them for others.

Some of the kingdom values they showed included persistence in prayer, in support of the new Christians. They recognised the faith, hope and love of their brothers and sisters in Christ and gave them genuine encouragement, especially important to a church that was often persecuted. They were able to do so because they took seriously the word of God in Scripture; they thought and talked about' what would Jesus say and do?' in any situation and trusted him, being open to God's Holy Spirit.

Jesus was their model and it showed through, so they were models to the new churches and it showed through. They in their turn were models to others in the area and it showed through. We need to do the same and show that our Christian faith is authentic. Christians need to be true to God's values whilst living in today's world, so others know the truth too.

With every blessing

Philippa

 



October 

 

Dear Friends


You may well be aware that Gloucester Cathedral is hosting a display of spectacular sculpture curated by Gallery Pangolin called Crucible 2 until the end of October. If you haven’t been I hope you can find time to get there over the next few weeks. It includes pieces by many very skilled sculptors among them Helaine Blumenfeld, Damien Hirst and Lynn Chadwick.
 
As you go into the South Porch you will meet David Blackhouse’s Pilgrim, a reminder, not only that the Cathedral has always been a place of pilgrimage, but of our own pilgrimage too. Inside the Cathedral is a treasure house - so much to see! More sculptures can be found in the crypt and the cloisters too. Some pieces are abstract, some very lifelike. All make you think!
 
Outstanding to my mind is Hirst’s Fallen Angel by the altar in the Quire which is beautiful, sad and very thought provoking. Intriguing is the sleeping bag opposite the Lady Chapel (Nomad by Gavin Turk). Wonderfully detailed, on the north side of the nave are two figures called Somali Woman with Child and Masai Boy with Goat, both by Jonathan Kenworthy. These
reminded me of our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world. At this time we especially remember those suffering the brutality of extremist groups.
 
Outside there is more to discover and to delight in. Unmissable, by the South Porch, are two black figures by Lynn Chadwick walking purposefully away and just beyond them two silver ones taking a well-earned rest!
Hidden round the back is Kenneth Armitage’s Reach for the Stars, a fantastic bronze hand reaching up to the sky
We give thanks to God who gave such wonderful gifts to human beings;
creative gifts and gifts of appreciation and wonder. Above all the gift of knowing him through Jesus, the greatest gift of all!

  

With every blessing  

Philippa


September

 

Dear Friends

 

The Commonwealth Games held in Glasgow last month were considered the best ever. It was certainly a gripping 10 days. The potential of many young competitors had been recognised and, with training and commitment they gave it their all. They took part in their particular sport with perseverance and blazed the way for many who will follow in their steps. Along the way they were supported by their families, trainers, and fellow team members. When they competed they were encouraged and cheered on. 15,000 volunteers made everyone feel at home, a friendly presence. The memory will live on for a long time for many. 

Just one day after the closing ceremony of the Games, with great solemnity, the leaders of the Commonwealth and many others gathered in Glasgow  Cathedral to remember the beginning of the First World War a hundred years before. With respect they honoured those who fought and died in that conflict and those who were injured in it.  Up and down the country and locally similar services were being held. A generation of young men went into the carnage of trench warfare and gave their all. Along the way their families supported them by praying for them, writing letters to them and sending food and clothes parcels.  Small acts of kindness meant a lot. Their memory has lived on for a long time.

Every person in every generation has a life to live, a race to run, however long that may be. All of us have the example of those who have showed us the way and are encouraged by those who have gone before; who have blazed the way and cheer us on. The writer of Hebrews urges us to ‘… run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith…’ (Hebrews 12.1b-2a NRVS). May we heed these words of wisdom in our day and age.

With every blessing        

 Philippa


`

August

Dear Friends
 
I write this letter four days after the dreadful news of the MH17 air disaster over the conflict area in Eastern Ukraine. The tragedy in itself is heartrending, but the way the site has been compromised and the difficulty of access for investigators, and those seeking to recover and repatriate the bodies of those who have died, is almost unbelievable. I pray that this situation will very quickly be rectified.
 
Some things push the barriers of natural human dignity and understanding. Much of what has been reported has caused justifiable outrage across the world. Yet amongst those reports have been signs of compassion. One which will stay with me is the pictures of the women of the local village laying flowers and lighting   candles as a sign of respect and identification with those families who have lost loved ones.
 
Terrible things happen, yet each small sign of compassion shows a glimmer of the light of hope. On his journey to his death Jesus received some of these small signs. A woman wiped his face, his mother and his friend stayed with him during the hours of the crucifixion, a man took the risk of asking for his body to give him a dignified burial. The Christian faith has heartbreak at its core, yet when everything seemed finished and over, new life and hope sprang into being.
 
May we never stop showing acts of compassion and support, no matter how small they may be, for they show goodness and kindness and mercy. They show the way of the Living and True God.

Philippa


July

Dear Friends


We had a wonderful celebration of faith on Trinity Sunday with Bishop Martyn. It was good to welcome the congregations of Blakeney and Awre to this service and those being confirmed, affirmed in their faith and received into the Church of England. It was a wonderful day!

Later that day at the evening service one of our Lay Ministers, Trevor Richings, chose the theme of God’s grace. He read to us from Eddie Askew’s book ‘Facing the Storm’. The story spoke of a man who had been sketching by a river on a bitterly cold day. He watched as an angler who had been fishing there for the last four hours pack up his gear. The last thing he did was to pull up his net from the water. As he did so it burst into a mass of silver energy as the fish inside thrashed about. The fisherman looked at them for a moment and then gently released them into the water, giving them their freedom.

In the same way we can get entrapped by all sorts of things and can feel as if we are thrashing around without purpose or hope. Through grace, God has opened the way to us to be free from all that binds us. It is something we cannot do by ourselves; it is unearned and undeserved, a gift from God.

This gift is there for all to receive and accept in faith. Our lives reveal the one in whom we believe, Jesus the Son of God. By faith we are saved and we live in that knowledge and should always be willing to show it and share it. That is what we were all celebrating on Trinity Sunday!
May the grace of God fill our hearts through faith and make each of us a true witness to his grace.

   Philippa



June


Dear Friends,


On 15 June, Trinity Sunday, the Rt Revd Martyn Snow, Bishop Tewkesbury, will be confirming 3 members of our church. We are also pleased to welcome 4/5 candidates from Blakeney. In addition two members of our church will reaffirm their baptismal vows and one will be received into the Church of England. These are big steps for them all so please pray for them and come along to support them.

In a service of Confirmation the Bishop says ‘God has called you by name and made you his own.’ In the service the presence of God’s gift of the Holy Spirit is confirmed in the candidates through prayer and the laying on of hands. As a personal step of faith, they also confirm the promises made at their baptism usually made for them by their parents and Godparents. Admission to Holy Communion then follows, making the candidates fully part of the fellowship of faith. They are welcomed to the feast of the kingdom and called to faithfulness and a sharing in the ministry of the church using the gifts God has given them.

Confirmation is a moving experience for all involved and that includes the whole church community. Preparation has been done in our Journeying Together Course which began in February. Other members of the church have been journeying alongside the candidates, sharing their experiences and learning together. That is how it should be! We are one in Christ, his body journeying together on each step of our journeys of faith. Having the service on Trinity Sunday reminds us that God himself is community, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and we are welcomed into that community of love and grace.

God is doing something amazing in us and through us! Alleluia Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

                 Philippa





A Day in the Life of the Vicar – an extract from a blog written on Monday 12 May 

 

Woke to a brilliant blue sky and a quiet still day: a contrast to the high winds of the weekend.

7.00 am. Morning Prayer. The Psalm (103) began Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits; A good reminder at the beginning of the day.

8.20 am to All Saints' Church, Viney Hill to unlock and put out the 'Church Open' sign. A moment's stillness soaking up the peace there.

10.00 am Gloucester Cathedral for Archdeacon Geoffrey Sidaway's funeral. A packed Cathedral and a wonderful Requiem Mass. Geoffrey very supportive of the churches in the Forest, including our churches. He also had a huge influence on my ministry, as he did on many others.

12.00 noon on way home passed Newnham Church with banners and red balloons outside reminding us that it is Christian Aid Week focussing on practical help for those who live in fear in places like Sudan and Iraq.

12.30 pm Home and catch up time for emails and phone messages. After lunch spent time on Deanery matters as it is the time of year for Annual Reports. As Area Dean I am responsible for gathering these in.

3.00 pm TeaChurch@3 at All Saints Church, Viney Hill. An informal time of tea and cake and chat open to everyone. We have a lovely group of people who give lifts and provide the refreshments for this monthly meeting alternating between All Saints' and St Paul's, Parkend. One of these was celebrating her birthday so there was chocolate cake! The theme for our service at the end was 'Springtime' very ably led by one of our trained Lay Worship Leaders.

4.00 pm Home again after a brief call on a parishioner. Email and phone check, then tackled monthly expenses and prepared for a funeral.

6.00pm A quiet time for reflection and prayer for those I have met today and other issues that have been raised. 

6.30 pm More office work as it is time to think of service rotas and the magazine for June. There are also several meetings this week which means reading all the paperwork.8.30 pm Supper and time to relax a bit before bed.10.00 pm Night Reflection. 'I am reminded in the thought section of the devotion I am following that taking time to read the Bible each day, 'digesting it' (that is taking time to enjoy it like a good meal) and then living it out, is an important part of any Christian journey. A good thought on which to go to sleep!


May

Dear Friends

We have been having a spring clean and clear out at the Vicarage. It doesn’t actually seem that long since we did it last, but where does everything come from? This year I was particularly keen that drawers and cupboards in our joint study were turned out. How did we ever end up with literally thousands of paper clips (all sizes), dozens of pens and pencils, numerous dead batteries, rolls of sellotape and sheets and sheets and sheets of repeated notes, agendas, minutes and reports? It certainly was very satisfying to dispose of much of the latter.

There are so many things we can possess today and when new things come on the market, the old are still okay and kept. Do you remember when there was only one television in a house – usually in the sitting room? When that was replaced the old one might migrate to the kitchen and the next to the bedroom and so on such that one became several. And do you remember when you had your first computer? – one for all the family! And now there may be several in the house plus each person having a tablet or smartphone .  

The above can be duplicated in so many ways and it is no wonder that the Vicarage has become full of ‘things’! Having a good clear out helps to identify what is needed and what can be recycled, taken to the charity shop or otherwise disposed of. The trick now is to look before we buy and not duplicate what is not needed!

Every so often in our lives it is good to take a step back and decide what is really important. Perhaps we need to make more time to catch up with family and friends or to relax and get outdoors more. Perhaps it is a need to make time to spend with God, to pray, read our Bibles and to listen for his still, small voice of wisdom and guidance.

As spring turns into summer may you find time to take that step back and decide on what is really important.  

       Philippa 
              

   

April

Dear Friends


This Lent I have been reading The Things He Carried by Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford (2008 SPCK). As we enter Passiontide and Holy Week this it is worth reflecting on what Jesus shows us through the things he carried and the fulfilment of new life bursting forth on Easter Day

The Crossbeam of the Cross – it was very heavy and Jesus was battered and bleeding. No wonder he stumbled. Jesus carried the suffering of the world in order to redeem it. The purposes of God are cross shaped.

The Crown of Thorns – the soldiers dressed him as a king, made fun of him and bullied him. But the joke backfired because Pilate puts Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews on the cross. Jesus is the true King.


A Seamless Robe – on another day people reached out to touch its hem, but as Jesus is crucified, as he is left naked, the soldiers play dice for it. Jesus carried the seamless purposes of God, saying Father forgive them.

His Followers’ Disappointments – they thought he would be a different king even though he had tried to teach them about God’s Kingdom. My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me? In this moment of utter desolation he feels misunderstood by even those closest to him.

The Sins of the World and Our Sorrows – he carried all those things we do to hurt and judge others, our pride and self-reliance and so much more. He also carried all our pain, whilst knowing pain himself.

A Broken Heart – that was how he eventually died. His heart is broken for each of us.  We have a choice like the thieves crucified on each side of him  -  to sneer at him or ask to be remembered by him.

The Hopes of God – the new covenant of God was shown in the sharing of a human life. Through Jesus’ death no barriers keep us out of God’s presence.

Through his resurrection we see the truth of his words Love one another as I have loved you.’ And on Easter Day we cry Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!         

Philippa



March

 

Dear Friends

As I write we are just coming to the end of what we hope may be the last of the terrific storms we have had since Christmas. The news shows us just a little of what people around the country have been facing; huge waves, tide surges, fallen trees, power failures, rail, road and plane disruptions and severe flooding.

This has been very difficult for us all, but especially for those who have been flooded since that time on the Somerset Levels and now many others especially along the Severn and Thames rivers. The invasion of homes, farms and businesses by water which is both high and dirty brings such stress and worry. We are seeing people fighting it, and then breaking down from the enormity of it all and with the feeling that there is no hope – they have lost so much.

Yet there is hope, for we have also seen communities joining together to help and comfort in many ways. We have seen boats instead of cars carrying mail, medicines, groceries and also ferrying people where they need to go. Emergency services, flood wardens and so many more have helped in so many ways. The deployment of service personnel, help with pumps from the Netherlands and the generosity of farmers taking straw and feed to stricken colleagues raises our hearts. People are giving their all to help and protect.

Local churches and Christians have been right there from the start in these difficult days. When there is so much uncertainty and distress we can bring an extra dimension. This may be by being involved in local initiatives to alleviate the very real suffering we see around us; to show love to our neighbours. Or if this is not practical we can hold people and situations in prayer and hold on to God’s words for them;

Do not be afraid – I will save you.  I have called you by name – you are mine.  When you pass through deep waters I will be with you;  your troubles will not overwhelm you. Isaiah 43.1b-2a.

Keeping hope alive and showing God’s grace is something we all need, but especially when life is turned upside down in such disastrous ways.

                            Philippa


February

Dear Friends

The Company of St Kyneburga

Unlike many dioceses the Diocese of Gloucester had no diocesan award for significant service. Bishop Michael has now instituted such an award through membership of “The Company of St Kyneburga”. Initially there will be 23 recipients to begin the “company”, then usually 6 to 10 awards in each year, admitted at an annual service in the Cathedral. Most of the awards will be for long service within the diocese open to men and women, lay and ordained, but with an expectation that the majority of the company will be lay people. Among the categories considered for inclusion would be long-serving churchwardens and parochial officers, readers, head teachers, church musicians and clergy who have served all or most of their ministry in the diocese.

Bishop Michael has given the award the name of St Kyneburga, since she was the co-foundress and first abbess of the first religious community at what is now Gloucester Cathedral. The Inaugural Service is in the Cathedral at 4.30 pm on Saturday 8 February, but will usually be on or around St Kyneburga’s Day which is 25 June.
 
I am delighted to tell you that Jean Edwards from this parish has been invited to be a member of the Company of St Kyneburga. Jean has many roles in the church as organist, as a Parish Visitor and as my Pastoral Assistant. She also helps lead the weekly Storytellers Club at Parkend School as well as being involved with other children’s activities. She is a very capable Lay Worship Leader involved in our Sunday morning services, Baptism Services, Evening Services and monthly Tea Church @ 3 services. Jean’s ministry extends throughout the parish, but she is also an effective minister in Parkend where she lives. She does all of this calmly and efficiently and is a great gift to the parish. Jean will be admitted with a certificate and a medallion at the service on 8 February. Everyone is very welcome to the service.
 
          With every blessing to you all              
 Philippa

January

 

Every Blessing for 2014 from All of Us at the Vicarage!

            To a troubled world, peace from Christ
            To a searching world, love from Christ
            To a waiting world, hope from Christ
            We ask God’s blessing in this new year of 2014.


Dear Friends
 
Recently I read an advertisement which was about making it easier for us to be more active, healthier and better informed in 2014. This is often the basis of many New Year’s Resolutions: we want to get fitter and trimmer; to take on something new; to keep in touch with family and friends old and new.

Making Resolutions at the New Year or other times is rooted in very ancient   traditions with the basic idea of putting things right as well as of self-improvement. Some churches hold a special service late on New Year’s Eve as an opportunity for Christians to review the year that has passed, to make confession, and to prepare for the year ahead through prayer. We will be doing this as part of our services on 29 December.

It is always good to take time to prayerfully consider how we can spiritually grow and be more active, healthier and better informed at turning points in a year. It is good to ask, ‘How is God calling me/us to live and share the transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ in the circumstances in which we find ourselves?’ Sometimes this will not be easy, but witnessing to the hope, love and peace of Jesus transforms lives – including our own!

May God bless you and your families in your journey with Him each day of this New Year.

                                               
                                                                                    Philippa