From the Associate Priest - September 2021

Dear Friends,

june laneSeptember is such a full and busy month. As a teacher I always looked forward to September with a mix of joy and trepidation. Each new academic year brought its inevitable changes - pupils, both those one enjoyed and those ones did not so much, will have left and a whole raft a newbies enter the portals of their first "Big" school, all needing to be met and absorbed into their new school family.

In church we have the joy of Harvest Festivals and Suppers to look forward to an especially important time in our rural villages and this year we, of the St Bartholomew Benefice, are all eagerly awaiting the Installation of our new Rector, Kate, on the first of the month! It will be quite a challenge for Kate as she moves her whole family and life many miles across country to make her home here. A new job, a new home, new schools for the boys, a new life as Rector of the Benefice, much to take on all at once. It will also be a new experience for us as Kate will be our first female Rector, and I am sure she will bring much joy as she joins us.

September, in so many ways, is a time of new beginnings. It was at September time back in 2008, that we first accepted that we should finally actually become the long promised Benefice of St Bartholomew, and we made preparations for the joining together of what we often refer to as the Northern and Southern halves of the Benefice. It all seems now so natural, it is as if we had always been together. It was also a September, 2002, that I was ordained Deacon in Salisbury Cathedral, becoming the first female curate appointed to the Benefice, and then in September 2003 we had that lovely Service in East Knoyle Parish church when I was ordained priest by Bishop Peter Hullah, so beginning a period of happy ministry which thankfully continues today.

Back to Kate and her coming among us. Many of you, covid regs allowing, will be at her Installation in Semley parish Church on the 1st and many more, I trust, at her first Service as she celebrates her first Holy Communion at the Benefice Service at East Knoyle on the 5th Sept. I know you will welcome her as you have welcomed me, that you will all make her feel thoroughly at home and welcome, and I look forward to this September, as so many others before, to being the start of a truly exciting and rewarding journey.

Finally, I just want to say a very sincere and heartfelt "Thank You" to everyone who has worked so hard and tirelessly throughout this whole Interregnum, from the churchwardens to every person who has helped quietly in the background, your work has always been appreciated. Thank You and God Bless you all.

June


From the Associate Priest - August 2021

Dear Friends,

june l sIt is good news all round for all of us in the Benefice of St Bartholomew - our new priest, The Rev'd Kate McFarlane will be installed as Rector on 1st September at St. Leonard’s Church, Semley. Kate and her family will be moving into the Rectory at Semley sometime during July, but she is definitely on holiday at that point and not yet our Rector, so she will not be taking any of the Services in August. She and her family need time to recover from the strain of moving, to settle in and find their way about a little before taking on the task ahead. However, I know that several of you wish to make her feel welcome, so a little welcome gift of something like a card, flowers or a home baked cake will, I am sure, be very welcome.

If you cannot come to the Installation Service, then your next chance to meet her will be the Benefice Service at East Knoyle parish church where Kate will be taking a Service of Holy Communion, and everyone will be most welcome. Kate has written a few words to introduce herself to us all (see article below), and I know you will all read these and be ready to welcome Kate and the family with very Blessing.

God Bless you all,

June

(Details of the Installation Service can be found in the Benefice weekly newsletter)


From the Associate Priest - July 2021

Dear Friends,

june l sRight now, many of us are feeling really miserable that we can travel so little from our own immediate environment, regretting lost holidays and outings. Of course, just a few short weeks ago many more of us were miserable because we could not safely leave our own homes!! It is all a matter of scale isn’t it. The Olympics is one focus of much of this as the fate of the 2020/21 Games is discussed and debated; it makes us all look back with longing at easier times when we felt we could plan travel and events with a degree of certainty.

As part of my thinking on this, I came across an old story about one of our Olympic class yachtsmen, John Ballenden, when he was involved in one of those ‘round the world’ type events. On this occasion, he was well in the lead and approaching safe harbour in Rio de Janeiro, the prize within his grasp. At that moment, one of those strange weather changes occurred, and he became totally becalmed. Not a breath of wind from any direction. Looking towards shore, he saw the point with the huge statue of Christ the Redeemer, arms outstretched in welcome. As he looked at the statue, he was heard to yell, “For God’s sake, don’t just stand there! Do something!”

We have all watched our televisions screens with the Prime Minister and the scientists giving their briefings and I am sure many of us have been heard to shout, “Don’t just stand there spouting forth about the difficulties and restrictions - do something!” Unlike the statue, the P.M. and others are doing something, not always what we want by any means, but we need to play our part and do a lot ourselves.

This time of pandemic has taught us all that we need to pull together, not only governments and their citizens, but the whole of humankind needs to work with Almighty God to help to rebalance things. This pandemic has taught us just how easy it would be to destroy this wonderful planet, this fantastic creation of our God.

Unlike that statue in Rio which is made of marble, and is a representation of man’s vision of Christ, God is real and has shown us ways to make things better, to rebalance our world. If we all just studied, not the statue, but the real, living Jesus, if we all just tried every day to live our lives by His teaching, then we should conquer our problems, we shall ‘get our lives back.’ Not necessarily the lives we think we want, but the lives which will work for the good of all.

The 24th is John the Baptist’s day and John’s message was "Repent! Repent!" He did not mean just say sorry for what was wrong, Repentance means "TURNING ROUND", turning our lives around to truly try to follow Jesus’ ways.

God Bless you all,

June


From the Associate Priest - June 2021

Dear Friends,

june l sI was thinking about how many of the participants at the meeting about choosing our new Bishop mentioned the wish for a person of Prayer. I wonder how many of you think about prayer and even wonder just what it is. We know that we are supposed to pray, the Prophets of the Old Testament prayed to God as did the people. God acknowledged quite often that He had heard His people’s prayers and sometimes His response could be dramatic. Think of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt or Elijah on Mount Carmel challenging the prophets of Baal. Jesus himself prayed often, drawing aside from his followers and spending time praying to his Father and, of course, The Lord’s Prayer which we all use in so many ways, is a direct command to us to pray. So what are we doing when we pray? What are the mechanics? What do we expect from our prayers? Are direct answers important? So many questions. I hope I can give a few simple answers to what is such an important subject.

First I want to say very clearly indeed that there is no specific right or correct way to pray. We are all individuals and we all have different ways of communicating with each other and we each have our favourite, the one which is most comfortable. The one fundamental applying to all methods is that in prayer to God we are communicating with Him. For some of us the set prayers in our Services, especially those traditional, familiar ones, are the way we communicate best with Him whilst for others it is the extempore words which we find most helpful. For many it is easier to pray in company with others whilst for some a place and time of quiet, even solitude, is necessary. Some of us are so in awe of God that we cannot be relaxed and familiar whilst others feel comfortable just chatting to God as we go about our daily lives. No matter what way works for us, each of us is communicating, connecting with God in our prayers and, of course, we cannot discount the special times when we are praying for something very specific, whether for something which applies to the whole world or for the safety and perhaps healing of a loved one. Some of our prayers are quite selfish, when we need to make a big decision, applying for a new job, deciding whether we want to spend our whole life with one individual. We also know that often answers to prayer are not the ones we want. We need to take on board that prayer is not just a ‘shopping list” of requests to Him, that prayer is really a way of getting to know God better, of becoming more familiar with what He wants us to be. In exactly the same way we get to know our own family, friends and loved ones by spending time with them, so spending time with God is just that, spending time with Him in whichever way we find best.

So what did we all mean when we told the representatives of the Prime Minister and the Archbishops that we wanted a person of Prayer? I imagine that each person who mentioned that attribute in the list had a different idea, but each and everyone, I am sure meant that they wanted above all a person who is in touch with God and who is listening to God’s plan for the future of our Diocese.

The Diocese and our own lives are full of so many needs but through prayer we can bring them all to Almighty God. What a privilege that is.

God Bless and keep you all.

June Lane


From the Associate Priest - May 2021

Dear Friends,

june l sOne of the many wonderful details of the Easter story is the presence of the women. It gives me great encouragement when I realise just how often women feature in the Gospel story, often in key roles. I know that for many that would seem a sexist attitude, but not really - it is just that in Jesus’ day women seldom seem to be to the fore, but the Easter story is different. It depends on which Gospel account you read as to whether you think it was Mary Magdalene on her own who first discovered the empty tomb on that first Easter morn, or whether it was a small group of women headed by Mary Magdalene who together went to honour the dead body of Jesus. Whichever account you read, they all agree that Mary was there and it was also Mary who first saw Jesus in the Garden and spoke with him. It was Mary who first told the disciples the Good News that Jesus had risen. It was Mary whom Jesus instructed to spread the word to the menfolk. It seems fitting that women should be such an important part of the Easter story as we are preparing to receive and welcome our new Rector, a woman. A modern woman who has been called by Jesus, to spread the Good News of His love, His saving grace and His care for us. Over the next few months we shall learn more of Kate, our new Rector, and I am sure we shall welcome her with joy and thankfulness that she is to come and join with us.

However, I have already pointed out that for much of what happened, Mary Magdalene was not on her own, she was one of three Marys: Mary Magdalene, The Virgin Mary, Jesus’ mother, and Mary the mother of James; all three were mentioned time and again in the Resurrection story. They were faithful and loving, not caring if their actions brought censure or danger. They just loved Jesus and wanted to show respect and honour in any way they could.

You probably all remember Steve, our Rector before Richard, and if you do, you must remember his love of all things to do with the sea, especially sailing. My family had some seafaring connections, and one thing I always knew was that if you were at sea without any of the modern navigation gadgets you were very dependent on the stars to guide you to a safe haven. I always remember that it was at this time of year Steve told me about another three Marys - three Marys who had many times played an important role in his life and safety at sea. About now, Orion is growing weaker in our night skies but if we look, we can still see the three stars which form his belt. Those three stars are nicknamed “The Three Marys”! As Steve said, those three Marys had often played their part in keeping him safe physically just as the message the Biblical Three Marys gave to the disciples. “He is Risen, He is not dead!!” had led him to God and kept him safely anchored in God’s hand.

We may not be at sea right now but we do need the message Mary, Mary & Mary brought to the menfolk. Jesus Christ is very much Risen and Alive now and He wants us all to follow Him. Why not join us?

God Bless and keep you all.

June Lane


From the Associate Priest - March 2021

Dear Friends,

June LaneAs I write this I should not be surprised if many people are thinking about food in a very special way. Today, many of us are planning our Pancake recipe with Ash Wednesday tomorrow bringing the beginning of Lent, typically a time when people try to exercise some self discipline by giving up a special treat until Easter. One of the reasons that chocolate Easter eggs are so popular is that chocolate is a favourite choice in the Denial column and when Lent is over you feel you can really indulge and make up for the weeks of deprivation.

But is that the right attitude for this particular Season? Do we actually benefit from our self denials during Lent, for many it is just an excuse to cover the fact that we are dieting so that we can fit into new Spring outfits, apart from the obvious physical improvement what benefit is there in our hearts and spirits for such a frivolous approach to Lent?

Perhaps this year, this year when almost every aspect of our lives has been affected by the Covid Pandemic, when for many there has been too much time to brood and think about difficulties and problems, about loneliness and fear, perhaps it is a time when we need to look at Lent, not as a time to give things up, but rather as a time to introduce new ideas and actions into our lives. A time to be Positive!!

A couple of years ago I was at a clergy meeting where we were discussing the various personal ways in which we each planned to use the coming Lenten season and one of my colleagues said that he planned to give up meetings!! For the whole period he would not attend a single meeting! For all of us that seemed such an attractive idea, meetings can be numerous and very time consuming, but they are necessary for face to face communication, for joint planning, for pursuing God’s work in our parishes, without them people so easily become disconnected. Right now we have thanked and blessed technology for allowing us to continue to ‘meet’ and ‘see’ each other regularly on Zoom, we have understood the importance of human contact, even virtually!

So what should we do in Lent to mark this season. This year particularly I would encourage each and everyone of us to not only spend some quiet time in prayer and contemplation, to assess where we are, but to definitely make a resolution to do something positive either for yourself, or for others. It can be as simple or easy, even difficult, as you wish, just the very act of being positive will make this Lent special.

God Bless you all, may He keep you safe and well, as you enter this very special season.

June Lane


From the Associate Priest - April 2021

Dear Friends,

june l sToday with my Lent Group, the subject of what people believe came up. Most of us had strong convictions about what we believe but, as one of the group pointed out, so many people today are ignorant of the Gospel stories and so their beliefs are not based on Christian teaching. It is true that many schools, apart from Church schools, today do not actually teach Christian Education. If Religious Education exists on the Syllabus it will be multi faith and often include moral, civic and even philosophical elements. Assemblies seldom have Bible Readings or hymns, schools have become rather secular places.

Part of Christian teaching includes our relationship with God and one of the ways in which any relationship is fed, is by communication. So how do we communicate with Almighty God. One very good way is to pray. In Christian assemblies, children regard prayer as a normal activity and it is a lovely thing to see and join, you know the children are praying with you because most of them have their eyes shut and their hands together. Putting our hands together with the fingers pointing upwards is a traditional action recognised as prayer.

hands sOne of the most famous Christian works of art is Albrecht Durer’s ‘Praying Hands’ (shown on the left) - a simple pen and ink drawing of a pair of hands in the attitude of prayer. The drawing is a preparatory sketch which is part of an Altar piece. If you study the drawing, you will see that the hands are not beautiful, delicate, ladies hands. The knuckles are somewhat pronounced, some of the fingers not quite straight, the veins on the back of the hands protuberant, the skin dark and the nails short. Many see them as hands which are used to doing a day’s work.

I was fascinated when I discovered this story about Durer. He was one of two sons of a working goldsmith in Germany in the late 15th century, both talented like their father, but both poor as was the whole family. Then, as now, education at the level they needed to study was expensive so they made a sensible pact. One brother would go to the Academy and the other work to support him for the four year course. On completion of that time they would reverse their roles, they tossed a coin to decide who would do which first and Albrecht won the toss, he was the first to study whilst his brother took the best paid job around, in the local mines.

Albrecht studied and produced work which immediately won him great acclaim. By the end of his four years, he was already a celebrated artist, but he honoured the agreement and returned home ready to support his brother Albert whilst he studied. At the celebration dinner that night, Albert revealed the true cost of his honouring the agreement - the years had left his fingers crooked, rough and some even broken. Executing fine art was no longer possible for Albert. A legend grew around the drawing that Albrecht had used his brother’s hands as the model, a lovely story if true.

I wonder what prayer means to you and if, as you read this, it reminds you of how seldom you manage the exercise! I know I find it challenging to write this! For some, prayer is just sometimes sending off an express request at times of particular need; for some, it is reciting the thoughtful words from many of our traditional services. For others, it may be periods of peace and quiet when you think about what matters in your life, whilst for many it is the conviction that God is always with us so we can talk to Him any time we wish.

Whatever way you pray, do pray. Easter reminds us that Almighty God loves us and the our Lord Jesus Christ laid down His life so that all of humanity could be reconciled with God.

Our churches are all opening again for Easter. On Good Friday, we shall remember that sacrifice with an hour of quiet meditations and music, whilst on Easter Day itself we shall celebrate the triumphant Resurrection of Jesus. it is a wonderful time, a time to rejoice and be glad, do come along and join us.

Have the most wonderful Easter whatever you do, and God Bless you all.

June Lane


From the Associate Priest - February 2021

Dear Friends,

June LaneThe days are slowly lengthening, Vaccinations against COVID-19 are underway, the first snowdrops are about to appear. Lockdown is still with us, the numbers of the dead from COVID-19 grow day by day and the Christmas decorations are all gone. Last Friday the sun shone brilliantly and if you stood out of a draught it felt quite Springlike; on Saturday it poured with rain!!

Late January, early February, a time of such contrasts, a time when we can either be totally depressed or optimistic about the future.

In the church calendar we are still in the Season of Epiphany, the season of Light, of Revelation, but sandwiched between Christmas and Easter Epiphany tends to be almost ignored and that is such a shame. If we think about all of those contrasts in my opening paragraph, Epiphany encourages us to concentrate on the positive, the joyous. To celebrate the shortening days and the snowdrops, the hope given by the Vaccination programme, to give thanks for the good things of the season.

If you are of a romantic disposition, you may be hoping for a special card or some flowers on one particular day in February, the 14th, St Valentine’s Day. On an online design site I sometimes visit, I am being bombarded with designs all focussed on the shape of the human heart, the suggestions for their use range from the extravagant to the minimal, and I often wonder just how many of them are actually used and what their recipients think. Do they keep the articles made using them to use during the year or, once we reach the 15th do they end up in the recycling bin, hours of loving labour literally being shredded!!

Like the contrasts at this time of year and in this particular year, St Valentine’s Day came from a series of extreme events. Valentine was a priest living in the time of the Roman Empire. Just then the Emperor needed a large army and to make sure he had a vast pool of young men to choose from, he outlawed marriage. Valentine felt sorry for young couples who wished to marry, and he disobeyed the Emperor’s edict and married many young couples. Of course he was found out and, because he was breaking the Emperor’s direct edict, thrown into prison and condemned to death. There he still ministered to the prisoners and when he discovered that the jailer’s daughter was blind he laid his hands on her and prayed. She was healed but even so Valentine was executed. Before he died he wrote to her to encourage her to live her life for God and he signed it, from your Valentine, with love.

So let us all concentrate on the positive, the good things on offer this month. Remember that even in this time of restrictions and danger God is still with us and loves us, that there are so many good things happening around us. We can all show that love in so many little actions and words. Let’s all look forward to the joy of Easter to come.

June Lane


From the Associate Priest - January 2021

Dear Friends,

june l s

New Year Resolutions! The very idea awakens thoughts of new starts, new beginnings, turning over a new leaf, radical change!! Normally, at this time, this is where our thoughts would be going and our determination to ‘make changes’ in our lives strong, but what about this coming year? What resolutions can we make with any degree of certainty that they are achievable? This coming year much of our lives and many of our actions will be determined by what is happening with COVID-19, whether the vaccines are plentiful and effective, whether our livelihoods have survived its impact, and for some, whether our family is still intact. This year, more than any other I can remember as an adult, much of what I can or cannot do is proscribed and I am powerless to change it so, it is even more important than ever to have some discipline and order in the areas where I can make decisions, where I can effect change.

Throughout history the commencement of a New Year has been a time for new beginnings, for settling old wrongs and debts, putting them aside and starting anew, for examining our lives and habits and deciding where changes will be good, where some practices should be consigned to the past and new horizons sought. Simple things like the traditional “New Year Diet” will not be affected by COVID, eating less or differently is something in our control, but the intention to seek a new job, to start some special training, those may now be either impossible or much delayed, so we have to be flexible in our approach to the New Year and adapt to our changing circumstances.

Just now many of us are looking at the night sky to the west in the hope of seeing a Planetary event which only occurs every four hundred years. For those of us who believe, there is much excitement in thinking we could be looking at “The Star of Bethlehem” because one of the times this particular event occurred was at the time Jesus was born. I wonder if God had this in mind when He set the plan in motion!

This happening reminds us that God can use all sorts of conditions to make what he wishes happen. He used the Roman’s political decision to run a Census which caused Mary and Joseph to travel to Bethlehem to be registered for that census, something so very inconvenient and possibly dangerous, just so that Jesus could be born where the prophets had foretold. This coming year, whatever the COVID problem throws at us, let us find ways to make it work for good, and let us make one big resolution that COVID will not ruin 2021 for us all. I have heard tales of so many instances of peoples’ kindness, of time given, shopping done, telephone chats and of course, Zoom. We can keep together as a community, we can show love and care even in these circumstances, and we do not have to be separated from everyone all the time, even if we are confined to our own homes. Make 2021 a year when “Reaching Out” is the predominant message.

Christmas is a time when we celebrate the great act of Love by God when Jesus, His Son, came to us a little baby. Let’s all share that love with others.

June

 

Postscript

A Message Of Thanks

I just want to say how marvellous everyone has been over these past months. When our churches had to close, I wondered just how we should manage but within days, Zoom was discovered and put to use. Every Sunday we have had acts of worship throughout the Benefice whether the church building is able to open or not, but, these Services do not just happen by magic - they entail a great deal of work and preparation, all by volunteers.

As I am the only priest we have living in the villages and we are without a Rector who would normally be saying this to everyone who has helped to keep our worship alive, i just want to say THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. God’s Spirit is alive and well in the Benefice of St Bartholomew and each one of you who has contributed has kept it so.

Carol Services

I know everyone loves singing carols. I do as much as anyone and the loss of singing in church has been keenly felt, but we have managed to have special Advent and Carol Services despite this. In some cases a small choir singing on behalf of the congregation and, in others, recorded or downloaded music has taken the part. We have had our usual Readings and the message has been revisited in 2020 with great enthusiasm and joy.

I do not wish to single out any one of these Services as I was unable to attend all, but I do wish to say ‘Thank You’ to all who made them possible, especially our volunteer choir leaders and Technical whizz kids. It has made this Advent a memorable one!


From the Associate Priest - December 2020

Dear Friends,

christmas“How are we all going to celebrate Christmas 2020?” “This Christmas will be different! “ “There is no way we can provide the ‘normal’ Christmas this year.” How many times have you heard one, or indeed all, of the above in the last month I wonder. I have lost count and I am seriously fed up with the endless speculation, a feeling I am sure echoed by many of you. Even if we do come out of Lockdown on the 3rd. Dec. there is no way any responsible government will give ‘carte blanche’ so that everyone can do just as they wish, some forms of restriction will have to apply to keep everyone safe and well.

So, what will Christmas be like this year?

The national obsession with the answer to “what will be allowed at Christmas?” says much about what Christmas means to most of us. It is important on so many fronts, a time for family get togethers, a time for everyone to sit down to Lunch together, a time to meet up with family you have not seen all year. A time for eating, drinking and the giving of expensive gifts. It is these things which are most likely to be affected by that decision on the 2nd. but, is that all Christmas is really about?

I do not think that Mary and Joseph actually wanted to spend the birth of their firstborn so far away from home. Where the birth actually happened was decided by government, by the ruling conquerors, the Romans. it was Rome who insisted on having a Census, a count of all their conquered subjects, and furthermore that it should take place in the town or city which signified the particular Tribe to which each belonged. For Joseph and Mary that happened to be Bethlehem in Judea, a long way from Nazareth where Joseph had his home and business. Of course, we also know that this was prophesied so God had something to do with it as well!

However it came about, that very first Christmas came at a time when everyone was forced to be somewhere not of their own choosing, to make journeys not wanted or easy, when everyone had to make do and mend, to make the best of a bad situation , and the result? From all that confusion and worry came the wonderful, magical events of the first Christmas. The stories of the Shepherds in the countryside, the Angels, the Stable with the Manger and the animals because there was “no room” at the Inn. None of that would have been the same in busy Nazareth. Think of all the lovely Nativity plays you have seen and the way it all comes together and imparts a feeling of love and wonder.

At the heart of Christmas is Love. God’s love for the whole of His creation, His wish to bring us back to Him and His gift of His Son, Jesus, the greatest gift ever given to anyone, by anyone, anywhere! No matter what changes in our family traditions this year God’s loving gift does not. That is unchanging, everlasting.

I hope that at least the churches will be open for some of our Christmas Services, that we shall be able to gather, even if socially distanced, to remember and give thanks, to have some sharing. But whatever happens, however we are allowed to celebrate Christmas 2020, let us decide to make it the best we can. Make Christmas 2020 memorable. Let’s look at what Mary and Joseph did and see if we can follow their example. Perhaps, like their story, we shall create some new, magical traditions which we shall want to keep forever.

A very Happy Christmas to You All.

June


From the Associate Priest - September 2020

Dear Friends,

Semley ChurchLast Sunday, Brian and I drove to East Knoyle for the Sunday Service and as we were leaving Gutch Common, there was a break in the trees lining the lane. Just through this gap I had a clear view of Semley Church, and it appeared to be quite a distance away and well over to my right.  Immediately the tree line became dense again, and the view disappeared but, just moments later, as we emerged from the Hollow and drove down the hill to Semley the perspective changed, suddenly Semley Church seemed to be directly in front of us, just measurable yards away.

Both views of the church, whilst giving quite different ideas of distance and relative position, were clear and well defined.  Any stranger would have no difficulty in identifying just what they were viewing from either vantage point.  The church building with its high tower stood clear and sharp on the skyline.  For decades, Semley church has stood tall, a well defined landmark and one which is constantly used as a reference point for directing people to other buildings and houses.  For centuries, our churches have served as clear and well defined landmarks, often built on the highest point in the village and their towers and steeples standing higher than any other building in the village, visible for miles.  Lost travellers on moonlit nights welcomed the sight of the church tower as a sign that they were not really lost, just a little way off the correct path, not far from home, and in centuries past, they signalled a place of safety to the runaway, the hunted, seeking sanctuary.

As well as being a landmark, church towers usually house the bells - bells which call the faithful to worship, which sound out at times of national importance, which mark the  joy of a wedding or the distress of a loved one’s passing. All of these purposes for one building and particularly for one part of that building.

For some months, our churches have had to remain empty - COVID-19 meant that we were not allowed to use them for Prayer or for worship.  Even now, as we are open again, we have to observe social distancing, follow the guidelines of sanitising everything; we cannot sing or shout Alleluia!  The rules curtail so much of what is normal - even our usual Harvest Thanksgiving will be rather different this year.  But even with all of these restrictions, it is good to be back, to enter that quiet space hallowed by centuries of prayer and love. To drink in the peace and serenity which permeates each one of our beautiful churches.

For many, these buildings may simply serve useful purposes such as that of landmark or guidepost, but primarily they serve as an enduring witness to God’s loving presence amongst us.  They serve as a permanent and substantial reminder that no matter how difficult the times in which we live, no matter how uncertain life can sometimes seem, God is here. He is our loving creator who calls us to himself in the person of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

June Lane