From the Associate Priest - January 2021

Dear Friends,

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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.




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!