From the Rector - February 2019

Dear Friends,

By now I hope most of you will have read articles by, if not met, our new Curate Kevin Martin. I am delighted to welcome another colleague in the Gospel to our team and am equally pleased that Kevin, Liz and their family will move into Donhead St Andrew this month.

This month (almost) begins with the feast of Candlemas or The Presentation of The child Jesus in the Temple. It signifies the end of our Christmas and Epiphany celebrations and turning our focus towards the cross and resurrection of Lent and Easter.

The season of Epiphany is about explaining who and what this child Jesus is, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas. One of the first major themes is that this child that is born “king of the Jews” is actually for all people and is worshipped by magi from foreign lands. I have been thinking recently about the character of our rural churches and our villages and villagers. I think it is more evident in the countryside how important church buildings are to a community.

What a joy and blessing it is that we have people across the Benefice who are involved in the life of our churches. These are often people who are not themselves C of E. Some prominent examples would be The Rev’d John ‘the Baptist’ Passmore who leads services at St Catherine’s, Sedgehill on Christmas and Easter Day. At Donhead Saint Mary, Linda Franklin has been our lead flower arranger until their recent move, and at Semley, Sarah Howard is often seen helping with flowers - among other things; Fay Duthie helps at Messy Church - all three of whom are Roman Catholics. Across the Benefice there are many examples of members of other denominations and actually people who hold no faith who help with flowers, bells, cleaning and numerous other things. What a wonderful thing to rejoice in.

As I write this, we are coming to the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. One of the great pillars of the community once said to me that he joined the army at the wrong time in history because the empire was crumbling and that I had joined the Church at the wrong time because of its decline. There may be truth in that but God is always faithful. I give thanks every day that we no longer live in a time when denominations and their adherents mistrust and dislike each other. I give thanks every day that the support for the church from our rural communities is strong and genuine and full of good will.

Thank you.

Richard