The Christian calendar of saints comes with a definite hierarchy.
At the top is Mary, the mother of Jesus, who receives three separate days celebrating plus her own Sunday of Advent, as well as numerous churches dedicated to her across the world.
Growing up, as I did, in the semi-rural parish of Claines, Rogation Sunday was one on which we concentrated on agriculture, asking God’s blessing on the land as we “beat the bounds.” Most years this beating of the bounds only involved a small number of parishioners but one year an adventurous curate took it to a new level, using various forms of transport for different parts of the journey. A motorbike, tractor and even a canoe were pressed into service. This gave the parishioners some fun and remained a talking point for several years (as you can see by the fact that I still remember and want to write about it!).
Some people come for the cakes provided during the refreshment break but most come for the fantastic talks provided by Paul Harding from Discover History.
Shortly before 10pm on Shrove Tuesday 1945, the air raid sirens sounded in Dresden. They had done so more than a hundred times previously during the war without any serious damage being inflicted, the Saxon capital being one of the few intact German cities remaining. Despite the increasing concentration of armaments and other war industries, the anti-aircraft defences had been moved elsewhere, leaving the city extremely vulnerable.
David, Chad, Adrian, Non, Duthac, Kessog, Patrick and Cuthbert. What do all these have in common?
You may be able to come up with several answers, but the two I’m looking for are that they all have their feast days in March and they all have a Celtic connection.
For a short time, when I was living in Claines, we had a vicar who was married to a lovely Irish lady and during March she led us in a Celtic Service – a beautiful evening, made perfect by her serving home-made shortbread afterwards! Even without the shortbread, the evening made an impact on us as our attention was focused on those Celtic saints of whom, generally speaking, we know very little.
As I write this, I am in my second day of isolation after a positive Covid test. It is a frustrating experience, given that I am not ill and staying still does not agree with me. One can only clean the oven so many times.
And God held in his hand
A small globe. Look, he said.
The son looked. Far off,
As through water, he saw
A scorched land of fierce
Colour. The light burned
There; crusted buildings
Cast their shadows; a bright
Serpent, a river
Uncoiled itself, radiant
On a bare
Hill a bare tree saddened
The sky. Many people
Held out their thin arms
To it, as though waiting
For a vanished April
To return to its crossed
Boughs. The son watched
Them. Let me go there, he said.
The Coming by RS Thomas 1913-2000
Once again our Flower Ladies have done us proud and provided some wonderful flower decorations around the church for the lead up to Christmas
Yet again we were enthralled by the wonderful Paul Harding with his history knowledge, this time we learnt all about Christmas in Victorian times.
To ask “What is at the heart of Christmas?” may seem a very obvious question – but is it really? Answer honestly; if Christmas was cancelled – and I mean really cancelled, not just scaled down like last year – what would you miss the most? Would it be the family gatherings? The excessive quantities of food and drink consumed?