Letter for Feb 2018
Perhaps you wandered into church for a few minutes quiet during a busy week and were surprised, long after Christmas, to find the stable still in place - with the baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph and the three Magi – those wise people who travelled so far to offer precious gifts. In our nativity productions in schools the wise men arrive to worship the child almost as soon as the shepherds - but they probably arrived some weeks after Jesus’ birth and traditionally we celebrate their arrival on January 6th, ‘Epiphany’. They ‘kings’ were astrologers from the East and their gifts were costly, but not chosen to make an impression - rather they chose items to be suitable for what they read in the stars - the birth of a king from God, whose death would be very significant. So they brought gold for kinship, incense for a God and myrrh used in death rites but also for healing. Well chosen, considered gifts. The shepherds were surprised by angels announcing the birth on the night it happened –they had to take what they had, something sheep related! - not for them a last minute trip to the shops or next day delivery from Amazon. They had no time to choose, we do have some time to think.
What can I give him poor as I am?
The carol says If I were a shepherd I would give a lamb.
If I were a wise man I would do my part
But what I can I give him … give my heart
If we are grateful for Gods providential care - for life, friends and family, food and shelter, the rule of law, education and healthcare, we show our thanks by living well - honestly, generously, bravely, doing to others as we would be done by, but are there other ways too? The Crib stays on view until February 2, or the nearest Sunday, when we celebrate ‘Candlemass’ –the day when Mary and Joseph took the 6 week old Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem and it’s there that two old people, Anna and Simeon recognise Jesus as the Christ and praise God for his arrival. After the Candlemas service we put the baby Jesus, the 3 wealthy travellers, shepherds, animals and angels back in the box and with the adult Jesus we turn towards Lent, the Cross and Easter.
Those of us walking the way of faith try to go deeper into the mystery of God year by year and on Feb 14 we begin the 6 weeks of Lent, which we use to tone up our spiritual bodies, exercise some self discipline and grow in faith. We get together to follow a Lent course, which helps us to discover more about ourselves and how the teaching of Jesus should influence the way we live.
This year we will be following ‘Another Story must begin’ a course using the film of ‘Les Miserables’. We begin on Wednesday Feb 21st at 8.00 –give me a ring  if you would like to join us.
On Saturday Feb. 3 everyone is invited for a glass of wine or juice at ‘The Rectory’, 12 noon – 2.00 pm just a chance to see the Rectory and meet me. The address is 1, Dovedale – the turning immediately after Chandini’s car park if you are coming from High Wych Rd. Do come - I look forward to seeing you then.
God’s blessing on you and yours
When I left the old Rectory in December 2010 I didn’t think there would be any chance of me setting pen to paper or [finger to keyboard] to write another letter for ‘The Link’ ! But it seems God has given me another chance to be part of the communities of High Wych, Allen’s Green, Gilston and Eastwick. I’m still somewhat amazed to be asked back - but really looking forward to this chance to be with you and extend an acquaintance that was all too brief – we seldom get another bite of the cherry in this life!
In last month’s letter, Joy said that this would be short term ‘vicar’ arrangement, 18 months, to give us some time to discover the scope and the speed of development of Gilston Park village[s]. I know some in the congregations will be disappointed not to have advertised and appointed someone younger to the post straight away – but by summer 2019 the future shape of the Benefice will be easier to predict and the Bishop will know more clearly what is needed to take the Christian church in this area forward into the future.
In the meantime we have 3 very different churchyards and church buildings in St. James, St. Mary and St. Botolph -each have a different style, history and ‘heritage’ features –we might all explore using those features to add value to our communities and help preserve the buildings for use by more people, whatever the progress of any development.
Though I’m writing this in December in Solihull - surrounded by packing chaos! - this is the first letter of the New Year, when you read it Christmas Day will be over, the days will be a little longer and I will have unpacked the boxes and settled in Dovedale. Then I very much hope to be able to meet new friends and be re-acquainted with old ones at 3.30p.m, on January 6th - when the Bishop of St. Albans will be with us to license me as your Priest at a Service in St. James the Great, High Wych. Do join us then - and afterwards in the Memorial Hall for refreshments and chat.
God Bless you and yours