One of my favourite passages in the bible is the conversation between Jesus and the two men next to him on the cross (in Luke 23:40-43). One calls out to Jesus ‘if you are who you really say you are get us down from this cross’. The other perhaps sensing mocking says ‘Don’t talk to Jesus in that way we are here for the things we have done, he has done nothing wrong’. He then turns to Jesus no doubt with tears streaming down his face and says ‘Remember me when you come into your throne’. To which Jesus turns to him and poignantly replies ‘Tonight you will be with me in paradise’.
How wonderful is that. In that agonising life and death moment Jesus reassures this man - who self-confesses to having led a bad life- that he will be welcomed by Jesus into the heavenly realm. He and we, are given immediate reassurance of life after death, over the simplicity of forgiveness and the exorbitant nature of God’s grace. A free and freeing gift of love from God available to each one of us. Now if that doesn’t deserve a ‘Hallelujah’ and to celebrate with Easter chocolate I don’t know what does!
Easter is coming! Spring is sprung! The roadmap to ending lockdown is under way. There is hope and possibility in the air. Long may it be so.
Easter Blessings to you all,
This month marks the first anniversary of lockdown. It offers a time to reflect on all we have lost and missed so much, but also on what we may have learned and discovered.
On March 23rd, there will be a National Day of Reflection, an opportunity to unite in memory of those who died, and with those who have lost loved ones - whether directly through the pandemic or in other ways.
The changes to the way we have been able to hold funerals has been profound- both intimate and difficult. It has been hard for many not be able to say their goodbyes and celebrate a life in the usual ways.
The National Day of Reflection although marking a great sadness is also being seen as an occasion for hope. The symbol of Spring flowers marking this. As we unite in sadness, we also remember the good times, the love and the joy that person brought into our lives. We also remember with deep gratitude the many who served on the frontline and their great sacrifice of care.
As we look back and reflect on the year that has passed let us also hold onto the memories and learnings that have made us smile. That have reassured us of community and of a greater humanity.
Easter, which is just around the corner adds to the above the great eternal hope. The continuity of life and love - shown to us through the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus.
Peace and hope be with you,
It’s February- many of us are tired- fed up and running on empty. Covid- and everything that goes with it- continues to cast a real shadow, to cause real heartache, pain and strain. It’s really hard. And to add to our gloom this time the copious amounts of rain have meant mud, mud everywhere!
But thankfully there is hope on the horizon and oh how grateful we are to our NHS and all its staff; for the scientists and the vaccines that are being rolled out. And we can begin to smell Spring and the coming of lighter, longer days. Shoots and early blooms are peeking out, the birds are increasing their chatter. It is a comforting to me, and perhaps to you, to know that the seasons roll on and God’s mercies and beauties of creation are new every morning.
This month also brings us into Lent. Don’t tell the Bishop - but I am not advocating a restrictive Lent – gosh haven’t we more than done this over the last year! What I suggest instead is 40 days of Spiritual Connection. In the Lent Course (anyone is welcome to join by Zoom or I can point you to materials) we will be looking at and trying out different ways to pray and connect with our spiritual self and the spirit of God. More generally it is about seeing ourselves and God as connected spiritual beings, as part of an entwined story which we can seek to connect with more deeply. We might read a biblical passage and set ourselves as one of the characters, what words would we say to or wish to hear from Jesus? We might pick a leaf and consider the hands of the creator who made it, who made us. We might hold a piece of soft material to our cheek and consider God as our great comforter and how that speaks to us of who God is …
Jesus talks a lot about little things making a big difference. He talks about the widow’s mite- a tiny financial contribution given with a big heart. He talks about a tiny bit of yeast raising a whole basin full of flour. He talks about a mustard seed of faith growing into a great tree. He talks about someone who offers a little one a cup of water being rewarded in heaven.
Locked down as we are, we may feel helpless or useless, but we can all be receivers of and bringers of light, encouragement, comfort and hope.
God’s love surround you,
Church Notice Board Humour
With thanks to Alix Allan
The Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals.
The sermon this morning: 'Jesus Walks on the Water. 'The sermon tonight: 'Searching for Jesus.'
Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.
Don't let worry kill you off - let the Church help.
Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious hostility.
Pot-luck supper Sunday at 5:00 PM - prayer and medication to follow.
The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.
This evening at 7 PM there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.
Open or locked down Christmas will come. Together or separated Christmas will come. Shopped to you’ve dropped or wrapping a single orange Christmas will come. That very first Christmas – life was pretty fragile too as Jesus, God’s own self entered an uncertain world. The boundaries of heaven and earth were blurred and angels sang. They sang of peace and joy to God’s people on earth. Why? Because Jesus’ birth breathed new life and hope into a struggling world then, and now.
These things this Christmas remain certain - God loves us, God came to us, and comes to us still.
Christmas blessings of love and hope for 2021 to you all.
A Christmas smile: A young child when asked where Jesus came from said ‘An egg’. ‘An egg?’ The minister puzzled. ‘Yes - it says he was laid in a manger’. 😊
Cryptic Christmas Card
A man sent his friend a cryptic Christmas card. It said: A B C D E F G H I J
K M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z. The recipient puzzled over it for weeks,
he finally gave up and wrote asking for an explanation. In July he received the
explanation on a postcard: "No L."
November offers a season of remembrance. It starts with All Souls and All Saints day where we remember and name before God those loved ones who sadly are no longer physically present with us, but who are still very much in our hearts. This then leads to our remembering those who sacrificed so much in service and the pursuit of peace during the First and Second World Wars and many conflicts since; particularly poignant in this 75th anniversary year of VE and VJ Day.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning. We will remember them.
We remember them, our loved ones, the fallen, in the names read out in church; in the names read out at countless war memorials through-out the world. Names which hold memories, names which hold stories. Remembering keeps these stories alive.
It can be quite sobering to think what people might say about us when the time comes for our stories to be passed on. What imprint might we leave in this place?
The following words are taken from May Sarton’s beautiful poem ‘All Souls’
Did someone say that there would be an end, an end,
Oh, an end to love and mourning?
What has been once so interwoven cannot be unravelled,
nor the gift ungiven…..
What has been plaited cannot be unplaited-- only the strands grow richer.. .
Thank-you God for those beautiful strands, may we add our own to the great tapestry of life.
(with thanks to Revd Julie Bacon)
October feels different this year, well most things do!
The month brings with it the changing of the clocks, and the transient pleasure of a lay-in for late risers, but also the reality of the night’s drawing in.
There is a certain strangeness about human ability to alter and control time. This year time took on a somewhat surreal quality, usual lines and rhythms seemed blurred.
Time is defined as ‘the indefinite continued progress of existence and events that occur in an apparently irreversible succession from the past, through the present, into the future.’ From human perspective, time is linear and goes in one direction. Although many writers have delighted in exploring the wonders and dangers of time travel. I wonder if we could time travel in any direction what year or time we might like to visit or revisit?
What about for God? How does God negotiate time? God is mostly understood to stand outside of time. There was never a time when God wasn’t, and there will never be a time when God isn’t. But even though God exists outside time, and is not subject to it, God reveals Godself within time, because humanity and creation is within it. Then at a very specific point in time God in Jesus entered into the human timeline. The ancient Greeks had two words for time: chronos referring to sequential time, and kairos which signifies a ‘perfect’ moment in time. Somehow, when Jesus entered chronos, it was also kairos. God came to be in the world as well as outside of the world. Suddenly altering time for an hour or so seems somewhat easy!
May you enjoy your ‘new’ hour and know God’s presence with you, in any and all uncertainty.
Weekend Connection #error
Our weekend connection, church news and Sunday Reflection which goes out every Saturday unfortunately had a technical hitch as I was unable to send to the usual number of contacts. Unfortunately, any email contact that wasn’t saved in my contacts list was lost. So if you haven’t received your weekly email or indeed would like to be added to the mailing list, especially to keep uptodate with any new guidance please do email me on email@example.com. Thank-you!
Burrough Green Church- building work
We are delighted to say that building work for updating electricity, heating and installing water and a toilet has begun. The church is closed to visitors but church services should be able to take place as normal, although you may be directed in through another entrance. Our grateful thanks to Lucy, Peter and family for making this happen, the PCC, grant bodies and everyone who has supported the fundraising. Thank-you.
All Souls Memorial Service
Sadly this has been a difficult year for many of us losing loved ones, or friends whose funerals we were unable to attend. It is difficult to plan an open special service at this time but we are hoping to be able to give people the opportunity to light a candle for a loved one via a two hour ‘drop in’ at Westley Waterless on Sunday, 1 November between 4.00- 6.00pm.
If you will be attending the name of your loved one(s) will be said whilst you are there, if you are not able to attend but would like a name or names read out and/or a candle lit for them please let me or a churchwarden know. Thank-you.
Face coverings will be required and do listen out for any significant rule changes to church services.
I read this week about the annual migration of geese, isn’t their teamwork astonishing! As they fly in their "V" formation, the flapping of each birds wings creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying like this the whole flock has apparently at least a 70 percent greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own. This is most noticeable when a goose falls out of formation, it immediately feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone so quickly gets back into place to take advantage of the lifting power granted to it by the bird in front. When the head goose gets tired, it rotates back into the wing and another goose flies forward to take up the lead. The noisy honking you hear is of the geese behind encouraging those up front to keep going and maintain the speed!
What really touched me though was reading that when a goose gets sick or injured and falls out of the formation, two other geese fall out with it and follow it down to the ground, to lend help and protection. They stay with the fallen goose until it is able to fly again or until it dies; and only then do they launch out on their own or with another formation to catch up with their own group.
What a beautiful thing this is, a real encouragement from nature to live well in community together; lending our strength, sharing the load, taking our rest and championing the more vulnerable.
In the words of Aleksandr the Meerkat ‘Simples!’.
‘So let’s do it .. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love, helping out, and in spurring each other on..’. Hebrews 10: 24 The Message.
God be with you,
Rector in The Rectory!
I was delighted to be inducted and instituted as Rector of the Raddesley Group of Churches in St Peter’s Stetchworth by Bishop Dagmar, supported by the Rural Dean, Church Patrons and our Churchwardens, in a small socially distanced service to mark the change in my role- in name only! It signified a celebration of the ministry and community of us all, for which I give my thanks.
Please feel free to contact me to discuss spiritual matters; baptisms, funerals, weddings, and the sacrament of reconciliation (confession).
That’s why God has placed me with you 😊 Blessings, Revd Nikki
Email: Nikkimann40@hotmail.co.uk Call: 01638 507980 Text: 07738 266057
A German Shepherd, Doberman and a cat have entered heaven.
All three are faced with God who wants to know what they believe in.
The German shepherd says: "I believe in discipline training and loyalty to my master."
"Good," says God. "Then sit down on my right side. Doberman, what do you believe in?"
The Doberman answers: "I believe in the love, care and protection of my master."
Ah," said God. "You may sit to my left."
Then he looks at the cat and asks, "And what do you believe in?"
The cat answers: "I believe you're sitting in my seat."
Laughter is so good for the spirit, that involuntary escape of joy creates warmth and actually triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural feel-good chemicals. We certainly all need some of that!
C. S Lewis talked about ‘Joy being the laughter of heaven’ a gift from God to us. The ultimate laughter being experienced in the joy of reunion. In his books, whenever the children return to Narnia, there is always great hugging, laughing and noise! It is almost palpable that radiating warmth and great bubbles of excitement surrounding each person as they meet a friend or loved one again, after a prolonged separation. We see this now as people previously isolated begin slowly meeting up again in our churches, pubs, green spaces and gardens - mostly without the hugging and kissing- but still with eyes lit up, huge smiles and bubbling bursts of laughter!
Imagine what that ultimate joyous reunion in heaven will be like!
In this continued time of uncertainty, may there be bubbles upon bubbles of joy in your reunions physical or virtual.
Gosh. Doesn’t it feel like the world has shifted. Still reeling from the pandemic and its tragic human and economic cost we have been challenged by the ongoing pain of injustice and inequality. We knew it was there but seeing it played out on our screens has sharpened our awareness and for many awakened a desire for change; for a fairer, just, more inclusive and equal society where no one faces discrimination, where children don’t go to bed or wake up hungry, where mental health and community services are properly resourced, where everyone has a home, our list could go on and on.
Jesus in his life and teachings crossed boundaries racial and social, he preached on the least being first, on searching out and caring for the one in need because the other 99 were doing OK. He said simply ‘Love one another as I have loved you’ and that is a huge unquantifiable lot of love!
These are uncertain times but lockdown has shown us the power of communities pulling together and caring for each other. We can make a difference.
Bishop Desmond Tutu said ‘Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.’
How wonderful is that. Let us overwhelm the world together!
Love and Blessings,
It is ascension as I write this. Someone posted saying ‘Ascension is when Jesus goes to work from home!’ Very fitting for the season we find ourselves in. Jesus leaves his humanness behind to become fully God again. Or does he? I am not so sure. We are all part of our experiences the good and the difficult, they help build our understanding of the world and ourselves within it. I think Jesus took ‘us’ and his experience of humanity back into the very heart of God and it grew God’s heart.
St. Augustine of Hippo said that God, as Trinity (the three in one), exists eternally as a community of love. And we too are part of this community of love, with God and with one another.
These times have shown just how interconnected all of humanity is, and how the beauty of a community of love can play out between neighbours and between strangers. A holy dance indeed, long may it continue.
Smile Corner 😊
(Classic misprints - Diocese of Salisbury)
Next weekend's Fasting & Prayer Conference in Whitby includes all meals.
Sunday morning sermon: 'Jesus Walks on the Water.'
Sunday evening sermon: 'Searching for Jesus.'
Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.
Miss Charlene Mason sang 'I will not pass this way again,' giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.
It was a baby mosquito's first day to fly out from home.
When the mosquito came back home later that day, the father mosquito asked, "How was your journey?" The baby mosquito replied, "It went great. Everyone was clapping for me!"
A ham sandwich walks into a bar and orders a beer:
Bartender ‘Sorry we don’t serve food here!’
What did the spider do on the computer?
Made a website!
Please do let us have your best jokes or funny stories, thank-you.
Revd Nikki Mann
Nikki is the Priest in Charge of the Raddesley Benefice (which consists of 6 churches) in Cambridgeshire