LETTER FROM THE RECTOR

ear Friends

In recent days we have seen wonderful photographs from the Philae craft after it successfully landed on a comet. The team of scientist who have guided the project showed their absolute delight and relief that after many years of waiting their work had finally produced such good and clear results. Now the Philae craft and the Rosetta mother ship will leave the headlines but the scientists’ painstaking work of analysis and assessment will continue until they can finally express in laymen’s terms the secrets of the comet. As humankind explores ever more of the universe in which we live, and indeed deep space beyond it, some might say that reaching into the heavens reveals that God is not there; however we cannot use first century language and imagery to talk about twenty first century science. When people thought the earth was flat and the heavens like an upturned bowl above it then to speak of God as ‘above the heavens’ made perfect sense. Now we have a different understanding and we need to look for the presence and energy of God in the intricate detail of an atom seen through an electron microscope, in the pattern of planets and comets held together by a mysterious interplay of gravity and speed of movement. The presence of God is seen in so many places if only we will look with open eyes and minds – we can be lost in wonder and amazement.

But sometimes we need to grasp something simple and tangible, to see God in a way that our limited vision can appreciate, and the best place to start is in the cave at Bethlehem where a newborn male child found welcome and love among humble working folk and domestic animals. If we start with that Christmas image and follow his life story and his teaching then we shall find the God who is continually creating the universe, and we shall know that we are found and known and loved by him. How exactly does that happen? I cannot tell you, anymore than I can tell you just how to get a landing craft from a rocket launch site to a comet ten years away, but I know that it is true, that the journey is exhilarating and risky and needs to be undertaken not alone but in company. Vision, patience, courage, love and determination are gifts of God and take people to amazing places, even into the heart of space. Our journey starts with the birth of the Christ-child and takes us to the heart of God.

Wishing you every blessing this Christmas and in the year to come.

Rita

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LETTER FROM THE RECTORY, YATTENDON

The letter this month comes from the Rev’d Meg Kirby who is our recently licensed Associate Priest [House for Duty] living in Yattendon. Meg, her husband Christopher and lively dog Daisy have come to us from Calne in the Salisbury diocese and in addition to her part time work in the parishes Meg will be padre to Denison Barracks, a role previously occupied by James Cook. This means she will have a strong connection with Holy Trinity and will be officiating this year at the Remembrance Day service in Hermitage.

 

In our household, winter never quite arrives until the morning of 6th November. Somehow it always seems colder on the evening of the 5th November and the morning after, when firework rockets have pierced the sky.

Despite its horrific origins in 1605, Bonfire Night in our own time has become a community event, where people enjoy being together. It is a time when projects and competitions are arranged by schools and local groups to spark the imaginations of children and adults alike. Here is a poem, entitled ‘Bonfire Night’, written by a girl in year 5 of a school in Buckingham, taken from the web:

Vibrant fireworks fill the sky like colourful paint splashes on black paper
Explosive
Blasting fireworks bang and boom like dynamite
Shimmering
Spiral sparks spin like a merry go round, going in every direction
Bursting
Rainbow glass scattered in a thousand pieces
Broken
Glittering diamonds falling out of the midnight sky like comets
Falling
Falling
Flashing fairgrounds in the sky break the still silence
BOOM!
BOOM!
BOOM!
Twinkling illusions dancing in the sky
Sparkle sparkle
Into the depths of the midnight sky

There is something about the dark skies, the sudden explosions, the brightly colourful and fleeting fireworks that lift our hearts as well as our eyes. They can inspire us and chase away, albeit for a short while, the thoughts of cold and long dark nights of winter. Firework displays are like little Festivals of Light that reveal glimpses of light and hope. Their light shines in the darkness.

We gather with the expectation of a spectacle not too different to those we have experienced in the past. Yet the fireworks still have the capacity to take us by surprise; as they explode in the sky they can catch us unawares. But they are soon gone, and the acrid after-smell of sulphur, gunpowder and nitrates soon fades too.

On our faith-journey, we often have times that are a bit like Bonfire Night. Sometimes we are uncertain of God’s existence, feeling the cold and dark of the winter evening but hoping to be surprised by an explosion of light to reawaken our wonder and delight, to set our hearts and minds alive in a new way so that we see life through enhanced senses. At other times our faith is steady and we bask in the warmth of God’s presence much like we huddle around the bonfire. And sometimes we are near enough to the fire to feel its warmth but are still surprised by the fireworks, when we overflow with love for God and joy at being his.

With every blessing

Reverend Meg Kirby

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Letter From The Vicar – October 2014

Dear Friends
This year the moat of the Tower of London will be filled with 888,246 ceramic poppies in memory of the soldiers from Britain and the Colonies who died in the Great War, and the money raised by the installation will be given to charities associated with the Armed Forces. The world has changed in very many ways in the past one hundred years, and most of those changes have been improvements, even if our nostalgia for costume drama would suggest the contrary.

Can we reflect for a moment on two things which have not changed – and first among those is the ability of people to inflict pain and suffering, conflict and terror on one another. Since photographers brought back images of the horrors of the trenches, and land laid waste and men killed and maimed, we have known the cost of war, but have seemingly been willing to go on paying that cost. We still face the ancient question – when are the actions of one group or nation so damaging, so violent, that others are
justified in using equal or greater violence to resist them, either for their own security or for the preservation of others? When anyone is certain that their views are so right that everyone else should conform to them, and that disagreement is not to be tolerated, then we have the potential for sectarianism and violence to support it – the end manifestation of such certainty is cruel murder of an innocent individual. The gospels show us precisely that pattern leading to the crucifixion of Jesus, some of those in authority could not bear to have their views questioned and so eliminated the One they saw as a threat. Anyone who will pause and reflect on history will see that it was not quite the answer which it was intended to be. If you take one flower and cut it down then there is a good chance that soon you will have a greater number of flowers springing up from the scattered seed – that is the way the cycle of creation works.

And that is the second unchanging pattern “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease” this is God’s covenant with people from the earliest days, and it is a promise of kindness and provision. Many of you will have reflected in August on the outbreak of the Great War, and will come together in November for the services on Remembrance Day – can I invite you in between those two occasions to join our worship and celebration of Harvest Festival that together we may give thanks for God’s eternal goodness, and so obtain some comfort and perspective about the repeated inhumanity of man to man.

with love and blessings
Rita

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Messy Church – June 7th 2014

messy church

THE  HERMITAGE  TEAM of CHURCHES

CELEBRATING  PENTECOST

ON SATURDAY 7TH JUNE

AT THE FISHER ROOM

COLD ASH

3 – 5.30

FOR ALL THE FAMILY

FUN ACTIVITIES, FOOD AND

CELEBRATION

 

 

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Sunday May 25th 2014

We shall be thinking about our parish area and about the things that grow in our fields, woodland and gardens; we shall be planting poppy seeds for the centenary of the 1914 World War.

At coffee after the service there will be a bring and buy sale for all things grown and homemade – plants, produce, flowers, bread, cakes, jams, etc.

We need people to bring and people to buy and some to do both! Please come to the service at 9.30 or for the coffee and the sale at 10.15.

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Sponsor a Chair !!

The members of the church would like to see the Adelaide Room used more by community groups and feel that replacement of the plastic chairs, crockery and other equipment is a vital part of the modernisation of the cramped and elderly servery facilities and re-polishing of the floor to make the room much more attractive and spacious, as well as safer and more hygienic.

We intend to re-use some of the wood from the existing cupboards which matches the other furnishings so that the Adelaide Room can be a smart extension to the church for very large services, but can be partitioned off for small meetings and the mid week toddler group, Tiddlywinks.

Each of the 60 chairs will cost £44.40 including VAT and we will also need a trolley, a small fridge and crockery. We are looking to raise a total of £3,500. If you would like to sponsor a chair for you and your family, please visit the link below. Greenham Common Trust will match any funds donated.

Please click here to make a donation.

https://www.findmeagrant.org/wberks/payment/paymentform.aspx?appid=6c9b521e-fd55-492a-acb6-9dcf46717df5

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Messy Church – April 13th

Please join us at our next Messy Church in Compton Village Hall, Burrell Road Compton on Sunday 13th April 3 – 5p.m.

Creative Fun, Tea and Celebration all welcome.

A Hermitage Team event

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Mothering Sunday 2014

It is unusual for Mothering Sunday, always the fourth Sunday in Lent, to fall on a fifth Sunday of the month when we have a Team Service in one of our churches and no services in the other churches of the Team.  We thought long and hard about what we should do this year and decided that we would encourage everybody from all our local communities to come together for a grand celebration at Compton church. This service will certainly be family friendly and people of all ages are very welcome.  The service will begin at 10.00 a.m. and there will be flower gifts for children to give to their mums and grandmas.  If you would like any more information please contact me at 01635 202967 or rita.e.ball@btinternet.com.

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Monthly cuppa & CAKE AT THE RECTORY

Everyone is welcome to come to the Rectory for a cuppa – this month with a pancake – on Shrove Tuesday, 4th March at 2.30 pm. Please do come along.

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Letter from the Rector – March 2014

Dear Friends

It seems only a few months ago that the stream by Frilsham church was almost dried up and the ducks and moorhens were looking for a puddle deep enough for swimming, now the water is racing by almost up to the top of the banks.  We are hearing a lot about extreme weather conditions and, although our local experience is far less than that of many people, even here in the parishes of the Hermitage team we cannot be unaware of rapid change.  There are no simple reasons and no simple remedy for our environmental situation, but many contributing factors and the need for multi-faceted solutions.  Where is God in all this? taking revenge on a sinful society? entirely irrelevant to a scientific problem? unconcerned about the struggle and suffering of people?  All of those ideas have some popular support but all of them seem to me to be entirely wrong.  God is not vengeful, his expectation that we act as wise stewards of the earth on which we live has much to teach us about our responsibility to care for the environment, and in the care and courage of those who provide emergency help we see reflected the compassion of a loving God.

Perhaps the biggest challenge to us is that we should remember; when the weather ceases to be headline news, when the sun shines and the days lengthen we need still to remember that some people are struggling with the long-term effects of flooding in homes and businesses.  We need also to remember that water is a thing of power, giving life and sometimes endangering lives, and perhaps start to treat it with the respect and care it deserves.  In the hymn of St Francis of Assisi we find “thou flowing water, pure and clear, make music for thy Lord to hear” – a reminder that the whole of creation exists to give glory to God and reflect his beauty.  Much as we delight in being independent individuals, we do well to remember that we are part of the great pattern of creation and live best when we find our harmony within the over-arching song.

With love and blessings

Rita

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