Remembering at Remembrance Sunday

We all know that certain sadnesses in life are inevitable. Having been a Vicar for over twenty years I’ve spent considerable amounts of time listening to and being as helpful as possible when faced with other people’s bereavement. I imagined this would prepare me for my own loss when the time came, but quite surprisingly I felt very unprepared when my father passed away at the end of September. Although ill over several years, his death has literally shaken the foundations of my life. Thank you for your kind wishes, cards and the many prayers said for my family over the past weeks.

Remembering is a vital part of moving forward even if you’re not sure whether you have moved forward. Of course, not all loss is personal but sometimes shared. Remembrance Sunday is a vital moment in our national and local life. It reminds us of our brave past, of the many young and older men and women who faced what we can hardly imagine, to protect what is normal life for us now. Given the rapidly changing world we live in and the declining sense of community in many ‘local’ places, coming together as a community to remember and stand alongside one another is more vital than ever. Please come if you can to one of our Remembrance Services on Sunday 8th November, to join with the many who will be remembering.This is not a test of whether you believe in God or not, but rather whether we believe in the power of our community at this time.

Of course, facing that question of believing in God is shaped by all sorts of personal experience and thoughts. I am grateful that God is able to manage the complexity of our many lives and speak to each of us in very different ways. To the rich man, Jesus challenged him to let go of his wealth because it stood in the way; to the tax collector named Zacchaeus, Jesus went to his house despite the disapproval of everyone around him, and his life was changed. What about you? Have you experienced such a moment? My Dad never went to church in his lifetime. He never really engaged with the fact that I was a Vicar so you can imagine my surprise when he told me he believed in God four weeks before he died. “I believe”, he said, “but I haven’t been a follower”. “Will you pray for me?” he asked. My Dad was a strong and sometimes stubborn man, who wouldn’t put his trust in God unless he believed in what he was doing. It was time for my dad to trust in God through Jesus. Perhaps it’s time for you also?

Alan Comfort, Rector

Being Remembered

This morning I managed to phone someone I hadn’t intended to ring. Having whizzed through the addresses in my phone, I dialled a different person to the one I expected. You can imagine the surprise when I heard a very different voice answer my call. I bluffed my way through the early part of the call giving the impression I had phoned to see how they were when the truth was anything but. They thanked me for remembering them. I hadn’t, but I was so glad to have made that mistaken call. Being remembered is very important isn’t it?

Churches are very special places for many reasons and remembering and being remembered is certainly one of them. I know many of you inside and outside the church care and support one another by visiting and keeping in touch. This is an often unrecognised ministry, but I want to encourage you to keep on remembering and caring. However, it is possible for some people to be missed when the remembering is most needed. With this in mind, St. Mary’s are setting up a ‘Visiting Team’. This small team will be tasked with the ‘remembering’ of our church family and wider community, that no one need feel uncared for or forgotten. The team will be co-led by trusted people in the church; Gwen Duckitt a Reader in the Benefice, and Jacqui Plummer the wife of one of our Churchwardens. The one distinctive of these visits will be a short prayer at the end to invite God to be with those being visited. I do hope you will be encouraged as you read this, and if you know of anyone who would benefit from a visit, or you yourself would value someone coming to see you, please contact or 01920 318864. This small team will be commissioned at St. Mary’s on Sunday 25th October at our 10.45am Service.

Perhaps I can continue with the theme of remembering for a moment longer. Losing a loved one is a devastating life event that changes us forever. We as a church realise we have an important part to play in helping those who grieve and one of the ways we do this is by holding an annual Service of Memories taking place this year at St. Mary’s on Sunday 1st November at 3pm. May I invite anyone who has lost a loved one to come, and confirm we will remember your loved one by name during this special service. Beyond this service, we have also invited Stephne Whittles on behalf of the church, to offer bereavement support to those who have recently lost loved ones. Stephne has had many years experience in this work with Isabel Hospice and will also be commissioned for this role on 25th October.

Alan Comfort, Rector

Summer and the Future

I’ve had an unusually good summer break, wonderfully relaxed, with precious thinking space to look back over our first year in the benefice and ask ‘what’s next’. Are you the kind of person who thinks about the ‘what next’ in life? In our last parish we had a lovely couple who would carefully plan their ‘what next’ each year. Last year they learnt a new language, and took dance lessons together. Jill would certainly be shocked if I told her we’re starting Salsa dancing on Wednesday nights this coming September! Well, I’m not encouraging you to take up dance but I am encouraging you to think about your faith in God. If you’re not sure what a faith in God is all about then why not join our Alpha Course that starts on Tuesday 22nd September. Ten weeks to ask your questions as we look at the central beliefs of the Christian faith. These are always excellent groups and often life changing for some people. (contact to find out more or book a place)

As a benefice we have an extraordinarily rich program of services and concerts. We believe our church worship offers the broadest range of styles to cater for everyone. Why not come and try a Sunday morning at St. Mary’s with our main services at 10.45am on the 2nd, 3rd & 4th Sundays? If you have smaller children we now run something called Messy Church at Roger de Clare School on Sundays at 4.45-6pm. This is great fun, starting with tea for all, crafts and games to work our theme through, and a short time of family worship to finish. We have games Sundays with rounders and football and Party Sundays with lots of party games. This is the best fun ever and a great introduction to church and the christian faith if you have children. Why not join us on Sunday 6th September or when you can?

Our newest benefice venture starts on Sunday 20th September in the Community Centre. The VYC (Village Youth Club) is a very important addition to our area. We believe the young people in our villages are very fortunate to grow up in this area, but they still need opportunities to mature in safe and exciting ways. We have an experienced youth worker (Luke Lowrie) heading this up for us, with a really exciting programme plus a weekend away. This will be brilliant, so if you have a 10-16 year old in your house tell them about it and give it a go. There will be the option each week for the young people to think about the christian faith in relevant ways. We think this could make a huge difference to them which sounds like a great September plan.

Alan Comfort, Rector