From The Rev’d Gareth Miller – December 2020

Brian Wood

The Rev’d Gareth Miller

Dear friends

I’ve never been one for camping. Too many memories of soggy weeks in Cornwall. Yet for many on earth today a tent, or even a flimsy piece of plastic, is their only home.

At Christmas we are reminded that God ‘dwelt among us’.  Now ‘dwelt’ has a nice, cosy, slightly old-fashioned ring to it. What the text actually says is that God ‘pitched his tent among us’.  The verb that John uses takes us back to Old Testament stories of the God who chose to share the itinerant life of his nomadic people.

The pandemic of 2020 has deepened our awareness of the fragility and provisionality of human life. We are all nomads here on earth, though most of us are lucky enough to have somewhere fairly firm to pitch our tents. On Christmas Day we often read the Letter to the Hebrews, which reminds us that we are all strangers and foreigners here on earth, bedouin or perhaps migrants in search of a better home. That ‘homelessness’, far from depriving us of our humanity, constitutes it. Hebrews encourages us to ‘lay aside every weight’ in order to be freer for the journey.

I hope that in 2021 we will all be able to move on. Move on from the pandemic, of course, but move on spiritually too. If we have learned anything this year, it is to count our blessings, to cherish our loved ones, to value each day, and to rely less on our material wealth. So let’s move forward, with faith in the future, and with faith in Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13.8).  As someone once said, “If God had wanted us to stay in the same place he would have given us roots, not legs.”

Gareth
akemanbenefice@gmail.com

01869 350224

Benefice Bugle November 2020

Please “click” on the link below to read the full Bugle…

Benefice Bugle November 2020

 

Benefice Bugle October 2020

Please “click” on the link below to read the full Bugle…

Benefice Bugle October 2020

 

From The Rev’d Nick Ktorides – November 2020

Well, time flies, as they say. With autumn or the ‘fall’, the earth’s natural decomposing – self fertilisation, is the order of the day. The seasons, distinct one from another, come faithfully, cyclically and annually around, followed by the migrating birds that come and go along with them.  And it’s this continual change happening all around us, (and looking in the mirror, unfortunately to us) that flies, rather than time itself.

I was struck by John Betjeman’s ‘Harvest Hymn’, a re-telling of ‘We plough the fields and scatter’:

We spray the fields and scatter
the poison on the ground,
So that no wicked wild flowers
Upon our farm be found.
We like whatever helps us
To line our purse with pence;
The twenty-four hour broiler-house
And neat electric fence…

And in place of ‘All good gifts around us, are sent from heaven above,’ JB’s chorus has become:

All concrete sheds around us

And Jaguars in the yard….are from our working hard.

While a tad cynical, I think the late Poet Laureate strikes a cautionary note, not with farmers who dirty their hands through working the land, but with the Big corporations and Big business. Many of these conglomerates have thrown out the idea of the wise stewardship of the earth and its valuable resources. These are often replaced with profit-driven genetically engineered foods, crops and agrochemicals. These, the evidence appears to show, are to the detriment of the earth and to its poorest communities.

Whether we have the all-knowing wisdom of a creator God or the wisdom inherent in millions of years evolution in mind, it seems foolhardy and dangerous to try to better such wisdom. Introducing genetically-modified foods appears to be part of an agenda, to play at being God. Today’s agricultural pesticides are, I understand, designed to kill all living things except crops that have been genetically modified to withstand them.

In these times of increasing food insecurity, let’s heed the concerns of JB’s hymn and return to the time-proven cycles of nature and away from the vicious cycle of large-scale industrial agriculture. And in so doing be enabled to return to the hymn’s original sentiments – “All good gifts around us, are sent from heaven above; then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord. for all his love”.

Nick Ktorides

From The Rev’d Nick Ktorides – September 2020

It’s now six months since Shuba and I moved into the lovely village of Chesterton. It seems somewhat surreal looking back at the April magazine article announcing the appointment of a new priest!

My licensing, scheduled for the 2nd April, did happen right on time. But due to the lockdown a few days before, it was a virtual licensing, conducted on-line, rather than in church.

I wonder if it was the first ‘virtual’ (computer-generated) licensing in history? Anyway, hurray for the technology that made it possible! I’m perceiving an explosion in a science fiction-like, computer-driven, new world order, where the science of algorithms, robotics and AI are deified.

It somehow brings Red Dwarf (the Sci-fi comedy with the robot Kryten) to mind. In one episode ‘DNA’ Kryten is transformed into a trans-human, when DNA from his part-organic brain is used to alter his entire molecular structure. Not to mention the computer-generated Hologram that was Rimmer. Rimmer was the only member of the crew who believed the ‘H’ on his forehead stood for human.

The analogy here is strictly between Red Dwarf and our technological age. Since my licensing I’ve only been seen on a computer screen (for our on-line Zoom services). But the evidence is only circumstantial – I’m not a virtual computer-generated holographic priest, honest. There’s no ‘H P’ on my forehead to start with – check out my picture!

Anyway, despite my on-line computer licensing, it was conducted by the very real and Right Reverend Colin Fletcher and Archdeacon Judy. I’m a real flesh and blood person and priest.

Do forgive this frivolous caricature of this difficult time of lockdown and shielding that we are all going through – just a bit of stress relief!

More seriously, it’s important to remind ourselves in this technological age (where our old friend cash is becoming rarer and where we need a password to do our banking, shopping and communicating), that people are real, physical, flesh and blood. Technology has its benefits for sure. But we need the comfort that only real human contact and fellowship bring, not just an image of one another on a computer screen. That’s been the case since creation, when God made us in His own triune image – fellowship is at our core – it’s in our God-given DNA.

So, yes, let’s stay safe and well, but also seek appropriate ways to limit our isolation, limit our fear and build up a healthy immunity and community.

Nick Ktorides

Benefice Bugle Sep 2020

No. 3 September 2020

Please, have a look… lots of interesting info…

The first two pages contain the Vital Information about services and contact details.

Do print out them out for anyone you know who is not on computer.

The following pages contain lots of news and views so we hope you enjoy them!

Benefice
Bugle!

Benefice Bugle Sep 2020 final

To All Church of England Clergy

PRAYERS and SUPPORT

PRAYERS and SUPPORT during the coronavirus crisis

Please click on this link to find a message from The Archbishop of Canterbury:

https://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/speaking-writing/articles/message-archbishop-justin-welby-responding-coronavirus

Please click on this link to find prayers for use during the current crisis:

https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/coronavirus-liturgy-and-prayer-resources

If you have access to the internet you can find Daily Prayer here:

https://www.churchofengland.org/prayer-and-worship/join-us-service-daily-prayer

This is updated daily. Neighbours and family may care to print these off for those who do not have internet access. It is also available as an app.

Every day on Radio 4 Long Wave the BBC broadcasts the Daily Service at 9.45 am.
Also available on DAB:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006wzfs

Every Wednesday on Radio 3 the BBC broadcasts Choral Evensong at 3.30 pm
(repeated on Sundays at 3.00 pm).  Also available on DAB:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006tp7r

The Scripture Union and Bible Reading Fellowship provide helpful booklets with daily readings. These can be bought online.

The Church of England https://www.churchofengland.org/

and

The Diocese of Oxford https://www.oxford.anglican.org/

publish regular updates on the coronavirus situation.

 

 

Please find overleaf a few prayers which may be of help to those spending time at home….

 

Prayers in time of need

 

A prayer for help

O Lord my God, you are my refuge and my strength. You are my ever-present help in times of trouble. When it seems like the world is crumbling around me and I am thrown around by the storms of life, take away my fear. When I am weak, you are my strength. When I am vulnerable, you are my refuge. When I cry for help, you will answer. Remind me, Lord, that you are always with me and will never leave or forsake me. I ask this through Christ my Lord. Amen.

A prayer for calm

Eternal Father, you know my past, present and future; nothing is unknown to you. When I worry about what is ahead of me, please calm my fears with the knowledge that you go before me. I will never be alone because you will always be with me. You have promised that you will not fail me or forsake me and you are faithful to keep all your promises. Take away my fear and replace it with faith in your unending love, shown to me in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A prayer for those who are ill

Lord God, whose Son, Jesus Christ, understood people’s fear and pain before they spoke of them; we pray for those who are unwell at home or in hospital; surround the frightened with your tenderness; give strength to those in pain; hold the weak in your arms of love, and give hope and patience to those who are recovering; we ask this through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

A morning prayer

Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you that you have brought us safely to the beginning of this day; keep us from falling into sin or running into danger, and guide us to do always what is right in your eyes; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

An evening prayer

Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through the silent hours of this night, that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this fleeting world may repose upon your eternal changelessness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A Prayer of St Patrick

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

Journey of the Magi

A Christmas entertainment based on the poem by T. S. Eliot, performed by the Springs Dance Company in St Mary’s Church, Kirtlington, on Friday 29th November 2019

Eliot’s ‘Journey of the Magi’ has always struck me as a somewhat sombre poem, with none of the expected rejoicing at finding the right place at the end of their journey and bearing witness to a miraculous birth, but the quiet conclusion that ‘it was (you may say) satisfactory’. And then the birth itself could not be simply celebrated, containing as it did knowledge of the cruel death to follow. How could such a work be transformed into an engaging, witty, hugely inventive, and energetic dance? The work was first devised in 1997 and has been through various adaptations since as it is performed in churches around the country in the run-up to Christmas. The primary leap of the creators’ imagination was to see it as possible to weave Eliot’s poem in and out of more familiar modern experiences of the festive season: starting with an evocation of the magic of snow, then shopping, partying, an interlude of pure pantomime at the beginning of the second half, decorations and present-giving on Christmas morning. Each small element of the whole was accompanied by appropriate and wonderfully varied music, from Chopin to Gershwin and Cole Porter, Saint-Saens, John Williams and the glorious twelfth-century Hildegard Von Bingen, interspersed with pure pop. It was all performed with gusto by the cast of four dancers, who changed outfits and character deftly through their facial expressions and body language. One of my own favourite moments was when the three women dancers appeared ‘riding’ hobby-horse camels, with their faces capturing the haughty expressions we associate with these creatures. It was all lively, infectiously entertaining, accessible to both children and those who knew nothing of Eliot, although the poem was helpfully printed in the programme. For me, the great achievement of the whole was that, for all its light-hearted fun, it never lost sight of the underlying mood of Eliot’s poem. There were two moments in particular that drew a gasp from the audience as they were so unexpected: the Christmas presents unwrapped and distributed looked both ordinary and not particularly welcome to their recipients: a doll for the central couple’s daughter, a hockey stick, a comic soft toy sheep. Then suddenly they appeared arranged as a tableau of the nativity scene, with the doll in a cradle, the stick now a shepherd’s crook and the sheep beside the manger. The other moment came at the end when a fine piece of dancing ended with the dancer emulating a figure on a cross, arms outstretched, head bowed. But, while this essential thread of the Christian story was woven through the whole piece, it was presented with the lightest touch. The essential message of the work seemed to me to be that life should be celebrated and enjoyed to the full, especially in the company of others, in multiple ways, including art, music and dance, but awareness of darker aspects of the human experience, deprivation, pain and suffering, should never be forgotten but serve to enhance all that is most valuable in human interaction. That said, what characterised the whole was its sense of fun and we all left with smiles on our faces and feet that twitched to join the dance.

 

Celia Hawkesworth

 

Lamb Ale Service – 2019

Lamb Ale Service

Kirtlington Sunday 16 June service at 1045.