LETTER FROM THE VICARAGE
On this page we reproduce the monthly letter from our Vicar (or occasionally from our Licensed Reader Janice Taylor) as it appears in our parish magazine, the Parish News.
Letter from the vicarage
FROM THE VICARAGE - SEPTEMBER 2018
What extraordinary weather we've had this year!
I hesitate to call it 'amazing' as I know many of you have struggled with the excessive heat, and of course our farmers are now facing real concerns due to the lack of rain during the summer. I couldn't quite believe my eyes when I saw the first trailer piled high with straw bales passing by the Vicarage in mid-July, way earlier than it should have been. It is not often that we pray for rain in August but I must admit I have been. I had been doing so in July as well and then realised my fatal flaw when it came to our Open Garden at Whithurst Park!
What a wonderful afternoon that was – and weren't we lucky with the weather. If you recall, following the rumbles of thunder as we set up on the Friday, the day dawned bright and sunny but thankfully not too hot. Then the heavens opened the following day. They do say 'be careful what you pray for'!!
The August magazine had gone to press by the time we had our Open Garden so I would like to take this opportunity to thank Richard and Rick for welcoming us into their beautiful grounds and stunning walled garden and to their 'staff' who could not have been more helpful, to the brilliant home team for all their hard work in organising and running the event, and to everyone who came along and made the afternoon such a wonderfully happy community time that we had hoped it would be. And joyously we managed to raise a goodly amount for our parish churches too. So thank you.
As I sit here, tapping away at the laptop, the sweltering heat has finally broken so it's not so hard to imagine the cooler days of September when our youngsters return to school to start a new year. Our eldest granddaughter is starting school this year and is very excited about it. Our youngest is also starting playschool and was equally excited about going for a trial session. Nanny had to be shown the pictures of her sporting her new rucksack from every angle as she prepared for her great adventure. Trouble was the session only lasted half an hour before Mummy had to be called in because she was inconsolable. Oh dear!
The start of the school year is a busy time for families. It is always greeted with a sigh – either out of relief or dread of the rushed mornings ... There will always be something new to face which some will find exciting but others will not. So our thoughts and prayers are with all our young people and their families as they settle into the new school year, especially those who are starting school for the first time or changing schools. But hopefully you will have all had a chance to enjoy the summer break – without too much rain!
Rain is often a major feature of our time at New Wine, but not this year, for a change we even saw the sun. Stephen and I really enjoy this weeklong Christian festival of worship and teaching as it affords us a time to just 'be' and encounter God afresh in a different context to our amazing worship here each week.
New Wine is a very different expression of 'church'; the worship is charismatic using contemporary worship songs which flow into each other for as long as it takes, and not a service sheet in sight. There is also something very powerful and uplifting to be singing God's praises in a marquee of over six thousand people which allows you to abandon any inhibitions of 'correctness' and give yourself more fully shall we say (!) in joyous praise.
New Wine is also about the teaching, be that in the worship or in one of the many seminars you can choose from, which again was amazing. Each day there are over thirty different seminars to choose from at various times in the day. You may remember last year we brought back DVDs of the morning teaching in the main marquee with John Mark Comer which we shared with you. This year was equally amazing, we had Jo Saxton who looked at characters in the Bible and what encouragements we can learn from them, but as we have a busy autumn already, rather than doing her talks as a course, we'll pop them onto a CD for anyone who would like to hear them – they are well worth listening to. We'll let you know when they are available.
It is the combination of charismatic worship and teaching that Stephen and I find so encouraging to our faith journeys, but ... I liken going to New Wine as to stopping at the service station on a long motorway journey - it is good to stop and refresh ourselves from time to time but then we need to get back on the road because the road is where we need to be if we are to complete our journey.
New Wine is great and we come back so encouraged and energised, we highly recommend it to you and would love to share the experience with as many of you who would like to join us, but we couldn't live with it for more than a week. It is our 'service station' not our road. Our road is here with you, worshipping together and growing in Christ in a loving gentle (and liturgical) way.
We all need 'service stations' to help us keep going on the road. The thought of New Wine may turn you cold, so think of what would be a good and refreshing 'service station' for you. Just as holidays refresh the body so these 'service stations' refresh the soul.
We've already booked our 'service station' for next year - Saturday 27th July - Saturday 3rd August. Next year New Wine is moving to Peterborough at the East of England Showground. Most people camp (okay we cheat we take our caravan), if you don't have a tent or van you can hire a caravan which they set up for you, or you can book into a B&B nearby and come in daily. You don't have to do the whole week, you can attend for as many day's as you like. If you are interested I can add you to our booking so we all camp in the same 'village' and we can take our event shelter so we have a communal space, but we each do our own thing and join in as much as we want to. Fancy joining us .... ?
Or do you have a different 'service station' you find equally refreshing? It doesn't have to be a weeklong event, it could be a place you go for a day or two - please do tell us about it, and how has it inspired and encouraged you. Wouldn't it be good to have a recommended 'service station' slot in the magazine from time to time so we can share ways of energizing our faith journeys.
To coin a phrase 'it's all about Jesus'!
'Service stations' are there to encourage us to keep going, to help us be energized in our faith journeys – to bring us into an even deeper loving relationship with Jesus. That doesn't mean we're always on a 'high' about our faith. Being energized is also about hearing the still small voice of calm. It's about encountering Jesus in the ups as well as the downs of our journeys. Because when we are energized, we are better able to know him more clearly, love him more dearly, and follow him more nearly – and know in a very real way that he walks with us every step of our 'road' through life.