l wonder if others teel, like me, the keen sense of the change of the seasons at this time of year. The Christian calendar recognises this movement trom light towards darkness with All Hallows and All Souls Day as the dead are remembered. This has become the present-day Halloween, when all things ghostly and scary are enacted as a way to convince ourselves that we have power over the dark.
I personally love the Autumn and relish the cooler days and misty mornings. For others it is a time of sadness, and the approaching winter is something they dread. It doesn't really matter that we have different views because, for better or worse, the Autumn is a reality, and as such worth creating rituals and ceremonies to acknowledge our connection with the earth’s iourney around the sun.
This month we are celebrating and giving thanks tor the harvest, the harvest of the whole earth, with a challenge to you all to make it an Organic October and to change the way you shop by avoiding the supermarkets and buying locally. And the best place to get great value organic food is St Mary's Market. Look out for Harvest Festivals in all the churches across the benetice.
We are also holding All Souls services on Sunday 31st in the evening, 4pm at St Helen‘s and 6pm at St Mary’s. These are quiet services when we remember those who have died in the past year and invite you all to come and light a candle tor those you have loved and lost in any year.
In our thoughts for the future, I have spoken of the importance of our church buildings as symbols of spiritual Hope. Alongside that we are also passionate about ensuring that the rituals and gatherings we hold in them are meaningtul and beautitul. As the darker days approach, we gather to say thank you tor the summer and the harvest and also give thanks for the lives of those who have died - and as I write, the bird outside the window sings an autumn song; there is hope still.
PS... Exciting news, hot off the press for St Peter's Seaview... we are looking at last to renew the plaster and paint on the East wall in the chancel. Sorry it has taken so long, our beautitul church will soon be shining again.
Canon Hugh Wright, Vicar of St Catherine’s and Holy Trinity, Ventnor, and Rector of St Boniface’s, Bonchurch, has written a great article for Church Times about the Church's need to wake up to its place in an increasingly secular society.
As we emerge from lockdown, so the Church of England, along with so many organisations and businesses, is reviewing its structures and way of being in the world. We are being asked on our Parochial Church Councils to think about our Vision, our Mission and our Strategies. More simply, who are we and what are we trying to do?
I start with a thought, a sad vision of our towns, villages and country-side without churches; without open, dedicated, sacred spaces to creep into when life is hard, to light a candle or ask for the blessing of a child or a relationship, or to grieve the dead. The bulldozed church is no longer there to remind us that life is not iust about material goods; and is it really likely that some other beautiful space, dedicated to the mystical journey of our souls, will ever be built again?
So for me the Church is the building... your church, for it belongs to everyone in the Parish, whatever religion, culture or creed, it belongs to you.
I have a hopeful vision of a place where loving everyone, even our enemies, is preached and taught. Because for me the church is a place where great leaders through the ages have arisen to speak out for peace and reconciliation. They have also called for change and the tearing down of unjust structures in society, they have defended the weak and cared for the suffering.
The church holds no exclusive rights to this human capacity for selfless love, but it does encourage it, applaud it and teach it. It is also a place for unconditional forgiveness and the possibility for every person to change.
So the church for me is a community and a structure that is an encouragement to be better than I am and the best I can be,following others and inspired by Jesus’ teachings and life.
We would love to know what you think: ‘What is the church for you?‘
I've now been retired much longer than any post I've held in my working life.
Before that, after school I did my National Service in the Fleet Air Arm, worked as a Clerk in the Metropolitan Water Board, started training, but failed my exams, and was out of college for 3 years, earning my living, in a variety of iobs for a while before being allowed to resume my training at St Aidan’s College in Birkenhead in I959, where this time I successfully passed my exams and was ordained in Leicester.
In both my colleges, many of us students conjectured that the Church of England went to considerable trouble and expense to transform ordinary people like us, whom God had mysteriously chosen to become his priests, into ‘gentIemen', thus separating us very efficiently from our future parishioners with disastrous results.
I did, however, greatly enioy learning as much as I could about the Church’s Liturgy (the round of worship, particularly the Sunday Services} and the sacraments like Baptisms, Weddings and so on. They're all covered by that word ‘liturgy’ .
That word was not an English word at all. It is a word used by the ancient Greeks (the ones we say who invented democracy), and to them it meant the responsibilities that belonged to every man who was a citizen, and they would have been puzzled by any idea that their liturgy did not cover matters of faith and belief. Of course it didn’t apply to women and slaves: they simply didn't have those sorts of rights or responsibilities - so much for democracy.
The Church took over the word liturgy to describe our relationship with God. Because God created us as spiritual beings in a body of flesh, every person performs their liturgy by being themselves.
Every human being is created in the image and likeness of God - yes, God chooses women and slaves and every body - men too.