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Drawing showing the extent of the Anglican Benefice of Seaview, St Helens, Brading & Yaverland on the Isle of Wight

Benefice Blog 2021

The Season of Goodwill

Peace on earth, Goodwill towards all peoples, the season of Love and Joy

Christmas is that time, it always has been. Last year our Christmas was shattered by COVID and the regulations on travel and gathering, but through it all brave attempts at community spirit and caring for each other lightened the season.

This year with the shops open, and the hospitality industry looking to recoup losses, it looks like a bumper year for a Christmas of consumption - but is that really what we want? If our houses and fridges are already full, do we really want more, or is there something else that we really need?

Our What's On magazine is growing and comes to those living  in the Haven Benefice free this winter as it wants to tell a different story about Christmas (and all the year); one in which people, not presents are the most important, and where community celebration and getting to know each other are the meaning of the season.

So many of the things that the church and community are doing are free. You can sing carols, go to concerts, talks and services; gathering inside and out, with the family and on your own, you will be welcome. The TV and central heating may be appealing, but this year, from Christmas nativity walks to visiting the community farm, from Santa in St Peter's Garden to planting trees in Nettlestone, the villages have safe outside tun for all the family.

As I write this  I remember that this Peace we are looking tor, for the whole world, is not something that iust happens, we have to make it happen. At War memorials across our parishes last month we pledged ourselves to be peacemakers and seekers after justice for all people.

Goodwill begins in our streets, our villages and our communities as we come out and meet each other and share our lives. As the years ahead look to be hard tor many people, and the long ripples of COVID meet the returning waves of climate and environmental destruction, it is the  strength of our shared lives that will once again bring us the lives we long for.

Peaceful and joyful. God Bless,

Ali

December 2021

The Future of the Planet

In the run up to COP26 in Glasgow, three leaders of the worldwide Christian church - Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop Justin Welby - urged everyone to play their part in ‘choosing life’ for the future of the planet.

ln a ioint statement they called on everyone, whatever their belief or worldview, ‘to listen to the cry of the earth and of  people who are poor, examining their behaviour and pledging meaningful sacrifices for the sake of the earth which God has given us.’

Their declaration warned that ‘today, we are paying the price’ and ‘tomorrow could be worse’. ‘Our children's future and the future of our common home depend on it.’

They said we are facing ‘the inevitable consequences of our actions, since we have greedily consumed more of the earth's resources than the planet can endure. But we also face a profound iniustice: the people bearing the most catastrophic consequences of these abuses are the poorest on the planet and have been the least responsible for causing them.‘

As our leaders go to discuss how the global drivers of destruction can be tackled, here on our Island we can come together and look at our own small patch of God-given earth and see how we can be stewards of a flourishing future. The archbishop and our new bishop have spoken passionately about the churches‘ role, and our Eco Church endeavours are helping us become fully in line with this priority.

From global to local to personal, great changes are being asked of us; and there are simple things we can do that have far reaching, positive results. Our churches are helping us to make these changes.

l. We can buy organic food... when we do this, we directly contribute to the nourishment of our soil and the biodiversity of the countryside (both on a local and global scale);
2. We can trade fairly with the worid... when we buy our food from local producers we know, or when we buy Fairtrade products, we encourage the best farming practices and ensure that people and the planet are nourished and supported;
3. We can reduce our plastic waste... when we limit our house-hold products, reduce our packaging and refill our containers, we help cut plastic pollution, one piece at a time.

Here in the benefice we have started to follow this, and people have already found the Market at St Mary’s Church (now called Level Land Larder) and become regular clients who shop, order and bulk-buy through us. As we use big-chain supermarkets less, protits go to the community farm rather than anonymous shareholders.

The Larder is not a conventional shop; it is a place tor gathering what we need to survive - the basics of lite. It is run by community volunteers and supported by Haven Eco Church - because the biggest single thing we can all do is ‘live simply’. This spiritual and life-changing discipline is at the heart of our churches’ message for this time.

Let‘s make a commitment and make a change. The Time is Now.

God Bless

Ali

November 2021

The Change of the Seasons

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.

God Bless,

Ali

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.

October 2021

The task: to strengthen the things that remain

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.

It can be accessed by using this lnk followed by clicking on Continue to Article.

Ali

4 September 2021

What is the church for me?

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?

On page 5 of our September 2021  Benefice News there is a short questionnaire which offers you the opportunity to tell us what you think; and here I offer what I think or, ‘What is the church for me?’

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?‘ 

God Bless,

Ali

September 2021

(It's not) The View from the Vicarage (this time)

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.

Revd Michael Taylor

August 2021

Open Invitation to a 'Country Wedding'

On Sunday August 1st the Archdeacon will be leading the 9.30am service at St Mary's Brading.

He will then be officiating at the wedding of Christy and Aleks at 11.00am and we would like to offer an open invitation to everyone who would like to partake in this happy occasion.

It is a 'country wedding' and part of our benefice and community so no special outfit needed, come as you are.

We trust you all to keep yourselves safe, and distance and 'bubble' as you see fit.

Ali 

20 July 2021

"Thought from the Vicar"

Sometimes a ‘Thought from the Vicar’ is easy and upbeat to write, sometimes it is harder; because sometimes life is harder. So I write this for those of you who, like me are waking today with a feeling of sadness, fear or meaninglessness. If you can’t find a reason to do the things you have to do today, if you can’t face doing that list of things that the day ahead and other people demand of you.

I think that for me these feelings are connected to this crazy covid time. The stop/start of our uncertain lives and the exhaustion of trying to keep the ‘show on the road’. I think it is because of the enormous disruption of the last year and now ‘getting back to normal‘ is being dangled in front of us. But maybe we do not want ‘normal’, maybe parts of lockdown life were beautiful; do you remember birdsong and walking and empty roads, maybe you enioyed home schooling or working from home was good for you. Everything is beginning so fast and I for one am exhausted and overwhelmed.

As I thought about this, I turned to the Bible reading for the day... Jesus said, ‘Why do you worry about what you wear and what you eat, why do you worry about wealth? You are more than clothes and food and material things, look first for the Kingdom of God.‘ Looking for the Kingdom of God, what is this, is it one more thing on our to do list?!

And then I remembered. The Kingdom of God is found in the moment, not in past pain or future difficulties. It is right now. It is this room, in my home, in the soft warmness of the Jack Russell that is snuggled beside me. The Kingdom of God is in the thankfulness for the breath in my body, in the glorious sensation of the warm water and bubbles as I do the washing up.

The Kingdom of God is knowing that the only person whose opinion of us matters is God’s, and God's opinion of us is that we are good enough and that we are unconditionally loved iust as we are.

I am still frightened of the day, weary and uninspired, but I have a voice in my head reminding me that each moment is a God given GIFT, and I know that thankfulness will work its magic and soon the clouds will pass,

God Bless,

Ali

PS: if life is tough for you, don’t be afraid to say something and you can call me or a member of the team anytime.

July 2021

Some Normality Returns

Welcome to you all as some normality returns.

As with so many things in our lives, the churches have been changed by the pandemic, there are new challenges and new opportunities, and new people stepping up to help. There is also consistency and a return to the rhythms of worship and prayer, and it is our great ioy to be able to gather again and rebuild our communities.

We have seen during the crisis that some of our ways of ‘being church’ were vulnerable, and during the last year we have worked hard to diversify our witness and look to be active in serving people all through the week. I have written about the Eco market, but we now also have a small farm at Brading open all week to the public, with pigs and goats. There will be more about this in months to come, but look out for the Level Land Farms signs. We have also been working hard in St Helen's graveyard and eagerly await the opening of the church.

St HeIen’s Church Reopening Celebration will hopefully be at the end of June - watch out for local advertisements to confirm the date and time. 

What I really want to say is that as the churches are open, they are more open than they have ever been, and we have a place for you to come and be part of the exciting proiects that we are building and the communities we are cherishing.

There is so much to do and be part of, from building habitats and planting trees to milking goats and laying concrete. There is history to cherish and display, and publishing, illustrating and textile art to enioy. There are herbal and felting workshops and spinning and weaving... And there are retreat days for quiet and contemplation. All this we do because we believe that people of all ages are talented and creative and in sharing our skills and working together, we glimpse a touch of what Jesus called the Kingdom of Heaven.

Come along and be part of something New... Txt me on 07500 007437 and we can talk.

God Bless

Ali

June 2021

St Mary's Market Reopens

Since the posting of this blog entry, the opening hours of St Mary's Market  have changed to Wednesday 10.30am - 2.00pm and Saturday 10.30am - 1.00pm 

St Mary's Market Reopens 1

I am happy to say that we have finished giving St Mary's Market a thorough makeover!

The Market will be reopening from next week onwards, on Tuesdays – Thursdays and Saturdays – 10:30am to 12:30pm. This is earlier than we originally planned, but we want to be ‘present’ during this lockdown – even if all you need from us is a friendly face and someone to talk sheep with – all covid-safe!

We are expanding our range to include Briddlesford Farm Dairy and Isle of Wight Tomatoes products, to go alongside our The Modern Kitchen Garden eggs. No veg at the moment due to…well, winter! A reminder that if you do grow veg on the island and would like to sell it through the Market, please get in touch! We are also looking to expand our wholesale goods, but need to know what is wanted in the shop.

If you have anything in particular you’d like to see at the Market, please send us a message. We’ll be restocking soon.

See you soon!

Ali
x

10 January 2021

St Mary's Market Reopens 2

St Mary's Market Reopens 3

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