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,
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.
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.
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
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.
I am watching the Covid update as I write this and have made the decision that our regular Sunday services will not be happening in January.
We will be reviewing this decision in the next few weeks but given the present steep rise in cases (for the first time) on the IOW we would like to show our love for you all, and for our wonderful volunteers who prepare the services for you, by not putting you at risk. We have been given the authority by the Bishop to make local decisions on this and this is what seems most relevant to the Haven Benefice. The churches remain open for private prayer and I would like to thank all the people who help this to happen.
This is a dark month, and a hard one for many. Be assured that we will be available at all times for you, so call if you would like a chat or need anything during this Tier 4 lockdown. We continue to develop our pastoral response but do please bare with us as we work out how to do this safely.
At every turn of this pandemic we have been in new situations; in the initial lockdown our rates on the Island were very low but now there appears to be a more significant risk. As things change so do we, and we will be opening the Market in Brading in February with a new format and increasing our therapeutic and spiritual offering in line with the regulations as well. We are developing our outside spaces ready for spring and socially distanced gatherings as we continue to 'Do justly, seek mercy and walk humbly with our God', and look to a long term future for the church's witness in the world.
Many plans for our churches continue and we look forward to a year of hope as we take the best of what we have learnt; about caring for each other, community resilience and environmental responsibility and step into God's future together.
The following View from the Vicarage was written prior to the cancellation of the planned Outdoor Christmas Services.
The time of year when the church calendar seems most out of step with the world around it is Advent. In our present culture the time leading up to Christmas is seen as a time for shopping, partying and indulging while in the church, like Lent, it is a time of fasting and contemplation, for patient waiting.
Yesterday I witnessed another world or opposites while watching the news. As lock down is lifted there was a mad rush to get to the shops and the pervading wisdom is to get us all spending to ‘save the economy’. People queuing and leaving the shops laden with commodities, doing their duty as consumers. The next item was the UN secretary general and Sir David Attenborough explaining the realities of our global warming and the need to reduce carbon emissions drastically as they showed scenes of forest fires and hurricanes. It is shocking that there was no comment and no link between the two pieces, no recognition that rampant consumption is the problem causing the depletions of the worlds resources, the waste of precious energy and mountains of rubbish.... and the solution is to stop shopping!
This year has once again seen Christians in America making a mockery of the faith and the scandals of the past continue to undermine peoples confidence in the church. But sometimes it is important to look at what the religion offers the world at this time and see that it has a deeper wisdom and spirituality that can heal and encourage. Advent offers just such a witness as it teaches us limitation, patience, stillness and peace. In a spiritual journey through Advent we learn that our true contentment and joy are found within us and in the gift of life that we have been given, we learn that the love of our neighbour and our God is truly all that we need. Christmas then becomes the celebration of life in all its fulness and of Hope for the future.
The services for Christmas are limited this year with carol singing only allowed outside but there are Christmas Eucharists and services leading up to Christmas as shown on the plan. There will also be two outside family Christmas services on Christmas Eve with a nativity at St Mary's Brading at 3pm and a Christmas Service in the garden at St Peter's Seaview at 4pm. There will be an Evening ‘Midnight Mass’ at 9pm at St Peter's and at St Mary's at 11.30pm and Christmas day services in St Mary's and St Peter's.
We will also be holding a Christmas market in the Eco Market in Brading church hall on the 12th December where we support a green economy by selling local crafts, sustainable hampers and preloved nearly new gifts.
In all this we continue to offer a welcome for all and look forward to a year of encouragement as we follow Jesus in his promise of the Kingdom of Love on earth.