A monthly letter
We have been blessed by unusually clement weather. The Royal Wedding was a wonderful, joyful service. We will have a wedding at Mudford Church this month and I am sure this will be a day to remember.
Weddings are becoming more fashionable according to one of my friends, who has four children in their twenties, not only have two of them been married in Churches but I hear their friends have been doing the same. Unusual, as I suspect most weddings are held at wedding venues rather than churches these day.
Looking at my book which includes The Marriage Service, it gives an excellent introduction as to what a marriage is. One of life's great moments, a time of solemn commitment as well as good wishes, feasting and joy. In St John's Gospel we hear how Jesus was invited to a wedding at Cana at the very beginning of his ministry. He was asked by his mother to get the family out of an embarrassing situation when the wine ran out. He gave a sign of new beginnings as he turned water into the best wine.
Marriage is intended by God as a creative relationship, and his blessing enables husband and wife to love and support each other in good times and bad, and to share in the care and upbringing of children. It is based upon a solemn, public and life-
On their wedding day the bride and bridegroom face each other, make promises to each other and receive God's blessing. When we are invited to a wedding, we are witnesses of the marriage and express our support by our presence and prayers. This does not end on the day but we should continue in our support and encouragement for the couple in the years ahead of them.
Here are some verses from a poem in St Paul's letter to the Corinthians in the New Testament, often chosen to be read at weddings, and poetry from the Song of Solomon in the Old Testament read at The Duke and Duchess of Sussex' wedding and to be read here at Mudford.
“Love is patient, love is kind, love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way, it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
“Set me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm;
for love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave,
its flashes are flashes of fire,
a raging flame.
Many waters cannot quench love,
neither can floods drown it.
If one offered for love
all the wealth of one's house,
it would be utterly scorned.”
Lent Holy Week and Easter
But what about Lent as we led up to Easter Day?
We held a Benefice Lent Study on the Psalms on four Tuesday evenings at Mudford Village Hall We just used the small hall, so it felt warm and we sat in a circle. It was very well attended with up to 20 people coming each week. Our four different speakers each spoke of different psalms in different ways with discussion. I think most of us found the evenings both interesting and helpful.
Thank you to our leaders and Mudford for their hospitality.
Benefice Palm Sunday
We held our first Benefice Palm Sunday Service. It began with the blessing of palm crosses at the junction of Home Farm Lane. Then a procession, following a delightful young donkey called Barwin, thanks to his owner Clare Ryall, who led him in the procession for the first time – he was too young last year. He really looked the part wearing a Middle Eastern saddle and bridle courtesy of Penny Copeland. At Church we had a reading of St Mark's story of the last week of Jesus' life, with various people reading the different parts. The Church was full including people and children from three parishes.
Benefice Maundy Thursday
This was held at Mudford. A service of the washing of feet and the institution of Holy Communion. Sadly, apart from one, only people from Mudford came.
Benefice Good Friday
We used Stations of the Cross at St Mary's Marston Magna as we have beautiful ceramic versions in the Church. Meditations came from the nuns of Turvey Abbey, Northamptonshire
I was very upset in the evening as I could not get out of Marston Magna to one of my favourite times of the year, Poetry and Music for Good Friday. All three roads out of Marston Magna were flooded. Having once got stuck in a flooded road I will never again try to cross unless I can see dry land! I hear as usual it was a very beautiful and thoughtful evening.
Benefice Holy Saturday Easter Liturgy and renewal of baptismal vows.
Another of my favourite services if not the favourite. It was the second time we had tried this but sadly only the people who had something to do or read came. The Pascal /Easter Candle was lit from a new fire symbolizing the resurrection of Christ. This candle is lit on each Sunday of Easter to remember the Resurrection. Maybe we will try this service again for a third time next year or I will have to go to St Michaels who do the service, as I did when I first came here.
Alleluia, Christ has risen. He is risen indeed, Alleluia.
Wonderful celebration of the most important day in the Church's Year. All very joyful occasions, with full churches, perhaps even more than Christmas.
What to come?
29th April Benefice Service at Ashington with the choir to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Zambia-
10th May Benefice Ascension Day Service at Chilton Cantelo 7pm and Thy Kingdom Come begins 10 Days of Prayer until Pentecost, the celebration of the coming of God's Holy Spirit.
20th May Day of Pentecost
I can still say Happy Easter to you all!
Rev'd Barbara Stanton
It can't be very often that Easter Sunday falls on April 1st, April Fool's Day. In some ways this is an appropriate title. In some eyes, the path Jesus took to be crucified would seem the path of a fool, yet he took that way for the sake of us all, to show God's great love for us. It reminds me of the familiar hymn ‘There is a green hill far away’. It is worth reading as it puts the message of Good Friday both simply and well.
If Christ was a fool, then followers of Christ have often been thought of as fools too. There is the expression “Fools for Christ”. St Paul says, in his first letter to the Corinthians, “We are fools for Christ's sake” and goes on to list the sufferings Christians have gone through. He also says “if there is any among you who fancies himself wise – wise I mean by the standards of this age -
The 20th Century artist and visionary, Cecil Collins, both painted and wrote about “fools,” some of his pictures can be seen in the Tate Gallery. I would describe them as a bit like a modern William Blake. He wrote something called “The vision of the Fool.” He says, “The fool does not see the world with delusional knowledge: rather he marvels; he looks with the eyes of a child.” The fool -
When I lived in Basingstoke, the Church of All Saints I went to, had a new east window commissioned from Cecil Collins' ideas of light, angels and sun. A play on the word Sun and Son -
Rev'd Barbara Stanton