A monthly letter
It is very strange writing 2018 for the first time. First of all, thank you for all the lovely Christmas cards. I love enjoying them hung from a ribbon with tiny gold and silver pegs. I feel quite sad when the decorations come down on Twelfth Night. I then get out the hyacinth bulbs which have been under the stairs and am reminded of the coming of Spring and longer days. This leads us to Easter and the celebration of more hope as we remember the Resurrection of Jesus.
The New Year brings in the last of the Twelve Days of Christmas, the First Sunday of Christmas and then four Sundays of Epiphany. At the Feast of Epiphany, 6th January, we remember the Magi or Wise Men coming to greet the Christ child. I have had lots of cards this year depicting the Wise Men. This will be celebrated with an Epiphany Carol Service with the Benefice Choir, to be held in Mudford at 4pm on Sunday 7th January.
The next important date in January is Sunday 21st when the Benefice Project for 2017 is officially ended. Mike and Kersten Wakely from Starfish Asia will be coming to tell us how the money has been used. Starfish Asia is a registered charity which seeks to bring Education and Hope to the poorest children in Pakistan. Lots of fund raising activities have been going on across the Benefice and our target of £1500 has more then been doubled. I think the fact that we have been kept informed of how exactly the money is used makes a big difference and when you know money is not going into administration. A little money spent in Pakistan goes a long way. A Big Thank You to all who have made the Benefice Project of 2017 such a success.
I wish you all a very Happy and Peaceful New Year of 2018
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Christmas Carol Services are the best attended services in churches and cathedrals. Cathedral services are also growing steadily in the numbers of people who attend them. Wells Cathedral is the patron of some of our churches and the new dean is keen to foster links with these parishes. Recently some of us went to a Cathedrals Day in Wells and the Dean came to us for a Reformation Evensong. Cathedrals act as kind of "mother" church for all the churches in the Diocese. They also usually have a Lady Chapel dedicated to St Mary who naturally is often part of our carols. Three of our churches are dedicated to St Mary the Virgin; Marson Magna even has a Lady Chapel. Our glossy new guide book describes this as being built in the 15th century or Perpendicular period of architecture. In a niche in one comer is a beautiful statue of Mary looking down at the Christ child cradled in her arms. Having recently had Remembrance, it is interesting to know that this statue was salvaged from a London church severely damaged as a result of bombing in the Second World War.
All our churches in the Benefice have Carol Services by candlelight. We can manage this as there is no special day for such a service in the Christmas season. When it comes to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day having a service in every church is not possible but, whatever time and type of service you like, there will be one somewhere in our Benefice, be it Midnight Communion, Christingle or a Crib, both of which are enjoyable for families. All our Medieval churches are beautiful anyway but at Christmas even more so. Everyone one is welcome to come and celebrate the birth of Jesus and all the services will have carols.
November brings us to the season of Remembrance. On the 5th November we remember those we know who have died, in the service of All Souls at Mudford, with the lighting of candles and the reading out of their names.
The following week we have Remembrance Sunday when we remember those who have lost their lives in war.
I went to Stourhead recently on my own for the first time, and found that here is a wonderful safe place to walk in peace. Stourhead has, in these years when we remember the First World War, highlighted the life of Harry Hoare. His parents had inherited the estate in a rundown state at the turn of the century. They wanted to return it to its former glory and open it up for the enjoyment of others. World War 1 put an end to this with Sir Henry Hoare being made responsible for finding horses for military use. His wife Alda opened up the house and estate for soldiers recuperating from their injuries at a nearby military hospital. A lot of the information about the War years comes first hand from Alda's diaries. When war broke out 121 local men joined up and in the first twelve months 16 were killed.
Young Harry Hoare served with the Dorset Yeomanry in France, Gallipoli and Palestine. In November 1917 he was fatally wounded and died at 29. His parents received the news on Christmas Eve. The Mere magazine recorded his death along with that of Trooper Norman Harding, both noted as only sons and only children.
Sir Henry and Lady Hoare dedicated the 20s and 30s to opening up the estate to the public and in 1946 it was given to the National Trust.
Back to my peaceful walk. I was side tracked into following signs to sculptures depicting the Gallipoli campaign. I managed to get lost and muddy, met no-
Three funerals happened in the week before I went away, and I am reminded of the changelessness of the love of God for everything He has made.
Sunday 5th November Service of All Souls 4pm Mudford followed by tea.
Sunday 12th November Services of Remembrance 10.45am
Marston Magna Churchyard.
As you all know the Churchyard has not been mowed by our contractor for a very long time and is giving us all a great deal of heartache to seeing it look so overgrown. This is not for want of trying to remedy the situation. Contact by phone, letter, e-
While I am speaking of the Churchyard, this year brought two lovely weddings to our Church. Sadly, the second was spoilt by animals. The first crisis was brought about by a loose cow, but the event happened before the bride arrived and was dealt with. The other happened to a wedding guest who trod in what a dog had left behind and its owner had not cleared it up. We are happy for dogs to come into the Churchyard on a lead, but please think of those who also want to use it without spoiling their shoes.