Pastoral Letter for March

Primroses are in bloom all over the garden and in the lanes around.’ So writes the Gardening expert in our Saturday paper this week. Here at the Vicarage the primroses certainly arrived early, a foretaste of spring after a long, wet winter.

Some years ago the same ‘Gardening expert’ paid a surprise visit to the Vicarage garden where we were tenants. She had decided to take up a ‘reader’s question’ we had submitted – 3 years before – which we had quite forgotten. I was away on a training course in Hampshire, so Diana had to field the visit, as the expert drove up from Dorset, following a phone call.
Now if this had been Rowley, we’d have had no need to write to a newspaper for advice. In our church are experts on vegetables, roses, lawns, composting. Even I have learned some skills that make a difference!
When I rang home, asking how the visit went, I was relieved, at least until I was told a photographer was coming later that week to take a family photograph in the garden. Sure enough, a week later, our garden – quite a lot of it bog and brambles featured in the Saturday edition.

“How about keeping hens,” was one letter we received.

The visit and the article did have an effect. I hadn’t actually met the ‘Gardening Expert’ first hand, but I sensed she could make a difference: –
First she had ideas. In her mind she could see what out garden could become if we drained it, reclaimed the borders from the brambles, and got on top of the vegetation. Her first effect on us then was a vision of what it might be.

Secondly, her gardening articles always include, ‘This week’s work’-(Jobs to be done). As I write, her advice, with the ground wet to sow anything outside, is to start off and nurture seedlings, such as broad beans, peas, salad crops and herbs.

Thirdly, she gave us the confidence to try new things in our garden; welcoming new trees and plants; clearing spaces, doing things differently (or in our case to stop neglecting them completely!)
As we draw near to Easter, the most important celebration of the Christian Year. I’m struck with the parallels of the Garden Expert and the Risen Christ. Many especially St Paul never actually met, Jesus in the flesh, like me and the garden expert, they heard second hand from others. But there was an effect:

The early Christian Family (probably few, and not wealthy and with little experience of travel, were given a Vision that was global.
“Go and make disciple of all nations, I am with you.” Little did they guess that Christianity would spread as it did, and transform so many places, so many lives
Secondly, the Church at its best has seen the wisdom of preparing for the future. Nurturing the delicate seedlings of faith, of potential ministry, of leadership. (A very good local training scheme is the 3D Course – a year long, weekly group with the aim of helping people grow in faith.

Thirdly, we shouldn’t be frightened. We have the promise of Jesus to be with us – we shouldn’t be frightened of taking risks, and trying new ventures. Especially in our contacts with those under represented in church life; children, young adults, young families. At some point we need the confidence to trust those who might be God’s new gifts to us, now and in the future.

For some, a garden can be a worry (and our churchyard has been for us in years past) Not everyone can give the time and attention to create a beautiful place, that especially in spring, lifts the heart.

God has entrusted us, has given Jesus for us. May Easter bring us vision, encourage us to nurture, and never to be afraid of allowing new things to flourish here at St Giles.
Let’s get to work!

Revd Canon Ian Shelton

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Lent From A Mouse Perspective

What is Lent for?

Compilers of Church Magazines are asked all sorts of tricky questions.

So I asked the Muse, who raised an elegant eyebrow and suggested I ask Rosy Mouse.

I pulled on boots, scarf and gloves and ventured down the middle path to the ‘Mouse-Hole’ – which all our readers know, is near (cannot publish exact location for Mouse Security reasons) the Celtic Cross at the bottom of the churchyard.

We had frost overnight, the air is clean and sharp, the sky an amazing blue, little pockets of Snowdrops everywhere, a good day to be alive and Rosy is Spring cleaning with her twig broom and pleased to have a chat.

‘Well,” she said, and I must ask you to bear in mind that Rosy, small mouse-mother that she is, spends most of her day thinking of food for her 14 children.

‘Well, I think, God always intended for us and Himself to be kind of like a big Swiss Roll, all wrapped up together, and sort of delicious, full of sweet goodness, so that it’s hard to say which tastes better sponge or cake, it’s just perfect together.’ Her little eyes became quite glazed over at this point….

‘And it’s like when the children are learning to walk, they’re so happy toddling along, holding Daddy’s hand, Fred (Mr Mouse to you) gets quite wrapped up with them, and it’s the same for them. Doesn’t last though, mice-lets and small people-persons like their independence, and can’t grow up fast enough, they let go Daddy’s hand and that’s when the fun and falls start. What’s important for us to know is that when we fall Daddy is around to help us up’

‘I think that’s what Lent is for, remembering that God wants to help us up and help us to pick up the pieces, and sort out the mess.’

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The smallest sin is a fall, and a fall is a fall from God, and to fall from God is to fall the greatest height in the universe.
(From a Mirror Set at the Right Angle: Henry Drummond)

Who am I?

I am Jean, the girl, (not so young a girl) who has the pleasure and privilege of compiling her Church Magazine.

My church is a Church of England Parish Church named for St Giles of Provence, but known for miles around as ‘Rowley Church’ – Rowley Village has long since been swallowed up and pretty much all of our historical buildings have simply disappeared. A fact noted by a visiting archaeologist – who asked.

‘Where has a 1,000 years of history gone?”

In the case of the church, and burials once made within its walls. The answer is probably ‘right under our feet, waiting to be discovered again.’ Rather like Richard II’s body was in a Leicestershire car park

What the Magazine try’s to do is to keep people informed on what Worship services, Meetings are scheduled, report on events as they happen, entertain and encourage people to try their hand at writing, That encouraging bit is the bit I have most trouble with. Folk mostly seem to underestimate their abilities.

‘Rowley has talent,’ – was the name given to a day, when anyone, from s hook children to the retired were invited to come do a 15 minute slot. We had Singers, Choirs, . Musicians, Dancers, Crafts Demonstrated … a wonderful day … Which tells you, why I began ‘Tides and Tidings Blog – I am proud of my church, town and neighbours and would like to share a little of what they do, with the world.

By taking part in the 101 course, I hope to improve my personal skills to do just that.