Vicar's letter December 2018 / January 2019

This edition of the magazine spans two years and gives us the opportunity to look back over 2018 and forward to 2019.

The last year seems to have been overshadowed by uncertainty. Firstly, the uncertainty of the weather. A long cold winter followed by a very short spring and then the hot very dry summer. This of course was what had been predicted as an outcome of our changing climate, but it still comes as something of a shock. It certainly brings home the need to change some of our practices regarding emissions and to think about being much better stewards of the world. And then there has been the political uncertainty of Brexit which, as I write, an agreement is still to be reached on. I sometimes sit and ponder what sort of world we are giving to our grandchildren. Closer to home we have the retirement of Bishop Graham who has been a source of inspiration with his very human and caring approach to the Diocese of Norwich. I know his Christian Ministry has touched many people of all faiths or of none. His successor will not be known until well into next year, so we move into another period of uncertainty.


It may appear on the surface that 2018 was a miserable year but of course there have been many good things to reflect upon. The success of the Brooke Village Hall Café, the appointment of a new head at the school and I am sure you all have your own good memories, perhaps of holidays or special occasions such as weddings or birthdays.


Christmas will soon be upon us, and at that first Christmas things were also uncertain. Mary and Joseph lived in a country under Roman occupation, with many rules. One of them was the need to register in your home town. For Mary and Joseph this meant a difficult journey for a very pregnant Mary, not jumping into the car, or on a train or bus but walking, and riding on a donkey. Then there was the uncertainty of not knowing where they could stay and when the baby would be born. On failing to find a room at the inns in the area they were offered shelter by a kind inn keeper, but in a stable at the back of the inn. Not what they had anticipated but it was warm and dry. When Jesus was born God singled out the ‘ordinary’ shepherds to be the first to hear the good news and the first to see the baby. What a thrill it must have been for them, an experience that surely changed their lives.


Looking forward to 2019, the future may be uncertain, but we can go forward in hope, doing our bit to help others not just locally but in the world, and rejoicing when things go well. Mary and Joseph set forth on an uncertain journey, but it was one that changed lives. With God’s help, we pray that the same will apply to us in 2019.


May God bless you and keep you.

Have a very Happy Christmas and New Year,


John Ash

Lay Reader





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Two Seasons in One Month! A Beast from the East and soft Easter rain

Two Seasons in One Month! A Beast from the East and soft Easter rain

Saturday March 3rd, we dared walk out into the snow-covered roads and paths and down to the Churchyard. It was one of the first days following the several snowfalls of the preceding week that the “beast” had stopped its’ howling. In St Peter’s Churchyard the wildlife felt comfortable enough to venture out and we found the tell tale tracks. Pheasants and partridges had come out of the wood at the north east end and made the snow look like a busy thoroughfare. On the opposite corner, by the boundary with the Old Vicarage, a hare had lolloped its way from the wood to the safety of the wall - it’s tracks longer and larger than a rabbit - more of a longjumper.


Good Friday, March 30th, soft rain began to fall in the afternoon. The tombstone on the Easter Garden was sealed to represent the after noon when Christ’s body was placed within. A walk into the churchyard revealed the blessings a few degrees of warmth had brought since the “beast” had left us. To be seen still are wild primroses both yellow and pink - not all primroses are yellow, even in the wild. Some have almost pure white flowers while others have a pink or purplish tinge. Under the hedge boundary with Dovecote are the most stunning royal purple violets, like jewelled amethysts in the grass. The snowdrops, though, are showing their final flowers before hiding underground for another year. Up from underground venture the small burrowing mammals; photographed here a clear hole, probably for a mouse, under the lea of an old gravestone, perhaps Mrs Tittlemouse getting ready for her spring cleaning! What will a few more degrees of warmth reveal in April?


View the Churchyard Spring 2018 photo gallery for more images.


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Brooke Benefice is Committed to Growth

On Advent Sunday the Benefice Gathered to launch our new Growth Plan.  The result of a year of planning, the plan details our hopes and prayers for the coming year as we seek to commit ourselves to God's mission in our Benefice.

Areas of planning include continuting our exploration of Cafe Church and informal forms of worship, planning for conservation in our churchyards and extending the welcome that visitors receive in our open churches.

The full growth plan and the action plan which arises from it are available in the resources section of our web-site.


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St Peter's Story brought to life in Mereside Service

St Peter's Day was celebrated in a new venture this year with a Songs of Praise service held in the open air between the meres in Brooke.  Despite the uncertain weather a small congregation gathered, sheltered by the trees as the sun tried to shine and the rain stayed at bay for a while.  The local ducks took an interest, leaving the water to have a look at the goings on, but swiftly returning when no food was offered.

Our singing was led by a group of (mainly) recorder players, recruited from the congregation and the hymns rang out across the water as we joined in with well known favourites like "Lord of the Dance" and "Praise my Soul the King of Heaven".  We heard about St Peter and had the opportunity to pray with fish.

The highlight of the evening, however, was the production of a dramatised bible story by some of our Open and Book team and friends.  The possibilities opened by the meres were exploited to the full and the story of the calling of Peter and the miraculous catch of fish took on a new light as our St Peter (aka John Ash) set out across the mere in his boat and brought back his huge catch of multi-coloured fish.

It was agreed by everyone that this was a wonderful way to worship and to share time together and a future event will be planned.  Perhaps our very own St Peter will walk on water next time!

See the Gallery for further photographs.


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Parish Magazine Letter February & March 2015

Dear All,

A recent shopping expedition to a “major Supermarket” revealed an aisle already dedicated to Easter Eggs and other chocolate treats for the season. For many this appearance so soon after Christmas seems out of place – but it is not so far from the direction of our attention in church.

Visitors to our churches will have observed the presence of our crib scenes right up to the very beginning of February, when we keep the Feast of Candlemas. This festival marks the end of the Church’s celebration of Christmas and we turn to look towards Easter. For Christians, however, a sudden jump from Christmas to Easter does not take place without a consideration along the way of all that Jesus experienced and taught in the lead up to his death and resurrection. Much of this takes place in the season of Lent, which begins with Ash Wednesday on the 18th February.

As I write the terrorist acts in France are dominating our news and many in the world are asking huge questions about how atrocities of this sort can take place. There is suspicion of all forms of religion, as some fanatics seem to lose their humanity in the pursuit of their claimed beliefs. In our relatively quiet villages it can be hard to imagine the fear and insecurity in which many people live, and difficult to find ways to stand beside them.

Perhaps this Lent, as we prepare to commemorate the suffering and self-giving of Jesus, we can make it our special intention to stand beside all those who suffer and all those who give of themselves in service as we hold them in prayer. Our Easter celebrations will rejoice with the message of resurrection hope, that good can triumph and light can overcome darkness. Maybe we can be vessels of that hope for our world, and in our trust and belief, help to spread hope to all those who have lost sight of it.

May God bless you all,




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The Diocesan Lent Appeal 2015

The Diocesan Lent Appeal 2015

Supporting the Suffering Church in the Holy Land Meeting Medical Needs.
Throughout Lent we will be supporting this appeal - look out for further details of events and opportunities.
More details are available on the Diocesan Web-site:







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Lent Study Groups - "In Word and Deed"

Lent Study Groups offer the opportunity to meet with other Christians to consider our faith. This year in the Benefice we will be considering the texts from Scripture which tell the story of Jesus’ last days in Jerusalem and his death and resurrection. We will use a variety of methods including discussion, reflective story-telling, lectio divina, and the thoughts and ideas of Biblical scholars through the ages. We will also consider how the traditions and services of Holy Week and Easter help us to commemorate and experience for ourselves these events, so that our understanding grows not only from what we read but also through what we do.

There will be two groups running throughout Lent, one on a Monday afternoon and one on a Wednesday evening. You are welcome to attend which ever group suits you, and to “mix and match” if you wish to. Each session will be complete in itself, although together they will make a good overview of our keeping of Holy Week and Easter.

Sessions are as follows:

Entering Jerusalem

The Last Supper

Trial and Execution




Groups will meet:

Monday 2.30-4.00pm Long Meadow House, Thwaite

Monday 23rd February, 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd, March


Wednesday 7.30-9.00pm The Vicarage, Brooke

Wednesday 25th February, 4th, 11th, 18th, 25th March


Download your own copy of the leaflet "Lent, Holy Week and Easter in the Brooke Benefice 2015" from the Resources link at the top of the page.


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Holy Week

Palm Sunday
Sunday 29th March

Palm Sunday procession and Eucharist
10.00am Kirstead Church

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
in Holy Week
30th, 31st March, 1st April
Compline 8.30pm
Mon, Brooke, Tues, Seething, Wed, Brooke

Maundy Thursday
Thursday 2nd April

The Lord’s Supper and The Watch
6.30pm Mundham Church

Good Friday
Friday 3rd April

Family Activity morning
10.30am Brooke Church and Hall

The last hour at the foot of the Cross
2.00pm Thwaite Church

Easter Eve
Saturday 4th April
The New Fire and
Renewal of Baptismal vows
5.00pm Brooke Church

The Easter Vigil
8.00pm Seething Church


Download your own copy of the leaflet "Lent, Holy Week and Easter in the Brooke Benefice 2015" from the Resources link at the top of the page.


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Easter Day

Sunday 5th April

The First Eucharist of Easter
A formal service of Holy Communion to celebrate the Resurrection—”early in the morning on the first day of the week”. Liturgy from Common Worship, with hymns.
Followed by a light breakfast.
7.00am Kirstead Church

Holy Communion on Easter Day
A traditional service of Holy Communion with the liturgy from the Book of Common Prayer.
9.00am Thwaite Church

Family Service with Holy Communion
Easter worship for all ages and stages including hymns, readings, activities and Holy Communion.
Followed by refreshments
and an Easter Egg Hunt
10.30am Brooke Church


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Parish Magazine Letter December 2014 & January 2015

Dear All,

Thank you for your wonderful welcome to the benefice. I have been overwhelmed by your warmth and friendliness. Hopefully, over the coming months, I can begin to get to know you better and start to put names to faces. A huge “thank you” too, to all those who held the fort during the interregnum and worked faithfully to keep everything going.

As this magazine is published we stand at the very beginning of the Church’s year, the season of Advent; what a place to make a new start! Many people will be aware of the use of Advent as a time of preparation for Christmas – especially through the tradition of Advent Calendars (many of which involve chocolate!). It is indeed a time when Christians prepare themselves to celebrate the feast of Christmas, recalling how God came to earth in human form as a tiny baby at Bethlehem. They try to make sure that they are ready to welcome their Lord Jesus into their lives in a more hospitable way than that first birth amongst the straw and the animals. Advent is also, however, a time of preparation for something that will be even more wonderful: the expected return of Jesus as King over all.

We only have to read the newspaper or turn on our televisions to be made aware of the huge unrest and suffering that there is in our world, indeed in our own country. As Christmas approaches many of us will try to remain conscious of the needs of others, less fortunate than us, as we make preparations for our festivities. Perhaps we need to bear in mind that promised Reign of God, where war will be no more and the hungry will be fed. When the new calendar year comes and many make New Year resolutions maybe we need to consider how we can work to bring in that Kingdom here in our villages. How can we allow God’s love to shine through all we do and how can we allow Jesus’ example to rule all our actions?

I hope and pray that in your Advent you may find time to ponder as well as to prepare and that your Christmas festivities and New Year rejoicings may be enriched by the things you discover.

May God bless you all,



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Parish Magazine Letter April & May 2014

Parish Magazine Letter April & May 2014

 In the last fortnight I have attended two talks which in different ways dealt with spirituality. 

 In a world of ‘must have’ and instant communication, spirituality (to do with understanding our inner self) is important I believe, if we as Christians are to act responsibly in the world in which we live.   

The first talk was about Julian of Norwich, who as many of you may know lived in Norwich in the 14th century, and whilst very ill at the age of 30 experienced a number of visions.  She recovered from her serious illness and spent the next 40 years locked in a room adjoining St Julian’s Church.  Here she not only gave advice and comfort to those who visited her but also wrote down what she had learnt from the visions in a book “The Revelations of Divine Love”.   This book, the first ever to be written by a woman, took 20 years to write and is now regarded as a spiritual classic throughout the world.  Her clear thinking and deep insight speak directly to today’s troubled world.  She was clearly ahead of her time and her understanding of God’s love was that of a tender loving mother, as well as that of a father – more 21st century than 14th !!   

The second talk was given by Brother Sam of Hilfield Friary in Dorset.  He is a Franciscan brother and very much in today’s world.  He suggested that our spirituality was formed by a mixture of:  the environment; the community in which we live or have lived; those on the margins of society that we come into contact with; and our prayer life.  His discussion linked all four areas to the life of St Francis who was not just a lover of animals as he is so often portrayed, but a well-educated man who renounced his well-off background to work in the world, providing love and care to those in need of help, the poor and the sick, but also with a deep understanding that everything; humans, birds, animals, rocks, landscape, etc. are all from God.  We are after all, made up of the same chemical element building blocks so are all interdependent. 

 The message that I took from the day was one of a need for us to engage in practical sharing both in our community and in the world, doing things together and seeing the world more through Gods eyes.

 You can visit Hilfield Friary in Dorset or attend one of their courses and The Revelations of Divine Love can be bought or borrowed from the library – I recommend the latter, and the former if you are in that area or are in need of spiritual refreshment away from home.

 May God keep and bless you.

 John Ash

 Lay Reader

 01508 550116;

In the absence of a Vicar, if I can be of help or if there are any issues you would like to discuss please do not hesitate to contact me (phone or email).










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Norwich foodbank

Norwich foodbank

Help make a difference.

Buy a little extra to donate to the Norwich foodbank.

Shopping lists are available from the Village collection at St Peter's Church open daily 9.00 - 4.00.

Several trips have been made to the Centre with all your contributions. Please continue to support this worthy cause.


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