Vicar's letter December 2019 / January 2020

And so….the countdown begins.  In more ways than one!  As the country prepares for a General Election and its consequences, so the Advent calendars come out and we prepare to celebrate Christmas.  Politicians from across the spectrum are promising us hope, among other things, and so does the birth of Jesus, the focus of our annual festivities.

We live in a country, and indeed a world, where many are in need of hope.  Increasingly people cannot see their way out of loneliness, debt, unemployment, poverty or poor mental or physical health.  Those who seek to help them are also losing hope; of ever having the money, time, skills, resources and people to make the difference that is needed.

In Jesus, God sent us a great promise of hope  -  the message that we are all loved, as we are; that we are capable of living in peace and that there is enough of everything if we can find ways to share what we have.  In Jesus, God gave us a template...showed us how it can be done.

As we remember this Christmas a tiny baby, laid in the animal’s feeding trough, in an obscure inn, two thousand year’s ago, we may be forgiven for wondering what difference he could possibly make to the world.  We can only understand when we know the rest of the story; of his self-giving love, which makes forgiveness and a “fresh start” a reality for each one of us.

When we are overwhelmed by the task ahead of all of us in taking responsibility for changing our world for the better, perhaps the thought of that helpless infant will inspire us to remember that although what we can do seems tiny, we too can grow, and that when we follow his example and offer ourselves with love, change will happen.

Christmas offers us a wonderful opportunity to meet, to laugh, to celebrate and rejoice.  As we do, let’s remember that the gift of ourselves is the best one we can offer and that a warm smile, a kind word or a thoughtful deed, will not only make a precious gift for the recipient, but will bring with it hope  -  the most enduring gift of all.

May your Christmas bring you the gift of hope and the dawning of 2020 lead us into a kinder and more loving world.

May you know God’s blessing,



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Vicar's letter October / November 2019

Looking around the countryside, the grain harvest in the fields is over for another year, just maize and sugar beet left for harvesting when they are ready.  My own harvest of tomatoes, blueberries, blackberries etc. is also nearly over as we move into Autumn. The success of a good harvest depends on a number of things.  First of all, get the right seed.  Then prepare a good seedbed suitable for what is to be grown – different plants have different requirements, as I am sure many of you know.  Then as they start growing you can’t just leave them if you want a good healthy and abundant crop.  They need looking after.  It may be by weeding, by use of pesticides (unless you are organic), by regular feeding and generally caring and looking after them.  Then comes the joy of a good harvest and the satisfaction of having helped the plants reach their potential.


We can experience a similar satisfaction as members of our communities as we survey the results of our neighbourliness and enjoy the harvest of enriched lives.  As we look around our villages we can become aware of what people need to help them flourish and grow, just like those plants.  There are some among us who often don’t speak to another person for several days, and others who find it difficult to get out to places where social things happen.  There may be families struggling to bring up children in our rural area, or single people longing for more in their lives than going to work each day.  Offering to help with shopping, sitting down for a chat over a cup of tea or discussing the news over the garden fence, although small things, could be just what is needed for flourishing to take place.  Or it may be that visits to the doctors have become difficult for those who don’t drive and the more active among us can readily assist. Just being on the end of a telephone with a welcome greeting and a few minutes to chat can be a great help.  We all have different gifts and different amounts of free time, but we can use them in a positive way, helping others to lead as full a life as possible. Then comes the joy of surveying the harvest, knowing we have helped the growth along and the satisfaction of being a good neighbour.


As St Paul wrote in one of his letters:  “Then you will be enriched in every way for your great generosity which will produce thanksgiving to God through us”.  (2 Cor 9.11)


John Ash



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