Thoughts from the vicarage – 2

Dear Friends of The Valley

Greetings from the Vicarage on another gloriously sunny and warm afternoon. In a week that has changed our country and this valley beyond recognition, this comes to assure you of prayers, to share some thoughts, some news and hopefully, to bring a smile to your face.

But firstly,

News from Bishop Steven of Oxford …

means that it is with a sad heart that I write this afternoon because I received an email from Bishop Steven’s regarding the closing of our churches. Each of our beautiful churches will now be closed until further notice. I understand that this is a sad action and I feel for you all. Everyone involved had made excellent plans to keep them open.

Together our churches have provided a place of prayer, peace and reflection up till now. But the time has come to shut our doors. I gather that an official notice will appear in due course along with more details. If you have an urgent query please do simply pick up the phone and ask me! 07749 844 600

There is no doubt that our Churches have been true sanctuaries in these times of trouble. At this time the most loving action is to pray and recall that the there is no ‘I’ in this only ‘we’. Maybe closure is an act of love and a model to our communities.

Thank you for all your care and support that I know you are sharing with your communities. Please stay at home, please social distance if you really need to be out and about and, above all, let us hold one another in prayer, pray for the valley, the Kingdom and our world.

In other news …

Last week I was very much out and about, engaging with school and families. This gave me the opportunity of witnessing some brilliant examples of community care in which the ‘we’ has been so very evident. Dropping off some free school milk to one family I was offered ‘some size 2 nappies for anyone who needs them’. So often it has been those with the least who are offering to fill the arms of others asking for bread or milk – or nappies!

Such examples have drawn me to the words of Margaret Mead ‘… never doubt that a small group of concerned citizens can change the world. It is the only thing that ever has.’ If we all do what we know in our hearts and our heads to be correct then all will be well. Let us continue to pray, to love, to care for the vulnerable, and build our communities, even while separated.

Belindachurchmouse … has been out and about and has seen some splendid examples of super home schooling going on. She saw one family had been ‘outdoor learning’ and built a bug home in their garden. She keeps nipping off there to look for tasty morsels but she won’t have it that bugs rarely eat cheese! Belinda is very strong but she can’t make it along the highways and byways to Eastbury and East Garston so I’m not sure what is happening elsewhere.

She suggests that if anyone has a home-schooling photo to share we could all find out more. Have you been up to something special on the home-schooling front?

And finally … these times of isolation may exacerbate anxiety and depression. I believe that routines can be a really important way of staying sane. Belinda shared today’s attached photo – a Mum has timetabled the week! And alongside routine, developing a sense of purpose is important.

For me, my day is book ended in prayer ending with Compline and my purpose is quite evident! And what about yourself? Is it a good time to read those ‘to be read’ books, time to start or restart long lost projects, develop a new hobby, write letters, reconnect with old friends, and, yes, maybe even do some interesting maths … Seriously, try routine and purpose if you haven’t already! Here we have the great Vicarage Allotment project underway and what about you? Share a thought or photo with me and together we may inspire and uplift one other!

And finally please find attached a small prayer card; Be Still and Know. It’s for those times when you need to cry out to God and implore Him to hold us all – you will not be the only one needing to ask those questions.

Let’s continue to live hopefully, love generously and pray earnestly, blessing each other by the way we behave. Stay calm and let those who are in high-risk groups or self-isolating know that you care for them. Phone calls, messages, letters, cards, food left on the doorstep are all signs of us being community together.

Enough, and more than enough- this is becoming longer than some of the things St Paul himself wrote! I give thanks for you all every day, and remain, as ever, proud to be part of this Benefice and community.

Off for a cuppa now and see you soon, meanwhile, God bless

Julie