Thoughts from the Vicarage 46

Good afternoon friends of the Valley,

And what a joy it is to be able to share these three photos today – all of our Benefice churches are now open for private prayer and, I have to add, they are wonderfully cool in the midst of this heat. If you are able, do go along and visit one of our beautiful churches or indeed, go on tour! Share the news with friends and neighbours – all are welcome, those of all faiths or none.
I am once again sharing these photos so that those amongst us who are shielding can enjoy seeing them and perhaps find them useful in their prayers.

Wherever you are, whoever you are, I hope you find comfort and peace as you visit. Whatever, or whoever is on your mind today, be still before God, who cares for you and those you love. Enjoy the peace, the time to pray and God’s loving presence with you in church over the next week.

We’re working hard to ensure church buildings are clean and safe. Physical distancing and hygiene guidelines will be observed at all times. Hand sanitiser is always available to use during and after your visit.

The Vicar is still on tour

If you’d prefer to gather in a small group outside the church …

I realise that for some people the opening of our churches will have a slightly bitter sweet feeling as a number of friends are still self-isolating due to medical conditions. Please be assured that you are in our prayers and we continue to think of you.

  • Monday June 29th All Saints East Garston 2.30 – 3.30
  • Tuesday June 30th St James The Greater Eastbury 2.30 – 3.30
  • Wednesday July 1st St Michael & All Angels 2.30 – 3.30

The offices of Morning Prayer and Compline

are continuing via Zoom for the foreseeable future. It has given me much joy to return to church to pray

Morning Prayer as I am joined by others on Zoom. If you’d like to join us please do ask. All are welcome.

Belinda is upset …

She tells me that I haven’t shared our latest Vicarage Garden News. Yes, all very exciting as I’ll let Belinda explain. In our last abode, the curettage in Wokingham we were all enjoying a little cheese and wine in the garden, it was quite late. The cheese was delicious, the last nibbles of the *real* French Roquefort … oh dear I digress. There I was, just cleaning my whiskers and smartening up my attire when what should I see? You’ll never guess – it was a Mummy hedgehog and babies walking along the fence at the bottom of the garden, they were absolute darlings – I’ll never forget it. Well, it appears that they’ve followed us here. I like to call them village hedgehogs now, instead of town hedgehogs. I’m not on speaking terms yet but I’m putting food out for them. It’s called Spike food – makes me laugh. Spikey just like they are! Remember I know what it’s like to be hungry with all our churches closed and no crumbs to be had, and no going to France for cheese – but their food is not to my liking. We put it out with water and after dark (which is quite late) I watch out for them. Along they come to nibble their Spike delicacy and then off they go and snuffle around under the bird feeders … they even switch on the security lighting so we can see them! Seriously though the wonders of creation have been so evident in the Valley throughout the lockdown. Thank you to everyone who has shared experiences or resources related to God’s creation throughout this time. Talking of thankfulness reminds me that …


Especially at Morning Prayer I’m finding myself increasingly drawn to thanks giving – a sense of gratitude. It’s central to Ignatian spirituality and is often part of the Examen – a reflection at the close of each day. Simply being grateful moves one out of self towards others and towards God. Gratitude is the enemy of self. These questions are suggestions for you to try

  • What do I have to be grateful for today?
  • How much do I take for granted?
  • What makes me feel ungrateful, dissatisfied, frustrated?
  • What helps me become more grateful and contented?

An event

for which there has been much thanksgiving was the lowering of four bells from the bell chamber in St Michael’s. If you missed the Newbury Weekly here is the article – with many thanks to Bruce Laurie. (technical issues aren’t always my forte!)

And finally…

A prayer inspired by a reading at Morning Prayer on Friday Luke 14:12-24. Written by my friend Bill Braviner

Free us Lord,
from preoccupation
with ourselves
and our own priorities;
bring us back to focus
on you and your kingdom.
Help us to stand at the margins,
that we may draw to you
all who need to know they are loved
and precious in your sight,
as we share life in you.

Best wishes