Thoughts from the Vicarage 71

Dear Friends of the Valley

I have just returned from leading Collective Worship, also known as Assembly, at Lambourn CE Primary school. Needless to say there is plenty of expectation and preparation, of waiting and of hope as children prepare to celebrate the coming of Christ at Christmas. Earlier in the week I was with Year 1 who wanted to explore what Christmas looks like in church and I was able to use this heavenly host angels! We shared how angels are messengers of God bringing hope. With the travelling nativity or Pousada we remembered that it was the angels who proclaimed the news of the birth of Jesus to the shepherds in those Bethlehem fields so very long ago. But of course, and as you would expect, we were all reminded that now, as then the angels, messengers of God still come to us bringing hope, comfort and joy. It is the birth of a baby and the hope he gives us that will save Christmas whatever the R number may be on 25th December.

Each child in school has been given an angel to decorate with a message on the other side. They are thinking about the angels in their lives. These will decorate the St Michael’s tree in church along with all the others. I am sure it will look resplendent as the heavenly host adorns it!

4 of the 8 Bells will be back in Lambourn tomorrow…

They will be placed on pallets inside the church ready for their re-dedication on Sunday morning at the 10.30 service to which you are very welcome. The church will then be open as usual through to dusk with the bells will be ‘on display’. This will be a once in a lifetime opportunity for everyone to see the bells without climbing the tower!!! Do come along if you are able.

Talking of the Tower…

You may have heard I was attempting to venture up the tower. The good news is Alleluia! I made it there and back! It was an amazing experience and I was thrilled as I took my final steps to emerge at the top. Thanks to Keith who captured the moment. It gave me a completely new perspective of the Parish as I looked out across the Valley. I also learnt a great deal about the different chambers, the ringing chamber which is a spiral staircase climb, followed by the clock chamber followed by a walk in front of the clock workings, followed via wooden ladders to the bell chamber itself. Finally via a metal ladder I was out onto the top!

The Big Christmas Carol Service …

If you are anything like me you would love to be joining twith he heavenly host to sing this Christmas. Sadly, we are unable to do so but there is good news. The RSCM (Royal School of Church Music) is planning The Big Christmas Carol Service on Sunday December 12th. Streaming begins at 5.45 with the service starting at 6pm. They are having special guests ranging from Alexander Armstrong to Rowan Williams. This is a short preview – why don’t you put it in your diary and go along and sing to the glory of God in your own home!

Services in the Valley this Sunday

  • 9.00 St James the Greater Eastbury BCP
  • 10.30 St Michael & All Angels Eucharist and dedication of the Bells

An Advent group

Is meeting on Wednesdays at 7pm via Zoom – please do ask if you would like to know more. And similarly, if you would like to know more about or join in either morning prayer or Compline both at 8.30 am and pm please don’t hesitate to ask.

A Thank you and a Request

Thank you to the small band who have been providing a hot meal for someone who is in need – it’s really appreciated. The request concerns school. This week’s West Berkshire update held some shocking news for those of us who have close ties with schools. The teacher wellbeing index has just come out. It shows a worrisome increase in teacher stress levels in the new academic year from 62% to 84%. This made me think how fortunate we are in our CE school in Lambourn under the leadership of Rachel Perkins. Many others, are not so fortunate and I was wondering if there were any simple ways in which we appreciation to all the staff at our local school or perhaps the school that your children and grandchildren attend. Have a think and let me know.

And finally…

A poem reminds us for whom we are preparing, waiting and hoping.

Advent Calendar by Rowan Williams

He will come like last leaf’s fall.
One night when the November wind
has flayed the trees to the bone, and earth
wakes choking on the mould,
the soft shroud’s folding.

He will come like frost.
One morning when the shrinking earth
opens on mist, to find itself
arrested in the net
of alien, sword-set beauty.

He will come like dark.
One evening when the bursting red
December sun draws up the sheet
and penny-masks its eye to yield the star-snowed fields of sky.

He will come, will come,
will come like crying in the night,
like blood, like breaking,
as the earth writhes to toss him free.
He will come like child.

May this Advent be a blessing to you and your families.

With love and plenty of warm wishes …