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From the Vicar - September 2017

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The mornings are beginning to have that nip in the air which marks the end of high summer and the start of the autumn mists and mellow fruitfulness.

  It is at this time of year, when the Harvest is all ‘safely gathered in that’ that we give thanks for the richness of creation and for our local farming community who have worked so hard throughout the year, but especially during this changeable Harvest. 

On the 6th August our Benefice Service at All Saints’ Cuddesdon was a special celebration to give thanks for the first fruits of the Harvest or Lammastide.  Lammas or ‘Loaf-mass’ (derived from the Anglo-Saxon Hlafmaesse) is an English feast in origin, held on 1 August as a thanksgiving for the first fruits of the wheat harvest. Traditionally, a newly baked loaf from the wheat harvest was presented before God within the mass of that day. While the ceremony ceased at the Reformation, reference to Lammas Day continued in the Prayer Book calendar, and the practice has been revived in some places in more recent years. The tradition of giving thanks for the first-fruits need not be limited to 1st August, and churches are at liberty to decide when to hold such a celebration.
It seemed appropriate to us to keep this special feast at our Benefice service when we come together to worship as a local community. We were also joined by members of the local farming community who were able to tell us how the weather had halted their work in the fields.  At the beginning of the service a Lammas loaf, kindly donated by Cornfields bakery in Wheatley, was presented along with some wheat.  Katie had also baked some rolls from local flour to use as our communion bread.  Prayers were said for our local farmers and a collection taken for the Farming Community Network, which helps those farmers in financial difficulty.  Our thanks go to all who brought cakes and attended the service.  If you would like to read the sermon that was given by Emma then please go to the sermons section on the website (  Our celebration of the completion of the Harvest will take place on the 17th September, which we hope you will be able to share with us.  Look out for the Harvest supper in the Village Hall, which is often a real treat.

We also welcome into the village those who will be starting their ordination training at the college and to those who will be returning after the summer.  We especially welcome new families who will be settling into our village life.  We hope you will soon feel at home and look forward to welcoming you to our church on 24th September for our special service of welcome.

As we welcome new folk we also say goodbye to our bells which will be taken out of the tower by Whites of Appleton on Monday 16th October.  In order to do this scaffolding will need to go up in the church in order to knock through to the ringing chamber and traps in the two floors in the tower.  The bells will hopefully be in the church on the evening of Wednesday 18th October when you are very welcome to come and see them.  White’s reckon that they will need three months to sort and return the bells.  Thanks go to Keith Hawley who has spearheaded the restoration of the bells and to all those who have raised money for this project: including Linda Ware and Waveney Luke.  Also thanks to Robert for overseeing the project. 

Many of you may have noticed my absence from the Coffee morning over the last year.  This has been very regrettable for I had been driving down to the Benedictine Abbey of Douai, just outside Newbury, every Tuesday (except when I was undergoing surgery)to attend the Introduction to Spiritual Direction.  The course is set up by the SpiDir Network and consists of 28 sessions which give foundational teaching in giving Spiritual Direction.  If you have never heard of Spiritual Direction it consists of a one to one relationship with a director who journeys with you and helps you to reflect on the presence and will of God for your life.  It is a very valuable ministry giving the directee space to consider where God is in ordinary life.  The director can be reassuring, emphatic and at times challenging.

I gained a great deal from doing the course.  It not only gave me tips and insights into travelling alongside people in their spiritual life but also gave me time to reflect on my own spiritual journey and gifts.  Despite my time away for surgery, I was passed on the course and now offer this ministry to anyone who wishes it.  Below is a leaflet which outlines more fully what Spiritual Direction is and the work of the SpiDir Network.  If you are interested in Spiritual Direction then please do contact me.  Meanwhile, it is good be back at the coffee morning and I am very grateful to Jean, Euan and Keith along with Marion and the able to team who help out and make it one of the highlights of the month.  It takes place every second Tuesday from 10 am in the Village Hall, hope to see you there.

Finally, at his funeral on 5th July, John Hemming’s daughter Karen gave a wonderful tribute to her father in the form of a poem.  John had been an intelligent and kind man who would have loved the words Karen wrote for him, having a similar way with words that her dad had.  I am very grateful to Karen for allowing me to publish this poem in recognition of a very special person.

……….Fragments……sandcastles, moats and the smell of ambre solaire…..
The size of dinner plates
Playing dabbers on the kitchen table.
Strong shoulders
A fireman’s lift “up the wooden hill “to bed.
I snatch a dancing trophy
From the pelmet board
At ceiling height.
Step, step, cha cha cha on the yellow and white kitchen tiles.
You loved living in Denton.
You told me when you moved in
Stan Lockey said to you:
“It’s so quiet here John you can hear the carrots grow”
At Cuddesdon church fete you sat guarding the entrance gate.
The “Poppy Man” shaking his tin.
A man of the parish.
Many an hour spent in the Bat and Ball
You liked a pint
or two. (You liked to chat)
1,2,3    1,2,3     1,2,3……..
Fragments………sandcastles, moats and the smell of ambre solaire.
You were a man of routines
Bird feeding, dog walking, runner bean growing routines.
I planted six conkers in your runner bean patch.
You dug up six horse chestnut trees.
You said I had green fingers.
One memorable bonfire night
You sent a rocket flying
from our bathroom taps
to light our expectant bonfire doused in petrol
You kept fruit gums for the grandchildren in “Grampy’s magic draw”
Amongst the book of lists and mum’s neatly folded tea towels.
You loved mum
Rock and Roll
And a good cappuccino
….sandcastles, moats and the smell of ambre solaire….
You were a man of nature
A childhood spent outside in the spinneys of Stanton St John
Storing apples in the rafters
Working the land.
Finches, pheasants and roe deer
Regular visitors to your
Wildlife garden.
In Bury Knowle Park you planted 100 roses
For the Queen Mother
A dove of peace in memory of Hiroshima
And tended the flower beds
For Britain in Bloom.
Quick, Quick, Slow
You were never in a rush
Full of advice:
learn to slow down
Sit Down
Write it down. Clear your head.
I didn’t really listen to my Zen master
We closed the curtains
To keep out the scorching
Mid-day sun
But storm clouds were gathering
A gust shot through the house and toppled the vase
The petals fell to the ground
But the scent remained, carried in the air.
I like to think you fell into the arms of Morpheus
at home.
Your last conscious memory
In your memory
I will tend your roses
Prune back to the fifth leaf
and admire their beauty
I will say the Latin names of trees out loud
Quercus robur, Pinus sylvestris, Picea abies
I will eat licorique allsorts
every Christmas
We have lost our North
and our East
but we will find our way
as you would so wish
fragments…………..sandcastles, moats and the smell of ambre solaire…
and a baby cries
and a dog barks and
a marching band plays on….