Following the announcement of the death of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, our three churches will be open for public prayer and lighting of candles during daylight hours.
As a result of Covid restrictions no books of condolences will be kept, but an on-line book of condolence is on the Church of England website (Remembering His Royal Highness Prince Philip | The Church of England).
The Rector, Churchwardens and PCC have been looking closely at government guidance with particular reference to our event, which is a mixture of indoor and outdoor activities. On balance, it was felt best not to go ahead with our traditional May event this year, but to proceed in full on a date after all event restrictions are lifted on 21st June.
The new date is set for Saturday 10th July, from 12.00 until 6.00
All of our volunteers, exhibitors and sponsors are still very much ‘on board’ despite the 2020 event having to be cancelled. There will be a very wide range of stalls and exhibits both inside and outside the Church Hall, with a theme of crafts and hobbies.
The church itself will be looking its best, with an organ recital planned for the afternoon
The Claude Jessett Trust will once again be our partners, with Wally the Steam Engine coming down from Tinker’s Park, together with the steam miniature railway and a fairground organ.
At the front of the church we will have a working forge and a potter’s wheel, and up in the Top Field the Harvey’s Beer Tent will be assembled, together with a BBQ. Tea, coffee and cake will as usual be provided in the Church Hall. Our generous local sponsors have provided a range of prizes to be won in the raffle, which will be drawn at 5pm.
As all of the space on site will be taken up with stalls and exhibits, there will be no visitor parking available, but look out for directions to ample free parking further down Church Road.
All around, the cycle of the seasons is reminding us of fresh starts, new growth, renewal and optimism. After a year of much tragedy and sadness, equally at a personal, community and national level, the reawakening natural world tilts our heads and hearts upwards a little, offering hope of different days ahead. And the gradual easing of this long hard winter lockdown coupled with the amazing vaccination programme give real reason to believe that we can emerge from our isolations with a new found confidence unlike over the past year.
And so nature and science are signposting positive change to us. Does that resonate with you? Are you feeling confident about a return to normality? Or has the last year and all it has brought to our lives, shaken you a bit and made you feel less certain, less assured and less convinced that everything can be picked up again where we left off? You would most certainly not be alone if some of those feelings ring true for you.
But this month, as we emerge from the reflection and for some, the denial, of Lent, we have an altogether different signpost of renewal and hope, true for each and every one of us, no matter our circumstances. For it is Easter that we celebrate at St Mary’s and across our Parish, the remarkable signpost of an empty cross, upon which Jesus had taken on all the isolation of our wrongdoing and in doing so, brought about our reconciliation through grace and love with God. Because just as surely as there is the dark winter of Good Friday and the sorrow, loss and fear of the crucifixion, so there is also even more surely the bright new first light of Easter morning, the start of something entirely new – the clean slate – brought to us by Jesus risen from the dead and the tomb that had closed him in.
In our Christian lives and in our communities, every year we celebrate the great mystery and joy of Easter. Can this signpost of God’s great love for us not be more true and relevant this year, as we tentatively emerge from our long Covid lockdown? And the assurance and certainty of the message of renewal, of hope and of a fresh start in the Easter story, equips us all to believe that as nature and science remind us, God has made all things new (Isaiah 43:19).
“Now the green blade riseth, from the buried grain,
Wheat that in the dark earth many days has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again like wheat that springeth green”
Watch out for announcements about the possibilities for return to public worship at St Mary’s and across the Parish and always remember that the church is open for private prayer and reflection each day. A very happy Easter from all at St Mary’s to you.