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The Sodbury Vale Benefice Chipping Sodbury, Old Sodbury, Horton & Little Sodbury



1 Jane is enrolled as a Companion of the Society of St Francis by Brother Damian. See 1

March 2016

Nominated Person:


Mrs Hilary Holder 01454 327118 This is the person to contact if you wish to express concern about suspected abuse of a child or vulnerable adult

Rector From July 13 2016

The Rev’d Canon David Bowers

Churchwardens Associate Priest

Chipping Sodbury

The Rev’d Yvonne Brae, 01454 850682, Mob. 07908 513098 [Day

Joy Gibson 01454 319288 Jane Jones-Williams 01454 324970

off Monday] email

Reader (Licensed Lay Minister) Mr Ian Yemm 07514 139825; 01454 318608 [Day off Saturday] email

Old Sodbury Karen Hunter 01454 319903

If you would like to know more about the Christian faith or are thinking about baptism or confirmation please speak with one of the the ministerial team

Little Sodbury

Director of Music VACANT


Brenda Cordy 01454 316447

Tina Hildick-Smith 01454 320380 Richard Needs 01454 329890

Church Office Open during school term time Mon - Tue - Thu mornings 9.00 - 12.00 Administrators: 01454 325160 Michelle Jenkins Trish Gailey

This magazine is brought to you Free by the four churches of the Sodbury Vale Benefice. If you would like to make a small donation towards production costs that would be most welcome. Thank you.

April Deadline

email: Web Site:

Can you have all copy to Michelle in the Church Office by Mar 15th at the latest please.

Advertising: Sylvia Franklin 07788 111726


Front Cover- These may be gone by now!! Photo by: Michael Stephenson

Michael Stephenson 01454 314094 2

poor, homeless and out of work people who queued up, also providing tea, coffee and cake, sometimes about 280 parcels were given out, they are not judgemental, anyone can have a parcel and when possible provide doggie bags. As you can imagine this needs an awful lot of organising and help, there are many volunteers who have worked with the Sisters for many years and there are always new volunteers coming. The duties carried out by the volunteers are varied i.e. Giving food to people who arrive at the door, making cups of tea, filling bags, double bagging (as the bags are too thin), dividing tea bags to 25 per bag, also biscuits, listening to people’s troubles and trying to help them. They also have several strong men who help with the heavy lifting and act as security in case there is any trouble. The sisters were finding it difficult to continue with the Sunday afternoons, so they now only open on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday for parcels and any other help and advice people seek from them. There is always a friendly and loving feeling about the place and I have found refuge with them on many occasions in the sad times of my life. Many people from Old Sodbury have volunteered, amongst them Mark & Angela Caton (who got us started going to St Paul’s), Joyce Cains, Ann Ward, Miriam Caville, Angela Barber, Sid Stoner and probably some I have forgotten. Margaret Stoner-Veale

Baptisms: We welcomed into the Church: Florence May Callaghan, on 24th January at Horton

Jessica Lily Cole, on 7th February at Chipping Sodbury Funerals:We extend our sympathy to the families and friends of:

Patricia Lillian Trew, on 10th February, at St John’s, Old Sodbury Freda Ludlow, on 16th February, at St John’s Old Sodbury William Derek Lovett, on 17th February at Westerleigh Crematorium

The Community of the Sisters of the Church Over the years the parishes of Old Sodbury and Chipping Sodbury have been very supportive of the Sisters at St Paul’s, and I thought people would like an update of their work over recent years. Originally there were several Sisters living at the house at Ashley Down Road, but now there are only two in permanent residence, Sister Annaliese, Senior Sister and Sister Rosina. There are Sisters in various other places, at Ham, also in Australia and the Solomon Islands. There have been lots of change over the years and several of the older Sisters have passed on. There are few girls/ladies wishing to take up the Sisterhood now. At the house In Ashley Down the Sisters give food parcels, warm clothing and bedding (all depending what is available). They used to give the main amount of parcels on a Sunday afternoon to the

News Snippets Do you have any snippets of news you would like to share with the Benefice, just a line or two is all it needs. Send them to Michelle in the Church Office and we can start a Snippets corner in the magazine. 3

Dear Friends, I am writing this on Ash Wednesday, knowing that when you read it we will be half way through Lent. How is it going? Have you managed to keep your Lenten fast? Have you stuck with the Lent course? Have you carried on your attempts to pray daily and read the Bible more often? Well if not – let me offer you some encouragement – you will surely not be on your own! Perhaps you have difficulties with the whole idea of Lent. The language we use can sometimes reinforce a muscular and pious Christianity that doesn’t feel truthful for everyone. If you feel you have stalled already, or perhaps you haven’t even started, it is never too late to try or try again. We human beings can be frail and remarkable by turns! In January, I had a week in St David’s on the Pembrokeshire coast. It was lovely to have the daily rhythm of the Cathedral services and the beautiful surroundings. Before I left, I told one of the clergy that during my week there I had prayed as I wish I did every day. And he replied, ‘Take it with you, that is what St David would say’. We begin March with St David’s Day, so I offer you his wisdom. Try in Lent to do what you know you ought to do every day, but don’t. And ask God to help you to take some of this experience with you into the rest of the year. It will be good if even a little of our Lenten practice rubs off. It needn’t be too serious – keep it simple and it might even be fun! At the end of the month we will experience the deepest expression of the Christian faith over the three days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday, often called the Easter Triduum. Could you commit now to attending these services as fellow travellers around the Benefice? Washing feet, sharing bread and wine, facing trial, carrying the cross, suffering a cruel and unjust death. And on Easter Day let’s be together to celebrate Christ’s rising with the first Alleluia! When it comes, a very Happy Easter to you all! In the risen Christ,


coffee to compliment their sandwiches which helped to make the lunch such a success. Other collections made during the last few months which will also be sent to the refugees include: £31.90 from the Church Christmas card, £10.30 from the Womens' Fellowship group and a £20 donation Therefore we are able to send £204.74 to the Syrian Refugee crisis. Many thanks to all those who came to the Lent Lunch or contributed in any other way. Karen Hunter

Old Sodbury Lent Lunch Old Sodbury held their Lent Lunch of soup and cake on 14th February after the morning service. It was good to meet socially and everyone enjoyed the homemade food provided. There was no charge but we asked for donations for Syrian Refugee crisis. People were generous and we raised £142.54. A group of walkers were surprised to find such a buzz in the church. They joined us and were thrilled to have hot soup or 4

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The design will be the size of 62 semidetached houses but the exact look of the project is still unknown. It's the brainchild of former-football club chaplain, Richard Gamble. He wants Christians from across the UK to pay £10 for each of the one million bricks and carve onto it their answered prayer.

An invitation to take time to rest and pray:

INDIVIDUALLY GUIDED RETREATS IN GLOUCESTERSHIRE 2016 to be held at The Monastery of Our Lady & St Bernard, Brownshill, near Stroud, GL6 8AL "The idea is that it will be a million bricks representing a million answered prayers Monday 25 - Saturday 30 July and that people will hopefully be inspired," Cost: £315.00 he told Premier's News Hour. Enquiries to Rev’d Rob Hingley He said he had been planning 'The Wall' 0121 7772171 for 12 years after praying to God. The monument will be placed on the side AN ECUMENICAL AUTUMN 4-DAY IGR: of a motorway somewhere in the UK: Tuesday 18 - Sunday 23 October "We're looking at about 51,000 journeys Cost: £315.00 going past this every day. [People will] at Enquires to Rev’d Felicity Bayne the very least discuss and debate the 01242 237074 concept and the power of prayer". A competition to design the new sculpture For information about the Spirituality is expected to begin in the summer by the Network: Royal Institute of British Architects. Richard added: "Instinctively, you think of the big things that Jesus has answered Monument of one million prayer for but Jesus is interested in the little things in life as well. answered prayers planned "I'm hoping and praying that we will have A monument made up of a million bricks, the whole range of the Christian Church each containing an answered prayer, is responding to this with a whole range of being planned. different answers to prayers. AN ECUMENICAL SUMMER 4-DAY IGR


It was, in effect, an early spring holiday for workers who normally had little time off. Known as going "a-mothering", younger children would pick wild flowers to decorate their church. During, or after the services, they would also give a bunch of spring flowers to their mothers. 4. This Sunday is also known as Rose Sunday, Pudding Pie Sunday and Simnel Sunday, this was the day when the strict rules about what can be eaten during Lent were relaxed a little. 5. The alternative name of Rose Sunday refers to the priests' purple Lenten robes being replaced by rose-coloured ones. 6. The church called the day Dominica Refectionis – the Sunday of Refreshment – and from then on it has become synonymous with cakes and ale, slap-up restaurant lunches and boxes of chocolates.

Bible Quiz Time Mothers in the Bible 1. Who was the mother of Cain and Abel? (Genesis 4) 2. Who's son brought her laughter? (Genesis 21) 3. Who was the first mother of twins in the bible? (Genesis 25:20-28) 4. Rachel had 2 sons, what were their names? (Genesis 35:24) 5. Which mother prayed for a baby while she visited a temple? (1 Samuel 1:10) 6. Who was the grandmother of King David? (Matthew 1:5-6) 7. Name the mother of John the Baptist. (Luke 1) 8. There are 4 people in the New Testament who have mothers called Mary. What are their names? (Luke 2. Matthew 27:56. Acts12:12) Answers page 12

7. Another Mothering Sunday tradition is known as "clipping" – a ceremony in which the worshippers' form a ring around the church and then, singing and holding hands, embrace it.

Interesting facts about Mothering Sunday 1. Mothering Sunday, falls on the fourth Sunday in Lent, during the 40-day lead-up to Easter. 2. Some historians believe that the tradition, later hijacked by the early Christian church, has its origins in Roman times. During the spring feast of Matronalia, they say, the goddess of motherhood was honoured with small cakes presented at her shrine. 3. The fourth Sunday in Lent was traditionally the Sunday when young people working away from home, such as farm hands, servants and apprentices, were allowed to visit their families and attend a service at their "mother" church, the place where they had been baptised. 7

The Saxon word "clipping," which has nothing to do with shears, means to embrace or clasp; an expression of a congregation's devotion to its church. The tradition, which is still going strong in Painswick, Gloucestershire, is sometimes held on Easter Monday or Shrove Tuesday instead. 8. In some churches, Mothering Sunday was the only day during Lent when marriages took place. Karen Hunter

Just what you always wanted to Know! February 1865 is the only month in recorded history not to have a full moon.

accepted, the post of Rector of the Sodbury Vale Benefice and Judith and I look forward to joining you as we look to the future together as God leads and guides us. We are both from Salford and we have two grown up children. Judith works as a nurse for the Orders of St John at Athelstan House in Malmesbury and will continue her work there after our move. I studied at Manchester University and Wycliffe Hall, Oxford and worked as a civil servant for three years before ordination training. After ordination I worked in parishes in Manchester, Bolton and Rochdale before moving in 1998 to the Gloucester Diocese, where for ten years I was Associate Director of Ordinands as well as Vicar of a group of parishes near Tewkesbury. Since 2008 I have been Vicar of South Cerney with Cerney Wick, Siddington and Preston. We enjoy walking, travel, music, cooking and entertaining and we have a special interest in Indian culture and food as we have visited the country several times. I enjoy watching sport, especially rugby and football, and have been a lifelong Manchester United supporter, as well as a more recent follower of rugby at Gloucester. We are looking forward to being part of your communities and to getting to know all of you as we settle into our new home in Chipping Sodbury.

Easter Message Recently when on retreat I came across a tiny chapel in a remote northern valley. It is left open at all times and so I went in to say Morning Prayer. On a typical ‘Church of England’ board for hymn numbers, there was the sign - ‘Next Service, Easter Day.’ Lent had not yet begun. This made me reflect; firstly how good it was that I had found shelter and secondly, how good it was that I could join in with centuries of prayer in this place. But also, as I prepared myself for the coming days of Lent, it reminded me that we are the Easter people everyday and that every Sunday is a celebration of the resurrection. We live in the light of God’s greatest gift in Jesus, the gift beyond the boundaries of this life and the gift of unbeatable hope. Needing shelter and a long way from home, the greatest reassurance had been found in an unexpected place just as Jesus meets us whenever we need him and wherever we look for him, for he is constantly looking for us. There are times we all need to see a sign like that - ‘Next Service, Easter Day’ and to celebrate. The Very Rev’d Stephen Lake, Dean of Gloucester From “The Messenger”

Canon David Bowers

Benefice Holy Communion Thursday Mornings 10:00 am St John’s, Chipping Sodbury

I am very pleased to have been offered, subject to due process, and to have

Join us for an hour each Thursday morning for a friendly service, for the whole benefice, followed by tea/coffee, biscuits and a chat in the Church Centre. 8

Surge of Christianity in the Middle East

Woman Looking for herself

A missing woman on vacation in Iceland In contrast to last month’s article on the managed to unwittingly join a search loss of Christians in this part of the World, party looking for herself. here is some good news. The Toronto Sun reports that a tourist group travelling by bus to the volcanic Eldgja canyon made a pit stop near the canyon park. The woman in question went inside to freshen up and change her clothes at the rest stop, and when she came back “her fellow travellers didn’t recognize her.” Word spread among the group of a missing passenger, and the woman didn’t recognize the description of herself. Next thing you know, a 50-person search party was canvassing the area, and the coast guard was mobilizing to deploy a search party of its own.

Figures show that in both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Christianity was practically non existent just over a hundred years ago. There were only 80 Christians in the UAE in 1910 (0.1 per cent of the population) and 50 in Saudi Arabia, even less than 0.1 per cent, according to a recent study. However one hundred years later in 2010, Christianity had exploded to 12.6 per cent of UAE's population and 4.4 per cent of Saudi Arabia's. Between the two countries alone there are now well over one million Christians. While by no means a majority, this represents a a significant growth in such a conservative Islamic region. Indeed, this surge is not limited to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Throughout the Gulf, countries such as Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar have all seen dramatic increases to their Christian populations. This growth is even more extraordinary when compared to the mass exodus of Christians from neighbouring Middle Eastern countries. Lebanon, for example, used to be a Christian-majority country with 77.5 per cent of the population identifying as Christian in 1910. Now that figure stands at 30.4 per cent.

About 3am, some genius in the group finally figured out that the missing woman was actually in the search party, albeit in different clothes, and the search was called off. No word on what kind of wardrobe was involved in this woman’s “freshening up.” But her sense of self-image must be way out of whack to join a search party until 3am without even suspecting for a minute that the woman in the description bore some resemblance to herself.


We Love our Home Group!

Our SVB Together groups give us an added dimension to church life that we don't find in church on Sundays - and we wish more could enjoy them with us! The truth is that we have been losing people and need to expand our group. David and Christine Parsons led the group when we originally joined 4 years ago but they have since left, and now we have lost Keith Stanley too. We meet twice a month

on Wednesday evenings in Pam and Harry's home. And what do we do? We chat and socialise over a cup of tea - or coffee - and biscuits, then get down to some informal study. We get into some good discussions, then end up sharing and praying together. Our most recent study has been one of the York courses - Build on the Rock - Faith, Hope, and Jesus. Before that it was Tough Talk - the hard sayings of Jesus. Can we encourage you to join us? It is an ideal place to meet with friends in a more informal context, or simply to relax after a stressful day. At present we have suspended our group meetings during the Lent course but expect to re-convene once Easter is over. Do contact me if you are interested in knowing more and without any obligation: Frank Gray <>

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Principal Service readings March


March 6th (Fourth Sunday of Lent, Mothering Sunday) Exodus 2: 1 -10 2 Corinthians 1: 3 - 7 Luke 2: 33 - 35 Psalm 34: 11 - 20 March 13th (The Fifth Sunday of Lent) Isaiah 43: 16 - 21 Phillipians 3: 4b - 14 John 12: 1 - 8 Psalm 126

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March 20th (Palm Sunday) Isaiah 50: 4 - 9a Philippians 2: 5 - 11 Luke 22: 14 - 23 Psalm 31: 9 - 16

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March 27th (Easter Sunday) Isaiah 65: 17 - end Acts 10: 34 - 43 John 20: 1 - 18 Psalm 118: 1 - 2, 14 - 24

Mothering Sunday Wordle Circle the words that describe your Mum. Perhaps you could make your own Wordle into a picture to say thank you to your Mum for all the things she does for you.


Fair Shares Community Time Shoe church launched in Banks Taiwan The shoe has been created entirely from blue tinted glass and measures around 55 feet tall and 36 feet wide.

It took two months to construct and opened before the Lunar New Year on 8th February. Zheng Rongfeng, spokesperson for the Southwest Coast National Scenic Area, told, that the church could attract more female worshippers and will have a total of 100 'female-oriented features'. He thought installing "chairs for lovers, maple leaves, biscuits and cakes," might help encourage a more diverse congregation at Ocean View Park in Budai town. One lady commented on hearing of this project: “I feel this is fantastic and what King David would have done if he was alive versus Isis persecution offered. He would have danced around it too. Bible says we need to be audacious in the face of persecution. Brilliant!”

From “The Messenger”

1. Eve 2. Sarah 3. Rebekah 4. Joseph and Benjamin 5.Hannah 6.Ruth 7. Elizabeth 8. Jesus. James and Joses. John Mark

Could you and your church volunteer your time and skills to help others in the community? Fair Shares is a network that brings people together within their own community via lunches, art and craft groups, woodworking, coffee mornings, gardening groups, social events, walks, outings, day trips and more? People can volunteer their time and skills to help others and Fair Shares will link them with other people and organisations for exchanges of time and skills that value everyone equally. In this way community relationships are strengthened, activities are better shared and neighbourhoods become more cohesive and self-supporting. Examples of exchanges are garden clearance, furniture moving, learning/teaching IT, befriending, growing food for community events, maths mentoring, shopping and dog walking. Sarah C said, “I joined Fair Shares to help out with a community fun day. But I didn’t realise just how much was going on. Now I’m involved with so many different activities and get to meet so many different people. It makes me really happy to be part of such a friendly community” Fair Shares works across Gloucestershire; in Stroud it does specific work supporting people with memory problems and dementia and in Gloucester and the Forest of Dean we support young people to learn practical skills. If you or your church would like to find out more or get involved, contact 01452 415900 or visit

Answers to Bible Quiz; 12

The beginnings of the Bible Society Mary Jones was from a poor family, the daughter of a weaver, who lived at the foot of Cader Idris, near Dolgellau. She was born in December 1784. Her parents were d e v o u t Calvinistic Methodists, and she herself professed the Christian faith at eight years of age. Having learned to read in the circulating s c h o o l s organised by T h o m a s Charles, it became her burning desire to possess a Bible of her own. The nearest copy was at a farm two miles distant from her little cottage, and there was no copy on sale nearer than Bala â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 25 miles away; and it was not certain that a copy could be obtained there. Welsh Bibles were scarce in those days. Having saved for six years until she had enough money to pay for a copy, she started one morning in 1800 for Bala, and walked the 25 miles, barefoot as usual, to obtain a copy from the Rev. Charles, the only individual with Bibles for sale in the area. According to one version of the story, Mr. Charles told her that all of the copies which he had received were sold or already spoken for. Mary was so distraught that Charles spared her one of the copies already promised to another. In another version, she had to wait two days for a supply of Bibles to arrive, and was able to purchase a copy for herself and two other copies for members of her family.

And Mary's story didn't end there. In a way, it was just the beginning. Mr. Charles was very touched by the little girl who worked for 6 years and walked 25 miles to buy a Bible. Mary Jonesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; example provided the inspiration to start the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1804, so more people could get Bibles of their own. Within about 100 years, the society distributed about 200 million Bibles and Scripture portions. There are now many Bible societies world wide, all distributing Bibles to those who couldn't get them otherwise. Mary later married a weaver of Bryn-crug named Thomas Lewis. She died in 1864 and was buried at the graveyard of Bryncrug Calvinistic Methodist Chapel. Her Bible is now kept at the British and Foreign Bible Society's Archives in Cambridge University Library. It is a copy of the 1799 edition of the Welsh Bible, ten thousand copies of which were printed at Oxford for the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge. In addition to the Old and New Testaments and the Apocrypha, the volume contains the Book of Common Prayer (in Welsh) and Edmwnd Prys's Welsh metrical Psalms. Mary Jones wrote the following (in English) on the last page of the Apocrypha (spelling is her own):


Mary Jones was born 16th of December 1784. I Bought this in the 16th year of my age. I am Daughter of Jacob Jones and Mary Jones His wife. the Lord may give me grace. Amen. Mary Jones His [is] The True Onour [owner] of this Bible. Bought In the Year 1800 Aged 16th.

Sodbury Vale Benefice Regular Weekly Events Monday


Morning Prayer

St John’s, Chipping Sodbury


Bell Ringers’ Practice CS

Church Tower, Chipping Sodbury



Morning Prayer

Church Centre, Upper Room,Chipping Sodbury




St John's Church, Chipping Sodbury



Morning Prayer

St John’s, Chipping Sodbury


Bell Ringer’s Practice Horton

St James’, Horton


Morning Prayer

St John’s, Chipping Sodbury


Holy Communion

St John’s, Chipping Sodbury


Benefice Choir Practice

St John’s, Chipping Sodbury


Youth Club (age 11-18)

Baptist Church Centre



Note: No Morning Prayers on Bank Holidays

Sodbury Vale Benefice Forthcoming Events Sun

29th May

10.30am Benefice Communion with Rev’d St James’, Horton David Russell, Area Dean


18th June

All day


13th July

Chipping Sodbury Festival, Church St John’s Chipping Sodbury Tower Open and Teas in Church Licensing of Rev’d Canon David St John’s Chipping Sodbury Bowers

If you don’t see your event in the list above please let me know, once it is on this calendar other people can put it on theirs! All times are subject to change look out for further details closer to the date. Michelle 01454 325160 Do you sometimes think, why has that been arranged for then, we’ve got… In the benefice lots of things happen, but sometimes not everyone knows about them! This is where the Forthcoming Events Calendar can be really useful, if you tell us in the office when you are planning an event – even if the date at that stage is vague we can tell everyone by publishing it here in Outlook (forthcoming events could be as much as a year or even more in advance) and in the online benefice calendar. So if you’re planning an event let us know even if the date isn’t quite fixed we can publish with vague dates like “early Feb tbc” or “week of the 8 March tbc” just so the idea is out in the community and firm up the details closer to the event. We look forward to hearing from you. Michelle and Trish

Sodbury Vale Benefice Calendar March 2016 Tue


St John’s, C/S

3.00pm 7.30pm 10.00am 10.45am 11.00am Fri 4th 10.30am 8.00am Sun 6th 9.30am Fourth Sunday of 11.15am Lent 11.15am 6.00pm Tue 8th 9.15am

Meditation Meeting Lent Course Holy Communion Coffee Shop Lent Course Women’s World Day of Prayer Service Holy Communion St John’s Praise Mattins Family Communion Evensong Storkies

Ring 327118 for venue Church Centre, C/S St John’s C/S Church Centre C/S Church Centre C/S




Lent Course

Church Centre C/S




Holy Communion

St John’s C/S

Coffee Shop Lent Course Parish Communion Holy Communion {BCP} Family Service Evensong {BCP} Mothers’ Union Storkies

Church Centre C/S Church Centre C/S St John’s C/S St James’, Horton St John’s O/S St Adeline’s L/S Church Centre, C/S St John’s, C/S

Meditation Meeting Lent Course

Ring 327118 for venue Church Centre, C/S

Wed Thurs



2nd 3rd

Mon Tues

14th 15th

10.45am 11.00am 9.30am 11.15am 11.15am 6.00pm 2.00pm 9.15am



3.00pm 7.30pm



Sun 13th Fifth Sunday of Lent

Sun 20th PalmSunday

St John’s C/S St John’s, C/S St James’, Horton St John’s O/S St Adeline’s L/S St John’s, C/S


Holy Communion

St John’s C/S

10.45am 11.00am 7.30pm 10.30am

Coffee Shop Lent Course Joint PCC Meeting Benefice Communion

Church Centre C/S Church Centre C/S Village Hall, O/S St John’s C/S



St John’s, C/S


Tea and Chat

Church Centre C/S


Lent Course

Church Centre, C/S








Holy Communion

St John’s C/S



10.45am 7.30pm 2.00pm

Coffee Shop Communion for Maundy Thursday Service for Good Friday

Church Centre C/S St James’, Horton St John’s, C/S




Easter Vigil

St Adeline’s, L/S

9.30am 11.15am 11.15am 6.00pm

Parish Communion Holy Communion {CW} Morning Praise {CW} Holy Communion {BCP}

St John’s C/S St James’ Horton St John’s O/S St Adeline’s L/S

Sun 27th Easter Sunday


Wisdom of A Child: Sacraments I was playing over in my mind and reflecting again what my son said the other day about sacraments. He was painting an abstract/symbolic picture of ‘a battle between warm and cold’. He’s always been very sensory, very huggy, and treats the warmth left behind by another person when they get up out of a sofa or out of bed as something to be treasured, almost revered, because for him, the person has left something of themselves there, of which warmth is the sign. Anyway, he was painting his picture, and started to talk about how I was warm, and I pointed out that my hands and feet are often quite cold, but that I was warm inside. He then said, ‘Yes, like a sacrament.’ We unpacked this a bit, and what he meant was that there is an inner warmth in a person you love and who loves you that is somewhere between spiritual and emotional, and that our outer bodily warmth is a sign of that, but not the thing itself. I said to him that that was pretty profound stuff. He said to me, ‘I didn’t make it up, you told me about it last year when I was doing communion preparation.’ As it happens, I do remember telling them about the classic definition of a sacrament as ‘an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace’ but I don’t remember applying it to people. He went on to talk about how this works in holy communion: ‘When you drink the wine, and it feels warm when you swallow it, that’s the outward bit of the sacrament, and the inward bit is the warmth of love. That’s why you’re like a sacrament.’ 16

He’s always felt very strongly that unless he’s had wine as well as a wafer, he hasn’t really taken communion properly, and now I know why – it seems from this conversation that, while for many of us, the idea of bread and wine as the body and blood of Christ can be almost ‘abstracted’ from the physical elements, for my son, in his multisensory spiritual world, it is the warmth of the wine, rather than the fact that it is red, or simply the idea of it, that enables it to function sacramentally. He’s done this before, I now remember. Once when he was much younger, maybe four or five, he came running in from the garden with a big juicy strawberry in his little hand. He held it out to me, eyes like saucers, and said, ‘Mummy, I thought of you as I picked it. Eat it, mummy, can you taste the love?’ I realise that my son is unusually articulate about this kind of thing, but I’m also pretty confident that his experience is not unique. Time and time again in engaging with children (often much younger than my son) I am both inspired and challenged by the way that they can effortlessly and holistically engage mind, body and spirit in the processing of experience, and playfully hold together material and spiritual and emotional reality in a way that many adults find so hard. Undoubtedly, children can do theology. To be honest, if often feels as if children are natural theologians, and their experience of church can either nurture that innate ability to experience the divine, or crush it. Lord, let my kids always be in a church that honours what they bring, that welcomes them to participate fully, and that engages with the senses as well as with the brain.

March Outlook 2016  
March Outlook 2016  

The monthly magazine of the SodburyVale Benefice of churches