March Magazine

This is the twelfth Parish Magazine on St Mary's website. 

As always thanks to all who have contacted us, please keep in touch  and send us comments and articles for inclusion.

Pauline & Bob - co editors..

Updated 28th February 2021




Dear Friends,


The day before yesterday, I left my breakfast to investigate the unusually loud, mechanical noise that seemed to be centred right outside of my front door.  It came from tree surgeons, who were cutting down the tree in the next door’s front garden.   The tree was very old, and it was huge, a third or higher the house itself. Its branches overshadowed my neighbours’ front garden, part of mine and half the road.  Because it was so tall and its shade spread so far across the gardens and the road, and because I was well-used to all this, I didn’t feel overpowered by its presence.  I took it for granted.


The noise from tree surgeons’ saws and from the machinery they used to turn tree into wood chips was by contrast intermittent and it was overpowering.  I was unable to work. So I stood in my front room watching the tree-cutting. 


A man in an orange-coloured jacket, festooned in ropes, stood in the tree. He looked around, choosing a branch, tightening the end of a cord that connected a hoist to the branch that he was to cut, and adjusting two sets of safety harnesses. Finally, he took up an electrical saw that had dangled by another cord from his waist. Then he sawed through the branch he had chosen. And so on. The actual action of cutting down a branch never took him more than five seconds.  Most of his time went on moving and adjusting ropes &c.  It was quite mesmerising to watch the man at work there. It took two days to take down the whole tree. 


There has been a result from the disappearance of next door’s tree, a result which is as unexpected as it is welcome. The vicarage is much brighter than I ever knew it could be, and I look out of the front window into a clear blue sky instead of dense, tangled tree branches.


The work of these tree surgeons in cutting down that tree is like the process of Lent, albeit theirs was more radical than is right for us. They removed the whole tree, but Lent calls upon us not to abolish ourselves but to remodel them to receive illumination. Our lives may be likened to trees that need to be pruned.  Lent is the season of this pruning. We examine ourselves and see what in our lifestyle is blocking out the light that God has sent to us. We should cut back branches which are hiding that light and train them how they ought to go.  In Lent we train ourselves to do without creature comforts so that the creature can see where it should go. We spend more time in prayer, set aside time to read and to study the Scriptures, These activities make inner space to which we may retreat, out of the entangling triviality of the world into ourselves so that we can see God’s light, like a tree surgeon making it possible for light to come a garden. This task takes time, and it may require courage. Jesus spent forty days in the wildness, and there the Devil tempted Him, trying to trick Him again and again.  Neither is our task easy.  Only the knowledgeable and experienced exponent of arboriculture knows how to train and prune a tree so that it will bear fruit abundantly.  Sometimes, unknowingly, we yield to the world’s temptations because they are so habitual that they almost become integral to our lives.  Who does not want to turn stone into bread when one is hungry? Do we know that was a temptation?   So let March be the month when we set aside time to understand who we truly are, what we really need, and how we can let the divine light shine upon us. 



Random Ponderings by a Recognised Parish Assistant


by a Recognised Parish Assistant


One of my most vivid memories from when my children were small was something that happened during the afternoon of a busy day when my younger daughter was about three years old. I'd spent the day, as usual, juggling housework and so on alongside caring for her, her older brother, and her mentally disabled big sister; I felt harassed, put-upon, and really tired. And here came little Bethany down the stairs, calling for Mummy again. Somewhat irritably I responded “What's the matter?”, and she replied: “I haven't got any matters , I just want you ...”


I forget what I said in reply – probably something like “And you can have me, my pet, come to Mummy” - but I took her in my arms and we shared one of those precious moments that make all the hard work of parenthood worthwhile. Maybe I needed reminding that beyond all the “matters” of life with children, beyond the cooking and cleaning, the nappies and wiped noses and skinned knees and broken nights, we had the most important thing of all – we loved and belonged to each other, and I could rest in her love just as she knew she could rest in mine.


March 14th is Mothering Sunday, when we are urged to remember the mothers (and others) who cared for us and nurtured us when we were young, and when those of us who are mothers ourselves are (hopefully!) thanked and appreciated by our offspring. I don't think I've ever had a Mother's Day card that thanked me for wiping noses or changing nappies! They are much more likely to say, “You were there for me”. They celebrate our relationship, our love for each other, out of which spring all those other things.


In Luke 10:38-42, Luke tells the story of Jesus' visit to the home of Mary and Martha (who lived in Bethany, the place my daughter was named after). Martha bustles about making unnecessarily elaborate preparations for dinner, and finally demands that Jesus send her sister Mary to help her – but Jesus points out that Mary has 'chosen the best part'. She is sitting at his feet, learning from him, receiving his love and giving him hers in return. She hasn't got any 'matters', she just wants him.


Martha, and the rest of us, have so many things to worry and distract us, but our heavenly Father already knows all about them (Matthew 6:8). This Lent, I intend to make a conscious effort each day to leave all my 'matters' in his care, and then to spend a little time just remembering that he is with me, he loves me, and he will never let me go.



                                                                                                                        Hilary Longstaff


Finding God in Each Moment of the Day

Do you know the popular series of books entitled Where’s Wally? These books are filled with very detailed cartoon drawings in each of which is hidden Wally. He is dressed in a red and white striped ski cap and glasses and the challenge is to find Wally. You have to search for some time to pick him out of the crowd, but Wally is always there!

In many ways, like finding Wally, we need to develop the skill of identifying God’s presence in our daily lives. One approach that can help us to find God throughout the day is to do a daily review of our day with God. It can provide us with a means of seeing where God has been at work during our day. It’s an opportunity of remembering how God has been at work and how we have responded to Him. As the psalmist says, ‘On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night’ (Ps 63:6).

What does this look like in practice? Here is a step by step guide:

  1. Be still for a moment, and quiet your mind.
  2. Acknowledge that Jesus is present. Invite Him to guide you.
  3. Recall the beginning of the day, when you first woke up. Watch that scene, as if on film. What is your reaction to what you see? Talk to God about it.
  4. Continue through the film of your day, going from scene to scene. As you reflect on each one, some scenes may fill you with gratitude, others with regret. Speak directly to God about this. You may also want to pray for those you encountered during the day.
  5. End your review with a prayer of thanksgiving for God’s mercy and love. Ask him to refresh you as you sleep.

As you begin reviewing your day with God regularly, you can expect to see two things beginning to happen:

Firstly, you will become more aware of recurring negative patterns in your life, which will challenge these wrong attitudes and habits and increase your desire to grow and change.

Secondly, you will become more aware of God’s presence in the ordinary moments of your life. And when you start experiencing the reality of God’s presence with you every day, it’s not ordinary any more!


Jesus and His mother

When Jesus was at a Galilean wedding (John 2:1-11), He was there with His disciples and Mary, His mum. During the celebrations, unknown to the groom, the wine ran out. Mary was quick to spot the problem. She knew this could be an embarrassing moment for the groom if people couldn’t have a drink, and the married couple would face ridicule and shame.

So, Mary asked her Son for help. Although we know that Jesus responded by turning water into wine, she didn’t know this was going to happen. At that time Jesus had not performed a miracle! Whatever she thought, Mary simply showed concern and trusted Jesus to do the right thing.

At first Jesus seems to respond to His mum with a rebuke. This dilemma was not His concern. Even so, Mary says to the servants “Do whatever He tells you.” Jesus instructs the servants to fill six large stone jars with water. A sample is taken, and it has become the best wine to conclude the festivities. Jesus had met a human need and prevented a ruined wedding day.

The servants obeyed Jesus and a miracle followed. Later, through His ministry, many people obeyed Jesus and their response brought healing or some other beneficial change.

In this story, only Mary, the servants and the disciples were aware of this miracle. It was not a public spectacle such as Jesus feeding 5000 people with a handful of bread and fish. We too should be alert to what God is doing amongst us while others are oblivious of a divine hand.

“Do whatever He tells you” Mary said. What wise words! When we do this our lives will be transformed. It took a mother to know the right thing to say in a troubled situation. Mary knew Jesus would not let her down. So must we.




Lent lunches via Zoom

Each Wednesday during March (except in Holy Week) 1pm

Contact Tony Carr (01642 816303) for the link to join us..

A donation in lieu of buying lunch, raffle tickets, cakes etc. can be made in aid of church funds, via Tony.



Lent Course    ‘Living His Story’        


The Lent Course on Zoom will be on Wednesdays, March 3rd, 10th, 17th and 24th, all at 7pm

Contact the Vicar (01642 824132) for the link to join



Mothering Sunday  Sunday 14th March  10am service via Zoom





Palm Sunday             28th March 10am service via Zoom


Maundy Thursday      1st April  Service at 7pm via Zoom


Good Friday                2nd April  Stations of the Cross  via Zoom


Easter Day                  4th April    6am Sunrise Service in the churchyard

                                                10am Service of Holy Communion  in Church


Please note that from Easter Sunday, 10am services will resume in church as well as private prayer beginning on Wednesday 7th April.


The Revd Dr Herbert McGonigle, considers the problem of prayer.

When your prayer is not answered

2 Cor. 12:8; ‘Three times I asked the Lord about this …BUT…’

Paul is talking about one of the most mysterious and one of the most baffling aspects of prayer – when God does not say yes.

On the face of it, Paul’s prayer was very modest.  For some time he had been troubled by ‘a thorn in the flesh.’  He doesn’t tell us what the ‘thorn’ was and down the centuries theologians and commentators have made suggestions. Most of them have thought that the affliction was physical because Paul says it was ‘in the flesh.’ Some have suggested that he suffered from epileptic fits which caused him to fall down, while others have suggested that he was laid low by constant fevers or that he had very poor eyesight, the last based on his remarks in Galatians 6:11. But in spite of this great servant of the Lord praying earnestly three times that the thorn would be removed, God did not answer as Paul expected. A number of things in this passage (verses 7-10) are very helpful to all of us in the matter of prayer.

First, although God’s answer was not what Paul asked for, God did answer him. God is never indifferent to the prayers we utter from the depth of our heart. Unlike the idol Baal in the Old Testament story about Elijah, (1 Kings 18) the God and Father of our Lord Jesus is not on a journey, nor is He busy elsewhere, nor is He sleeping. He hears our prayers and our cries when we come to Him in our need and pain and distress.

Second, although Paul did not get the answer he wanted, God made him a wonderful promise. He said, ‘My grace is sufficient for you’ (v.9).  This was not what Paul asked for, yet what a promise it was! God said in effect. ‘I will not take the thorn away – but my daily grace is all-sufficient.’ In spite of the thorn, Paul will triumph. When God gives us all-sufficient grace, it will take care of everything in our lives.

Thirdly, Paul learnt that God’s wonderful grace meant that in his weakness ‘the power of Christ’ (v.9) would be with him, the power that would make him effective and fruitful in his ministry.

Fourthly, this experience taught Paul that he could be ‘content with weaknesses and insults’ (v.10) because it was for Christ’s sake, and when he is weak in himself, he is strong in Christ (v.10).

So what about unanswered prayer? Unless our prayer was selfish and not for our good in the first place, God does answer our cry. When the answer is not what we expected, then it means that our loving Father has something for us even better and more important than what we asked for.

Dr Herbert McGonigle was formerly Senior Lecturer in Historical Theology & Church History, Nazarene Theological College, Manchester     


The Revd Peter Crumpler, a Church of England priest in St Albans, Herts, and a former communications director for the CofE, considers all that mothers have done for us this past year.


Let’s clap for mothers!


As Mothering Sunday approaches, let’s hear it for all the mothers who have been on the frontline of helping our country survive the Covid pandemic!


Just as we’ve clapped on our doorsteps for the NHS and other heroes, let’s applaud all that mothers have done – often balancing home and employment – during these long lockdown months.


Research shows that mums have carried out most of the home schooling and household tasks – with many also holding down important frontline roles in the NHS and other essential services.


Women spent more than twice as much time as men on their children’s home schooling and development during the lockdown, according to a study by University College London. It measured how parents responded while schools and nurseries were closed to most families.


The survey, reported by the Guardian newspaper, found that women across several age groups took the major share of childcare and home schooling. Those with primary school-aged children “were considerably more likely” to have given up working than fathers with children of the same age.


The pressure on families was further increased as many grandparents and other carers were unable to help. Family and friendship networks were put under strain with contacts restricted to online Zoom or Facetime calls that are often difficult with younger children.


Launching a Children’s Society report into children’s welfare during the lockdown, chief executive Mark Russell said: “We are living in unprecedented times. Months of national lockdown, only small numbers of children in school, and many families experiencing real crisis. Coronavirus has impacted every area of our lives and The Children’s Society has been deeply concerned about the impact of this crisis on children, especially the most disadvantaged.”


He added: “Our survey found a higher proportion of young people experiencing low well-being than we are used to seeing. Whilst we know that most children’s well-being will ‘bounce-back’, there will be some who do not.”


Mothers are at the frontline of helping our children cope with – and then recover from – the effects of the Covid pandemic and the extended lockdowns.


Many working mothers lost their jobs because of the pandemic, and families will be hard-pressed to make up for the income lost. Food bank provider, the Trussell Trust has warned churches to prepare for a ‘tidal wave’ of poverty and to be ready to help their local communities.


This Mother’s Day, daffodils and chocolate may seem very thin reward for the major contribution of mums across our nation.


In normal times, they have a challenging and demanding job to do. Through the pandemic, they have risen to the challenges and sought to ensure children thrive despite the lockdowns.

As we celebrate Mother’s Day, let’s recognise the amazing efforts made by mothers in the home with their children.


Let’s also celebrate the vital roles many also play – as do those without children – in the NHS, in education, in the government and civil service, in keeping vital supplies flowing – and in our pulpits and across our churches.


 The Ven John Barton considers the sorrows of the past year.

                                                       A year of coronavirus

The Queen recently spoke for the whole country when she said that many are, “tinged with sadness. Some (are) mourning the loss of those dear to them and other missing friends and family members, distanced for safety. When all they really want … is a simple hug or a squeeze of the hand.”


We may have become accustomed to wearing face masks in public, keeping our distance from others, cutting out social gatherings, and attending church services online, but ‘no touching’ seems the cruellest of punishments.  


As one vicar friend of mine said, the Church has had to learn a lot from lockdown: 


“That Zoom is no substitute for meeting together, sharing warmth, laughter, tears – and drinking from the same cup. We have a commonality in Christ, whoever we are. Christianity is more ‘us’ than ‘me’.


“Also, we cannot ignore those who will bear considerable cost arising from the pandemic. People have lost loved ones, businesses, confidence, jobs. It is vital that the church becomes a place of hope – not glib, cliched words – but solid hope drawn from Scripture and made real in action. The church could become a real hub of the local community.


“But we have to rethink much of what we do and how we say things. The money has all but gone now and the church has to refocus on how it attracts people, what it says in plain English, how it presents itself and provides a warm welcome to those who haven’t a clue what Christianity is.... and all this on a very tight budget!”


He’s got to be right. And some of us could begin to apply some of his ideas right now, even before the pandemic is under control. 


As a direct consequence of lockdown, many of us have much more money in the bank than we bargained for. We could send a substantial sum to our local church, and some to an overseas charity, to make some of those ambitions come true. With time on our hands, we could earmark an hour or two for emailing or phoning those in our address book who live alone. We could buy extra supplies for a food bank on our next visit to the supermarket. 


And we must ask God to make our church more comprehensible to those who consider themselves outsiders.


Real Easter Egg launches despite being dropped by supermarkets

The Meaningful Chocolate Company has launched its 2021 Fairtrade Real Easter Egg range. All Real Easter Eggs come with an Easter story in the box. The stories range from simple guides to a 24-page activity book version with a prize competition worth £200. They provide an opportunity to share the joy of Easter with friends and family.

The 2021 Original Real Easter Egg includes a new 24-page Easter story activity book. It features a rainbow design to remind us of the importance of working together, in amazing and inspiring ways, for the common good. It costs £4.50 and is delivered in multiples of six or as singles.

David Marshall, from Meaningful Chocolate, said: “Even with the current uncertainties we believe that it is more important than ever that churches, schools and individuals find ways to share the Easter story in 2021. Our aim is to provide some of these resources and continue to support Fairtrade. The Real Easter Egg is a proven way to do this. You can order direct from External link opens in new tab or ”

Real Easter Egg dropped by pandemic hit supermarkets

The UK’s top supermarkets will not be stocking The Real Easter Egg in 2021. For the past ten years Tesco, Waitrose, ASDA and Morrisons have made room on their shelves for The Real Easter Egg.

The head of The Real Easter Egg, David Marshall, said: “Easter 2020 was right at the start of lock-down and we saw people change the way they shopped. We saw an increase of 40% in people buying from our website for friends, family and food banks. However, at the same time, the early pandemic led to the supermarkets having a disastrous Easter as people stayed away from high streets. This year, supermarket buyers were told to cut brands, reduce the volumes and in some cases ask for stock to be supplied at a loss or cost price. It means there will be fewer brands, including the Real Easter Egg, on supermarket shelves this Easter. So, if you are one of the 80,000 people who usually buy a Real Easter Egg from a supermarket, go online and order direct from External link opens in new tab or “.

About the Real Easter Egg

Out of the 80 million chocolate Easter eggs sold each year in the UK, The Real Easter Egg is the first and only Fairtrade chocolate Easter egg to share the Easter story.

The Real Easter Egg has been on sale since 2010 and involves thousands of churches, schools and groups.  It crosses all denominations and offers individuals a simple way to share the Easter Story while supporting Fairtrade and charitable projects.

The Real Easter Egg continues to be the UK’s top mail order Egg in terms of volume.

To date more than a million eggs have been sold and more than £300,000 has been donated to charitable causes.


Revd Canon Paul Hardingham looks back on the year that changed the world.

‘One Year On’

It was just over a year ago that the WHO discussed the coronavirus that was starting to spread around the world. None of us could have foreseen the devastating effect on our world, with over 80 million people infected and nearly two million deaths. How has the pandemic challenged our faith, as we look back over the last year?

Firstly, it has forced us to face up to the reality of our situation. We cannot underestimate the health, social and economic effects of the virus on our lives, churches and communities. We have learned how to do church online, but the future shape of church life is uncertain!

As the apostle Paul writes: ‘We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus’ (2 Cor 4:8-10).

The pandemic has challenged so much of what we take for granted, but also demonstrated that God is alongside to help us in these circumstances.

Secondly, alongside the fear and uncertainty of this year, we have also learned to find new faith and hope in Jesus. The experience of Jesus’ death and His resurrection provides a pattern for us in facing the future: ‘so that His life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.’ (2 Cor 4:10-12).

During the season of Lent, as we anticipate the events at Easter, it’s good to focus on the promise of sharing in the death and resurrection of Jesus. As we consider our present struggles, are we ready to surrender them to Jesus? May the hope of Easter Day take us forward into the coming year.


8th March:     Woodbine Willie, bringing love with cigarettes and the Bible


Here’s a ‘saint’ that the Church of England remembers from the 1st World War - the Revd Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy MC, or ‘Woodbine Willie’, as everyone knew this popular, much-loved army chaplain on the Western Front.


Studdert Kennedy (27th June 1883 – 8th March 1929) had been born in Leeds as the seventh of nine children. After reading divinity and classics at Trinity College Dublin, he’d studied for ordination at Ripon Clergy College, and served his curacy at Rugby. 


By the time war broke out in 1914, Studdert Kennedy was vicar of St Paul’s Worcester.  He soon volunteered to go to the Western Front as a chaplain to the army.  Life on the front line in the trenches was a desperate affair, but soon Studdert Kennedy had hit on a way of bringing a few moments of relief to the stressed-out soldiers: as well as good cheer he gave out copious amounts of ‘Woodbines’, the most popular cheap cigarette of the time.


One colleague remembered Kennedy: “he'd come down into the trenches and say prayers with the men, have a cuppa out of a dirty tin mug and tell a joke as good as any of us. He was a chain smoker and always carried a packet of Woodbine cigarettes that he would give out in handfuls to us lads. That's how he got his nickname. He came down the trench one day to cheer us up. Had his Bible with him as usual. Well, I'd been there for weeks, unable to write home, of course, we were going over the top later that day. I asked him if he would write to my sweetheart at home, tell her I was still alive and, so far, in one piece… years later, after the war, she showed me the letter he'd sent, very nice it was. A lovely letter. My wife kept it until she died."


Kennedy was devoted to his men, so much so that in 1917 he was awarded the Military Cross at Messines Ridge, after running into no man’s land in order to help the wounded during an attack on the German frontline.


During the war, Kennedy supported the British military effort with enthusiasm, but soon after the war, he turned to Christian socialism and pacifism. He was given charge of St Edmunds in Lombard St, London, and took to writing a number of poems about his war experiences: Rough Rhymes of a Padre (1918) and More Rough Rhymes (1919). He went on to work for the Industrial Christian Fellowship, for whom he did speaking tours. It was on one of these tours that he was taken ill, and sadly died in Liverpool in 1929. He was only 46.


His compassion and generosity in the face of the horrors of the Western Front was immortalised in the song ‘Absent Friends’: "Woodbine Willie couldn't rest until he'd/given every bloke a final smoke/before the killing." He himself had once described his chaplain’s ministry as taking “a box of fags in your haversack, and a great deal of love in your heart.”                


Crosswords Clues (answers next month)


1              The earth is one (6)

4              ‘On a hill far away stood an old — cross’ (6)

7              ‘I am the — vine and my Father is the gardener’ (John 15) (4)

8              The Caesar who was Roman Emperor at the time of Jesus’ birth(Luke 2) (8)

9              ‘Your — should be the same as that of Christ Jesus’(Philippians 2) (8)

13           Jesus said that no one would put a lighted lamp under this(Luke 8) (3)

16           Involvement (1 Corinthians 10) (13)

17           Armed conflict (2 Chronicles 15) (3)

19           Where the Gaderene pigs were feeding (Mark 5) (8)

24           What jeering youths called Elisha on the road to Bethel (2 Kings 2) (8)

25           The Venerable — , eighth-century Jarrow ecclesiastical scholar (4)

26           8 Across issued a decree that this should take place (Luke 2) (6)

27           Come into prominence (Deuteronomy 13) (6)



1              Where some of the seed scattered by the sower fell (Matthew 13) (4)

2              Sexually immoral person whom God will judge (Hebrews 13) (9)

3              Gospel leaflet (5)

4              Physical state of the boy brought to Jesus for healing (Mark 9)

5              Tugs (anag.) (4)

6              To put forth (5)

10           Nationality associated with St Patrick (5)

11           Leader of the descendants of Kohath (1 Chronicles 15) (5)

12           ‘With his hand grasping — heel’(Genesis 25) (5)

13           The Lord struck the Arameans with — at Elisha’s request (2 Kings 6) (9)

14           ‘You will — three times that you know me’ (Luke22) (4)

15           Spit out (Psalm 59) (4)

18           ‘When I — , I am still with you’ (Psalm 139) (5)

20           Concepts (Acts 17) (5)

21           Thyatira’s dealer in purple cloth (Acts 16) (5)

22           Does (anag.) (4)

23           The second set of seven cows in Pharaoh’s dream were this(Genesis 41) (4)

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Answers to February Crossword


8, Cross-examined. 9, Ash. 10, Apocrypha. 11, Sci-fi. 13, Typical. 16, Visited. 19, Offer. 22, No account. 24, RAC. 25, Sovereign Lord.



1, Oceans. 2, Hophni. 3, Islamist. 4, Exhort. 5, Omar. 6, On spec. 7, Add all. 12, CBI. 14, Plotting. 15, Awe. 16, Vanish. 17, Starve. 18, Daub it. 20, Furrow. 21, Recede. 23, Cure.

Winners:  Peter Warren

ANAGRAM.                       NON-ANGLICANS


Rearrange these letters to form the names of 10 Nonconformist denominations to be found in the UK. Note: the word 'church' does not appear in any of the solutions.


1.         RAGGIE CONNALTO   2.         HOT MUSTED TINDIE    3.         A ROMANTIC LOCH   4.         FORTY COFES INSIDE   5.         ANA TURINI


6.         STAPNIE BERRY   7.         B S PITTA   8.         REPLY BURN THEM HOT   9.         FRIED ROUNDMEET   10.       NO PET CASTLE



February answers:   Winners:  Bill Davidson, Mabel McGurk and Wyn Hirst




1.         WIEN - Vienna, Austria   2.         WARSZAWA - Warsaw, Poland   3.         FIRENZE - Florence, Italy   4.         LISBOA - Lisbon, Portugal


5.         NAPOLI - Naples, Italy      6.         BAILE ATHA CLIATH - Dublin, Eire   7.         HANNOVER - Hanover, Germany   8.         BRUXELLES - Brussels, Belgium


9.         MILANO - Milan, Italy       10.       BUCUREŞTI - Bucharest, Romania

                                                                                                Compiled by Peter Warren

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24th March:   Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, martyr 1980

Oscar Romero was a bit of a modern Thomas Becket – loyal to the authorities until he was given great responsibility for the Church. Then, like Becket, there was trouble.

In Romero’s case, it all began when he was born Cuidad Barrios in El Salvador back in 1917. Devout from a young age, he was ordained in 1942, and became a parish priest in the diocese of San Miguel.

For 25 years Romero worked hard in his parish, where he was a traditional priest, very conservative, ascetic, and devoted to the Virgin Mary. In 1967 he was appointed Secretary to the Episcopal Conference of El Salvador. He was elevated to be Bishop of San Salvador and then Bishop of Santiago de Maria. An admirer of the conservative Opus Dei movement, Romero firmly opposed any liberation theology.

Then in 1977 Oscar Romero was appointed Archbishop of San Salvador. The Salvadorian government saw him as a safe pair of hands for the job.

But they were in for a shock. For Romero’s new responsibilities made him look afresh at the relationship between Church and State in El Salvador. He did not like what he saw.  Romero saw that social unrest and poverty were the direct result of government repression, and even worse, that the Church played its part in the on-going violence of Salvadorian society. After the murder of several outspoken priests and then the expulsion of several allegedly Marxist Jesuits, Romero felt compelled to speak out.

The right-wing Latin American governments were well used to priests who worked with the poor speaking out against them. But this was the first time that an Archbishop had raised his voice, and they were furious.

But Romero became a champion of liberation theology. He condemned government violence and championed the right of the poor to economic and social justice. He even wrote a pastoral letter from the Salvadorian bishops, supporting proportionate counter-violence towards the oppressive right-wing regime. When, nonetheless, he also still tried to act as a mediator between the rival groups, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

For several years Romero received death threats from both left- and right-wing paramilitary groups. Finally, while celebrating Mass, he was shot through the heart by a government assassin. It was 24th March 1980, and 40 more people died in the gunfire and explosions at his funeral. The Church worldwide mourned for him.


Battling bishop takes on the bookies


When a grieving family came to see the Bishop of St Albans, the encounter sparked a campaign that could transform the role of gambling in British public life.


Church of England bishop Alan Smith was deeply impacted by the visit from a family whose son had taken his life because of his struggle with problem gambling.In his role as a member of the House of Lords, he has since fought to combat gambling-related harm.


Bishops who sit in the Lords are sometimes themselves reluctant to speak of their role in the House – concerned that some churchgoers may wish them to devote all their time to their dioceses. But the bishop’s response to the family’s grief demonstrates the positive role that CofE bishops in the Lords can play.


In a recent podcast interview with Church Times, the bishop recalled the visit from the family. “They sat in my study, they broke down. They said we don’t know what to do.

We don’t want this to happen to anyone else. Can you help?


“I felt very helpless. I listened to them, prayed with them, then I put some questions down in the House of Lords.” It became clear that the government did not have a lot of statistics about the extraordinary growth in online gambling and the harm it was having, with possibly one or two people taking their lives every day in the UK. After he raised the issue, Bishop Smith was inundated with people writing to him. Many told him about a family member who had taken their life because of problem gambling and urging him to continue with the campaign.


Several years on, there is now a coalition of around 150 peers – the largest lobby group in the Lords – seeking to lessen the impact of problem gambling. A report by a Select Committee is calling for widespread changes to the Gambling Act dating from 2005. They want TV advertising of gambling to be restricted, and for the gambling industry to pay levies to meet the costs of tackling problem gambling. They point out that the NHS runs 14 problem gambling clinics at a time when funds are under desperate pressure.


Bishop Smith is also concerned about what he describes as the ‘gamblification’ of sport. He explained: “When I was young, we loved watching football and cheering our side on, but you didn’t have to gamble. The gambling industry has persuaded people that the need to bet is integral to sport.”  The Bishop has called on the Football Association to lead the way in tackling gambling, rather than having to respond to mounting public concern.


Debates around the bishops’ role in the Lords will no doubt continue, with critics calling for their removal. Supporters say the bishops maintain strong grassroots contacts in their dioceses and bring perspectives from local organisations and people. Many bring insights from their work with charities and other non-governmental organisations, as well as an important faith perspective.


Apocalyptic films more popular

You’d think that the real-life pandemic would be frightening enough, but instead apocalyptic films on streaming services have soared in popularity this past year.

And it seems that people who enjoy movies about zombies, alien invasions and apocalyptic pandemics may even be coping better than most of us. A recent study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences has found that people who like frightening entertainment are more likely to have ‘mentally rehearsed’ for the pandemic.  Films like 28 Days Later and Dawn of the Dead “apparently serve as mental rehearsal for actual events.”


Ten years of Syria at war

Ten years ago, on 15th March 2011, the Syrian Civil War began. It continues today.

Hostilities started with “Arab Spring” pro-democracy demonstrations that were crushed by President Bashar al-Assad, and the violence spread, with different groups, backed by various countries, joining in. The Sunni Muslim majority clashed with the President’s Shia Alawite sect, and jihadist groups flourished, with the Kurds – demanding self-government – dominating the north of the country.

Syria’s Christians – formerly ten per cent of the country – suffered atrocities from all sides. Many have fled, and those left in Syria now number about 670,000 out of a population of 19 million. It has been said that both sides in the war want to “displace Christians and change the culture”.

Key supporters of the Syrian government have been Russia, Iran and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah, while Western powers, Gulf Arab states and Turkey have backed some of the rebels. Israel is nominally neutral, but has attacked Iranian and Hezbollah forces in south-western Syria, perceiving them as a threat to Israel.

Estimates of the total number of deaths by the end of 2020 are hard to establish, but vary between 380,000 and 600,000. More than 200,000 of these were civilians, and 25,000 of those were children.


The Revd Canon Paul Hardingham considers the need to stay connected


‘Zoomed Out?’


‘You’re still on mute!’ If you’ve used Zoom over the past year, you’ll be familiar with this cry! After a day on Zoom, the last thing we often want to do is using it for a chat with friends or a church service on Sunday! Now this reveals a wider problem that we face. We know that staying connected in the pandemic is hard. When we’re tired and busy, it’s easy to stop connecting with others, which would encourage our faith or wellbeing. This might also include not sending a text, Facebook comment or phoning somebody up.


Remember what Paul says: ‘For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.’ (Romans 7:15). It’s often easier to avoid connecting with God and others, when this would be good for our sense of value, purpose and identity. Certain patterns of behaviour can make us feel safer, but in reality they prevent us from living our lives fully as God intends.


Paul adds: ‘What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!’ (Romans 7:24,25). Through the death and resurrection of Jesus we have the freedom to act differently. Lent is an ideal time to develop new habits, especially when we are tired or anxious. It may involve spending less time on Facebook, turning the TV off to call a friend who we need to catch up with, or getting up a bit earlier to spend time in Bible reading and prayer.


Let’s keep reminding ourselves that ‘God is bigger than Zoom’ and make sure that we don’t get disconnected! Let’s be committed to doing the right thing, rather than simply the easier thing.


On how to deflect those staff appraisals


The Rectory

St James the Least of All


My dear Nephew Darren


So, your vicar has introduced staff appraisal for all the officers who work for your church, including yourself. It seems a very dangerous innovation; as far as I am concerned, ministry is only successful when parishioners have no idea what the clergy get up to.


I imagine that he will look at the number of services you take in a year. Funerals can only be increased if you resort to murder, which is likely to be frowned on – although I have been sorely tempted during endless church council meetings. Perhaps if you take a flask of water wherever you go and if you find a baby unattended, you could resort to a spontaneous baptism. That would get your numbers up, even if returning mothers may marvel at the highly localised and brief shower that seemed to have taken place over the pram.


Visiting targets are easily increased. Compile a list of when parishioners will be out and call on those days; a card through their letterbox will prove to your vicar that you were there. Should they happen to be in, mention that you are collecting for the organ fund and they will immediately excuse themselves for an important appointment. You are then free to move on to clock another visit.


Your vicar is also bound to want to see the congregation increasing. This is not sustainable, and you should put a stop to such ambitions at once.  It is easily done. All you have to do is to approach your friends at the local football club and bribe them with your homemade beer to come along to church several Sunday mornings in a row. If you give them enough beer BEFORE the service, they will be likely to make just enough muted disruption as to leave your vicar a bit rattled, and thinking that perhaps after all, ‘less’ is ‘more’ when it comes to the congregation.


But whatever you do, make sure that you never preach a better sermon than he does.  You don’t want anyone thanking you at the door for your ‘so interesting sermon’ in front of him, when they have been sleeping through his sermons for years. If you offend the vicar this way, he will take swift revenge, and ask you to organise the parish summer fete.


Your loving uncle,



David Pickup, a solicitor, considers the laws on growing up.

The rites of growing up

Now every year His parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when He was twelve years old, they went up as usual… When the festival was ended …the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem …After three days they found Him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. From Luke 2

This familiar story is the only account of Jesus in His boyhood years. Because of her fright, it would have been one family story that Mary never forgot. At the age of 12, in that culture, Jesus would be just about to become a young man, and therefore have been eager to begin adulthood. Jesus knew He was not lost but in the right place. He said, “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

Children grow up by enormous leaps and bounds. Turn your back for a minute and they have aged years. In Britain, the law does not fix any one age for when a child is suddenly a grown up. Instead, it is a gradual process.

At age 10 you can have your ears pierced, but your parent may have to be with you, and you can be convicted of a criminal offence.

From age 13 you can work part-time. I remember getting a card from a doctor to show I could legally work. I carried it around with me on my milk round and was slightly disappointed the police never asked for it!

At 14 you can enter a pub, but only if the landlord allows it. You cannot buy or drink alcohol, only soft drinks.

At 16 you can marry, with your parents’ consent. You can also ride a moped, and drink alcohol in a restaurant with a meal. You can open a bank current account and get a debit card.

Once you are 17, you can hold a driver’s licence.

At 18 you can vote, get a tattoo, bet, and buy and drink alcohol in a pub.

At 21 you can apply to adopt a child, become a driving instructor and apply for a licence to fly commercial transport aeroplanes and helicopters.

I suppose reading all this you might be wondering “why didn’t I do all these things as soon as I could?!”




Wear your daffodil and unite in memory

Marie Curie, the UK’s leading end-of-life care charity will this year celebrate their 35th annual Great Daffodil Appeal, which is held every March across the UK. The money raised from this appeal enables the charity to continue their vital work providing care and support to people living with a terminal illness and their families.

The coronavirus continues to have a devastating effect on Marie Curie’s fundraising, as activities up and down the country have had to be cancelled. However, there’s still lots of ways people can get involved, with things like the Step into Spring Challenge in March where people walk 10,000 steps a day, they can host a virtual collection or buy and wear one of the charity’s iconic daffodils in memory of a loved one.

This year will be even more special as the charity encourages the nation to come together to reflect, grieve and remember for a National Day of Reflection. Tuesday 23rd March 2021 will mark one year since the UK first went into a nationwide lockdown and Marie Curie is inviting the nation to unite and remember those who died and show support and solidarity for those who have been bereaved. The charity knows how important it is for people to grieve and the emotional and psychological impact of not being able to say goodbye properly and grieving in isolation can have

Due to the pandemic, Marie Curie won’t have their normal collections on the street, so donations are more important than ever. To support the Great Daffodil Appeal, you can donate at External link opens in new tab or or you can buy your daffodil pin in store at a number of high street stores including Superdrug or Savers.


Movement over mind?

Exercise can be just as effective as mindfulness when it comes to reducing your stress and anxiety.  Such is the conclusion of a recent study at Cambridge University.

Mindfulness is a form of meditation which involves focussing your thoughts and sensations, and it has become popular in recent years.  But now Cambridge University experts say that it should not be assumed that meditation will always have a positive impact. Instead, people can reap mental benefits from physical exercise.

As one doctor said: “The main message here is, don’t assume mindfulness will work.  We have much more evidence for the mental and physical benefits of physical exercise.”

Last year it was found that people who exercised for 30 to 60 minutes at a time, for two to six hours a week, recorded the fewest days of poor mental health per month.


How Sunday became a Christian day of rest

It was 1700 years ago, on 7th March 321, that the Roman Emperor Constantine 1 (Constantine the Great), who had converted to Christianity, decreed that Sunday should be a day of rest throughout the Empire.

This was a change from normal Roman Empire practice, which was to regard Sunday as just another work-day – something the UK seems to be reverting to. But Constantine’s civil decree made Sunday a day of rest from labour. It said: “All judges and city people and craftsmen shall rest upon the venerable day of the sun.”

This was not intended to replace the Jewish Sabbath, which starts at sunset on Friday and continues to sunset on Saturday. Such Jewish observance was regarded by most Christians as being bound to the old law instead of the Spirit, and so was resisted. Christians backed the Sunday rest because it was the day on which Jesus had risen from the dead and the Holy Spirit had come – despite possible doubts about the phrase “day of the sun”.

Christians meeting for worship on Sunday in fact dates back to the Acts of the Apostles, and it is mentioned historically about 115AD. Actual practice varies across the world and through the years.


All in the month of MARCH

It was:

1700 years ago, on 7th March 321, that the Roman Emperor Constantine 1 (Constantine the Great) decreed that Sunday should be a day of rest throughout the Empire.

1600 years ago, on 25th March 421, that the city of Venice was officially founded when its first church was dedicated at noon.

300 years ago, on 24th March 1721, that Johann Sebastian Bach dedicated six of his concertos to Christian Ludwig Margrave of Brandenburg-Schwedt.  They are now commonly known as the Brandenburg Concertos.

200 years ago, on 19th March 1821, that Sir Richard Burton, British explorer, writer and translator, was born.  He was noted for his translations of The Arabian Nights and the Kama Sutra.

150 years ago, on 27th March 1871, that the first international rugby union football match was held in Edinburgh. Scotland beat England 1 – 0.

Also 150 years ago, on 29th March 1871, that the Royal Albert Hall in London was officially opened by Queen Victoria.

80 years ago, on 28th March 1941, that Virginia Woolf committed suicide, aged 59. Author of To The Lighthouse, Mrs Dalloway, Orlando, and A Room of One’s Own, among others, she was one of the leading modernist writers of the 20th century.

75 years ago, on 5th March 1946, that Winston Churchill gave his famous ‘Iron Curtain’ speech in Fulton, Missouri. He used the term to describe the separation between Soviet and Western countries.

Also 75 years ago, on 25th March 1946, that London’s Heathrow Airport was opened, as London Airport.  It was renamed Heathrow in 1966.

65 years ago, on 23rd March 1956, that Pakistan became the world’s first Islamic Republic.

60 years ago, on 6th March 1961, that George Formby, the ‘ukulele king’ died.  A British comedian, singer and actor, he was best known for his comic songs, including ‘When I’m Cleaning Windows’.

Also 60 years ago, on 8th March 1961, that Sir Thomas Beecham, British conductor and impresario died. He founded several major orchestras and transformed the operatic and orchestral scene in Britain.

50 years ago, on 8th March 1971, that the ‘Fight of the Century’ took place at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Two undefeated heavyweight boxers fought each other for the world title, with Joe Frazier defeating Muhammed Ali.

40 years ago, on 1st March 1981, that IRA member Bobby Sands began a hunger strike at Maze Prison, Northern Ireland.  He was elected as an MP to the British parliament on 10th April, and died on 5th May.

Also 40 years ago, on 29th March 1981, that the first London Marathon was held.

30 years ago, on 3rd March 1991, that American construction worker Rodney King was beaten by officers from the Los Angeles Police Department following a car chase.  The beating was captured on amateur video.  When the four officers were later acquitted in April 1992, it triggered the Los Angeles riots in which 53 people died and around $1billion worth of damage was caused.

Also 30 years ago, on 14th March 1991, that the convictions of the Birmingham Six were quashed by Britain’s Court of Appeal and they were released from prison after 16 years.  They had been convicted of carrying out pub bombings in Birmingham in 1974.

Also 30 years ago, on 21st March 1991, that the British Government announced that the controversial poll tax (officially called the community charge), which had sparked riots, was to be scrapped and replaced by a new property tax (council tax) from April 1993.

25 years ago, on 13th March 1996, that the Dunblane Massacre took place in Scotland. A gunman killed 16 children and a teacher at a primary school and wounded several others before taking his own life.

Also 25 years ago, on 20th March 1996, that the British Government reported that Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in humans was linked to BSE (mad cow disease) and could be transmitted to humans who ate infected beef. On 25th March the European Union banned the export of British beef (until 2006).

20 years ago, on 8th March 2001, that British racing driver Donald Campbell’s speedboat Bluebird was recovered from the bottom of Coniston Water in Cumbria.  (It had crashed and sank during a record attempt in January 1967 in which he was killed.)

15 years ago, on 1st March 2006, that the Senedd, the National Assembly for Wales’s debating chamber, was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II in Cardiff.

10 years ago, on 11th March 2011, that the great Tohoku earthquake and tsunami of Japan took place.  It shifted Japan’s main island, Honshu, 2.4 metres to the east. 15,897 people were killed, 2,533 went missing, and nearly a quarter of a million were made homeless.  Three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant went into meltdown, leading to the second-largest nuclear accident in history.

Also 10 years ago, on 15th March 2011, the Syrian Civil War began. It still continues today.


The Children’s Society

Usually around this time of the year the collection boxes for the Children’s Society are brought to church for emptying by Margaret Dabbs.  The money collected over the year by box owners is then counted and sent to the Society to help children who are at risk of abuse or neglect.  Many have been cut off from the support they need during the pandemic and so now, more than ever, funds are desperately needed to help them.

More children are in danger in their homes than ever before, and the extent of this will become visible when schools open on 8th March. The Children’s Society is working non-stop to help the children who have become vulnerable to domestic violence, mental health problems and alcohol and substance abuse.

However, as it is difficult at the moment to collect the boxes, instead, we urge you this year to donate online.  


The following link takes you to a very simple donation page. There is lots of information on how you can donate by post or even over the phone as well.


Please consider donating.  Thank you.       External link opens in new tab or windowDonate | The Children's Society   


Remembering Richard Burton – Victorian explorer, writer and translator

Two hundred years ago, on 19th March 1821, Sir Richard Burton, British explorer, writer and translator, was born in Torquay. He was noted for his unexpurgated translations of The Arabian Nights and the Kama Sutra, but his interests were much wider. He was a scholar, a diplomat, a spy and an Orientalist, and the first European to discover Lake Tanganyika.

He published 43 volumes on his explorations and almost 30 volumes of translations, and spoke 40 languages, including dialects. He was deeply involved in the search for the source of the Nile – his quest eventually ending in a fierce dispute with his companion John Hanning Speke, who claimed (rightly) that it flowed out of Lake Victoria.

Of mixed ancestry, Burton lived in many countries and said England was “the only country where I never feel at home”. He died in Trieste, where he was nursed by his devoted Roman Catholic wife Isabella. Burton himself was a student of religions but an adherent of none. He said: “The more I study religions, the more I am convinced that man never worshipped anything but himself.”

He was made Knight Commander of St Michael and St George by Queen Victoria in 1886. On his death, his wife burned nearly all of his 40-year collection of diaries and journals.



An easy way for fathers to feel closer to their children

When fathers work with their children on puzzles, it helps them grow closer, because their brains ‘synchronise’. This leads them to being more ‘psychologically in tune’ with each other.

A study at the University of Essex said that “the synchronising of brain activity is interesting, because we knew it happened between mothers and children, but didn’t know if the same was true with fathers.

“This is important for two reasons. It shows that men are biologically wired to provide off-spring care; and second, dads are increasingly being recognised as care-givers and attachment figures to their children.”


 Jennie Pollock is a writer with London Institute for Contemporary Christianity (LICC).

How to gain contentment

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! … Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 4:4,6-7)

I’ve been thinking a lot about contentment in the past couple of years, and have been struck by the fact that we can choose to be content.

As Paul says in Philippians 4:12, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation … whether living in plenty or in want.” He doesn’t explicitly tell us what the secret is – but the word ‘learned’ is significant.

Contentment isn’t something we have to hope we might be given, or something that would blossom in our lives if only we received or achieved all the things we’re longing for. Contentment isn’t the result of everything being the way we want. Nor is it a gift randomly given to some people to enable them to bear difficult circumstances.  Rather, it is something we can learn, something we can actively pursue. We do that by choosing to seek Christ’s glory over our own, to emulate His life of grumble-free humility, and to learn from others how to press on towards the goal of becoming more like Him.

And we do it by choosing to rejoice. Paul doesn’t say ‘Rejoice in the Lord when things work out’, or ‘Hang in there; we’ll be able to rejoice one day’. No, he commands us to rejoice in the Lord always. God is always good. There are always things to praise him for, in our plenty and in our want, in promotion or demotion, on a luxury holiday and in a long, lonely lockdown. (Isn’t it interesting that Paul had to learn how to be content with plenty as well as with want? Even the dream job, ideal home, and perfect partner won’t bring automatic contentment.)

This doesn’t mean denying the reality of our situations. We can and should ‘present [our] requests to God’, we just do it in an attitude of thankfulness not anxiousness. And as we play our part, God will respond by giving us something greater than what we have asked for – He’ll give us His peace, ‘which transcends all understanding, [to] guard [our] hearts and [our] minds’. True contentment is a gift from God – as indeed is everything good in life – but God in His goodness allows us to choose whether to receive it or not. So, make the choice: rejoice!


Your daily walk should be a sacred ritual

Under lockdown, millions of us who rarely walked around our immediate locality are now well acquainted with every nearby driveway, every crack in the pavement, and every pothole in the road. We have developed views on our neighbours’ gardens, on their oddly coloured garage doors, and on their dogs, children and cars. If we go out at the same time every day, we may even be saying hello to the same people we don’t know every day.

For many of us, that daily walk has become the high point of our day. After all, it is one of the few liberties we have left.  Some of us go early, to enjoy the relative peace and quiet.  Some of us go midday, to at least see other people, even if we can’t talk to them. Others of us opt for dusk, the dark comfort of a street with lit houses and stars in the sky.

Whatever time you most enjoy, make sure you do make the time to go for your walk.  Your mental and physical fitness can only improve!


150 years of the Royal Albert Hall

Joyce Grenfell wrote a wonderful song, Joyful Noise, about three lady choristers: Miss Clissold, Miss Truss and Ivy Trembley. Their greatest delight was to sing in an oratorio at the Royal Albert Hall. ‘It may be like a gasworks with a green-house roof above it, and it may lack convenience, but all the same we love it.’ That love has marked the life of the Royal Albert Hall over 150 years as this month we celebrate its opening on 29th March 1871.

After the success of the Great Exhibition, Prince Albert dreamed of creating a more permanent cultural area in London to promote and popularise the arts and sciences. On his death in 1861 at just 42 years, it was decided to erect a memorial and a ‘Central Hall.’ And so the Royal Albert Hall was built. At heart it is an impressive concert hall promoting classical music with an annual performance of Handel’s Messiah from 1876, and from 1941 the BBC Proms: 8 weeks of concerts in the summer welcoming musicians from all over the world and culminating in the memorable Last Night. Composers from Wagner and Verdi to Bernstein and Britten have conducted and had works performed there.

But the Royal Albert Hall has also hosted an amazingly wide variety of events through its life: the Beatles in 1963, Ella Fitzgerald in 1990, poetry evenings, sport (boxing, tennis and basketball), the Cirque de Soleil, Teenage Cancer Trust concerts, and the 25th anniversary performance of The Phantom of the Opera in 2011. It has provided a platform for Winston Churchill, Einstein and the Dalai Lama. Many of us will have poignant memories of the annual RBL Festival of Remembrance held every November since 1923: a moving occasion that culminates with the shower of poppy petals.

Sadly, because of the restrictions with the pandemic, the Hall’s programme of events has had to be limited in scope since last year, but the frieze on the outside of the building remains to inspire. There we see a celebration of the rich variety of arts and sciences that include music, sculpture, painting, astronomy and navigation, and the words Thine O Lord is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty – a reminder that all our creative work here is a reflection of the wonder of God the Creator.

‘He will never forget at all The day he played at Albert Hall’. That line from the Kinks’ song Session Man invites us all to celebrate and give thanks for the richness of the life and work of the Royal Albert Hall as we look back over its 150 years and as we look ahead with hope and faith to a richer future.


Christian Aid Week 10th - 16th May


Delivery only collections

Would anyone like to volunteer to deliver Christian Aid envelopes this year?  There is one difference from other years….  There is no need to collect the envelopes.

If you could spare an hour or so to drop envelopes through letterboxes, please contact Margaret Dabbs (01642 816369)

More information on how to donate can be found on their website..

 External link opens in new tab or


Why not contact a lonely neighbour?

The public have been urged to write letters to their lonely neighbours, as the Government has announced a £7.5million cash injection for community-boosting activities.

It is hoped that people will “reach out virtually and help combat loneliness”, says Robert Jenrick, the Communities Secretary.  This could be done either by “picking up the phone or writing a letter.”

He urges, “Let’s all do what we can to connect with our older neighbours, in a Covid-secure way, so they feel less alone and know how valuable they are to their communities at this time.”

The charity Age UK has said it reckons there to be about 1.4million older people in England who are “chronically lonely.”


How to stop stress getting the better of you.

With the third lockdown, too many of us are facing a torrent of stress over job insecurity, home schooling, isolation, illness, or all of the above!

Stress makes us want to eat badly, exercise less and drink more. It also has a profound effect on our immune system.

While brief or ‘acute’ stress can spur us on to some specific achievement, the opposite is true of ‘chronic’ stress, which does only damage. It suppresses our immune system, making us more susceptible to bugs. That is why a stressful event can leave you feeling run down, or trigger a bad cold, shingles, or asthma.

So how do we give our immune systems some help during this crisis?

Eat well. A balanced diet includes at least all six plant-based food groups: fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, legume, nuts and seeds.

Exercise every day: regular moderate exercise helps your immune system.

Get enough sleep. It has been called “the foundation of the immune system.” Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and keep devices, laptops or screens away from you for an hour before bedtime.  Instead, stretch and relax, and consider a hot shower or bath.

Finally, don’t be mean to yourself. Practise some self-compassion. Give yourself some private time, forget perfectionism, and accept that ‘sometimes half-good is good enough.’ Be kind to yourself – because even that will help your immune system.




We realise that for some of our parishioners it has been a whole year since they have been able to attend church. (Who would have thought it??)


Hopefully, before too long, we will all be back together worshipping again in church.


In the meantime, two photos to jog your memory !!



                         SMILE LINES



A little girl told her mother, “We went to a confirmation service at the cathedral and I saw the bishop. Now I know what a crook looks like!” 


Definitions from church life


AMEN: The only part of a prayer that everyone knows.


PEWSHEET: Your receipt for attending services.


HYMN: A song of praise usually sung in a key two octaves higher than that of the congregation’s range.


RECESSIONAL HYMN: The last song at Sunday morning worship, often sung a little more quietly, since most of the people have already left.


JONAH: The original ‘Jaws’ story


PEW: A medieval torture device still found in some churches.


SIDESMEN: The only people in the parish who don’t know the seating capacity of a pew


From a parish newsletter: 


‘Children are normally collected during the Offertory Hymn’




I got a package envelope in the mail the other day that had written on the front, ‘Photographs: Do Not Bend


Underneath the postman had written: “Oh yes they do.”


Cats & dogs


Behind every cat that crosses the street, there is a dog saying, “Go ahead, you can make it.”


Dogs believe they are human. Cats believe they are God.


The only domestic animal not mentioned in the Bible is the cat.



Little old lady seeks handsome young man


An advert appeared in a student newspaper of a university: “Sweet little old lady wishes to correspond with good-looking university student – especially a six-footer with brown eyes, answering to initials J.A.D.”  It was signed: “his mother.”


Paradise lost?


A young mother stood in her kitchen and watched her baby screaming, her sons fighting, her daughter crying, the washing machine leaking, and the dog being sick. She sighed and said to her friend: “I sometimes wish I’d loved and lost.”




After a very long and boring sermon the parishioners glumly filed out of the church past the minister. Towards the end of the queue was a thoughtful person who always commented on the sermons. “Vicar, today your sermon reminded me of the peace and love of God.”


The vicar was thrilled. “Nobody has ever said anything like that about my preaching before. Tell me why.”


The man sighed. “Because it endured forever.”


Knock knock


A conscientious minister decided to get acquainted with a new family in his church and so he visited them one Spring evening. After his knock on the door, a lilting voice from within called out, “Is that you, Angel?”


“No,” replied the minister. “But I’m from the same department.”


Dressed up


An evangelical vicar was asked to celebrate Holy Communion for his Anglo-Catholic neighbour who was ill. Unfamiliar with some of the vestments, he did the best he could. 


Breakfasting at the vicarage afterwards he said to the vicar’s wife that he hoped he had got all the vestments on properly. “Oh yes,” she said, “you were quite all right – except that my husband does not usually wear the book-markers!”



What do you give a man who has everything?




Switched on


A housewife was helping her aged mother get up the stairs on their brand-new stair lift when the minister telephoned her. He was horrified to hear her say: “I’m so sorry, but I’ll have to ring you back. I can’t talk right now because I’ve finally got Mother in the electric chair and I’m eager to press the switch and see if it works! 


On offer


A bishop, invited to dinner at a large country house, was surprised not to be offered anything but water to drink, and eventually appealed to his very beautiful hostess: “Do you think I might have a drop of wine?”


The lady threw up her hands in horror and replied; “Bishop, I am so sorry!  I thought you were Chair of the Church of England Temperance Society.”


“Not at all,” said the bishop, adding “but I am Chair of the Anti-Porn campaign.”


“Oh!” came the reply.  “I knew there was something I could not offer you.”



Observations on modern life


Common sense is not a gift. It’s a punishment because you have to deal with everyone who doesn’t have it.


Save the earth. It’s the only planet with chocolate.


A bus station is where a bus stops.  A train station is where a train stops. On my desk I have a workstation.


A journey of a thousand miles begins with a cash advance.


The journey of a thousand miles begins with a broken fan belt and a flat tyre.


The darkest hour is just before dawn. So, if you’re going to steal your neighbour’s milk, that’s the time to do it.


Don’t be irreplaceable. If you can’t be replaced, you can’t be promoted.


A hangover is the wrath of grapes.


When two egotists meet, it’s an I for an I.


A filing cabinet is a place where you can lose things systematically.


If you think the problem is bad now, just wait until we have solved it.  (Arthur Kasspe)


Two choir members recently got married.  They met by chants.


The most welcome guest is the one who knows when to go home.                            



The views expressed in this a magazine are those of the contributors and do not necessarily reflect those of St Mary's, it's clergy or the Church of England.