February 2024 Magazine

As always thanks to all who have contacted us and sent us comments and articles for inclusion. Please keep in touch and send us things.

We think there is a lot of interest in the articles we have chosen and that it is ideal for you to dip in and out of and not read them all at once !!!


Pauline & Bob - co-editors..   

Updated  1st February 2024 



Dear Friends


Agape is a Greek word for a special type of love that distinguishes ‘brotherly love’, which it denotes, from other forms of love. In the Scriptures, agape is used for God’s love for us, and so for the love we should have for one another. Hence the agape meal is also called ‘love feast’


The love feast was a fellowship meal in the early Church, mentioned by both Paul (1 Cor. 11: 20-23) and in Jude (Jude 12). The first Christians did not have the ritual of the Holy Communion in the form we know today. So they just brought their own food to the gathering. The Eucharist would be included as a feature of their group’s life. It may be that in at least one place, Corinth, it became merely an occasion for eating and drinking. Such behaviour prompted Paul to write, “When you come together, it is not really to eat the Lord’s supper. For when the time comes to eat, each of you goes ahead with your own supper, and one goes hungry and another becomes drunk. What! Do you not have homes to eat and drink in? … What should I say to you? Should I commend you? In this matter, I do not commend you!” (1 Cor. 11: 20-23).


Towards the end of the first century, the Eucharist was separated from the agape feast. The Eucharist became the central feature of Christian worship. The agape feast continued as an informal fellowship meal. Early church writers such as St Ignatius of Antioch, Hippolytus of Rome and Tertullian, and even a Roman like the younger Pliny, mention just this fellowship meal. John Wesley introduced the agape feast into what became known as Methodism, where it functioned like an abbreviated communion service.


Today many churches hold an agape feast. The Church of England sees the agape meal as an occasion for Christian fellowship, recalling the meals Jesus shared with disciples during His ministry, one expressing their common life, that is to say the fellowship enjoyed by the family of Christ. The modern meal often contains Scripture readings, prayers, and sometimes hymns. The food is varied too. Some churches replicate the ancient middle East Jewish table, whilst others have loaves and wine, and others have just a simple meal with bread.


This Lent season, I would like to try a couple of agape meals at St Mary’s. As John Wesley (who remained in Anglican orders to the end of his life) had his agape meal on Wednesday mornings, we shall have it on Wednesday too. Let us begin it as a simple Lent lunch, with bread, soup and possibly a love feast cake made from the recipe once used in the churches in Yorkshire dales.


There are three Agape Lunches this Lent: February 21st and 28th (Wednesdays) and March 2nd (Saturday)                                                                  Norma


Random Ponderings.

 It looks as if 2024 will bring major changes for the Longstaff family. As some of you will already know, after a good deal of thought and prayer it seems right to us to plan a move to Exeter in Devon, where our daughter Bethany and her family live. Our sons both have special needs (the elder is autistic, the younger has Downs syndrome), and as Jim and I get older, they will need to have the rest of the family around. So, the house is up for sale, and we are preparing to be uprooted – at least, that's what it feels like! I keep thinking of Abraham, who 'set out, not knowing where he was going' (Hebrews 11:8). OK, we do actually know where we plan to go (Exeter), but no idea which house we will end up in, on which street, which church we will attend and so on. We are, of course, doing some research (and Bethany is being a great help), but much is unknown about the future. One thing which is certain is that I shall greatly miss attending St Mary's, which has been spiritually a real family to me for nearly 20 years. As for my son Matthew, when I asked him one day what would be his preferred style of service if he had a choice, he immediately said 'Compline at St Mary's'.


Our elder daughter Katie, who is severely autistic, is in excellent residential care at Seaham (Durham coast), and we will make regular trips North to see her, so will still be around from time to time!


All that is in the future, even if it is the fairly near future (one never knows how long these things will take). I find myself wondering how Abraham prepared to follow his call to 'up sticks'. Surely, he didn't have to sort through so much stuff (we now have a great relationship with at least one local charity shop) not to mention helping Matthew organise his lifetime collection of Lego – but at least I can reflect that I don't have to marshal Abraham's herds of sheep and camels (just two cats)! However, Hebrews points out that there is one important thing we do need to have in common with Abraham. He didn't just pack up and leave Ur on a whim. He did it in obedience and faith.


Abraham, it seems, heard God's voice very clearly, in a way we may all envy. I wonder if it seemed so clear at the time – maybe it was only when he looked back that he realised how real God's leading of him had been. However, it was, he had a choice – and, in a society where most people had no knowledge at all of the living God, he chose to trust him, for guidance in the present and for the promise of a place for himself and his family in the future. Hebrews says he moved out 'in faith'. His story (Genesis 11 onwards) shows that he didn't always get it right. But he kept trusting, and God did not let him down. He won't let us down either, and however our plans work out, he knows exactly what our future will be.





We discuss and meditate on the last seven words Jesus uttered on the Cross.


The Lent course this year will take place via Zoom (please contact the Vicar for access)


Dates are as follows:


Mondays February 19th and 26th and March 4th, 11th and 18th at 7pm




If you have been saving your spare change in one of the boxes over the last year, these will need to be emptied and counted in March.


Therefore, would you please bring your box to church if you are able, by the end of February.


If you would like to have a box to pop your spare change into for the next year to donate to the Children’s Society,  please speak to Margaret Dabbs (01642 816369) (mobile: 07985368682)



             February Diary Page

Holy Communion service each Sunday at 9.00am (Said BCP service)


Sung Eucharist each Sunday at 10.00am  (Common Worship)


Holy Communion each Tuesday at 10.00am  (Said BCP service)


Evensong (BCP)  each Sunday at 6.30pm apart from the second Sunday in the month when there is Compline at 6.30pm

Friday 2nd

2.15pm             FUNERAL OF ALBERT PAGAN


Sunday 4th

  9.00am            Holy Communion

10.00am            Parish Communion

  6.30pm            Evensong


Monday 5th

7.00pm             Bible Study (via Zoom)


Tuesday 6th

10.00am             Holy Communion


Saturday 10th

  9.30am             Church cleaning/churchyard tidy


Sunday 11th

  9.00am            Holy Communion (BCP)

10.00am            Parish Communion

  6.00pm            Compline


Monday 12th

  7.00pm           Bible Study via Zoom


Tuesday 13th

10.00am            Holy Communion

 7.00pm             Prayer meeting


Wednesday 14th  ASH WEDNESDAY

10.00am            Coffee Morning

  7.00pm            Holy Communion with Imposition of Ashes


Sunday 18th

 9.00am             Holy Communion

10.00am            Parish Communion

  6.30pm            Evensong


Monday 19th

 7.00pm            LENT COURSE via ZOOM - Seven Last Words.

We discuss and meditate on the last seven words Jesus uttered on the Cross.


Tuesday 20th  

10.00am           Holy Communion


Wednesday 21st

12.00 noon       AGAPE LUNCH


Sunday 25th

  9.00am            Holy Communion

10.00am            Parish Communion

  6.30pm            Evensong


Monday 26th

  7.00pm           LENT COURSE via ZOOM


Tuesday 27th

10.00am            Holy Communion


Wednesday 28th

12.00 noon       AGAPE LUNCH




At the start of each year, I produce a list of dates for our monthly ‘churchyard tidy ups’.  I must confess, the dates in the early part of the year, given it could be raining, blowing a gale or snowing, are more in hope!


This gave us the idea that we could use the ‘snowed in’ time to do some cleaning work inside the church, instead of fighting a losing battle outside!  Pauline and Bob already use the Saturday dates to catch up on office work, printing and dozens of other behind the scenes jobs, which probably nobody realises need doing, just to keep the church ticking over!


So, in January we gave it a go!  I asked our regular volunteers to choose either to work inside or out, as it was a very cold morning. You won’t be surprised to hear that most decided inside seemed the better option!  However, thank you to Mark, who helped me brave the elements outside while the ‘fairies’ tackled inside ….. in the warmth!!!


It turned out to be a great cobweb hunt inside, and poor Brian found that being tall was a bit of a disadvantage, as he was sent up the steps with his feather duster, and soon became entangled in a halo of cobwebs…much to the amusement of those at ground level holding the steps..   Others worked in different areas, to sweep, dust and polish, and generally tidy up as they went along.


Of course, like the Forth Bridge, cleaning the church is pretty much a never-ending job, but as they say, every little helps. 


All in all, everyone agreed it was a good use of time… so much so that we will be repeating it on our next session, Saturday 10th February, from 9.30am.


So if you would like to pop along with a duster or polish, or some simple gardening tools, it’s up to you, we’d be more than happy to welcome you!   


And of course… payment will be made….   Coffee/tea and doughnuts all round!


Barry Lomas




There will be a service of Holy Communion with Imposition of Ashes at 7pm on Wednesday 14th February.


 The Rev'd Dr Jo White continues her series on the Christian symbols in our Churches.

 Reflecting faith – Memorial Stones.


Last month we began to look at the outside of the church building. When you last visited a churchyard with very old memorials, what did you notice?


The oldest stones probably just had the name of the person, date of death and perhaps their age.


But the slightly more recent stones may well have included where the person had been born, lived, and who they had married. These stones probably belonged to the wealthier people, as they needed to be large, to include all this information!


As for the poorer folk, as cheaper stone became available, they also wanted to mark their loved one’s place of rest, even with just the bare details.


With the advent of the railways, a firm in Scotland started a business for shaping the stone with recessing, into which a local stone mason would be able to carve the words. This is why you will see many similar shaped stones in every churchyard in England, Wales and Scotland for that period.


In different areas of the country, both locally sourced stones and the availability of the stonemason create very different looks – whilst within that area are many reproductions.


Also, the ‘floweriness’ of the inscriptions grew over the years.  What started with just the name of the person later had added before the name, ‘With affection’, then ‘With great affection’, then, ‘Greatly loved’ and so on. It was almost as if people were trying to outdo each other on who loves who most.


Meanwhile, by the early 20th century many churchyards were ‘full’, and if adjoining land was available this was consecrated, but otherwise separate land was purchased – which became a ‘cemetery’ and was usually not the responsibility of the church.


A churchyard, on the other hand, is by definition under the auspices of ‘the church’, whether open or closed.


Because people continued to want to be interred in ‘holy land’, eventually all cemeteries were set aside and consecrated by and for the different religions and denominations, reflecting the needs of the local communities.


This month


Think about where you’d like to have as your final resting place. Whether you choose cremation or burial, is being in a set-aside ‘holy place’ important to you and to those who will visit?


By the Revd Dr Herbert McGonigle.


What’s so special about Jesus?


The gospels record that people were astounded by many of the things that Jesus said. Even His enemies, intent on trapping Him, admitted: “No one ever spoke the way this man does.” (John 7:46) Furthermore, “the crowds were amazed at His teaching, because He taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.” (Matthew 7:28-9)


For in Jesus, we find something without precedent in the span of human literature. While urging humility on others and while giving the impression of the ultimately humble person, Jesus’ teaching and claims are basically egocentric and completely focussed on Himself. In ordinary life, that would get a person labelled as crazy or as a megalomaniac!


Just think of the few astounding claims Jesus made about Himself. “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” (Jn 11.25) “I am the Bread of Life.”(Jn 6:35) “I am the Light of the World.” (Jn 8:12) “I am the Good Shepherd.” (Jn 10:7,9)  “…whoever lives and believes in Me will never die.” (Jn 11:26) And – most staggering of all – “anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father.” (Jn 14:9)


CS Lewis comments on the inescapableness of Jesus’ uniqueness: “There is no half-way house, and there is no parallel in other religions.”


That Jesus cannot be ranked among a pantheon of religious leaders or prophets becomes further obvious when one reflects further on His claim of being at both the beginning and at the end of Creation and of History. He said: “I am the First and the Last” (Rev 1:17), as well as : “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Mt 28:18).


Clearly the disciples accepted this, as John begins his gospel with these words: “In the beginning was the Word (Jesus) and the Word was with God and the Word was God… Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made….The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us…. and in Him all things hold together.” (Col 1:16,17)


When we look at what Jesus goes on to say about the end of history, we are even more startled, as when He said of any person who follows Him: “I will raise him up at the last day.” (Jn 6:40) This was the local carpenter, remember! And when we note that throughout the Bible final judgement is a function reserved to God alone, it is astounding to register that Jesus says of Himself: “For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son …. authority to judge because He is the Son of Man.” (Jn 5:26—27)


Yes, between Creation and the end of History stands Jesus. That also means, of course, and we note it with comfort, because everything in between is His also. During this Lent, why not spend some time just quietly thinking about these claims of Jesus?


“Thank you, but we should have done more” – Bishop responds to COP 28


The Bishop of Norwich, Graham Usher, lead bishop for Environmental Affairs, has been reflecting on the recent COP28. Here are some extracts of what he says:


“My hopes for COP28 were that we needed a commitment to phase out fossil fuels, make significant progress with the Loss and Damage Fund, prioritise resilience building for climate vulnerable communities, and create a transition to green development pathways that is just and ambitious.


“COP28 saw some progress on these items. Like a cracked record, I say again: ‘Thank you, but we should have done more.’


“$700m has been pledged for the Loss and Damage Fund, with further funding pledges for adaptation and resilience building. Both are a start, but the amounts are not nearly enough to support even the existing schemes in the pipeline to support the poorest and least resilient communities in the world who have pumped the least carbon into the atmosphere.


“While it is very significant that the words ‘fossil fuels’ have made it into the final agreement, it remains disappointing that the parties have failed to agree the most important pledge – the need to completely phase out fossil fuels.


“The UK Government’s clear position of a phase-out of fossil fuels means it can have global moral leadership in this area. Without a phase-out of fossil fuels, there is no pathway to net zero carbon.


“The Church of England has a clear role in continuing to be a place of thanksgiving for our life in Jesus, hope for the poor, and prophetic action to care for our planet.


“I urge us all, and particularly world leaders, to remember that the pledges made at COP28 do not have to be the upper limits of our climate action. We can and must reach further. That goal must be a fossil fuel phase out and a re-centring of our priorities towards the care of creation and the poorest people.”


Canon Paul Hardingham considers the subject of ‘real love’.


‘Lenten Valentines’


This month both Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day fall on the same day! The link between the two can be summed up in terms of the nature of real love! Lent, beginning on Ash Wednesday, focuses on learning to love God more, as we give Him space in our lives. This is what Jesus found when He was led into the desert by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan. (Luke 4:1-13).


Jesus was tempted to turn stones into bread. Yet loving God and His word comes before satisfying physical desires.


Satan tempted Jesus to worship him. However, worshipping God is an expression of loving God and serving Him.


Finally, He was tempted to put God to the test, by jumping off the Temple. Real love for God does not put Him to the test, but wants to obey Him.


Lent also teaches us how to live out the love of God in practical ways, as we follow Jesus in the in the way of the Cross. We see this clearly demonstrated in the life and death of Saint Valentine.


Valentine was a Christian who demonstrated the importance of sharing God’s love with others. We know little about him, except that he was a priest who lived in the 3rd Century AD and that he was martyred on 14thFebruary. Emperor Claudius felt that soldiers in the Roman Army were distracted from their duty by their wives, and so had attempted to outlaw marriage. It is believed that Valentine married couples in secret, which is why today we celebrate our love for one another on his day.


In trying to understand the meaning of her revelations from God, Julian of Norwich found:


‘What, do you wish to know your Lord’s meaning in this thing? Know it well, love was His meaning.’


The Rev Dr Gary Bowness considers the aim of Lent.


Life on a spin


Many years ago, at the Pleasure Beach at Blackpool, there was a certain ‘ride’ or amusement that was strictly for the physically fit. It consisted of a flat wooden disc about 20 feet in diameter and set at an angle of 45 degrees in the floor. When it began to rotate, the aim was to get to the centre where there was a pole. As the disc rotated faster and faster, everyone who failed to get to the pole got flung off. Nowadays there’s probably a European Community regulation banning it as far too dangerous!


The principle of the game was a basic law of physics. When any wheel rotates, the outer rim moves fastest of all. Half way to the centre and you are moving a lot more slowly. And, at least theoretically, at the absolute centre will be a point which is totally still. That’s why anyone who reached that pole could stand there quite comfortably.


We have just started the Church’s season of Lent. It’s generally thought of as being a time for giving up chocolate, wine, whatever. But it’s really a time to remind us that in our own rapidly spinning world, God is the still centre.


All around God is motion, sound, change and decay – galaxies circling, seasons and years rotating, life developing and decaying. And at the still centre, where there is no variableness, is God, the same yesterday, today and forever.


Only about seven weeks ago Christians worldwide were thinking of God getting involved in a special way in the ever moving and changing life of the world. And one great characteristic of Jesus was His stillness. Busy, harassed, injured people found someone with neither clever chat nor idle gossip, neither vulgar boasting nor loud opinion. His life always seemed to rotate round a still central point, which gave Him balance and authority.


“Be still then and know that I am God” wrote the Psalmist. Lent is a time for us to try and do just that – to find the still centre of God in our own individual lives.


Of course, we’re all of us very much in the world, and must live our lives in all of its busyness. But it may do none of us any harm to be a little more silent than we often are – quick to listen and slow to speak.  And the more silent spaces we give ourselves, the more we’ll give that still, small voice within each one of us the chance to be heard.


1st February – Seiriol, saint of Puffin Island


You can find traces of old saints in most corners of the British Isles, but Seiriol is one of the only two saints connected to Anglesey, and certainly the ONLY saint connected to Puffin Island.


It was back in the 6th century that this gentle abbot first settled in Penmon, and built a little church. His ruined beehive cell still survives there today, as does the well from which he drew water, both for his own use, and also for baptising local people.


Like many other Celtic saints, Seiriol would have travelled by sea. So he felt comfortable near the coast on Anglesey, on low-lying land. Although he lived as a simple hermit, Seiriol soon attracted followers, and eventually he decided to establish a small monastery. He chose to build it on nearby Ynys Seiriol, now called Puffin Island.


That little monastery on Puffin Island saw some scary action in 632, when Edwin of Northumbria was chasing the Welsh king, Cadwallon, and ended up besieging him on the island. Cadwallon was finally conquered, and history moved on, but the monastic ruins of Seiriol’s little monastery are still there today.


Seiriol seems to have been a purely local saint who never attracted a very great number of followers. The only known dedications to him are at Penmon and Puffin Island. But Seiriol’s life and work are still a testimony today. He is a gentle and encouraging reminder of what an impact even a simple local Christian can achieve, by simply being faithful to Jesus Christ in the place where he is.


February Crossword



1  Success or wealth (Deuteronomy 28) (10)

7  Forbidden fruit for Nazirites (Numbers 6) (7)

8  Concede (Job 27) (5)

10 Look at (Psalm 48) (4)

11 Much in evidence after weddings (8)

13 Condense (Job 36) (6)

15 Breakwater (6)

17 Give a tan (anag.) (8)

18 More usually now called Pentecost, — Sunday (4)

21 After living for 365 years, it was said of him that ‘he walked with God’ (Genesis 5) (5)

22 Trampled (Judges 9) (7)

23 For example, Miriam, Deborah (Exodus 15; Judges 4) (10)



1  Arrogance (Proverbs 8) (5)

2  Roman poet from first century BC (4)

3  So rapt (anag.) (6)

4  Declare again (2 Corinthians 2) (8)

5  Paul’s ‘fellow worker’, to whom he sent two epistles (Romans 16) (7)

6  God’s foreseeing care and protection (Job 10) (10)

9  Traditional form of Roman Catholic Mass (10)

12 ‘Has given the — of Israel to David’ (2 Chronicles 13) (8)

14 ‘My spirit rejoices in God my — ’ (Luke 1) (7)

16 The central element in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Daniel 2) (6)

19 ‘And the gates of — will not overcome it’ (Matthew 16) (5)

20 City where Paul was under house arrest for two years (Acts 28) (4)

January Answers

ACROSS: 1, Godlessness. 9, Egotism. 10, After. 11, Eat. 13, Sort. 16, Plan. 17, Escape. 18, Odds. 20, Idem. 21, No fear. 22, Idle. 23, Abet. 25, Ail. 28, Eaves. 29, Achieve. 30, Grasshopper.


DOWN: 2, Odour. 3, Lair. 4, Same. 5, Neat. 6, Settled. 7, Gershonites. 8, Grandmother. 12, Apples. 14, TES. 15, Octopi. 19, Deliver. 20, Ira. 24, Breve. 25, As is. 26, Lash. 27, Whip.


Winners   Peter Warren


      February Anagrams



Rearrange these letters to form the names of 10 devices invented during the nineteenth century. Answers may consist of one, two or three words.  

1.         PERRY WITTE    2.         TYPHOO PRAGH    3.         TOMMIE LOVES A COT    4.         VERUCCAL MAUNE    5.         BRIGHT BLUE CLICLET

 6.         TFICTION CHARM    7.         MASTER BUNTIE    8.         A TENNIS GRUNTO COMBINE LINE    9.         MIGRANE PATCHO         


Compiled by Peter Warren

           January  Anagram Answers      





Winner   Wyn Hirst

 Send your answers with your name to  the editors. 



January Answers



Prayers of Love and Faith made available for use


A selection of readings and prayers of thanksgiving, dedication and asking for God’s blessing for same-sex couples can be used in Church of England services, following recent approval by the House of Bishops.


The final texts of External link opens in new tab or windowPrayers of Love and Faith, commended for use in regular public worship or private prayer, can be used in regular scheduled services, such as a Sunday Eucharist or Evensong.


The Prayers of Love and Faith were developed as part of the outcome of a seven-year period of what was described as “listening, learning and discernment”, known as Living in Love and Faith. (External link opens in new tab or windowhttps://www.churchofengland.org/resources/living-love-and-faith)


The House of Bishops has said it will consider pastoral provision to protect the conscience of those who wish to use the Prayers and of those who do not. It is intended that there will be wide process of consultation regarding the provision, to ensure that whatever is agreed serves to promote unity and has broad support across the Church


Editor:     The Revd Dr Gary Bowness continues his tongue-in-cheek letters from ‘Uncle Eustace’…


The Rectory

St James the Least of All

My dear Nephew Darren

Winter certainly exposes the difference between those of you who live in cities and us rural folk. While you bask in your centrally heated flat, and complain about the half an inch of slush outside, we country folk wear overcoats in our houses, open all doors and windows to let the heat in and battle through snow drifts, measured in feet, to get the morning paper.

Colonel Wainwright has acquired a new toy: a snow blower, of sufficient power that I believe it could clear the Antarctic. He kindly volunteered to clear the paths around the church. Working outwards from the church door, the path to the church soon became snow-free. Unfortunately, he only realised when his job was complete that the blown snow then formed a ten-foot drift under the lych gate.

Miss Margison, ever helpful in the worst sense of the word, decided to unfreeze the pipes in the church hall. A blow torch was not the ideal solution, although the resulting burst did make some rather attractive ice sculptures round the kitchen equipment. The village badminton team that uses the hall has now temporarily changed sport to ice hockey.

Inevitably, congregations have soared. There is nothing like adversity for making people want to prove they have the moral fibre to overcome it. Much satisfaction seems to be obtained on discovering who has not dared venture out, which is taken as judgement on their strength of character. The Prentices upstaged most people by arriving on a sleigh. Mr Prentice was warmly wrapped in a travelling rug, while his wife pulled it. As they both explained, they couldn’t possibly let the pony work in such conditions.

What I momentarily thought was applause during my sermon was merely people keeping their hands warm and the hymns were drowned out by the stamping of feet. Our organist complained that the cold made his fingers so numb that he couldn’t play properly – although I didn’t notice that things were much different from normal.

No, my dear nephew, a few flakes of wet snow may close your car park for health and safety reasons, but we shall continue to triumph heroically over adversity. We return home after Mattins, knowing we have proved our Christian commitment in being utterly uncomfortable.

Your loving uncle,




Improve your love life – with Care


The romance of Valentine’s Day can be a reminder that it is good to take stock of your own romantic relationship.  In other words, how well are you getting along with the one whom you love at present? 

If you feel things could be improved between you, but that you are running out of enthusiasm or direction, you might want to explore what Care in the Family could offer. 

Care in the Family has been running events for nearly 30 years, speaking to parents and couples all over the country, in an effort to support and help those in all stages of family life. 

Its online courses offer people “engaging, practical and experienced speakers” who “aim to share helpful insights to support you and those you love.” 

One such course, Date Night in a Box 2, says that participants will come away with:

  • An appreciation of the past and the role it can play in both your present and future as a couple
  • An understanding of your emotional bank accounts and the impact of deposits and withdrawals 
  • An insight into the legacies that your relationship can leave and what that looks like in practice 
  • Activities that can be used again and again, even without the video content
  • Practical, relevant teaching that you can apply straight away 

More details on Date Night in a Box 2 at: External link opens in new tab or windowhttps://www.careforthefamily.org.uk/events/events-online/date-night-in-a-box/


What is the point of temptation?


‘Happy is the man who doesn’t give in and do wrong when he is tempted, for afterwards he will get … his reward….’  James 1:12


Temptation becomes a stepping stone rather than a stumbling block, when you realise that it’s just as much an opportunity to do the right thing, as the wrong thing. Temptation just gives you the choice!


It’s helpful to remember that God develops the fruit of the Spirit in us by allowing circumstances in which we’re tempted – to express the exact opposite quality!  For instance, He teaches us to love by bringing unlovely people into our lives. It takes no character to love people who are lovely and loving you. God teaches us joy in the midst of sorrow by causing us to turn to Him for comfort and strength, when all our other supports are gone.


He develops peace within us, not by making things go the way we planned, but by allowing times of chaos and confusion. Peace comes when we choose to trust God in situations where we’re tempted to worry or be afraid.


Likewise, patience is developed through circumstances in which we’re forced to wait and are tempted to be angry or have a short fuse.


You can’t claim to be good, if you’ve never been tempted to be bad; or be faithful if you’ve never had the opportunity to be unfaithful. Integrity is built through defeating dishonesty; humility grows as you refuse to give place to pride; endurance develops as you reject the temptation to give up. The truth is that each time you defeat a temptation, you become more like Jesus.


Adapted from: UCB, The Word for Today.


by Tim Lenton


Remembering Sir Ernest Shackleton


One hundred and fifty years ago, on 15th February 1874, Sir Ernest Shackleton was born in County Kildare, Ireland – into a family that was English in origin and had Quaker connections. Sir Ernest was one of the leading explorers during the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. He led three British expeditions to the Antarctic.


His father, Henry, was a farmer, who then qualified as a doctor, and the family moved to Sydenham, London in 1884. Ernest learnt seafaring in the Merchant Navy, becoming in turn second mate, third officer and first mate, before certifying as a master mariner in 1898: this qualified him to command a British ship anywhere in the world.


Expeditions he led included the Nimrod (1907-09), the Endurance (1914-17) and the Quest (1920-22). He was also on Scott’s earlier Discovery expedition, but was invalided home early. From early on he had health problems, and the medical officer on the Nimrod expedition believed he had a hole in the heart.


Shackleton was described as spiritual but not religious. While crossing the mountains in South Georgia with two others to complete his heroic rescue of the crew of the Endurance, he and his companions said they were aware of a fourth presence, which they called ‘providence’, walking with them.


Although Shackleton did not make any major discoveries or register any notable firsts in Antarctica, he took part in some amazingly courageous enterprises and, although he was largely overlooked for many years, is now regarded as one of the giants of polar exploration, always admired by his crewmen. He died of a heart attack on the Quest at the age of 47 and was buried – at his wife’s request – in the graveyard of the English church at Grytviken in South Georgia.


Why tea is “the drink of getting things done”


The drinking of tea has found an unexpected new champion: James May, the former Top Gear presenter.


Speaking recently on Radio 4, James May said: “I’m just worried that the cult of coffee is going to destroy tea. And I don’t like coffee, it is just rubbish. I like tea.” He added: “Tea is the drink of getting things done.”


How did tea get so embedded in UK culture? Food historian Polly Russell says the answer lies in the Industrial Revolution of the mid-18th century. “Tea became less expensive and at the same time you had agricultural wages slumping, and agricultural workers literally not able to buy food, to buy fuel, or to afford a hot meal.


“So, tea became a way of having something hot and restorative – often with sugar – and that habit then also translated into the urban, as the industrial revolution expanded into our cities.”


And so it was that “tea became absolutely central to the diet of the working poor.” And this provided the basis for the idea “that tea and sugar were fuelling the industrial nation.”


James May argues that tea drinking is still fundamental to “bringing everyone together and ensuring happiness as well as productivity.”

He believes: “Tea in the British workplace is more than a drink, it’s a social glue. Britain is falling apart because we don’t drink enough tea.”


Canon Paul Hardingham.


What’s the Big Idea? An Introduction to the Books of the Bible: Exodus


This month we are looking at Exodus, the second book of the Old Testament. Its name means departure, reminding us that Israel’s flight out of slavery in Egypt is the major focus of the book.


Exodus is a book of two halves! The first part (chapters 1-19 & 32-34) is the story of an oppressed people who are delivered from slavery into a life of freedom. The second half (chapters 20-31 & 35-40) consists of detailed instructions about the life and worship of God’s people. The book introduces us to their salvation or deliverance, as story. God’s promises to Abraham are fulfilled as the people journey to the Promised Land. He also renews His covenant with them at Sinai, expressed in the Ten Commandments (20: 1-17).


At the heart of Exodus is the person of God Himself. In chapter 3 God reveals His name as YHWH or ‘I am who I am’ (3:14) to Moses. This is the name by which God is known throughout the Old Testament, expressed in the title ‘the LORD’. To know God’s name is to know Him, as well as His character ie His justice, truthfulness, mercy, faithfulness and holiness. He is the God who controls history, delivering the people out of Egypt, while the death of the Passover lamb points us to Jesus’ death on the cross (1 Corinthians 5:7)


God’s promises of help remain true for us today: ‘Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today’ Exodus 14:13.


‘This Exodus story continues to be a major means that God uses to draw men and women in trouble out of the mess of history into the kingdom of salvation.’ (Eugene Peterson).



by Tim Lenton   

Torvill and Dean – and the Bolero that made Olympic history


Forty years ago, on 14th February 1984, figure skaters Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean won the gold medal in ice dancing at the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo. They scored the first perfect 6.0 in Olympic history.


Both are from Nottingham and, despite the obvious chemistry between them, they have never been romantically involved with each other. Jayne is married, and Christopher is in a long-term relationship. Jayne was originally an insurance clerk and Dean a policeman, and they built up their ice partnership while working full-time – though they eventually received a grant from Nottingham City Council that enabled them to concentrate on their skating.


This was much like a full-time job. Christopher later described it as “obsessive…almost like being in a monastery. It was a religion in its own way”.


At Sarajevo they became the highest scoring figure skaters of all time for a single programme, which they skated to Ravel’s Bolero (it came in just within the time limit) and were awarded 12 perfect 6.0s – including a 6.0 from every judge for artistic impression – and six 5.9s. In 2002 this performance was voted into eighth place in a Channel 4 poll of the 100 Greatest Sporting Moments.


The pair turned professional after Sarajevo and won the world professional championships five times. Their innovations had a lasting impact on the sport, and in 2000 they were made OBEs for their outstanding contributions to skating and to British sport.


The National Ice Centre in Nottingham is now accessed through Bolero Square; a housing estate in the Wollaton area of the city contains a street named Torvill Drive and an adjoining one called Dean Close.


Remembering those who live in Care Homes


Care Homes are one type of communal establishments measured by the Office for National Statistics in the 2021 Census. In 2022, there were 408,371 people living in care homes across the United Kingdom.


Some residents enjoy regular visits from family or friends, while others lead a very lonely life. Some will ‘pass on’ relatively quickly, while others may live in the same room for several years.


Some residents are collected for church, and some join church services in their Home, while others have to resort to radio or television for spiritual encouragement. Only a relative few will have the technical competence and equipment to live-stream.


What does this mean for church leaders?  It is likely they will have some church members or ex-members living in Care Homes. While for some, live-streaming of services will be a huge blessing, they do not replace regular visiting, if possible.


Giving elderly people the opportunity to go outside (in their wheelchair) will normally be enthusiastically welcomed, and, for some, especially the opportunity to attend Sunday service in their wheelchair. Pastoral work, gifts of flowers from the church, and personal prayer are hugely important, in the context of end-of-life spiritual care.


A visiting team from the Church to take a regular Sunday service is not only an encouragement to believers, but can also be a gentle encouragement to those without faith, particularly if accompanied by a regular opportunity for Communion (for believers) and hymn singing (favourites) for those with Sunday School and Church memories.


Book Review


Lent and Easter for Everyone – from Wilderness to Glory

By Tom Wright, SPCK, £10.79


Join Tom Wright on a transformative journey through the Gospels, as he explores the life and impact of Jesus. Offering seven weeks’ worth of daily readings and reflections, the book enables you to relive Christ’s journey – from His temptations in the wilderness to the darkness of the cross and beyond, into the glory of Easter.


Whether used individually or in groups, Lent and Easter for Everyone can be a trusted companion, encouraging spiritual growth, deepening understanding, and fostering a renewed sense of hope and purpose in your Christian journey.


20 years of Facebook


Twenty years ago, on 4th February 2004, Facebook, the social media networking platform, was launched.


Originally known as thefacebook.com, it was intended by Mark Zuckerberg and four other Harvard students – Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes – to create “a directory of information for college students”, but it soon expanded, and each of the five co-founders developed different roles. All except Moskowitz are now not part of the Facebook empire, but all are extremely rich.


A year after it was launched, Facebook lost the “the” from its name, and the following year it got rid of its students-only restriction. In its new form Zuckerberg, from an early stage the main man of Facebook, said the original aim was for Facebook users to take their online identities with them around the internet without having to register individual accounts for each website or app.


The swift development of Facebook, which went public in 2012, has involved Zuckerberg in many lawsuits, and he has demonstrated a wide-ranging ability to win people over. He is also extremely clever. He has never revealed his own political affiliation or voting history, and is hard to pin down. He was raised as a Reform Jew, went through a period when he espoused atheism, but more recently has said he “believes religion is very important”.


In September last year his net worth was estimated at not far short of £50 billion, but he receives a one-dollar salary as CEO of Facebook, and he and his wife Priscilla Chan give away huge amounts of money, some of which goes to fighting antisemitism and backing educational and community initiatives. Facebook is banned in China.


As of late September 2023, Forbes estimated Zuckerberg’s net worth at about $64.4 billion, making him the 16th-richest person in the world.


by Tim Lenton


The Day the Music Died


It was 65 years ago, on 3rd February 1959, that American rock-and-roll performers Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper were killed in a plane crash in Iowa. Thanks to Don McLean and his eight-minute hit song American Pie, it became known as “the day the music died”.


Buddy Holly was a rock ‘n’ roll pioneer who is widely regarded as having sparked a ‘quantum leap’ in popular musical output in the post-war years, being admired by such stars as Elvis Presley and John Lennon. He was born in Lubbock, Texas, to a Christian family and attended a Baptist church where he made a commitment and was baptised.


At the time of the plane crash – attributed to their young pilot’s inexperience in appalling weather conditions – Holly, 22, Valens, 17, and the 28-year-old Big Bopper (J P Richardson), together with other musicians, were on what they described as “the tour from hell”, travelling hundreds of miles each day by bus in temperatures as low as minus 35F.


After a concert in Clear Lake, Iowa, Holly decided to rent a private plane to get to Fargo, North Dakota, for the next concert. He planned to take his band members, Waylon Jennings and Tommy Allsup, with him, but Valens tossed a coin for Allsup’s seat and won. Jennings then gave his seat to the Big Bopper, who was unwell.


Holly’s young wife Maria learned about his death on television and suffered a miscarriage. His mother heard the news of his death on radio. Since then, news media have introduced rules to prevent the names of people who die in accidents being revealed before the family itself is informed.


Maria did not attend his funeral and has reportedly never been to his grave, but she preserved and promoted his music after his death.


Who is hiding in your car?


You may not be the only one enjoying the comfort of your car this winter.


According to recent figures from the RAC, if you have left your car standing alone for even a week, then anything from rats, squirrels, mice, foxes and even snakes may have moved in.


A squirrel stockpiling nuts in a car air filter, ten mice nesting under a windscreen, rats living in engine bays, and foxes chewing brake hoses, are only some of many culprits listed this year as having caused a breakdown. There was also the baby python found behind a wheel trim.


In all, last year the RAC responded to over 300 incidents of vehicle damage caused by animals. That’s a 55 per cent increase from the 196 recorded in 2018. Alice Simpson, spokesman for the RAC, said: “Finding a rat or mouse in your car is not only a nasty shock, but often the cause of very expensive damage.


“Our best advice is to make sure no food is left inside. Also, check for unusual smells in the vehicle, and be mindful of any dashboard warning lights that don’t disappear after a minute or two.”


Quiz on the Book of Exodus


How well do you know what happened in Exodus? Try this quiz!External link opens in new tab or window

Who rescued Moses from the basket in the bulrushes?    Pharaoh’s daughter - Pharaoh’s maid - Pharaoh’s wife

How many plagues did God send on Egypt?          5 - 10 - 15

What was the second plague?              frogs - water turned to blood - locusts

What is the name of the sea the Israelites crossed to escape the Egyptians?    Dead Sea - Black Sea - Red Sea

At what place did the Israelites arrive to find the water was too bitter to drink and God made it sweet?    Marah - Elim - Horeb

Which bird did God provide for meat in the wilderness?    pigeon - quail - turtledove

What guided the Israelites through the wilderness?    a star in the sky - Moses had visions telling him where to lead the people - a pillar of cloud and of fire

 When there was no water to drink, how did Moses provide it?    from earthen jars - from his rod - from a rock

On which mountain were the Israelites given the Ten Commandments    Mt. Sinai - Mt. Nebo - Mt. of Olives

What Is the seventh commandment?    Thou shalt not covet - Thou shalt not commit adultery - Thou shalt not bear false witness

What was on top of the Ark of the Covenant?    two cherubim - candlestick - Aaron’s rod

What compelled the Israelites to form and worship the golden calf    they wanted to make a statue to the Lord - they made it as a symbol of their freedom from slavery - they didn’t know what had happened to Moses

What was the name of a man who was given the Spirit of God, to enable him to become a good craftsman, and assist with the building of the tabernacle?

Caleb - Bezaleel - Buz

Who was Moses’ successor?    Joshua - Caleb - Aaron

For how many years did the Israelites wander in the wilderness?    20 years - 30 years - 40 years.


Don’t forget those nestboxes!


On 14th February our annual National Nestbox Week begins.


Now an established part of the ornithological calendar, it aims to encourage people to help out the birds in their gardens each Spring. Everyone is invited to put up more nestboxes in their local area, and a very helpful website gives full instructions on how to do this.  More details at: External link opens in new tab or windowhttps://www.nestboxweek.com

ed.    There are nestboxes in several places in our churchyard,  can you spot them??

The cost of parking at your local hospital


Have you been a patient or visitor to a hospital this past year? If so, you are not imagining it: the cost of parking there has skyrocketed. In fact, parking charges for hospital patients and visitors have leapt by £50 million in a year.


Recent NHS accounts show that hospital trusts made nearly £146 million in income from patients and visitors in 2022-3. That is a whopping 50 per cent increase from the £97 million received the year before.


There has also been a major jump in the amount hospital staff have to pay to park. In 2021-22 the staff members paid just £5.6 million, which increased to £46.7 million in 2022-23. These latest figures have been met with criticism from Royal College of Nursing, which has slammed the growing cost of parking for staff.


Smile Lines

Romance, love, marriage and all that stuff – the way children see it….

How do you decide who to marry?

You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like, if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the crisps and dip coming. – Alan, age 10

No person really decides before they grow up who they’re going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you’re stuck with. – Kirsten, age 10

What is the right age to get married?

23 is the best age because you know the person FOREVER by then. – Camille, age 10

No age is good to get married at. You got to be a fool to get married. – Freddie, age 6

How can a stranger tell if two people are married?

You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids. – Derrick, age 8

What do you think your mum and dad have in common?

Both don’t want any more kids. – Lori, age 8

What do most people do on a date?

Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each other. Even boys have something to say, if you listen long enough. – Lynnette, age 8

On the first date, they just tell each other lies and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date. – Martin, age 10

What would you do on a first date that was turning sour?

I’d run home and play dead. The next day I would call all the newspapers and make sure they wrote about me in all the dead columns. – Craig, age 9

When is it okay to kiss someone?

When they’re rich. – Pam, age 7

The law says you have to be eighteen, so I wouldn’t want to mess with that. – Curt, age 7

The rule goes like this: If you kiss someone, then you should marry them and have kids with them. It’s the right thing to do. – Howard, age 8

Is it better to be single or married?

I don’t know which is better, but I’ll tell you one thing. I’m never going to have sex with my wife. I don’t want to be all grossed out. – Theodore, age 8

It’s better for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need someone to clean up after them.– Anita, age 9

How would the world be different if people did not get married?

There sure would be a lot of kids to explain, wouldn’t there? – Kelvin, age 8

How would you make a marriage work?

Tell your wife that she looks pretty, even if she looks like a lorry. – Ricky, age 10


Sometimes women are overly suspicious of their husbands. ..

When Adam stayed out very late for a few nights, Eve became upset. “You’re running around with other women,” she charged.

“You’re being unreasonable,” Adam responded. “You’re the only woman on earth.” The quarrel continued until Adam fell asleep, only to be awakened by someone poking him in the chest. It was Eve. “What do you think you’re doing?” Adam demanded. “Counting your ribs,” said Eve.


Do what we can to help…

Several women in the church prayer group were visiting an elderly friend who was ill. After a while, they rose to leave and told her: “We’ll do what we can to help. We promise to keep you in our prayers.”

“Thank you,” she said. “But really, I can do my own praying. The thing I can’t do is the dishes in the sink in the kitchen….”


Bye bye

I like long walks, especially when taken by people who annoy me.


God’s army

Dewey was in front of me coming out of church one day, and the minister was standing at the door, as he always is, to shake hands.  Suddenly he grabbed Dewey by the hand and pulled him aside.  The minister said sternly, “Dewey, you need to join the Army of the Lord!” Dewey replied, “I’m already in the Army of the Lord, Pastor.” The minister retorted: “Then how come I don’t see you except at Christmas and Easter?” Dewey replied in a whisper: “Well, I’m in the secret service.”


Unhappy in love

I think my girlfriend’s hallucinating. She keeps telling me she’s seeing other people.


Off to the vet

In his younger days our golden retriever Catcher often ran away when he had the chance. The vet’s surgery was about a mile down the road, and Catcher would usually go there. The nursing staff knew him and would call me to come pick him up. One day I called the vet to make an appointment for Catcher’s yearly vaccine. “Will you bring him,” asked the receptionist, “or will he come down on his own?”


And if love should die….

While we were working at a men’s clothing store, a customer asked my colleague to help her pick out a tie that would make her husband’s blue eyes stand out. “Ma’am,” he explained, “any tie will make blue eyes stand out, if you tie it tight enough.”


Definition of old

Grandchildren don’t make a man feel old; it’s the knowledge that he’s married to a grandmother.


Muddy woof

What do you get if you cross a jeep with a dog?   A Land Rover.


Learning to drive

As a learner driver in London, I was taking the road test for my driver’s license. When someone cut me off, I held my temper so I wouldn’t look out of control. “You have a lot to learn,” said the inspector.

Then at a red light, the car behind me tapped my bumper. I still remained calm, but the inspector shook his head. When the light turned, I accelerated, but the car behind me then sped up and cut me off. That did it! I hit the horn as hard as I could.

The inspector turned to me, smiled, and said, “Now you’re getting the hang of it.”



Last night our wifi stopped working, so I had to spend a few hours with my family. They seem like good people.

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