Here you can find a link to our November 2023 magazine, paper copies of which can be found in our two churches.
This edition includes pictures from the Scarecrow festival at Christ Church and a review of photographer and cyclist Jim Metcalfe’s recent visit to the Open Group. There are also updates from most of our groups and organisations. Plus news of what’s coming up in the next few weeks.
The November 2023 magazine also has this ‘stepping back’ letter from Barbara and Nigel…
Seasons of Life
It is the second week in October; halfway through autumn. Yet outside the sun shines from a cloudless sky and the temperature is above twenty degrees. In our garden roses are still appearing on the bushes and flowers are sprouting on shrubs which are expected to be showing off their colour only in early summer. The weatherman says we are having un-seasonable weather. A period of warm, sunny weather in September used to be called an Indian Summer; but this is mid-October! Have the seasons lost their bearings?
The seasons have been with us almost since the moment of Creation. That moment when the earth was set spinning and moving around the Sun. As many a poem and song has proclaimed – in our life we all experience sunrise, sunset; summer, winter; an unending cycle through time and space. The change from one season to the next has never been at an exact moment, there has always been a gradual merging from one to the next. Modern technology may be able to measure time to the thousandth, or even billionth, of a second but the natural timetable moves as it chooses, as it is ordained by power beyond our human grasp.
The Book of Ecclesiastes reminds of this. It is a book which simply observes life and draws logical conclusions. It is often referred to as ‘wisdom literature’. Probably chapter 3 will be the most familiar – telling that there is a time for everything in life because God has made it so. “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven”.
If you haven’t had a read of Ecclesiastes lately then have a look. There are words for every person, in every place, in every circumstance. God has appointed the times and seasons, the events of our lives, the happy and the sad, the easy and the difficult. This should bring us hope and assurance that, despite everything, God is in control. We may find that hard to grasp when we see what is going on in the world but we must hang on in there! As Ecclesiastes tells us there is a purpose for everything.
So the seasons change. Spring becomes summer; summer becomes autumn; autumn becomes winter; winter becomes spring. And round we go. We live in a world of change; the evidence all around us. Some change we can cope with easily; some we find much harder. Even the change of seasons some of us find difficult. For example, some love the long warm days of summer whilst others will dread the pollen which floats through the warm summer air causing health issues.
All is new
We often think of our lives in terms of seasons. Our younger days are considered the spring of our lives – all is new; fresh experiences blossom; excitement at what will come next as we look forward. Summer time as we fulfil maturity and we are totally full of life and energy. Come autumn we start to wilt a little; to feel a little more vulnerable; physically and mentally not as strong as we were. Then there’s winter when days shorten and the cold bites – shut that door, there’s a draught!! These are the seasons of life portrayed in Ecclesiastes. Many things will come and have their duration with us. They come and go; situations change; we move on. Each of us will have a story to tell of our seasons of life.
Barbara and I have become very much aware in recent months that our season has a very autumnal feel to it. Various issues – not least, health ones – have brought us to a time to put down, as Ecclesiastes has it. It is time to step back from some of our church activities. Over the years we have been involved in many aspects of church life. My authorisation to lead worship has now ceased. Barbara’s Permission to Officiate (to lead worship) ends this month and she has decided not to renew it. So we will no longer be leading services in church. It has been a privilege to serve in this way and we thank you for your support. The season has moved on.
Whatever season you find yourself in; wherever you are in time and space; be assured of God’s presence with you and his hand upon your life – especially when decisions have to be made.
With thanks and God’s blessing to you all. Nigel & Barbara
[We very much thank Barbara and Nigel for all that they’ve done over the years in our Benefice and wish for them the same as they wished for us.]
With thanks to www.pngarts.com for the cover image.