Editorial from May edition of The Magazine
Producing a magazine every month can lead to some confusion for those working on it. This May magazine is put together in April so we have had to remember to refer to any April events in the past tense and make sure all the dates for church services are for May (one nearly got through the proof-reading process, and of course there’s always a chance we have missed some which you might spot). At times it’s hard to know which month it is now!
We are going to press during the Easter weekend and so my head is full of the wonderful Easter services I have been experiencing. One that is less-well-known, and more unusual too, is the Easter Vigil at St Peter’s in Ovington – a perfect setting. It’s not ‘a period of keeping awake during the time usually spent asleep, especially to keep watch or pray’ (the first definition which comes up on Google), but it is ‘the eve of a festival or holy day as an occasion of religious observance’.
The service starts outside the church at dusk with the lighting of The New Fire (this year by Bishop David), from which we all light our candles and process into the unlit church. The cantor sings The Exultet as darkness falls and the only lights are those of our candles (and the huge Easter Candle which Stuart Pritchard stood and held for about half an hour). There are four bible readings by members of the congregation, with a final gospel reading by the priest taking the service. Hymns are sung, prayers are said, the St John’s choir sings two motets. The Bishop’s address was very thoughtful and thought-provoking. We renewed our Baptismal Promises and were sprinkled with holy water (the clergy always seem to particularly enjoy that bit!). The service is eventful, moving, and ends very joyfully as befits the start of Easter. I cannot recommend it too highly. Make a note in your diary for next year (31st March 2018).
Leading Article from May edition of The Magazine
The Watercress Festival is now a firm fixture in St John’s calendar, as well as that for the town. In many ways, it shows St John’s at its best. It draws on the skills and energies of many people who work tirelessly throughout the day being hospitable and welcoming. The church and the hall are buzzing with activities, and the churchyard becomes a huge outdoor picnic area/tearoom.
I think that for those of us who get involved with a teatowel or a tray, it also gives us a chance to work and chat with others in St John’s whom we sometimes only see fleetingly. There is nothing like spending time together in a common cause to bring people together.
Over the years, our communal life at St John’s has grown hugely. The range of different groups is now considerable and greatly to be praised. Many people work immensely hard for their particular ‘cause’ and offer so much to those in the town as well as much, much further afield.
St John’s is perhaps like a diamond in our lives, to be treasured and cared for, as the way in which we put our Christian beliefs into practice, and where we do our best to demonstrate our love of God and our love for our neighbour. But like a diamond, it has lots of different faces or facets. If there is a downside of our multi-faceted activities, it is perhaps that we increasingly rarely come together as a whole church community. There is then a risk that we may fail to appreciate what other people are doing.
In any relationship or organisation, people like to feel appreciated, whether it is a ‘well done’ from an employer, or a hug from a parent or a spouse, or a ‘thank you’ from a colleague, or even a complete stranger, feeling appreciated oils the wheels of communication. Tiredness, resentment or feeling taken for granted often evaporates if you feel someone has noticed and appreciated.
In the few months before our new priest-in-charge arrives, perhaps we could use the time to go to an activity or meeting that we do not usually attend, and appreciate what is going on there.
A diamond is at its most brilliant when all its facets are polished and shining because they have been cared for. Organisations too are usually at their best and most productive when all parts of it feel appreciated and acknowledged, whether it is a vitally important but hidden ‘backroom’ activity, or a more upfront role.
I look forward to meeting someone I haven’t seen for a while when wielding my teatowel at the Watercress Festival as well as going to a meeting or service that is not in my usual orbit.