I want to tell you about a particularly spectacular rainbow that I saw when driving down in Hampshire some years ago. It was huge and it was close and I will never forget it. It was over and in the field alongside the M3 where I was driving. The wonderful thing was that I could see both ends of the arc and the colours were so vivid against the dark menacing sky. I just stared in awe (whilst trying to keep my eyes on the road ahead!). At the same time, dozens of other vehicles were zooming along the motorway in both directions and I wondered how many people in those vehicles noticed the beautiful rainbow and how many were oblivious to the marvellous sight just a few hundred feet away from them. I don’t know about you, but it’s easy to succumb to ‘tunnel vision’ when driving isn’t it.
It’s like that in life too. We can become so engrossed in our own lives, our own problems perhaps, our own desires and thoughts; and be so busy barrelling along at top speed that we miss the glory of God’s loving presence beside us.
"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world."
- Psalm 19
The Psalmist reminds us that the rainbow of God’s presence surrounds us constantly. So today, as each of us travels along our own highway of life, going about our daily chores, routines, jobs and whatever, let’s try not only to be conscious of our own personal world but also of the created world which declares the glory of God and the splendour of His everlasting presence with us. Let’s not miss the rainbow!
"When you see a rainbow in the sky, have you ever stopped to wonder why?
Is it there to decorate the sky? What does it mean?
It’s a sign of God’s love! And He placed it there to prove
That as long as time shall last, He will care for you."
Posted: Wed, 15 May, 2013 (1 week ago) - by Adrian
I was, like so many, aghast with the news story of those 3 women in Ohio held captive for 10 years, Amanda, Gina & Michelle. They are not the first and won’t be the last, but it cries out to us about how far we have come from God’s original intention in creation. These criminal men had not a clue about the true nature of those they were abusing.
The story of Eve holds such rich treasures for us to discover. The essence and purpose of a woman are unveiled in the story of her creation. These profound, eternal, mythic themes are written not just in the coming of Eve, but in the soul of every woman after. Woman is the crown of creation—the most intricate, dazzling creature on earth. She has a crucial role to play, a destiny of her own.
And she, like Adam, bears the image of God. God wanted to reveal something about himself, so he gave us Eve. When you are with a woman, ask yourself, What is she telling me about God? It will open up wonders for you.
Perhaps, you'll discover that God is relational to his core, that he has a heart for romance. Maybe you’ll see that he longs to share adventures with us—adventures we cannot accomplish without him. And even that God has a beauty to unveil. A beauty that is captivating and powerfully redemptive. This is God... shown in woman.
If we human beings could only begin to grasp the wonder of Eve, perhaps fewer women would be treated with the tragic disrespect that sadly so often comes, and these news stories would be less common.
Wishing you a captivating summer,
(Thanks to John Eldredge from whose work in "Captivating" some of these thoughts are taken - Ed.)
Posted: Wed, 15 May, 2013 (1 week ago) - by Barbara
Work is about to begin on reglazing and repairing the west window at Tharston Church.
The window is glazed with Victorian glass using painted and stained quarries with a decorative border all round. Because the lead which supports the glass has lifted, it allows water to seep through the window leaking across the cill and into the vestry during heavy rain, such as that we experienced last autumn and winter.
Clearly water ingress to any building is not good and the PCC have decided to undertake a programme of repair. The cost to the Church will be in excess of £2 500; this is in addition to the normal daily running costs of Tharston church of about £8 000 per annum.
If any parishioner would like to send a donation, however small, towards this work to help to keep your Parish Church in good repair to pass on to future generations, it would be very gratefully appreciated. Please send whatever you can to the PCC church treasurer, Chris Lawson, Holbrook, The Street, Tharston.
Posted: Sat, 11 May, 2013 (2 weeks ago) - by Sally
The key word for our Benefice week of Prayer this year is BLESS. God’s desire to bless us, to bless his world and for us to learn to both speak his blessings and to be a blessing to his world. Over the last year, a number of people have been committing themselves to regularly pray for blessing on our local area. We have begun to learn about what that means - the joys and the cost. We are called to keep on blessing - in our prayers, in our words and in the way we practically care for others in all we do.
I particularly encourage you to join in our week of 24/7 prayer, planned for Tasburgh Rectory from 22nd-29th May. Anyone can sign up for hour long slots in the room at Tasburgh Rectory – a chance to pray alone or with chosen friends - or you can come to one of the special services or events there. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a regular churchgoer. The room is equipped with lots of aids to prayer – so you can light candles, listen to meditative music, paint on the prayer art board, follow a labyrinth, enter your prayer requests in a book etc. Being in a room dedicated to prayer like this is often a very moving experience. We will be joined by our new curate Martin Hartley for part of the week and our prayers will include a house blessing for the Rectory at 2pm on the last day. You can see what’s happening and book a slot here.
Posted: Sat, 11 May, 2013 (2 weeks ago) - by Sally
Back in 2009, the various PCCs and the cell APCM agreed to explore seeking a Bishop’s Mission Order for the Tas Valley Cell Church. The main benefits of this are -
recognition by the diocese of the Cell Church as a new Christian community, equivalent in some ways to a parish church within the life of benefice, enabling the cell church to plan for the future with confidence
appropriate and supportive oversight of the cell church and benefice helping the cell church to grow in complementarily to the other forms of church in the benefice
ensuring proper provision is made for ministry in the cell church including representation in the appointment process of a new incumbent should that arise in future
The draft text of the BMO has been with the Diocesan Mission and Pastoral Committee since Autumn 2012 and we hope that they will soon be ready for the final consultation involving the deanery, cell church and all the benefice parish churches.
Giving, Stewardship & Charitable Status - Becoming a charity has been necessitated by the fact that Norwich diocese can no longer claim the tax back on our donations on our behalf. We hope to become a Charitable Incorporated Organisation after our General Meeting on 8th May - Read the Annual Report or come along to the meeting to find out more.
Posted: Wed, 1 May, 2013 (3 weeks ago) - by Adrian
With St. George's Day on my calendar, I've been thinking about the adventure that we are invited into. St. George fought the dragon and defied the Emperor. Bilbo rose to Gandalf's invitation to share an adventure. So too for us. We won't begin to understand our lives, or what this so-called gospel is that Christianity speaks of, until we understand the Adventure Story in which we find ourselves.
A Story. An Epic. Something hidden in the ancient past. Something dangerous now unfolding. Something waiting in the future for us to discover. Some crucial role for us to play. What if all the great stories that have ever moved you, brought you joy or tears—what if they are telling you something about the true Story into which you were born, the Epic into which you have been cast?
Christianity, in its true form, tells us that there is an Author and that he is good, the essence of all that is good and beautiful and true, for he is the source of all these things. It tells us that he has set our hearts' longings within us, for he has made us to live in an Epic. It warns that the truth is always in danger of being twisted and corrupted and stolen from us because there is a Villain in the Story who hates our hearts and wants to destroy us. It calls us up into a Story that is truer and deeper than any other, and assures us that there we will find the meaning of our lives. What an invitation! Are you ready?
To celebrate the completed conservation work at St Martins and to acknowledge midsummer, an early evening picnic with musical entertainment will take place from 6.30 p.m. at St Martin’s. Please bring your own picnic, as the SVA will provide just the music (and shelter if inclement weather threatens).
Saturday 13th July Village Fete and Dance
By popular demand, the fete this year will again be on the playing fields from 2 p.m. There will be games, events and the tug of war should be back.
In the evening there will be music, dancing, a hog roast and a bar from 7.30 until 11 p.m.
Saturday 21st September Harvest Supper with Ceilidh
By kind permission of Ed Howard at Hill Farm. Following the outstanding success of this event last year there will be another chance to sup champagne, celebrate harvest and twirl your partners. Start 7.30 p.m.
Saturday 7th December Murder Mystery Evening
Trinity Hall 7p.m. Listen to the clues and work out the telling questions to ask. Can you identify the murderer? Can you work out the motives? A supper and brainteaser to test your powers of deduction.
And don’t forget the Shotesham entry for:
The Norfolk Village Games: heats 9th June at Framingham Earl High School and County Finals 14th July at UEA Sportspark.
Posted: Wed, 3 Apr, 2013 (2 months ago) - by Adrian
I received this prayer from Medad, which I thought I'd share with you...
I'm hungry Lord, hungry to see your glory, hungry to know your presence so thick around me that wherever I go I know I am hidden in the cloud of your intense love.
I'm hungry Lord, hungry to see people set free, totally, instantly set ablaze with a passion and a love for you that shakes them completely out of the unbelief that has usurped our nation's minds.
I'm hungry Lord, hungry to see those who greedily exploit the poor and needy repent and become generous handed lovers of your generous heart.
I'm hungry Lord, hungry to see families recovered, separation overcome by healing and reconciliation, hungry to know helpless life is valued from conception to infirmity and old age, hungry to live in communities that encourage and build, the least to the greatest knowing You.
I'm hungry Lord for my street to be filled with the glory of God, for my home, our homes to be joyful sanctuaries of love laughter welcome and light, filled with your presence, your own House on Earth as it is in Heaven.
I'm hungry Lord for a city at worship and prayer, a city who love you, a city that has a big heart for all within and beyond its doors, a city proud to know and love you and demonstrate the heart of the King of Love to the world.
I'm hungry Lord to see the curse of drugs and drunkenness, and all destructive addictions removed. I'm hungry to see sickness healed, broken bodies mended, broken hearts redeemed. I'm hungry to see crime go and righteousness exalted.
I'm hungry Lord for the day when all those who love you rise up to own the God who has bought them by His blood and unite with Him in One voice, One heart, One passion to see Jesus glorified and proclaimed. I'm hungry to see us truly love one another, truly honour, prefer and serve one another in word and in deed.
I'm hungry Lord for You, for the more of a more than God who never runs out of love for us, who never runs out of grace for the humble, who always keeps covenant with those who fear You.
Jesus of the five loaves and fishes, who takes our tiny offerings to feed multiple thousands, break the living bread of your eternal word through me to satisfy the hunger of a nation breaking for You.
When the snow was still with us, I spent a very cold Friday evening a few weeks ago, sitting in a barn on a farm in Suffolk, chatting with a teenage girl at a youth weekend I was helping at. The other youngsters were playing pool, table tennis and badminton all around us (it was a large barn!) We’d been talking for just a few minutes when she told me that a couple of years before, her life had been completely transformed by Jesus. He had become her closest friend! It was lovely to hear her talking about Him. I asked her a simple question; “What would you say was the most wonderful thing about becoming a Christian?” She replied without hesitation. “Real hope.”
Actually, you may feel that the word ‘hope’ doesn’t say very much – it doesn’t sound very certain. We might say, “I hope everything works out for you” or “I hope the weather stays fine” but there’s little or no confidence that things will ‘work out’ or that the weather will ‘be fine’. Its fingers crossed time! If you’re in the habit of buying a lottery ticket, you hope to win I’m sure. The odds of winning the EuroMillions Lottery jackpot are 1 in 76,275,360 – a fairly faint hope I think you’ll agree. And what about feelings of hopelessness? They are extremely powerful, bringing down even the sturdiest of individuals, and can lead to severe depression and sometimes even thoughts of suicide.
Everyone needs hope and love. Alexander Pope once said, “Hope springs eternal in the human breast” It is my belief that our society needs a hope revolution! Of course, whatever we are placing our hope in, in this life, will eventually be gone. But here’s a true saying and one to ponder…. “If you have been reduced to God being your only hope, you are in a good place.” My teenage friend had found that place. She'd discovered that in Jesus real hope is found. Why? And how can she be so sure? Because everything God promises He does. The Bible is jam-packed full of God’s wonderful promises (around 3,000 of them!) Yes, everyone needs love and hope; and in God both are abundantly found. Over the Easter period we are reminded that Jesus was amazingly raised to life again to bring us real hope – to bring you real hope. Have you discovered it?
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing” (Romans 15:13)
Posted: Sun, 17 Feb, 2013 (3 months ago) - by Adrian
“Lent is really about giving away more than giving up. It prepares us for Holy Week and Easter and Jesus giving his life away for us.”
So writes the Bishop of Norwich. The Norwich Diocesan Lent Project 2013 was formally launched at Granary Court on 14th January. This year we are planning to give away hope through our Diocesan Lent Project partnership with two projects in Uganda.
The first project is to build a medical centre in the north of Uganda, in Lira, in an area torn apart by war over the last couple of decades, following the work of Freda, a Norwich teacher, who began The Oasis Of Life charity, working over there. The second is to build a dormitory in the south west of Uganda, in Rwentobo, where I took a team of 20 intrepid volunteers in the summer. We were there for the opening of the ground, and we are thrilled that the diocesan project will help raise funds to bring this to fruition, meaning that vulnerable children will have safety and refuge, and won’t have to spend 20% of their lives walking to and from school, often at risk of attack or disease from walking barefoot.
As we entered this season of Lent, we considered the words of the prophet Isaiah, who berated the people of Israel for having the appearance of devout religion, but in fact serving their own interests and neglecting those less fortunate. Isaiah called for a true fast. That means we not only give up eating chocolate, but we foster a healthy sense of putting others before ourselves. How is your true fast going?
Upside down is fun! Stanley, our youngest grandson, is just 2yrs old and absolutely loves to be held upside down. We were playing together recently and he kept calling out “Again!” “Again!” as I turned him over and over.
It's funny how beetles and creatures like that
Can walk upside down as well as walk flat;
They crawl on a ceiling and climb on a wall
Without any practice or trouble at all,
While I have been trying for a year (maybe more),
And still I can't stand with my head on the floor! By Aileen Fisher
There are a lot of things that intrigue me about Jesus. One of the aspects of His ministry that has always produced jaw dropping, head scratching responses is His upside-down teaching about life. On our journey through life our thought patterns and responses to life’s events can become deeply engrained. But Jesus interrupts us in the midst of our routines and calls us to a new and better way. But beware! This encounter with the ways of Jesus is challenging. Here are some of Jesus’ paradoxical propositions… “To live you must die.” "Blessed are those who mourn.” “To rule you must serve.” and “Suffering has purpose.” It is statements like these that make some people think that Jesus is strangely out of touch, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Rather than relying on our upside-down instincts, we need Jesus to turn us the right way up. As Stanley’s mum tells me from time to time, “It’s not good for him to be upside down for too long!”
Posted: Wed, 23 Jan, 2013 (4 months ago) - by Adrian
Pausanias, a Greek traveller who wrote in the 2nd century, tells of a Festival of Dionysos held at a city called Ellis:
‘Three pots are brought into the building and set down empty in the presence of the citizens and of any strangers who may chance to be in the country. The doors of the building are sealed by the priests themselves and by any others who may be so inclined. On the morrow they are allowed to examine the seals, and on going into the building they find the pots filled with wine.’
The ancient celebrations for the great Greek god of wine often had this water into wine trick, which was supposed to speak of divine visitation, though there was more of Paul Daniels about it, with the magicians having ample time to enter the deserted building by the secret entrance and swap water for wine. The festival was also about the pursuit of 'ecstasy', as folk tried to escape the prison of this life, through consuming wine. Our lives might be much more comfortable than theirs, but there is nothing so dangerous as comfortable captivity.
When Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding in Cana, it was no magic trick. This was Jesus saying something important. "I am the real deal. You want divine visitation? You want purpose and fulfilment and freedom? With me, you can face the realities of life with hope. With me, whole communities can be blessed." Something like that.
We remember that story at this time in the Church calendar, and I hope you find in it inspiration about the God who has truly visited us and is looking to bless us all.
Posted: Fri, 14 Dec, 2012 (5 months ago) - by Adrian
We face another New Year. What will it bring? Life is moving apace, and there are great changes and upheavals happening around about us, in our wider world and perhaps in our own lives. In my Quiet Times, as I try to carve time out with my heavenly Father, I sense that we are facing especially changing times. I recently read Tolkien's "Silmarillion" which charts thousands of years of history of Middle Earth, from creation to the end of the 3rd Age. So much changes through that time for good and bad, yet every character has a choice about what legacy they are going to leave in the circumstances they find themselves.
As technology changes our lives, it becomes ever more the ground on which many battles are fought, especially for our young people. We also have legal changes in our country, that for decades have been moving steadily away from our Judeo-Christian heritage. There may be economic changes around the corner, as the current 'austerity' government proceeds to increase our national debt by more in one term than in the previous 100 years. Or perhaps you think of more global upheavals in the Middle East. Or perhaps you are more focused on local changes in food prices, church attendance, village communities, births, bereavements, job opportunities or whatever.
In the Christian calendar, the changing of the year has always been the time to welcome the change in perspective that Jesus brings, and the hope that he injects into changing times. We call it the season of Epiphany, which talks of the "wow" moments, when we see truth and experience hope afresh. This year, on Epiphany Sunday, we welcome the visit of the Bishop of Lynn, who will also oversee several confirmations. Those being confirmed are making their choice to leave a legacy for good in this changing world.
I wish you all epiphany moments of heartening hope in the hullabaloo of 2013 - whatever it may bring - as you seek to build the best legacy you can.
Posted: Fri, 14 Dec, 2012 (5 months ago) - by Adrian
Thank you to all those who for so many years have faithfully walked round almost every house in the villace night after cold winter night, singing valiant carols and collecting much needed cash for charity. And thank you to all the generous residents of Saxlingham who have given so wonderfully for these appeals. This year, as we gather at three locations on three different evenings, (Foxhole, Church and the Green), please do come and enjoy good company and delicious seasonal fare. If you can't make it out on any of these nights, why not send your contribution down with someone who can? It will be brief and jolly and all for a good cause.
Posted: Wed, 28 Nov, 2012 (6 months ago) - by Adrian
“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.” So the saying goes. Christmas is not something to be found in the commercial trappings, nor in the turkey dinners, nor in the office parties, nor even in the family get-togethers. In fact, you can search for Christmas in all manner of places and not find it. Or you may find that you have no need to search at all because you are carrying it with you all the time. If you have Christmas in your heart you will even find it in June. Christmas is without a doubt our greatest annual festival. It is the celebration of the Chosen One, who came as a baby, grew up, showed us what God is like and how to live as human beings, and then conquered death for us, blazed a trail into God’s new creation, and made the way open for God Himself to take up residence in our hearts. Wow! I know this is familiar, but really - wow! When our Queen is at home in Buckingham Palace, a flag flies from the castle to show it. There is a flag flying high from the castle of my heart, because the King is in residence there. This is what Christmas opens up. A new resident in our hearts - one that changes everything, and gives joy that trees and trappings alone can never bring.
Wishing you a heart full of Christmas just now, Adrian
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