3.00pm to 5.00PM
Plant Sunflowers for the "Tallest Sunflower Competition"!
PENTECOST SUNDAY 9th JUNE
Isfield & Little Horsted Joint Family Service at 10.00am
I watched, with millions around the world, with horror and disbelief, as the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris burned on Monday in Holy Week.
It is a building I know well; I’ve led quiet days in Paris, & for me Notre Dame has been for many years a “touching place” where the veil between the material world and the transcendent is very thin. Its atmosphere, its beauty and sense of awe is (was) profound. Also, as a Medievalist (I did a Master’s degree in Medieval Art & Iconography) I loved the intricate mystery of the building, especially the glorious 13th Century glazing scheme; at the time of writing I know that at least one of the great rose windows is intact, and I will keep my fingers crossed for the rest.
But it’s a human image that always sticks in my memory about Notre Dame; I remember, years ago, seeing a young couple sitting in the nave, arm in arm and clearly in love. She was white and he was black; safe and accepted & themselves embraced by the sanctity and sanctuary of that great House of God.
We are still in Easter tide; the eggs may have been all scoffed, the Simnel cake all eaten and the Easter Bunny put to bed until next year; but the truth of the Resurrection, the presence of Christ in our midst with the promise of New Life and Hope will live in our hearts always.
Soon after the fire was put out, an atheist friend of mine commented upon the scale of the blackened interior, with black charred debris and forlorn destruction; but the cross on the high altar was still there, with shafts of light cutting across. “What a wonderful Easter picture” she said.
And it was indeed.
Each of us has traumas and tragedies in our lives, but through God’s love, we come through the “the valley of the shadow of death” to Resurrection.
As will Notre Dame.
It will become a symbol of rebirth, of renewal, of hope, reminding us that Easter is for ever.
Well, spring has well and truly sprung now and even the oak trees now have leaves changing the tree-scape from the greys and browns of winter to the greens of summer. April, May and June are an intensive period of regeneration in nature, a time when lawns have to be mown regularly, because if they are not, they would turn into a hay field. Hay-making traditionally starts in June when the grasses are ripe and full of energy for feeding to live-stock during the rest of the year when required. If the hay is not cut, succession starts as seeds from other larger species of plants such as acorns from oak trees germinate among the grass-roots and attempt to create an oak woodland.
Every grassland hides a forest trying to get out. If it does, this is called succession. Succession id helped by the animals that visit the grassland, especially the birds. Oak jays are especially adapted to recreate oak woodlands. In the autumn, oak jays obsessively collect acorns from under the oak trees and carry them in a pouch below their beak to an open area (field) and plant them in the soil, ostensibly as a potential cache for the future, but in reality, many are not re-found and germinate. These will get mown down by the next hay-cut, but if the hay is not cut, will develop a new forest. Black-berries will also be eaten from the brambles in the hedgerows by field-mice which will also roam the fields looking for other food. In the process, the tiny seeds will pass through the mice and be expelled, still viable, in the mouse droppings and will germinate among the grasses. Thus, the brambles will also spread into the fields to protect the young oak trees. The many thrush species such as song thrushes, mistle thrushes, blackbirds, redwings and fieldfares will eat the hawthorn berries (haws) in the winter and likewise disperse the seeds in their droppings as they also fly over or forage in the fields. So, young oaks, brambles and hawthorn trees are common successors to grassland and will rapidly grow to create a new woodland. However, it takes centuries to create an ancient woodland in which dozens or scores of other plant species will develop as the cycle of life continues with old trees dying or being blown over to create new clearings into which new species will be introduced by woodland animals and wind such the seed of willows and poplars. Not so much wind in the willows as willows in the wind.
Church Times - Diary February 2019
I’ve just experienced the longest Sunday Morning Service I’ve ever been to. I was on my usual post Christmas break in Barbados (the tourist police still haven’t caught up with me yet to say that vicars aren’t allowed in the Caribbean, which is a sneaking feeling I get every time I go) and I was in St James, one of the historic Anglican Parish churches on the island. It was the Parish Eucharist with the Baptism of four babies. Two & a half hours it took , including an edifying sermon a smidgeon under 35 minutes. A number of obvious visitors melted away, but the regular congregation took it breezily in their stride. I was impressed. If I tried the same approach in my own Parishes, there would be restlessness at the hour and twenty mark, with an intervention by church officials armed with Churchwardens’ staves at the hour and a half. Mind you, one morning in a spirit of mischief I might be tempted to have a go…..
Barbados is actually a hugely religious island. There are supposedly some 300 churches of assorted denominations dotted around the countryside, as numerous as the Rum Shops. Well, almost. That works out staggeringly as a church per 1000 residents, which puts our church numbers in the shade. As well as the main Anglican parishes (which are the chief administrative units on the island) there are Methodists, Baptists, Seventh Day Adventists and pretty much any grouping you can think of. I remember being rather taken with a jaunty little pink hut that called itself the “Little Jerusalem Deliverance Center”- the spelling suggesting it’s American origin, I suspect.
But the presence of the churches is not just physical buildings, but everywhere. One day, a van cut in front of me; it’s back doors were decorated with the sentences “Jesus is coming. Are you ready?”, which took me by surprise. Similarly a number of bus stops have been adopted by church groups who have inscribed “Be still and know that I am God”, which on reflection is a splendid thought for people compelled to sit and wait in bus queues.