Rectory notes January 2021 – ‘Finding footholds’

The joyful sound of wedding bells should be a feature of 2021. Weddings postponed due to Covid from 2020 join those already planned. There may still be restrictions, but we’re getting used to those.

Love at a wedding is centre-stage. “Love is patient, love is kind…” – St Paul’s towering passage about love will be read. “These three remain, faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.”

Faith, hope and love. January’s Rectory notes last year included these words, “I suspect that hope will be a particularly valued commodity this year.” But none of us could have anticipated what 2020 would bring. We have needed hope in the midst of struggle: the rainbow pictures abundant in windows in early lockdown gave a unifying symbol. Thankfully we now have the hope offered by vaccines.

But even Hope needs a foundation. Otherwise it can be little more than optimism, ‘somewhere over the rainbow…’. Hope is a fragile thing. Some of our hopes aren’t realised; how many of our plans for 2020 didn’t come to fruition.

Step forward Faith. For faith is the conviction that something we can’t see is true. Faith is a fact of life. We have faith in people. We have faith in institutions (or we used to). We will have faith in the Covid vaccines. Indeed science has become a modern-day focus of faith.

Sometimes our faith is borne out, sometimes not. People and institutions fail. Even scientists (and I speak as one!) can only speak of what they see. Where, then, do we take our deepest longings for a foundation beyond the frailty of the world in which we find ourselves? How do we articulate these longings?

Religious faith is becoming something of a lost language. Yet it helps us express those longings. It gives us a framework beyond ourselves. It gives a foothold for stepping forward. Whether we identify with a religion or not, Christ – who embraces all religions (and none) – speaks words to us to foster faith: “Do not fear, for I am with you… You are precious in my sight, and I love you.” (from Isaiah 43)

Family, work, home, health, leisure: in 2021 all these may feel fragile. Covid’s journey with us continues. So this year may we each know love. May we hold onto hope. And may we find the footholds of faith we need to step forward into the year.

Rev David Carrington

Team Vicar of Escot, Feniton and Payhembury

The Rectory, Station Road, Feniton 01404 850905 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dear EFP church folk,
 
A heads-up ahead of this Sunday 29th, Advent Sunday.
 
We will have our usual lockdown EFP video service.
 
Additionally…
In place of the Mission Community Advent Carol Service which usually takes place in St Mary’s Ottery, St Michael’s West Hill are kindly opening to all in the Mission Community their evening Advent Carol service on Zoom. 
Details from St Michael’s are below.
 
Take care, and God bless,
David
 
 
Team Vicar for Escot, Feniton & Payhembury, Otter Vale Team 
The Rectory
Feniton
 

 

 
Greetings  -  
You are invited to ... 
St Michael’s Advent Carol Service:  Looking for The Light This Sunday - 29 November - 6:00pm for a 6:30pm start
The service will follow the traditional form of Advent carols and readings.  
Churches in the Otter Vale Mission Community have been invited to join us and we have an extended license to make sure there is room for all. 
There will be a “gathering time” from 6:00 pm when people will be able to greet one another, and the service will start prompt at 6:30, with all participants muted, apart from those leading or reading.
At the end of the service we will have random “breakout rooms” for about 10 minutes for people to meet together socially.  Please bring your own wine/drinks and refreshments!
 
Please note that the following log-in is unique to this occasion
Meeting ID:  883 8746 0847
Passcode:  186913
Zoom advise joining using the up-to-date Zoom App but for those attempting to join via a browser the link is
 
Attached is an order of service for you to print off if you would like to do so
Please also bring a candle and means of lighting itWe will be lighting them towards the end of the service
Security
It would be a great help if you would make sure your device (iPad; phone or computer) has a name which identifies you to us. This is especially important if we can’t see you because you do not have your video on.

Rectory notes November 2020 – A Silent Remembrance

2020 has been different in so many ways. So let us make our village Remembrance commemorations this year different too. Let us make it a ‘Silent Remembrance’.

Silence: the silence of a First World War battlefield when the guns have ceased and the scattered dead lie still. The silence of a COVID intensive care ward, save for the wracked oxygen aided breathing. The silence of grief of loved ones, bereaved by war or by disease. The silence of a peaceful country lane with wayside summer flowers mingled with birdsong, more still this year in lockdown. The silence of sunset, as the blazing orange ball slips below the horizon to close the day. The silence of dawn, light wordlessly welcoming the day’s new life.

We can gather on Remembrance Sunday this year as is customary in our public spaces in Feniton and Payhembury at 10.55am (provided Government rules remain as they are when this goes to press). But we can’t gather in our usual manner. In Payhembury, as a public gathering, household groups (or six at the most) are not permitted to interact. Across the green and the road, we must distance. In Feniton we will gather within the churchyard, offering a more open space than the lane, similarly distanced and separate.

We cannot gather in our usual manner. So let us do so silently. Not that Remembrance is ever a chatter-y affair. But this year let us come together in silence, and hold this silence throughout, save the liturgical words of Remembrance. Let us allow the Two Minute Silence to sit within a broader ocean of stillness.

Some will wish to stay distanced in their homes, and mark silence there. Some will wish to continue into the church for the Remembrance service. These services too will be the same yet different. Social distancing and the absence of permitted congregational singing offer a poignant symbol of our connection with all who are distanced by death and lie in peace. Fewer people will be possible in our churches. But we can still commemorate together, gathered or not.

‘And after the fire a sound of sheer silence…’. It wasn’t in the earthquake, wind or fire that God spoke to the ancient prophet Elijah in a transformational moment. It was in the silence. Silence embraces the deepest of pain like no words can. And from its stillness beauty and new life arise too. Let us this year mark a Silent Remembrance.

Rev David Carrington

Team Vicar of Escot, Feniton and Payhembury

The Rectory, Station Road, Feniton 01404 850905 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Rectory notes December 2020 – A Christmas Fairytale

 

 

 

Once upon a time... there was a beautiful forest. Everyone called it the Christmas Forest. Each winter all would come to it for a merry and festive time. Every patch of woodland was named after the particular delights it brought: Shopping Wood, Parties Wood, Carols Wood, and more.

 

But one winter a Man with a Mask brandishing a chainsaw arrived at the forest. Brutally he began to raze all the lovely trees to the ground. Parties Wood was first – the majestic timbers of fun and jollity crashed to the earth, the buzz of conversation and fuzz of drinks extinguished. Shopping Wood was flattened next, the eternal piped carols falling silent. The man pressed remorselessly on. Even Family Gatherings Wood was given little respite, the loving trees cut to pale shadows of their former selves.

 

His merciless task nearly complete, he encountered a secluded glade, once the quiet centre of the forest. In the glade lay a little cottage. He powered down his chainsaw. Quietness fell. He pushed open the door. Inside sat a young woman, gently cradling a baby. She looked up and smiled. “Shhhh…” she said, “He’s slept through your noise, I don’t know how!” She nodded to an empty chair, and he tentatively took a seat. “My other half’ll be back in a moment,” she continued, “make yourself at home. Help yourself to a drink and something to eat. You must be exhausted.” With that she started to sing softly to the child. The song was somehow familiar to the man, echoing in his distant memories of coming to the Forest himself in better days. “Silent night,” she sang, “holy night, all is calm, all is bright.” And the man sank back into his chair with a contentment he had forgotten possible…

 

 

 

Our own ‘Christmas Forest’ will be a smaller wood this year. We will miss much of our familiar traditions and joys, whatever the level of Covid restrictions. But small things can bring large pleasures: a smile, the warmth of family or a friend even if via a screen, your favourite Christmas drink, a much-loved arm-chair.

 

We crave for hope, for a light in the current pandemic darkness however small. And small is the Christmas hope at first – a fragile child cradled by a mother, in an unnoticed corner of the ancient world. But this tiny acorn will grow into the mightiest of oaks: God himself in our midst – in our homes, our communities, and our inner selves. This Christmas we may have less. Yet, in the silent night, maybe we have all we need.

 

 

 

Rev David Carrington

 

 

 

Team Vicar of Escot, Feniton and Payhembury

 

The Rectory, Station Road, Feniton 01404 850905 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

An Alternative Christingle Experience

As you may have seen elsewhere in the Magazine alternative Christingle services will be this year’s only option as our normal service will not take place.

The Christingle service was introduced into our Christmas celebrations by the Children’s Society and they have put forward a different format to meet with the needs of the current crisis. In their information they sent out to us they suggest an alternative.

It is called “Share Joy” - A National Christingle Service from The Children’s Society,
taking place on Sunday 13 December at 9am.
Links to the service are on the Children’s Society website  www.childrenssociety.org.uk and it will be available on Facebook and YouTube channels.


The Children’s Society say “We know Christingle won’t look or feel the same this year, but there’s no reason why it can’t be bigger and brighter than ever. 
The Children's Society are hosting an online family Christingle service in collaboration with The Church of England. This will be a joyful celebration that brings people together to share the light of Jesus and spread a message of hope. The service will include a few words from HRH The Duchess of Gloucester, soprano singer Joanna Forest and young people lighting the Christingles. It is set to be a special service”

We hope you may be able to join in with this Christingle service and we look forward to seeing you all at next years Christingle.  

Rectory notes October 2020 – Three short words

How often in a typical day do I ‘judge’ someone? Many times, probably. There’s the car driver who’s too fast / too slow (compared to my own perfect speed, of course). There’s the inconsiderate neighbour – not that I’ve ever been one myself. The Government gets a good dose of my judgements on their decisions. And the Opposition. And the judgemental person on social media. I could go on.

Three short startling words of advice Jesus gave us: ‘Do not judge’. Is this perhaps his most overlooked instruction? Yet it’s one I see increasingly as being of the highest value, even central value. The words are given not stridently, but gently, advisedly, even imploringly.

What did he mean? He’s clearly not referring to the vital role of a judge in a court of law. Nor is he speaking of the judgements of situations and people we need to make to form views of the world and guide wise action.

What we see instead is Jesus himself not judging the people he met – their history, their past decisions, even the way they lived their lives. Ironically it was the religious leaders who did this, feeling they had a platform to do so. No, he took everybody as they were, never mind their past, and gave them assurance in the present and hope for their future.

In doing so, he invites us not only not to judge other people, but also not to judge ourselves. How easily regret of a past decision, guilt for a past action, or simple self-recrimination can burden us, even for years. ‘Do not judge yourself,’ says Jesus too.

Jesus is revealing God’s character. He doesn’t judge – at least not as we often think. Judgement – and justice – are for him about restoring and reconciling, not recrimination. ‘Do not judge’ steers us away from harming relationships and ourselves.

I suspect I may be not alone in jumping rather readily at times on my high judging horse! We’re human, it can be hard not to. Meanwhile I’ll practise making my driving less perfect compared to everyone else.

Rev David Carrington

Team Vicar of Escot, Feniton and Payhembury

The Rectory, Station Road, Feniton 01404 850905 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.