Rectory notes April 2021 – Does life win?

It’s Saturday of Easter weekend last year, on the hill above Feniton. It’s dawn. We can’t hold our usual Sunrise Service there the following day due to this new national ‘lockdown’. I am making a fumbling attempt at filming an introduction for an Easter video service. And the sunrise is perfect. The huge orange ball emerges inch-by-inch above the hills over Honiton. At the end of the year I will compile an album of 2020 lockdown photos – that sunrise is now its front cover.

Resurrection comes. Often slowly, but it comes. Those compact three days from the first Good Friday to Easter Day give us a pocket-sized picture of life. There’s been a lot of Good Fridays this past year: so much pain and struggle and tragically death. Covid-19 has joined the ranks of the destroyers of life, gleefully hammering another nail into the cross. Mercifully we are now armed with vaccines to mount a defence.

There’s been a lot of Easter Saturdays: that difficult point after the worst has happened – at least we hope it has – but we don’t yet see a future. A time when we fear that evil does in fact have the last word, that life will be squeezed out. A time of deep doubt. Yet a time when doubt is OK – for where can new life come from?

And then there it is – new life! Our resurrection from national pandemic restrictions is slow – Step-by-Step, week-by-week. But emerging we are. We can feel the warming rays of freedom begin to touch our bodies again. Our muscles can start to stretch once more. Life is edging back.

Where was God in those ‘three days’? Was he just in the resurrection? No, Christ travelled the whole journey, present in the death and darkness as much as in the life, with us every inch of the way. Indeed he led the way. He showed there is a way through.

Last autumn I planted Spring bulbs in our garden. I have little natural faith that what I plant will grow. Yet they have done so! Each one is a tiny miracle of life and colour. Resurrection comes slowly. But it comes. Whatever is thrown at life, life still wins.

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 March 2021 – ‘Rainbows, candles and tunnels’

The year is 1897. You’re driving a horse and cart through the newly opened Blackwall Tunnel, beneath the River Thames in East London. You’re nervous – how can it be safe to travel under water?? But you are more tense for your horses: how will they handle this enclosed space? Kinks in the tunnel prevent you seeing its end*. You’d love it to be straight, and be able to see the light at the tunnel’s end. But you’re glad the horses can’t. You coax them forward. You round the final bend, daylight appears – and the horses are off, bolting to the exit. There’s no holding them back now.

A year ago we entered a tunnel: a lockdown tunnel, enclosed, with intermittent spells more open to the sky. Lockdown Anniversary Day approaches: a painful marker of loss of lives, livelihoods, and richness of life. We thought we saw the light at the end, for it only to be another bend. We could not have imagined the tunnel would be this long.

In those early days we galloped, thinking – hoping – it was short. Rainbows sprouted in windows. They brought hope and optimism, a joyful tune lifting our shocked hearts. They bring smiles still, every time. Yet rainbows are transient, whimsical even. Their pure positivity can wear out in the prolonged pain. Rainbows don’t work in the night.

The tunnel has been long. So we’ve needed light that lasts the distance – an unknown distance. Light that can travel through the tunnel with us, be always present. Light to take us through a winter, literal and metaphorical.

In front of me is a candle, a simple tea-light. It doesn’t display a glorious arc of spectral colours. It isn’t exciting. It’s humble, vulnerable-looking even. But it’s steady and constant. It bears an honesty that the world around is dark. And its small yet intense flame transmits a resilient hope: reassurance that it will always overcome the dark. In its steady constancy can be seen the Light of the World.

We have learned in lockdown to be ‘tunnel people’. We hope to see the light at the end – our rainbows. Even more we need light in the tunnel for the journey. My tea-light is one of a box of 100 – there’s plenty of uplifting light to come! We need those encouragements to keep moving forward – maybe we’re more like the horses in the tunnel after all.

Rev David Carrington

   * I discovered this whenever visiting family North of the river as a child (not via horse and cart).

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 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.

Rectory notes February 2021 – ‘The graph of peace’
“Who would like to sketch a graph on the board of Covid cases over the past year?” the
teacher asks. Draw a graph?! In front of everyone?! But you can probably have a go. So
donning your face-mask and keeping social distance, you sanitise your hands and take the
board marker. You start… A big rise last Spring… a gentler descent… the flattish summer…
and then in the autumn up again – and up, and up some more…
This graph has become part of our lives. It’s on our TV screens and internet. The
Government wants us to know it. It guides our understanding and behaviour. It guides them
too. I visualise the Government having health indicator graphs splashed over one wall, and
economic indicators on another. Graphs are good. They convey things clearly.
But other graphs exist too. More personal graphs. “Now,” the teacher continues, “on a
piece of paper this time… sketch how anxious you’ve been over the past 12 months. No-one
needs to see this, unless you want them to... Now draw one of how many times you’ve been
more than, say 5 miles, from your home” (‘Or simply beyond my gate,’ you mutter)… “A
graph of the pressures in your household… Your income… How much you’ve spent on junk
food…”
National graphs don’t reflect our personal picture. Our own graphs matter. Away from the
imaginary classroom, now sitting at home, these graphs are our lives.
But only part of our lives. For there are other graphs, uplifting ones. What would one look
like of how much you’ve appreciated family and friends in the past 12 months? Or your
thankfulness for the simple things in life? Or the diverse yet continual beauty of nature over
the past year? Or the joy in birdsong? You will have your own.
How about – even a graph of God? Can we really venture this?? Why not. His love – a
constant and reliable flat line, infinitely off the scale. His voice – likewise level, a still word
spoken into our storms. His peace – a stable line midst our wild oscillations.
Let us select the graphs we dwell on. Let us draw on St Paul’s words, ‘The peace of God,
which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.’ In this
time of fluctuation, may this steady peace be with us all.
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.