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Richard on June 7th, 2017

To find service times, readings, prayers and NEWS , click the image below to open the Benefice Bulletin for Sunday 11 June 2017.


Richard on June 2nd, 2017

To find service times, readings, prayers and NEWS , click the image below to open the Benefice Bulletin for Sunday 4 June 2017.

Richard on June 2nd, 2017

What do you remember of 50 years ago? Of course, you might not have been around then – or if you were involved in the ‘Summer of Love’ of June 1967, there may be reasons you can’t remember it! It totally passed me by – a mere 17 year-old, I was either behind a bank counter, in Church, on the cricket field or trainspotting!

50 years ago, on 1st June 1967, the Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper album was released. On 18th, Jimi Hendrix made his US debut, the very same day as The Who made theirs. In that month, McDonald’s opened their first restaurant outside the States; the USSR and US both launched the first probes to Venus; China exploded its first hydrogen bomb; and June 1967 also saw Israel’s Six Day War. It wasn’t a ‘summer of love’ for everyone, and much of what happened at that time continues to influence life today, half a century later, for good or ill.

I’m preparing for a wedding at the moment, and the Bible reading is all about love – the famous 13th chapter of St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. The words are beautiful: love is patient, love is kind; love never ends, etc. But they are very tough words to live up to. Paul says that love is not envious, boastful, arrogant, rude, irritable or resentful. And it gets worse! He says: “If I give away all my possessions or even surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing – I am nothing”.

We all know the happy feeling which love brings, but the mistake made in the 1960s was to chase the happy feeling without doing the hard work of loving. In other words, that was a selfish kind of love, rather then the selfless examples Paul gives. Are things any different now? In the last 50 years, we have seen the rise of the consumerist society, the ‘me’ generation that knows what it wants, and wants it today. We know that’s true, but thankfully we know that not everyone is like that. In our Villages there are lots of people who help others without seeking anything in return; work hard in the community or Church for the sheer joy of it; and are true examples of Paul’s kind of love. So I say thank you in Jesus’ name to all of you for all you do.

When St. Paul writes “Love never ends”, what does he mean? Love is eternal because God is love, and when all’s said & done (or not done!) what’s left is love. So if you want to build something that really lasts – an object, a relationship, a community – build it with love…. the tough kind. Let’s make 2017 a summer of love!

Yours in Jesus

Richard on May 18th, 2017

Come and visit Wormingford’s annual flower festival over the Spring Bank Holiday. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday 27th to Bank Holiday Monday 29th May. The theme for 2017 is…”Essex Is The Only Way!” celebrating all things Essex 🙂

There will be wonderful and imaginative floral displays in St. Andrew’s Church, a tombola with many exciting prizes, and down at the nearby Wormingford Community Education Centre, a bric-a-brac sale, teas, cakes, lunches and refreshments.

Find us here: http://www.wormingford.com/find-us-3

Richard on May 18th, 2017

To find service times, readings, prayers and NEWS , click the image below to open the Benefice Bulletin for Sunday 21 May 2017.

Richard on May 12th, 2017

Ronald Blythe talks to Paul Handley of the Church Times about a long literary innings

AFTER more than 24 years, 1250 columns, and three-quarters-of-a-million words, Ronald Blythe is retiring from his weekly Word from Wormingford. He has recovered from a recent illness, and is generally fit and well; but delivering his copy, week in, week out, is a task he is now ready to lay aside.

The column began on 19 November 1993, as “Letter from Wormingford”. Ronald had already written several Diary columns for the then Church Times editor, John Whale. His column has been inhabited by a large cast: favourite poets such as George Herbert and John Clare; former acquaintances and employers such as Benjamin Britten; the scores of countrymen and -women with whom he has conversed (conversations that were the basis of his most popular work, Akenfield); and the creatures who shared his corner of north Essex, including the white cat, who died a year or two ago. (Two young black-and-white cats have since taken its place.)

I went to see him last week, in the company of the Revd John Chandler, Priest-in-Charge of Wormingford and Mount Bures with Little Horkesley, and found him in good spirits, and as welcoming as ever. Parishioners regularly make the trip down the rutted lane, which dates from Saxon times, to his house to ensure that he is well.

He spoke fondly but modestly about the column: “I’m just a writer who doesn’t go anywhere nowadays. I’m a naturalist and a poet; rather bookish. I’m essentially a contemplative. If you live alone, you become meditative, especially as you read and write.”

He recalls being pressed to consider ordination, but he has remained stubbornly lay. “I have always enjoyed being a Reader. It has been part of my life. But what I have done is not get caught up with the Bishop. I’ve just lived alone, writing books. “Church politics is not my thing — though it amuses me. But I shall always be grateful to the Church, particularly because of the friendships in it.”

He spoke calmly about his age: “I’m now 94, but feel just the same as I did ages ago. “I am very conscious of the brevity of life, of things coming to an end. I don’t feel remotely unhappy about it. I read, garden, people come and see me, and it just goes on.” “I live very much in the present. I wake up in the morning feeling ever so well, and feeling today is the big day.”

All of Ronald Blythe’s past columns are published in book form by Canterbury Press: Word from Wormingford: A parish year (£9.99); Out of the Valley (£9.99); Borderland (£10.99); A Year at Bottengoms Farm (£8.99); River Diary (£12.99 hardback); The Bookman’s Tale (£12.99); Village Hours (£14.99, hardback); Under a Broad Sky (£14.99 hardback); In the Artist’s Garden (£14.99 hardback); Stour Seasons (£14.99 hardback). In addition, there are his reflections on old age, The View in Winter (£14.99). A final compilation of his columns is currently in preparation.

Richard on May 12th, 2017

To find service times, readings, prayers and NEWS , click the image below to open the Benefice Bulletin for Sunday 14 May 2017.

Richard on May 12th, 2017

The only time I had anything to do with a Maypole, I was ten. Our Junior School practised for weeks for the annual event on the village green, so that the colourful display could be the centrepiece of the May Day celebrations. Well we thought it was the centrepiece – others may have come for the games, the food or the beer tent!

Maypoles have been a tradition for many centuries, in several European countries including England, but they briefly fell out of favour in 16th Century as the Church was worried that they had pagan undertones – but they didn’t know its origins, and we still don’t. What we do know is the reason that they flourished, and still do in many places – they are an excellent demonstration of the power of Community. They bring the community together, with multi-coloured ribbons signifying our differences, and the dance requires complicated interaction in various directions to create the satisfying pattern on the maypole, time and time again. I found that the interesting part is when the pattern is nearly complete – the ribbons are shorter, people are closer, activity is faster and it’s much more fun!

Churches, the Bible, Jesus Himself, have always stressed the importance of community – because the ultimate aim is one community, one family of people, all acknowledging the Creator God of earth and heaven: ‘They will be my people, and I will be their God’ (Jeremiah 32:38; Ezekiel 37:27; 2 Corinthians 6:16… and 28 other places in the Bible!). And if God’s aim is for us all to be in fellowship and friendship, that’s my aim and I hope yours too. It’s perfectly possible, even with our different skills, views and the directions we take.

There are many opportunities to demonstrate that in every village, with people joining together as friends, for Flower Festivals, for interest groups, for local events – but it’s really good when we can find activities in which everyone can share. The Church is one of those inclusive activities – and we invite you to discover that with us. And as I found with the Maypole, the closer you get the more exciting and satisfying it all is.

Whatever you choose to do and however you do it, may the Lord bless you as you work towards that vision of unity in community.

Yours in Jesus

Richard on April 27th, 2017

To find service times, readings, prayers and NEWS , click the image below to open the Benefice Bulletin for Sunday 30 April 2017.

Richard on April 20th, 2017

To find service times, readings, prayers and NEWS , click the image below to open the Benefice Bulletin for Sunday 23 April 2017.