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Services for Sunday 19 October 2014

Mount Bures (MB), Wormingford (WF), Little Horkesley (LH), #1662 service

 09:15 Family Communion  MB

11:00 Family Communion  WF

11:00 Morning Service  LH

18:30 Evening Service & Communion  LH

Services for Next Week (26 October)

Mount Bures (MB), Wormingford (WF), Little Horkesley (LH), # 1662 service

 08:00 Holy Communion  # WF

09:15 Family Communion  MB

11:00 Parish Communion  LH

11:00 Morning Service  WF

18:30 Evening Service  LH

Your coming in and going out

Sing to the Lord, praise his name

Proclaim his salvation day after day

(Psalm 96)

Readings for Sunday 19 October

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10  &  Matthew 22:15-22

(MB, WF & LH 18:30)

 Isaiah 54:1-14  &  Luke 13:31-end (LH 11:00)

Please pray for

The healing of Nick Eden, Hector Barr & Emma Barr who is recovering from an operation.

 The 15 new youth ministers commissioned at Chelmsford Cathedral last weekend.

 Peace in the Middle East, a lasting settlement in the Holy Land, and for the re-building of Gaza.

 For our armed forces personnel joining the fight against the Ebola virus in Africa.

Would you like to be confirmed?

Our new Bishop of Colchester, the Rt. Revd. Roger Morris, is holding a Confirmation Service in St. Michael’s Church, Myland on the afternoon of Sunday 23 November. If you would like to be Confirmed, have a word with John as soon as you can, so that preparations can be made.

All Souls – 2 November

Sunday 2November is All Souls. There is a list at the back of the Church – please add the names of those you would like to be remembered during the services.

John’s Mobile Office – Wormingford

John is available to meet parishioners at the Wormingford Community Education Centre most Monday mornings from 10-11 a.m. His next scheduled appearance should be on 27 October!

RichardB on October 17th, 2014

Ronald Blythe retreats indoors as a downpour batters the house

THE classic rainy day: the sky a liquid colourlessness, the trees drenching sieves, the farm track a river, the fields just dull and wet. The old labourers “saved” for such a day because, unable to work, they would not be paid. Four horses soak it up, the streaming day; whether indifferent to it or enjoying it, who knows?

Cocooned in the old house, I have to settle down to it as it rattles the windows and surges through the guttering. Field-wise, it could not have come at a better time. October was dry as a biscuit, and the dusty winter wheat had been aching for a shower; but this downpour! It is not unlike Australian rain. One minute I was baking, the next drowning. No point in running for shelter. In any case, it had been thrilling: the heat suddenly all washed away, and oneself as wet as a surfer.

The Duke of Norfolk’s magnificent tomb in Framlingham Church has a Genesis frieze that includes Noah’s Ark. Benjamin Britten liked to take children to see it. He turned it into one of his Church Parables, Noyes Fludde, with a marvellous setting of “Eternal Father, strong to save”. I remember singing it for the first time in Orford Church, long ago. William Whiting wrote it for Hymns Ancient and Modern, in 1860. Britten’s version is heartbreakingly plaintive, slow, and sumptuous.

He would have seen the memorial to a Victorian crew in Aldeburgh churchyard, and would have more than once witnessed the lifeboatmen launching their new boat to rescue some vessel, maybe some holiday yacht that had not understood the North Sea’s power: from being leisurely, it had become imperious, throwing craft and men about like toys. We lesser mortals watched. Watching is a coastal profession. Also a Christian imperative.

St Matthew reports Jesus as saying: “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather; for the sky is red.’ And, in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today; for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign shall be given it except the sign of Jonah.”

Jesus refers to this sign more than once; so what is it? That he will be returned to life and not swallowed up? The island nature of Britain has given its Christianity a flood-based imagery. They say that our coast may have lost three miles in a thousand years. Certainly, its dwellers spent much of that time keeping the sea out. But the inlanders would not have noticed, or minded – and in many cases would never have seen the sea.

Those who lived by it were farmers and fishermen by turn. Some were marshmen, and a different breed altogether. Think of Peter Grimes. There cannot be many sea views framed in a Gothic arch as at Aldeburgh. It is how it first presents itself to the traveller to this town. The road to it once ran through the arch like a grand canopy. Or saw it as a divine approach to sea wealth or sea desolation. The great sea poet George Crabbe’s severe parents lie beside it.

Like St Luke, Crabbe was a medical man and a voyager. Or, rather, the voice of those whose business was in deep waters. Both scientifically and spiritually, he took its measure. Luke’s Acts of the Apostles set the lakeside faith sailing through the centuries, finding harbour here and there, but then restlessly taking to open water. The Aldeburgh fishermen meditate (chat) by their boats by the hour.

Services for Sunday 12 October 2014

Mount Bures (MB), Wormingford (WF), Little Horkesley (LH), #1662 service

 08:00 Holy Communion  # WF

09:15 Parish Communion  MB

11:00 Harvest Family Service  LH

11:00 Morning Service  WF

18:30 Benefice Choral Evensong  LH

Services for Next Week (19 October)

Mount Bures (MB), Wormingford (WF), Little Horkesley (LH), # 1662 service

 09:15 Family Communion  MB

11:00 Family Communion  WF

11:00 Morning Service  LH

18:30 Evening Service & Communion  LH

Your coming in and going out

 Whatever you have learned or received

Or heard from me, or seen in me, put it into practice

And the God of peace will be with you

 (Philippians 4:1-9)


Readings for Sunday 12 October

Philippians 4:1-9  &  Matthew 22:1-14

(WF 8:00, MB & LH 18:30)

Matthew 15:32-39 (LH 11:00)

Isaiah 50:4-10  &  Luke 13:22-30 (WF 11:00)

Please pray for

The healing of Nick Eden & Hector Barr.

 The Colchester schoolchildren settling into their classrooms at the new St. John’s Green primary school, Abbey Fields.

 The family and friends of Alan Henning, and for all those in danger in Iraq and Syria.

 All those in the World suffering from the Ebola virus, for the health workers treating them, for the scientists developing vaccines, and for World leaders that they may find a collective solution to the crisis.

Concert – Little Horkesley

There will be a concert by members of the Trianon Music Group at Little Horkesley Church this coming Saturday, 18 October. This will include the first performance of a piece of music set to a poem by Ronnie Blythe.

 Tickets are £10 each, including light refreshments. Contact Brenda (01206 271019), Meriel (01206 855523) or add your name to the list in Church.

John’s Mobile Office – Wormingford

John is available to meet parishioners at the Wormingford Community Education Centre most Monday mornings from 10-11 a.m. His next scheduled appearances should be on 13 and 27 October!

RichardB on October 10th, 2014

Wet grass and windfalls remind Ronald Blythe of a childhood treat

ANGELIC days. Two feet of white cat stretch out in the sun. But the first ash leaves sail down, wavering in the air before landing. The grass is soaking wet and ruled with badger trails. Undaunted blackbirds sing as though it is May. It is warm and bright, yet at the same time a little sad. The orchard smells of rotting falls, and I think of Aunt Aggie’s triangular orchard and its tall hedges and padlocked gate – a kind of Suffolk Eden after sinful boys had been driven out.

Now and then we would be admitted, led by Aunt with her stick, to find an apple in the dank grass. Wiping it on one bosom, she would give it to us. “Eat it on the good side, dear.” All the picked apples would be laid out in Eaters and Keepers order in the apple-room to scent her clapboarded cottage out until Christmas at least, when it would reek of home-made wine and cake.

In the village churchyard, a suckling was splitting her gravestone, and moss was devouring her name. All around her Blythe and Allen humps posed problems for the mower. There used to be crab-apples and bullaces in the churchyard hedge. And over it the cries of Acton United on Saturday afternoons. They vied with the rookery.

Peace, peace the gravestones whispered hopefully. But Bottengoms is comparatively silent in October, that yellow month. And full of flowers: late roses, self-heal all the year round, and summer plants reluctant to call it a day.

The artist John Nash taught me to look at seeds, to value their shapes, to regard them aesthetically as well as horticulturally. Or deadheadedly. “They are part of the life of the plant, don’t forget.” The friend who comes to mow the lawns, when asked what he thought of the garden, said it was “unusual”.

And never more so when October thins it out, and yet at the same time fills it with senescence. And such warm weather! As for the churchyard horse-chestnuts, the ones the Victorian priest planted in the 1890s, they celebrated conker time with their usual glossy panache.

The conkers lie in their exquisite casings like Fabergé jewels. I put a few in my pocket after matins for old times’ sake. I think of boastful “tenners” and “twentiers”, long ago.

To this day, I carry a conker scar on the palm of my right hand: I was skewering it when it skewered me. Our churchyard horse-chestnuts are a wonder. The village would not be the same were they felled. “Lift up your hearts! Life up ye conker trees!” And the rooks agree.

To Norwich Cathedral to see the new windows. No glassy saints but their realm of pure colour. Visit them at once if you are in Norfolk. John McLean, who made them, reminds us that colour is the most emotive aspect of church windows, but it was George Herbert’s lesson,

A man that looks on glass,
On it may stay his eye;
Or if he pleaseth, through it pass,
And then the heaven espy

that continues to teach us how to approach them, and never more so than this pure-colour addition to religious art. “I feel I had permission for the quadrants of colour tumbling across the design,” the artist says.

One thinks of Matisse, and then of so many things that one would not have thought of in a Norman cathedral before. Stunning, captivating, loaded with prayer colour.

Services for Sunday 5 October 2014

Mount Bures (MB), Wormingford (WF), Little Horkesley (LH), #1662 service

08:00 Holy Communion  # LH

09:15 Harvest Family Service  MB

11:00 Harvest Family Service  WF

11:00 Morning Service  LH

18:30 Evening Service  LH

Services for Next Week (12 October)

Mount Bures (MB), Wormingford (WF), Little Horkesley (LH), # 1662 service

08:00 Holy Communion  # WF

09:15 Parish Communion  MB

11:00 Harvest Family Service  LH

11:00 Morning Service  WF

18:30 Benefice Choral Evensong  LH

Your coming in and going out

 Restore us, O God Almighty

Make your face shine upon us

That we may be saved.

 (Psalm 80)


Readings for Sunday 5 October

Philippians 3:4b-14  &  Matthew 21:33-end (LH 8:00)

Matthew 15:32-39 (MB & WF 11:00)

Isaiah 49:13-23  &  Luke 12:1-12 (LH 11:00)

Isaiah 5:1-7  &  Matthew 21:33-end (LH 18:30)

Please pray for

The healing of Nick Eden & Hector Barr.

 Essex University students coming to terms with the tragic loss of Hannah Witheridge in Thailand.

 The soul of Alice Gross, her family and friends and the community of Hanwell, mourning her sad loss.

 A peaceful outcome to the protests in Hong Kong. That the Chinese authorities may listen to and respect the voice of the people and negotiate an agreed solution.

Little Horkesley Harvest Family Service

Join us to celebrate the harvest at Little Horkesley’s Harvest Family Service next Sunday, 12 October at 11:00 a.m.

Concert – Little Horkesley

There will be a concert at Little Horkesley Church on 18 October by members of the Trianon Music Group. This will include the first performance of a piece of music set to a poem by Ronnie Blythe. Tickets are £10 each and include light refreshments. Please contact Brenda (01206 271019) or Meriel (01206 855523) or add your name to the list in Church.

Correction: Friends of St. Andrew’s

The film evening scheduled for the Village Hall in early October, will now take place at a later date which is to be confirmed. Apologies for any confusion.

RichardB on October 3rd, 2014

It’s Harvest time! Traditionally, October is the month in which the Church celebrates  the Harvest – but perhaps these days Harvest should become a “moveable feast” like Easter, given that the crops don’t ripen at the same time each year, and this year they were almost a month early! The reason the Festival is quite late is that it’s a Harvest Thanksgiving, waiting until the dust settles and our farmers can rest, then everyone can look back at the wonder of God’s unfailing provision.

oes the harvest never fail? The Bible records God’s promise – “As long as the earth endures, seed-time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter… shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22). Really? Yes. The clue is in the word “earth”. There may be lean years and droughts in one part of the world, but that’s when the favourable weather is elsewhere – enough to feed the world. We have the transport, but do we have the will? Even in Joseph’s day, the Israelites travelled to Egypt where there was a good harvest. It would have been easier to export the grain than migrate the people!

These days, it’s harvest every day, as we can enjoy apples in February, strawberries in December, vegetables all year round – thanks to the wonders of globalisation. And the only reasons we still have starving communities are economic imbalance and the lack of national generosity. In one word, injustice. What can we do about that? Firstly, justice begins at home. We know how to be kind to our neighbours and treat everyone fairly – then why can’t we have whole communities and nations who do the same? Call me idealistic if you like, but that doesn’t make me wrong! Secondly, justice needs conscience. Just as we couldn’t “pass by on the other side” if we saw someone suffering, so nations, parliaments, agencies must develop the depth of conscience that compels them (us!) into action.

So let’s continue to sow the seeds of generosity widely and wisely in all parts of our lives; and may those seeds ripen to a rich harvest of justice for all. Now that will be a harvest to celebrate!

Yours in Jesus

RichardB on October 3rd, 2014

Ronald Blythe takes Virginia Woolf down from the shelf


A PENSIVE morning. Adrian is mowing the grass, up and down, round and round. The white cat watches from her wall. The postman crashes along the farm track; the horses gossip on the hill. The brook splashes to the Stour. The sky is colourless. Wild geese flow over in echelon and outriders, whirring away.

The radio becomes alive – somebody is talking about Virginia Woolf, and jogs my brain. The friend who is showing me Sussex slows down, and there, on the left, is Monk’s House. Hesitantly, for Leonard Woolf has been dead only a month, we steal through the gate and stare into the window.

A long table and a chair initialled “VW”, half-opened parcels, pot plants wilting, dumpy cretonned chairs, a fadedness such as rooms get when everyone has departed. And near by is the lane to the river. I thought of Virginia filling her pockets with stones before she reached it.

Her passing has always been summed up for me by Sidney Keyes, who was killed in the Western Desert:

Over that head, those small distinguished bones
Hurry, young river, guard their privacy;
Too common, by her grave the willow leans
And trails its foliage fittingly.

Except they buried her under the garden elms, and they, too, were dying as we shut the garden gate. Her guests were long gone: Lytton Strachey, Duncan Grant, Morgan Forster, Maynard Keynes, her husband, Leonard, the servants who sang, the whole Bloomsbury nation.

But when I find my copy of The Waves, although a stream of press-cuttings pours on to the floor, the novel itself flows on in all its careful beauty. It was a 1947 Christmas present. I re-read a few pages. Surprisingly – I had forgotten – the story begins in Suffolk, but soon wanders up to Virginia’s beloved London, each character coming to the front of the stage, as it were, and presenting himself. The writing is spare, yet filled to the brim because of what it suggests.

But it won’t do, just after breakfast. Chores await; letters beg replies; the telephone which had broken down has been invisibly mended. Calls come in. Had I forgotten? You were going to tell us about Laurie Lee. Black coffee and dark chocolate. And matins on Sunday for St Matthew.

He was old moneybags in the old windows, a crudely attributed apostle. His was the most despised of all occupations, a Jew who not only collected the Temple tax, but also that which his nation had to pay to the Roman Empire. He had actually purchased the right to collect it. And here was Jesus, associating with such a person. How could he! Even his reply – “It is the sick who need the doctor” – failed to satisfy them.

And it could not have been welcome to Peter, Andrew, James, and John when the Lord invited Matthew to join the little group, and it would have taken some time for them to accept him, let alone love him. He was “called” in Chapter 9 of his Gospel. Jesus had been on one of his healing walks and sails, “and as he passed from thence he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the seat of custom, and he said, ‘Follow me.’ And he arose and followed him.”

No giving notice to the Romans. No selling his converted licence to another would-be publican. No hesitation. “He arose and followed him.” Matthew and his Gospel and fascinating examples of renewal. Autumn feeds renewal. Decay nourishes life.

RichardB on October 3rd, 2014

Ronald Blythe succumbs to late-summer sloth


THE classic September days take their time as they succeed each other. No hurry. They are turning Old Master-gold. Come out and do nothing, they say. A nine-months-old baby calls and bumps about on his bottom, talking in Czech and English, but it is all double Dutch to me. He lives in the Barbican. High up? Low down? Is there grass? “Oh, yes.” I have only his parents’ word for it. His round blue eyes shine.

The white cat lies on the garden wall, taking it all in. Chiff-chaffs talk monotonously in their thicket; otherwise the late summer quietness prevails.

Alone, I call my sloth “meditation”. The postman brings proofs of an essay I have written about Laurie Lee, something that has to be read without reading, as it were, so as not to miss a mistake. I pick up falls in the orchard: Victorias, apples – the latter are fit only for the birds, but the plums are bursting and delicious. And too many to devour at this stage; so I put them into plastic bags for the fridge.

Coming down to make the morning tea at six, I encounter a Miss Muffet-size spider attempting to climb the sink Alps, and carry him to the doorstep. I always mean to study spiders, but there is so much to do, so little time, as they say. But I am discovering a method of sorting out small blocks of time for this or that, although the Lectionary is no help.

A long time ago, I read the wrong Trinity collect, and, at the door, a farmer’s wife said that it had quite spoilt her worship. I nearly replied, “I don’t believe you,” which I didn’t, but I thought better of it, and looked contrite, even wicked.

We had a Church of Ireland priest who had the Bible borne before him on a red cushion as we processed in, which I thought most beautiful; but she did not. “It quite spoilt my worship.”

Little spoils mine. The centuries of words and music and silences keep me on the illimitableness of what might happen during a country service. “I spy strangers,” we all say, should such grace us with their presence. From my seat, I watch some of them plundering their way through the Book of Common Prayer, others helping. “Lord, we beseech thee to keep thy household the Church in continual godliness . . . to the glory of thy Name.” Both in and out of the building there is our inescapably grand history, our wildflowers, our views.

David arrives to split up the willow logs that he cut last winter. They tumble musically as the axe falls. He builds them into shining walls inside the old dairy. It is impossible to feel what the coming cold will be like. But “sufficient unto the day” etc., Jesus said. “Don’t look back: remember Lot’s wife.” And don’t look forward: live for today.

Children always look forward, and have no idea about living for today. Who would, with so much to look forward to, and maths to be solved before tomorrow? I like to read old diaries to find out what Parson Woodforde, for example, was doing in his Norfolk parish at this time of the year. Eating, of course; but what else?

10 September 1783. “I walked to Church this morning and publickly baptised Mr Custance’s little Maid by name Frances Anne. After I had performed the ceremony, Mr Custance came to me and made me a present of 5.5.0 wrapt up in a clean piece of Paper. We stayed up at night till after 11 o’clock on account of its being a total Eclipse of the Moon.” That evening, he had lost nine shillings at cards. Turkey and a goose for dinner. The Bishop of Norwich affable. A single parish. Two cheeky servants.

RichardB on September 19th, 2014

BENEFICE BULLETIN – Sunday 21 September 2014 (St. Matthew)

Services for Sunday 21 September 2014

Mount Bures (MB), Wormingford (WF), Little Horkesley (LH), #1662 service

09:15 Pets Service  MB

11:00 Pets Service  WF

11:00 Morning Service  LH

18:30 Evening Service & Communion  LH

Services for Next Week (28 September)

Mount Bures (MB), Wormingford (WF), Little Horkesley (LH), # 1662 service

08:00 Holy Communion  # WF

09:15 Family Communion  MB

11:00 Parish Communion  LH

11:00 Morning Service  WF

18:30 Evening Service  LH

Your coming in and going out

The Lord is gracious and compassionate

Slow to anger and rich in love

(Psalm 145)


Readings for Sunday 21 September

Genesis 8-9,15,19-20 (WF & MB)

1 Kings 19:15-end  &  2 Timothy 3:14-end (LH 11:00)

2 Corinthians 4:1-6  &  Matthew 9:9-13 (LH 18:30)

Please pray for

The healing of Nick Eden, Tony Clements, Dianne Gant, Hugh Houston & Hector Barr.

Unity in our country and reconciliation amongst the people of Scotland.

The soul of aid worker David Haines, and for all those selflessly serving others in places of conflict and danger.

Concert – Little Horkesley

There will be a concert at Little Horkesley Church on 18 October by members of the Trianon Music Group. This will include the first performance of a piece of music set to a poem by Ronnie Blythe. Tickets are £10 each and include light refreshments. Please contact Brenda (01206 271019) or Meriel (01206 855523) or add your name to the list in Church.

Friends of St. Andrew’s Wormingford

Thank you to all who supported last weekend’s Art Exhibition. The next event will be on 10 October at 7 p.m. when Wormingford Village Hall will host a Film Evening showing ‘Constable Observed (Ronnie Blythe 1970)’. Please support the Friends of St. Andrew’s, so that they can support the Church!


Three Churches Discovery Walk

Thank you to all who walked yesterday and to those who helped make it such a success. A great day was had by all!

RichardB on September 19th, 2014

As in his youth, Ronald Blythe is thrilled by seeing the sea


“THE sea! The sea!” we shouted when the land ran ran out and the blue wall of water rose ahead. At Aldeburgh, the church-builders framed it in Gothic stone. Even today, when everyone goes everywhere, this sudden proclamation by the sea itself of its existence remains thrilling. To us Suffolk inlanders, it remains heart-stopping.

Those who live by it never take it for granted. The fishermen, lifeboatmen, and sailors generally eye it warily. Victorian photographs in the sailors’ shelter reveal ravaged faces of boys and men as though waves and winds beat against them with the same indifference as they would a breakwater.

The gulls scream, and Ian plunges in, the only one of us who has an arrangement with it, a dark head, a white arm, a distant cry.

I pick up stones. The church tower comes and goes between the houses. A matching whiteness of form and architecture, birds and boats, is everywhere. Time slips away, and I am the youthful writer slipping and sliding in the shingle of decades ago, deafened by the monotonous rise and fall of the elements. Yet, at the same time, stimulated by their power.

There is Benjamin Britten’s house. Sea-trained by his Lowestoft origins, he would have found the interior silences of my native scene sterile, maybe. No thud and crash of water, no pitiless distances, and an absence of drama. No glitter to life. What was somtimes wearying to me was reviving to him. George Crabbe, the great realist poet, heard the Aldeburgh sea calling to him wherever he went. He would make long journeys to it, just to breathe it in. His snowy bust looks up at Britten’s memorial window in Aldeburgh church, and away from congregations.

The Revd George Crabbe was given a hard time when he re- turned to Aldeburgh as a curate. But the mighty sea solaced him, and while he could be said to have taken his revenge in The Borough, an exposé of a poem if ever there was one, in his head the sea put all human behaviour in its place. And so here it is once more, diminishing, yet somehow praising us mortals.

There are no oceans in the King James Bible, only seas, and these abundantly. Awe accompanies the many references to them. It was St Paul who used the word “peril” in relation to them. Most scriptural references show humanity acknowledging the sea’s supremacy. Those who wrote them would not have heard of the Pacific or the Atlantic. They would have seen them as roads, and the Gospels have a marine flavour to them.

St Paul’s journey to Rome, in Acts, is one of the world’s best-written sea voyages, with its mixture of sailors’ superstition, religious trust, and economics. Nelson would have found it quite an ordinary account of what is likely to happen when you board ship. Jesus’s eyes – his inner and his outer vision – were sharpened by Galilee, that inland fishing-ground and faith-carrying sea from whose shores he gathered his disciples. “And did those feet . . .”

Matthew Arnold, in DoverBeach, the greatest of all shoreline poems, writes of the ebbing of the sea of faith. “Listen! You hear the grating roar Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling, At their return, up the high strand, Begin, and cease. . .”

In Cornwall, I used to be entranced by the mesmeric sea, but less so in Suffolk, where coastal history not so much tamed it as made it practical. Every now and then, like Crabbe, or Maggi Hambling, I visit it, and am transfixed by its immensity.