We had a balancing act this year shall we church or shall we Zoom?
In the end we did both! We had the Service of Light at 8.00am in All Saint’s Ashwicken, which is our church in the fields. Set on a hill in Norfolk with primroses, and daffodils throughout the churchyard, it was joy to meet each other( socially distance of course!) and to share greetings.
By 11.00am we were live on Zoom! At home and people celebrating Easter, even though they can’t go out.
At least we are on the way to meeting with each other. At least we have some sense of getting through this pandemic, even if it will take time.
Alleluia, Christ is Risen! The stone is rolled away, and a new dawn has begun.
Our link with Papua New Guinea remains strong in the Diocese of Norwich. We are aware that life is tough for the people of PNG at the moment as Covid19 hits the area.
We have a presentation to deliver to a school in Norfolk, Heartwood C of E Primary School, on Thursday 18th March to help Year 2 discover a different land. This is part of their curriculum in geography and RE. What a great way to explore our world.
We journeyed to Papua New Guinea on a Pilgrimage in 2015 and I will be using many of the photos I took at the time to illustrate the session with the Year two children.
The video below is of our greeting by the people of West New Britain(an island in the South Pacific) as we were welcomed into the island.
Rev’d Sue Martin
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I received a leaflet this week with my Church Times, called Water; The Truth from WaterAid. On the front cover was a picture of a child full of smiles under a shower tap and breaking news, that for the first time in history 9 out of 10 people in the world have clean water!
How astonishing that is and we give thanks to all those who have made that possible.
I live in a country where the thought of not having clean water to drink is impossible. But not everywhere in the world has this necessity. Good news indeed that 9 out of 10m people now have clean water.
The image is of the spring of the River Jordan, where water flows effervescently and pure. Water is life giving, but so much more than that. It is the sign for us all that we need to be given that spirit from God, through Jesus. That life-giving water. When we thirst for something and are not sure what we need, it is that need to be quenched and full of God’s word and support.
We have good news! The vaccine is a great success and we are leaders in the world, ready to roll out worldwide.
So let us not be glum! Let us not be dreary! Where is the goodness in being despondent?
Easier said than done, I know.
But this week, so many of us, including myself have had the vaccine . That is truly remarkable and will lead to us getting back together at some stage. Wave if you have had the vaccine! Send a wave through chat if you can! And for those who haven’t yet, it is really getting through to everyone now. How amazing is that!
That is good news and beautiful too.
So let’s get the bad news out of the way and then I can talk about the good news of Jesus coming to dwell with us.
We live in strange times. Somewhat of an understatement I know. Times are difficult, unpredictable, sometimes we are in the doldrums and it is like we are becalmed in a vast ocean Other times we are bashed about like the disciples in the boat in a storm on Lake Galilee.
I was thinking that it reminds me of a film called The Life of Pi, which I am sure some of you will have seen. Briefly, a boy is travelling with his family and their entire zoo, including a tiger, on a boat, which is caught in a storm. The boy is saved and also the tiger and they share a journey across the oceans in a small boat. At one point they are becalmed. They keep their distance from each other. The boy is frightened of the tiger with his very sharp teeth and claws. The tiger is frightened of the boy and his ability to use things like wood and sails to threaten him. After a long, long time they drift to an island in the tropics and the tiger walks away, leaving the boy alone.
We are definitely becalmed somewhere, fortunately in our own homes, and we are frightened of the virus with its spike proteins, maybe and I am guessing here, the virus is frightened of us and our ability to use vaccinations against it.( I don’t think the virus has any emotions though so don’t quote me!!
We are in a period of time which is called, ‘waiting’! We are waiting for the vaccination, unless we have already had it, we are waiting for the curve in the graph to be right down and we are waiting to be told that life can go back to some kind of normal.
What a strange time indeed. Never saw this one coming!!
But this week a real sign of hope The US inauguration for Joe Biden President of the United States and Kamala Harris as Vice President. What a joy to hear in his speech that he refers to his Christian faith at least 10 times. He referred to St Augustine who wrote that a people is a multitude defined by their common objects of their love. He said that the work and prayers of centuries have brought them to this day. And that the American story is a story of hope and not fear. Plus so much more…
This is the right time for a US president with such a dedicated faith who is able to proclaim that love.
Rev’d Sue Martin
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We start the Year of 2021, The Year of New Beginnings. Our readings today in Genesis 11:1-20 and Mark 1: 1-13 are all about beginnings; the beginning of the world, the beginning of Jesus ministry and his baptism.
Chance for a new start for us all in 2021, what shall we do? Do you know I really think this is time for change, change for the better, let’s move forward to a different way of worshipping and looking after God’s world. It certainly is time we should .
Our planet is in trouble, that’s God creation we heard about in Genesis.
Our church is in trouble, that’s God’s church, not enough money, not reaching enough people.
Our neighbours are in trouble, that’s God’s people, both locally and across the world, they need our support.
So let’s make a change in our lives. As we sit back in our homes whilst we can’t go out. Take the time to think about what changes we would like to see and if we keep trying, they will be possible.
So goodbye 2020 The Year of the Parcel and Welcome 2021 The Year of New Beginnings
There is something in me that doesn’t want to mark 2020 as the Covid Year. It feels like it would have won and I am too positive a person to let that happen.
As yet another brown parcel arrived on the doorstep I knew what last year heralded for me… parcels, gifts, packages, usually ordered by myself, but that didn’t matter when they arrived on the doorstep by the kind delivery person taking a photos of the doorstep. I always wave and say thank you as they rush off to their next delivery.
2020 The Year of the Parcel!
Epiphany is about gifts, being given such a present of Jesus, that we are full of awe and wonder. We move on from Christmas. We move on with the light of the world. We know many don’t have that joy and move on to more disruptions, tweets, news broadcasts and the endless ‘bad news’ that seems to win audiences.
I suspect the Year of the Parcel will carry on, in fact it may be a life changer. Even the smallest things can arrive in a brown parcel, but they can be just what you need!
In the midst of this pandemic we can all receive a gift, whether wrapped up in brown paper or knowing that the light of the world came among us, let’s journey on into Epiphany beating this virus and knowing that gifts are the way forward!!
Rev’d Sue Martin
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Does this seem a particularly dark and gloomy time of year? Or is it just me?
More than ever we need the light of the world to come among us. If He could also stop all the messages about Covid and let us reflect on what is important at Christmas, that would be wonderful too.
On the last Sunday before Advent, in our readings, Angel Gabriel visits Mary in Nazareth and following her news, Mary travels a considerable distance to see her cousin Elizabeth, also expecting her first child.
A real sign of hope when it was so needed.
Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months and returned home to her parents and her betrothed husband Joseph. Such courage and real strength.
This Christmas, 2020, we can still hope, we can light the candles, we can decorate the tree and know that whatever happens God loves us forever.
Advent is the season we are well into now and looking forward to Christmas, only 12 days to go! Still time to do all those unimaginable jobs that need to be done, or if you are anything like me, still time to make the mince pies and finish the shopping.
But let’s first of all slow down the advent season and take a little time to look inwards and at our hopes and fears for the years ahead,to look outwards at a world in need of hope, both in this country and abroad and to look towards God for his direction and love.
Even in the midst of this pandemic there are signs of joy as the Advent third candle is lit.
To be a pilgrim is to follow, or to be in the footsteps of other Christians.
It is setting out on the road, to travel or to wander, a journey through life. A famous place for pilgrimage in the UK is Walsingham and to the shrine of Our Lady .
Thought for the Day BBC Radio 4
Every weekday on the Today programme, a speaker gives a few minutes summary on issues and relates these to faith and moral view points.
Speakers from many faith backgrounds give interesting perspectives and it's great to listen to at the start of the day . Read more here...
A new charity, recently launched by the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu.
Working to give donations directly from the charity web site to those in need of help.
The charity derives its title and mission from Acts 4:35 - ...and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need'.