Vicars Views



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

VICAR'S VIEWS

They say a watched pot never boils. I certainly find that a kettle takes longer to boil when you're already running late for a meeting- or at least it seems to!

This seems to ring true as we wait for the 21st June. The want to come to the end of restrictions is palpable. It feels a bit like being a child waiting for Christmas. As annoying as having to wear masks and keep distance has been, for most of us I think we have accepted them as a necessary part of our care for our neighbours at this time.

For me though, there are two things that I have found most difficult: The first, having to think every action through in detail to make sure it complies with all the rules and keep others safe. It's extremely tiring to have to do everything consciously. And secondly, having to call or zoom friends and family rather than meeting in person. So, I look forward to the 21st June and seeing these things ease, even if that date seems to never come.

Yet, and I hate to sound like a pessimist here, none of us know what the 21st June will bring. It may be the end of lockdown, or it may not, or it may simply be a brief respite before the next pandemic. I say this not to take away hope, but rather to remind us where true hope is to be found. True hope, certain hope, and living hope can only be found in the one who is the Way, the Truth and the Life - that is Jesus.

As Hebrews 10:23 says:

"Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm,

for God can be trusted to keep his promise."

And so, I look forward to the day when restrictions end and I can meet my friends indoors without mask or worries, visit my family members overnight, go outside without double-checking the regulations and that I have a mask. But my true hope lies not in these things, but rather in the God revealed in Jesus Christ - a true, certain and living hope for all that put their trust in Him.

Finally, I wish to end with a personal comment which, although not intended, I suppose fits well with the theme. This will be my last contribution to this Newsletter as your Vicar, as from 1st June my position at the church here will end. It is likely that you will still come across me as we aren't going far; my family and I shall soon be living and working in Combe Martin. It has been my joy to be able to share life with you all - the highs and the lows - and hope that I will be able to do so in the future, though in a different capacity. I have lots of wonderful memories, even over this relatively short time, that I will treasure, and have felt welcomed by you all. However, despite me moving on from this role, please remember that the church is still very much here for you, as it has been over all the years, to share with you the good news of Jesus, the hope that he brings, and to share life with you all. Vicars come and go, but God is eternally present. God willing it won't be too long until you'll be welcoming a new vicar into the village. In the meantime, I know the congregation will keep things running so that you can join them in worship every Sunday. If you do see me around, please don't hesitate to come and say 'Hi', and let me know how things are with you. And who knows? Perhaps there'll

be another contribution from me one day but for now this is me signing off:

Have a wonderful summer and see you soon.

May you all know Christ Jesus; the way, the truth and the life.

Rev. Peter

12



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

VICAR'S VIEWS

Happy Easter from St. Peter's Berrynarbor

Easter is the season of Good News! It is the season where we celebrate the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. Celebrating a death can seem like an odd thing to do on the face of it but Jesus's death was no ordinary one. It was a death that defeated evil, that stared death and sin in the face and beat it at its own game. It is the death that has saved and given hope to all who have a lived faith in Jesus, a claim that billions across the world believe and celebrate. If you are one of these then you already know the impassable joy that this brings, and if you're not, don't let another Easter pass you by without taking a genuine look at the life changing truth.

There are many resources to help you explore but I suggest 2 places to start.

1. Read The Gospel According to Mark, from the Bible. If you don't have a copy you can access it for free on the internet [biblegateway.com].

2. The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. Lee was an investigative journalist who tried to disprove Christianity and in doing so realised it was true. Join Lee as he looks at some of the evidence for the historical death and resurrection of Jesus.

In light of this I am also pleased to say that Church services are now back in person, every Sunday at 3.00 p.m. Although the same limitations are still in place as were before, it means that we can be together as we celebrate the seminal moment in history that brings the greatest gift and joy for us today! I hope you can join us.

As always, for the latest information, please check our Facebook page or website: combetocombechurches.co.uk

This Easter, may you know the truth and peace that only comes through faith in our Lord Jesus.

Rev. Peter

27



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

VICAR'S VIEWS

Happy [belated] New Year from St. Peter's, Berrynarbor

Not the start of the year any of us were hoping for, but, perhaps, at least partially expecting. We pray that you and yours are keeping safe, and that you are finding ways to thrive despite the current climate.

It was an odd end to 2020, but I am thankful to Stuart Neale and the Choir for their wonderful performance and for leading us in carols at the Christmas Eve Communion. Odd as it was to not sing along, it was wonderful to be able to hear those wonderful words remind us of the amazing story of Jesus, God with us, coming to live among us and give us hope.

As for 2021, at St. Peter's we have decided that given the current infection rate, the lockdown, and the vulnerability of many in the congregation and the village, the only reasonable course of action is to close the building to physical services. Don't worry though! The church is alive and well. Our Sunday services are now online on our website on Sunday from 10.00 a.m.

www.combetocombechurches.co.uk

There are lots of other services and events too, and you can read about them all in the latest parish letter available on the website as well. If you have an issue accessing the internet, we also have a telephone service on Sunday evenings at 7.30 p.m. You can 'phone me to get the details if you can't access the website: 07803253286.

Looking forward into the year, we have a glimmer of hope in the vaccines that are rolling out. We are grateful for the wise and well-educated people that are producing them. However, we are a long way off normality. The good news is that no matter what life throws at us, we can have a true and certain hope through the Lord Jesus Christ. I pray that, if you've not already, you will come and know this hope too.

God bless you all in 2021.

Rev. Peter

2



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

VICAR'S VIEWS

Dear Friends,

It is hard to believe that we are already in December! Winter is upon us, or will be shortly depending on your preferred definition, but hopefully with it has come an ease in lockdown restrictions. Of course, I'm writing this in November so cannot be certain. This is good news as we look forward to Christmas, which although won't be as normal, will at least be with lighter restrictions. I wonder how you are preparing for Christmas this year? I imagine that you have an advent calendar on the go already. This year mine is teabags rather than chocolate! It is a wonderful way to count down to Christmas, and having something to look forward to is more important than ever, isn't it. For the church, advent started on the 29th November this year and with it came a new year [in the church calendar at least]. Advent is a season of preparation: Not only of our decorations and presents, but more importantly of ourselves. It is a good time to reflect on why we celebrate Christmas at all, and our own place in it.

Despite all the glitz and glamour that is associated with Christmas now [largely thanks to savvy Victorian salespeople], it has certainly not always been the case, especially with the first Christmas. The first Christmas was in the context of a woman being misunderstood and mistreated, a 'global' government putting restrictions upon the people, a local government bringing oppression and violence against those that threatened their power, of families being separated, of the most vulnerable being side-lined and forgotten. I'm sure that at least some of that feels a bit too close for comfort this year. However, that is why Christmas is more important than we normally give it credit for. It is the story of light in the darkness and hope in despair. It is the story of God with us - Emmanuel. Take time this year to look at Christmas with fresh eyes. You may want to read the story for yourself in the bible or perhaps read this short book over advent: Fixated by Tim Chester. Of course, I'd love to help you explore this world changing message.

As we approach Christmas this year it is unfortunate that many of the usual events that you may be used to attending are unable to happen. There certainly will be events happening but at time of writing we're not sure the form they will take as it depends a lot on what happens on the 2nd December. Please do keep an eye-out for posters at the church as well as information online to keep informed about what will be happening.

In the meantime, I have some good news. Once lockdown has ended, we shall be resuming physical services. These will now be at 3.00 p.m. on Sunday afternoons. Until then we shall be continuing our online services at 10:30 a.m. every Sunday morning, which you can catch up on anytime. Simple, go to: www.combetocombechurches.co.uk

There is also our evening service at 7.30 p.m. every Sunday via the 'phone. If you'd like to join in, just be in touch and I'll pass on the details to you. For more information on these service as well as much more please see my latest letter on our website.

Some other great news is that there is now a Community Mental Health Practitioner working with St. Peter's. Her name is Lisa and is here to serve the community. I won't say too much here as she has introduced herself in her letter below, but please do be in touch. I expect that lockdown has made all of us realise the importance of looking after our mental health. Lisa would love to help you do that.

Finally, may I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. God bless, Rev. Peter

revchurcher@gmail.com / 07803253286

 

"Glory to God in the highest heaven,

and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests."

17



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

VICAR'S VIEWS

Dear friends at Berrynarbor,

I hope you are all keeping well. Since the last letter little has changed.

As I write to you, gatherings have been reduced from 30 to 6 to help lower the R number. Time will tell, but I hope that this is successful so that we can come out of these restrictions safely as soon as possible.

As you read this, the church is hoping to be able to hold, before too long, its APCM. In case you're not sure what that is, it is our annual meeting to review the past year and look forward to the next. Who knows what that might bring? It is an important part of our reflecting and looking forward. Talking of looking forward, we are hoping to resume services as soon as possible and will obviously let you know as soon as we can.

In some way I feel October is a bit on a non-month. It's officially Autumn now, whether the weather agrees or not, where little new or different happens. However, that is in itself a novel and delightful thing. It gives us time to slow down. As the world turns from the green of abundance to the autumnal colours of restraint, it encourages us to slow down too.

Life can be so busy we fail to stop and reflect. Make sure you take time to slow down too. To think about what you are doing and why. To remember and give thanks for the good things in your life and to think about what change is needed. And in all these things, to remember that God is king, and has called us to live as such. For only then can we know true rest and true peace.

God bless.

Rev. Peter & all at St. Peters

14



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

VICAR'S VIEWS

To everyone in Berrynarbor

I hope that you are keeping safe in these strange times.

Even if you are physically healthy, I think many people are feeling a bit fatigued by it all now - me included.There's only so long we can keep up the feeling of innovation or so many hobbies one can take up! I find that I have to often remind myself at this time that this is not forever, that it is ok to find things stressful, and to feel out of control. It's important at this time to be reminded that, although we may feel out of control, God is in control. Part of the good news of Jesus [the gospel] is that He is good and holds our future.

One thing that people have been asking for is to be able to access our church building. Unfortunately, St. Peter's Berrynarbor is unable to open its doors safely at this time, but I am pleased to say that our sister churches are now open for private prayer:

St. Peter Ad Vincula, Combe Martin: Sundays 2.00 - 4.00 p.m. Thursdays 10.00 a.m. - 12.00 noon

Pip and Jim's, Ilfracombe, Saturdays 9.00 a.m. to 12.00 noon Tuesdays 1.00 to 4.00 p.m.

Please be aware that as government advice changes, and as circumstances arise, we may need to edit these times.

When you enter the church buildings you will notice a few differences. As you enter please clean your hands with the alcohol gel provided, follow the arrows to a seat - marked 2 metres apart - where you can sit and pray, and once you are ready to leave, please follow the arrows to the exit and use the alcohol gel by the exit, this is a different door to the one you entered.When you come to pray, you may like to bring your own Bible and/or prayer resources too. At the entrance you will find QR codes linking to helpful resources, or you can access them via these website addresses:

Prayers: www.churchofengland.org/prayers-for-the-moment

Light a virtual candle: www.churchofengland.org/light-a-candle

Read the Bible: www.biblegateway.com

I also want to clarify that private prayer is the only reason the church building can be used at this time. All church services are still online or by telephone only, and tourist visits are not currently allowed. However, this is under discussion and we will let you know once we are able to meet in person again.

www.combetocombechurches.co.uk

I'd also like to invite you to join us for our services online.

A video goes live on our website each Sunday at 10:30 a.m. [but can be watched at any time], along with a chat-box to join in with others watching and sharing at the same time. It's a great way to

dip your toe in and experience a little of church. Why not take time to explore what goes on.

To end, I'd just like to give my thanks to everyone taking part in the amazing work going on in the village.This attitude of care is nothing new in the village of course, but speaks volumes at this time.

May you know the peace of God at this time especially.

Rev. Peter, and all at St. Peter's Combe Martin

revchurcher@gmail.com / 07803253286

12



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

VICAR'S VIEWS

Dear Friends,

I hope that you are keeping well at this time, and know the blessings of God through all your circumstances. Hopefully by now you know what is happening at St. Peter's Berrynarbor and the other linked churches. Unless things have change drastically since writing this, we are still unable to meet in person, and so I wanted to share what we are doing as a benefice to keep us all connected, and to help everyone in their walk with Jesus.

The best place to go for up to date information, or for links to online services and Zoom links for meetings, is our benefice website which is where I place most information:

www.combetocombechurches.co.uk

If this isn't an option for you then you can always ring one of the me and I will happily talk you through what is going on.

It is extremely important that although we are socially distant, that we are also distant socialising. i.e. We must stay physically apart for the health of ourselves and our communities, but also that we stay connected with each other so that no one is truly isolated.

Thank you for everyone that is making an effort of keep in contact with others via phone calls, post cards and other means. We got off to a good start but let's keep this going. [One word of warning though: please don't put things through people's doors by hand as this is an infection risk since Covid19 can live on paper for up to 24 hrs.] If you are feeling isolated please reach out to someone in the church - you never know; they may love a call too!

Until we are able to meet again, we shall be continuing to:

• put Service Videos on Sunday mornings on our website [see above]. They premiere at 10:30 a.m. with a

chat box for you to engage with, but you can watch at any time.

• have Virtual Coffee Mornings via Zoom on Mondays, from 10.00 to 11.00 a.m.[details online]

• have Virtual Home Group via zoom on Wednesdays, 7.30 - 9.00 p.m. [details online]

We have also introduced a new service, since our last letter:

• Telephone Compline. Sunday, 7.25 for a 7.30 p.m. start, for about 15 minutes.

Simply call 0333 011 0616 on any phone. You'll then enter the access code: 998 3503, and say your name [if you want to] followed by #. [Local rate call charges may apply] Everyone is welcome to join, but if you'd like to join in the responses in this service, you will need the service sheet. You can find this on our website, or by contacting me.

We have also produced a service sheet for Sunday worship. This is intended to be used for those who are unable to join in the video services each Sunday with people in their household or alone, so that, although we might not be together physically, we are one in Christ Jesus. Also available are the bible readings [lectionary] from each Sunday until the end of July so you can read the same passages that we shall be using on the videos.

It might be that you are reading this as someone who doesn't go to a church, or perhaps hasn't been for a while. This is a great opportunity to see what we do, and perhaps try joining in, as you can do so anonymously from the comfort of your own home. Of course, if you want to make yourself known we'd love to greet you as well - it's up to you.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank those who are going above and beyond to ensure our community is cared for. I'd particularly like to name and fame 3 groups: 1. The school staff, who have continued their care, to educate and love the children despite the difficulties 2. The Village Shop and all who volunteer there, ensuring that no one goes without, and 3. Ye Olde Globe Inn, who despite their own difficulties at this time, have served their community valiantly. Although you may not put it this way, I should like to thank you for living out some of the values of God's Kingdom in our little community.

I for one look forward to being back in the village and being with you all as soon as it is safe and possible.

Yours in Christ,

Rev. Peter

revchurcher@gmail.com / 07803253286

19



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

VICAR'S VIEWS

I wonder what was the last piece of good news you received. Perhaps the birth of your child or grandchild? A promotion at work? Someone said they love you? Or perhaps simply that the supermarket has now got hand sanitizer and loo rolls back in stock! We all love getting good news, whether that be something that affects us personally, or just somebody we care for.

Easter is the season of good news. Perhaps you've heard Christians talk about the Gospel - it's an old English term that simply means Good News. It is the heart of the Christian faith, and is what we celebrate at Easter.

On the face of it we celebrate the death of Jesus - Good Friday - and His subsequent rising from the dead - Easter Sunday - which of course is true, but it is more than a clever trick or just a fact of history. Easter is good news because it is the evidence and means by which God declares that each of us are precious to Him, that the sin that separates us from Him has been forgiven, and that death - the final enemy - has been defeated.

Easter is the great celebration that for those that belong to Jesus - those that follow Him - that we are no longer marked by our mistakes, our poor choices, or our thoughtlessness, but instead we are marked by the forgiveness of Jesus, and given a fresh start in His Kingdom. Jesus' resurrection proves that even death cannot separate us from the love of God. There is no better news in all the world.

Join us at St. Peter's, Berrynarbor at 2.00 p.m. on Good Friday, 10th, for a service of readings and music to help us reflect on the death of Jesus. And then again on Easter Sunday,12th at 11.00 a.m. as we celebrate Jesus' resurrection, and victory over sin and death.

May you know God's immeasurable joy.

Rev. Peter Churcher

16



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

VICAR'S VIEWS FEBRUARY 2020

February brings lots of choices! For many, January meant a diet following the excesses of Christmas, or Dry January to give your liver a rest, or Veganuary in an attempt to atone for the farmyard you consumed in December. So now we are February, I wonder what choices you will make now? Will you continue your reform, relax to something more balanced, or return to your old habits?

February also brings with it another day of excess: Shrove Tuesday, or, as it is better known, Pancake day. It is the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day in Lent [which makes it Tuesday 25th February this year]. It is an old tradition of using up all your rich foods, such as sugar, eggs, butter and syrup so you aren't tempted to indulge during lent. And also, I know there is an argument every year but the correct answer is 'Lemon and Sugar'. Nowadays lent has become a largely passed-over season, or at best the time when people give up chocolate to raise money for charity, or give up social media in an attempt to get control over it before it controls you. However, lent is so much more important than that.

Lent is the season where we prepare ourselves for Easter. The word 'Lent' comes from the old word for spring. Much like the season, lent is meant to help life 'spring' forth from us. Easter is a time where we celebrate the defeat of death by our Lord Jesus, and where we see true, full life burst from the empty tomb. The wonderful joy is that Jesus offers us that life too. So lent is not about self-flagellation [google if you must] but about preparing ourselves to have the new-life planted in us, as a farmer prepares the ground for the seed. The giving up of foods or screens is not to beat ourselves up, but rather to help us see that what Jesus has for us is far richer and far sweeter than any pancake or a million 'like's on Facebook could ever be.

Jesus said,

'I have come that they may have life in all its abundance'

[John 10:10]

Why not take a fresh look at Jesus this year? There are plenty of services at St. Peter's over lent, Easter and throughout the year that you'd be warmly welcomed to. Can't wait? Then this website is a good place to start your journey: twowaystolive.com

As always, feel free to be in contact.

May God bless you richly this 2020.

Rev. Peter Churcher

24



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

FROM REV. BILL

Dear Friends

The run up to Christmas is very hectic; it's amazing just how much hustle and bustle there is before The Big Day. This year is particularly hectic for me and my wife as we say goodbye to North Devon and move to our home in Cumbria at the beginning of December, as you can imagine we will have a lot to think about.

Almost everyone gets caught up in the busyness and material stuff of a commercialised Christmas: shopping till we drop, giving children as many presents as the house can hold, and buying enough food to keep a whole street alive for a week! It seems ironic then that the very first Christmas Day welcomed the birth of the Prince of Peace, and it is on Christmas Day, when many of us are so tired all we want is to be left in peace and sleep it off!

The lead up to Christmas doesn't need to be so hectic, though no-one needs to dread it, because ultimately if we choose, Christmas can really be a time of joy and peace. Christmas will always be Christmas. After all we are celebrating the most significant event in history; if you can think of a more significant one, let us know. The birth of Jesus brought not only a new way of life to the world, one that continues to stand the test of time, but also brought God into the world that he made.

And on that first Christmas Day in the tiny village of Bethlehem, the world was amazed at the sight of a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger, and just for a moment the world and heaven were joined as one as: "Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared...praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.'" (Luke 2:13,14)

Have a very happy and peaceful Christmas, and may God's favour rest on you.

Bill Cole

We thank Bill for his contributions to the Newsletter and wish him and his wife a joyous and peaceful Christmas and health and happiness in their home in Cumbria.

 

Merry Christmas for St. Peter's

You are very welcome to all of our services, many of which have mince pies and mulled wine too! Look out for posters or pop into the church for more information.

If you're not sure of the reason why we celebrate Christmas, here is a good tip: There are 24 days in December before Christmas, and 24 Chapters in Luke's version of the Jesus story in the Bible. Why not read just one chapter a day? Once you get to Christmas, you'll know what you're celebrating!

May you know the reason for the season and the joy He can bring. 

Rev. Peter Churcher

 

19



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

FROM REV. BILL

Dear Friends,

Following a summer of many long, bright, sunny days, the days are definitely shorter, and the nights longer. Autumn is well and truly underway and some of us may not be looking forward to the dark cold winter nights ahead. Fortunately, there are highlights along the way such as Bonfire Night, Christmas Lights, Advent and Christmas. Imagine winter without those events, the winter months would be darker.

One person that turns darkness into light is Jesus, who said, "I am the Light of the World", which is a very strange thing for Jesus to say if you really think about it. What does he mean? It's not so much that Jesus magically changes everything or everybody, but it does mean that he is the beacon of all that is true and all that is right, and by keeping our eyes on him as he lights our way, we will be transformed, as more light fills our lives.

Jesus also said that he came so that "we could have life to the full." A promise of a life knowing that God loves you, a life of joy and contentment, a life of doing all kinds of good things, a life that can cope with the hard times, a life of inner freedom, a life that knows why you were born, a life that answers those difficult questions that have never been answered: a full life!

Bill

6



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

IS IT A BIRD? IS IT A PLANE? NO, IT'S . . .

Perhaps over the last few months you have seen a strange new sight in the village: a blur of black and yellow whizzing past you as you walk around. Do not fear! It is not a giant bee nor a new tourist attraction. It is in fact me, your new vicar whizzing past on my bike whilst wearing my dog-collar and reflective clothing.

My name is Peter Churcher - yes, really! I'm married to Josie, a dog trainer and groomer, and we have 4 brilliant kids. I have the joy of serving and caring for St. Peter's, Berrynarbor and St. Peter Ad Vincula, Combe Martin, as well as Pip and Jim's in Ilfracombe. We live in Ilfracombe - hence the need for the bike - but you'll see us in the village plenty. If you see me, please flag me down or come and say "Hi", I'd love to get to meet each of you.

Jesus once said, 'I have come that you may have life, and life in all its fullness' [John 10:10]. It's something that I have had the privilege to experience again and again, and I hope that I, and those in the churches, can share with you in your journeys. If you've never been to the church or even thought about God, then why not make my new beginning a chance to explore for yourself? There are loads of opportunities to get started from Sunday services: Berrynarbor at 11.00 a.m., Combe Martin at

9.30 a.m., to Messy Church at Combe Martin Village Hall, 9.30 a.m. on the 2nd Saturday of each month in term time. Next one is 'Teddies from the Tower' in August and everything in between.

If you'd like to know more, or just chat, I'd love to hear from you. I'm extremely blessed to get to live in such wonderful communities in such beautiful places and already feel so welcomed. Thank you for your kindness. May God bless you all richly.

Peter

revchurcher@gmail.com, 01271 855541 or 07803253286

16



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

FROM REV. BILL

Once again, the months go by. The blossoms have fallen by now but very little changes with regard to parliament and our country. If it's not MP's expenses its Brexit!

Brexit has become divisive, political parties are divided even amongst themselves, and the country is divided. It wasn't that long ago when parliament was in the news over affluent members fiddling their expenses. Certainly, our MPs get a lot of flak from all sides. But how many people in other walks of life are doing, or would do the same thing: perhaps thinking that fiddling the company isn't as serious as fiddling the voter?

Jesus once told a woman caught in adultery that her sins were forgiven, but added go and sin no more. You may be wondering what adultery and fiddling expenses have in common; they are similar in this way: they are both stealing something that is not rightfully theirs. Is adultery and fiddling expenses becoming more acceptable in our society?

When people choose to become politicians or members of parliament, they have a responsibility to those who elect them, they are placed in positions of trust and are given the title Honourable and promise to be so. In the same way men and women promise to honour their spouses, they too are placed in positions of trust and have a responsibility to one another.

If responsibility is not accepted and acted upon, trust goes out of the window. It seems to me that our political classes often go too far and many of them fail to understand what is right, but then are they the only ones?

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and there is no truth in us. But if we confess our sins to God, he will keep his promise and do what is right: he will forgive us our sins.

God loves you and even our politicians!

Bill


QUOTE

SHAKESPEARE FORSEES BREXIT!

This land of such dear souls, this dear dear land,

Dear for her reputation through the world,

. . . England, bound in with the triumphant sea,

Whose rocky shore heats back the envious siege

Of watery Neptune, is now bound in with shame,

With inky blots and rotten parchment bonds:

That, England, that was wont to conquer others,

Hath made a shameful conquest of itself.

Ah, would the scandal vanish . . .

 

John of Gaunt's speech from Richard II

21



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

FROM REV. BILL

Easter is a time to which most of us look forward. Good things happen at Easter - better weather [sometimes], holidays, Easter eggs, parties, family gatherings, etc.

Easter is the Day in the Christian calendar when we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ following his death on a cross. We are reminded that God loves us and that we have certain hope for the future. In Jesus Christ, God came to us, died in our place so that our sins can be forgiven and through faith in him can have eternal life and begin a good and growing relationship with Him.

Easter is about new life, new beginnings, new attitudes and new growth. For those in the church we can begin to build on those decisions we made in Lent to change for the better, perhaps to do something positive. Without Easter, the Church [the people of God] wouldn't exist, but in this country fewer and fewer people are coming to a growing and real faith in Jesus. Some are turning to other religions, many of which offer rules that only subordinate.

Easter brings forgiveness that through Jesus we can let go of all those things that mar our relationship with God. It never ceases to amaze me how some people, even Christians, live with so much bad stuff [baggage] in their lives for so long. Jesus calls us to 'let it go' [forgive] and start again. And following forgiveness comes joy: joy in knowing that Jesus has set us free: free to live the kind of unselfish life our country is crying out for:

"All believers were together... praising God and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved." [Acts 2:44, 47]

HAPPY EASTER!

Bill

If you are interested in knowing more about what it means to be a Christian, why not come along to one of our home groups? We have three groups meeting on different days and at different times. Give me a ring on [01271] 523441 or email: billcole124@btinternet.com.

18



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

FROM REV. BILL . . .

Time seems to fly by. Take Christmas, the season of giving is over, and then New Year which is well under way with all its resolutions [are you still keeping them?], even Epiphany has passed by, hopefully not unnoticed!

And now we are beginning to look forward to Easter as the Church begins Lent and of course Easter eggs are already in the shops! All these times can help us to look forward, to something, but do they? What possible help can these different events bring? Are we kind of stuck like hamsters in a wheel, going over the same ground as last year? If we are, perhaps it's something to do with us not fully understanding.

For example, Christmas is about a special baby's birth; a baby who brought NEW beginnings for the whole world. New Year brings the hope that things will get better, Epiphany opens our eyes to NEW possibilities, and Easter to NEW life.

If we want to see people who are really stuck, just for a moment step into the shoes of the thousands of people of Yemen, California, Indonesia, the homeless, the destitute and many other situations that people find themselves locked into. What might they be looking forward to? What might they be hoping for? There is a sense that nothing changes because we could have asked the exact same question 12 months ago? All of us are hoping that these terrible world events may change people's attitudes, that somehow the world will become a peaceful and safer place. I hope that is true, but the reality is different: governments and terrorists continue to kill people.

It was a revelation to the three kings when they came and saw God's gift to the world, the baby Jesus, because they saw wrapped up in rags the One who would bring real hope to a shattered world. Meanwhile the rich and powerful Herod was trying to kill him. Eventually Jesus would die for a shattered world, and rise again to bring new life and

certain hope. And he continues to do that today for those who invite him into their hearts.

Bill

2



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

REV. BILL WRITES . . .

How many of you would like to cancel Christmas? Be honest, because it's just too expensive. But that isn't what Christmas is really about: Jesus was born to free us and not cost us.

For many parents, Christmas 2018, rather than being a time of goodwill and peace, will become a financial nightmare: the expensive gifts of recent past Christmas's are just a dream, foodbanks are the reality for some! But if we cancel Christmas altogether, we should miss the point. No, don't cancel Christmas, instead celebrate a true Christmas!

Expensive gifts are fine for a little while, but eventually they become outdated, break down, or we simply tire of them. In reality nothing apart from God, lasts forever.

My parents told me stories of their Christmas's when they were young. They each had a stocking with an orange and a bag of nuts. Not much to us, but to them, that orange and those nuts represented something special, something they only tasted once a year at Christmas. So, try to imagine the excitement for a child then. It seems today we want our children to be constantly excited and so we spend more and more money.

Over 2000 years ago, a few people were excitedly waiting for a very special gift: the child Jesus to be born. His birth was very ordinary really, but imagine being there, metaphorically with your nose pressed against the window, and able to see the new-born baby Jesus. Do you still get excited about his birth?

I expect people of all ages enjoy the story, why not relive it this year? It's free, be free, be different and come and see for yourself. It may be life changing!

A very happy Christmas to everyone.

Bill


Paul Swailes

 

26



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

LETTER FROM REV. BILL COLE

Dear friends,

There was a time, especially in the countryside, when Harvest time was very important. There are many historic photographs of whole families out in the fields helping farmers to bring in what hopefully was a bountiful harvest. The farmers and community would gather in church and chapel for Harvest Thanksgiving. It was a wonderful example of community at its best.

Today different kinds of crops mature at different times of the year, farms have become totally mechanised, not to mention safety regulations banning anyone other than farm workers from helping. But should modern methods, or anything else, stop us from being a better community, or from giving thanks to God? You may expect me to say "Of course not!"

Our lifestyles have changed, just like farming methods, and although we continue to try and live as a community, God doesn't get much of a look in! We have changed but God hasn't, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow". (Hebrews 13:8) He still enjoys receiving our thanks and our praise.

"There is a story about God visiting a church. As he arrived at the church the morning service was about to begin. God decided he would say something, but someone stood up and started talking; God waited patiently, and when the person finished speaking, God decided to say something, but everyone started singing; God waited patiently, and so it went on like that for an hour. But no-one heard God speak to them."

As we enter autumn and on into winter, why not spend some time listening for that still small voice, be patient though, just like God is.

 

"Be still, and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10)

Rev Bill Cole



Illustration: Paul Swailes

15



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

LETTER FROM REV. BILL COLE

Dear Friends

I was standing outside St. Peter's church door during one of the beautiful summer days we have been blessed with, admiring the view alongside a visitor. A view that has probably not changed for a very long time but even if it has, it is still magnificent! It was and is a small glimpse of the best of local scenery.

"It's a small world" is a statement we often hear, but it does seem to have a ring of truth. The first time I visited Berrynarbor was in 2016, but unknown to me was that my former theological college principal's wife is descended from the Berrie family who lived in Berrynarbor and who were Huguenots. The Huguenots were immigrant Christians who came from France to escape religious persecution in the 16th century, many of them settled in the South West including Berrynarbor.

Imagine the Huguenots, who were 'blow-ins', may well have seen the same magnificent view from the church steps. Not only would they have enjoyed the view, but also the freedom to worship the living God, and so they stayed and settled here in Berrynarbor, and we still have that same freedom today.

Incidentally, the Huguenots were persecuted because they believed what the Bible says, that they were 'saved by their faith in Jesus Christ', which is something that hasn't changed because Christians still believe that today!

Rev. Bill


13



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

LETTER FROM THE RECTOR

St Peter's Church has stood in the village of Berrynarbor for hundreds of years. It has not always looked the same; the oldest parts could be 900 years old. But through the years it has been a place where villagers have gone to worship God and to seek help [both from God and from one another], when they have been in need, to hear the latest news [before the advent of modern communications], to celebrate family occasions. weddings, births and to mourn for departed loved ones.

I have been a part of the scene for a very short time - a mere year and a half in all those centuries of history. However, I have really enjoyed my short time with you, getting to know some of you, enjoying the warm friendship in your community and the beauty of the village. Now it is time to move on, and I am retiring on the 31stt May, which may have happened by the time you read this.

In an often-quoted passage, the author of the book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament writes: 'To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted' . . . there is quite a lot more.

I have sensed since last autumn that the time for me to move on is now here. Although my time in Berrynarbor has been short, I have been living and working in Ilfracombe for over 9 years. Leaving will not be easy; I have made close friendships, and have a great affection both for the people and the area, but I sense God's call and must obey. Many retired people have warned me that I shall be just as busy in retirement, and I am not leaving God's service, so there will undoubtedly be more to follow.

You will be well looked after by the Reverend Bill Cole in Combe Martin Rectory [01271 523441], and Reverend George Billington, living in the village, will help with worship in the church. I am grateful to them both for their help and support.

Thank you all for your friendship. I shall pray for you, and for the appointment of my successor. May you know God's blessings and enjoy a rich future!

With my love,

Michael Rogers

27



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

LETTER FROM REV. BILL COLE

Dear Friends,

By the time you read this the snow that covers the whole of the countryside will have disappeared and spring will be well and truly under way, and we shall breathe a sigh of relief.

But even the snow brought its own joys; horses jumping around the fields, dogs running around in circles, children finding different ways to slide, and for us 'recycled' teenagers, a chance to be still and enjoy the magnificent snow-covered views.

For the Church, Lent is often a time of giving things up and can seem a little austere. But actually, the word Lent can mean springtime, and springtime is a time of new growth bringing with it new joys, fresh light, new ways of being a Christian - a follower of Jesus. Lent leads Christians to Good Friday, to Jesus's death on the Cross, when death was defeated and beyond to the joy of Easter Sunday, the joy of Resurrection.

Jesus said some amazing things about life and joy and hope. "Jesus said, I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." [John 10:10]

Realising and accepting Jesus and receiving the full life that he offers, is like seeing the spring flowers opening and the blossoming trees revealing their splendour for the first time. Jesus gives life, and we become New Creations!

A very Happy and Joyful Easter to everyone.

Bill

28



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

Letter from the Rector

Dear Friends

Nicky Gumbel, Vicar of Holy Trinity, Brompton, writes: "I belong to a squash club, which is also a gym. each year on 1st January they bring in extra gym equipment. The place is packed out. By about 7th January, they move out all the extra equipment, as most people have given up their New Year's resolution, and the club returns to normal!"

I don't know whether you have the same trouble with New Year's resolutions - or any other resolutions for that matter?Making important changes in our lives is always difficult, whether it is about improving our health and wellbeing or our bank balance or our relationships or something else.

St. Paul compares our life to running a race:"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last foreverTherefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly." [1 Corinthians 9:24-26]

I find that helpful because most successful sportsmen and women get a lot of help with their training. Some are in teams with a manager, others meet a trainer on a regular basis. Achieving our goals and making life changes is much easier when we get someone else on board to help us.

What are you trying to achieve which you could ask someone else to help you with? And might we find some community goals, which we have to work on together?What would make our village even better than it already is?

A Happy New Year to you all from my colleague Bill and me.

Michael

27



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

LETTER FROM THE RECTOR

Dear Friends

I am amazed to realise that I have been Priest-in-Charge of Berrynarbor for over a year now. During that time, I have met a number of you at various events and have always been warmly welcomed. I hope I shall meet more of you during this coming season.

Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year for me, and yet I love it. Since I was ordained 42 years ago I have led Christmas Services, including lots of Carol Services, every year except one. That one year I was on sabbatical and it felt very strange to go into different churches and have no responsibility for leading anything - to be honest, I felt a little guilty!I think I know all the most common carols by heart because I've sung them so many times!

In one of my favourites, O little town of Bethlehem, we sing the words O holy Child of Bethlehem descend to us, we pray. Although Jesus does not come as a child today, of course, it is my experience that his presence is real, and in my ministry, I try to help others to know him and the help he brings. It is, of course, a free choice, and I should never dream of forcing anyone; but I should like you to know that I and my colleague, Bill Cole, are available to talk and pray with anyone who asks us.

I wish you all God's blessings and a very happy Christmas.

Yours sincerely,Michael Rogers

 

25



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

AND IT'S GOODBYE FROM ME . .

BUT NOT GOODBYE FROM HIM!

Dear Friends,

Can it really be 'that time of year again?!

There were always going to be problems with combining the winter festival with the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus. The latter gets lost in the former even as the shop tills ring out a happy seasonal cheer.

It's not being grumpy or churlish to regret this, to feel that something important slips away. I enjoy the food and cheer as much as anyone. I won't be decorating my house much, if at all, as I am making tracks after Christmas but I hope you have known me enough over these four years to know that I am no Ebenezer Scrooge. May the turkey roast well, let the wine flow, good times roll and I hope you have a lovely time with family and friends!

You would expect me to say this so I will! Let this Christmas be a time when you give serious thought to the bigger issues of life and death which are always there in the background. People are lonely; people are sad. The grieving have their memories and the homeless or those battling with health conditions or financial strain will wish it all goes away quickly. Yet we are being entertained to death in our culture and for lack of serious thought, people go hungry in a rather different way. We are hungry inside. We are hungry for a larger purpose, for forgiveness and reconciliation, for peace deep down and most of all, for love. How we want someone to come to us and take our side, to comfort and to heal.

That is of course at the heart of what we shall be proclaiming this Christmas through word and song. Someone has come to take our part and stand in solidarity with the human situation. The evidence for this is surprisingly robust and maybe you should revisit it, especially if mental culture or life training has predisposed you to take the good news about Jesus with a very large pinch of salt!

But good news it is. I have experienced it and pray that any lasting legacy of my brief time amongst you will lead you to consider what it might mean to acknowledge God and learn to receive the Christ of Bethlehem, not now into a stable, but into whatever life setting you present to God.

Do come and join us for our village carol service on 17th December. Children from the village school will be singing that evening from 5.50 p.m. to welcome you all in to church. There will be mince pies and mulled wine to follow.

I shall depart with very fond memories of Berrynarbor and its tribes. 'Tis a great village of which to be a part. So it is goodbye from me. But, with apologies to the two Ronnies, it is not goodbye from Him!

With every good wish,

Rev. Chris

8



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

FROM THE RECTOR . . .

Hi everyone,

Warm congratulations to Stuart Neale and the group who put together a stunning exhibition to remember the First World War on 2nd August. I was blown away by the size and scale of it! Very well done also to the school children who constructed a replica of the War Memorial; so lifelike that someone thought it was the real thing and it won First Prize at the Horticultural and Craft Show. Excellent!

I was sorry not to have been in the village the night of August 4th. Candles in many houses evocatively remembered the British Declaration of war against Germany a hundred years ago.

That evening found me at Mons, the scene of the first encounter between British troops and German forces that then forced a retreat. Our party saw the canal bridge where the first Victoria Crosses of the war were awarded. We were unable to get into the well-known cemetery of St Symphorien just outside the town as there was to be a major event that evening - televised nationally. We did look up, however, in Mons itself and suddenly there were Prince William and Kate on the balcony! Along with Prince Harry, they were making an appearance before the main event later. At Ypres on another occasion, we saw Gareth Malone, whose daughter, I believe, took part in a group of school children singing for the occasion. The Menin Gate is of course where British troops marched through on their way to battle. To see the various memorials round Ypres itself is hugely evocative. At Tynecot cemetery, the graves stretch far into the distance. On the wall of memorial, the first name was the son of the Vicar of Combe Martin at that time. Captain Pine died in battle in 1915.

I fully realise that the First World War is a hugely complex historical event. Our remembrance is often dominated by cliche of young British soldiers, many of them budding poets, led to early and ghastly deaths in muddy wastes by incompetent generals for reasons that were seemingly futile. Certainly, the reality is far more nuanced and complex that such cliche suggests. It is only part of the truth. Nevertheless, the visit left me angry, which is unlike me; angry at tactics and a waste of lives.

"I need you to lay down your life Perkins", runs the strapline for a current radio series. "We need a totally futile gesture at this time!" As a Christian, I believe that the sacrifice of Jesus was not a futile gesture; that it was for a reason. The good news that is offered to us through the events of that first Good Friday and Easter Sunday are for real and can be life-transforming.

Alas, the time has come for me personally to take that message elsewhere. As the great age of 60 beckons for me and in the wake of a re-organisation of North Devon churches, I shall be moving on to pastures new [to invoke another old cliche!]. I have been offered and accepted,

the role of Team Rector of Totton, on the edge of the New Forest. It has 45,000 people, so it is a big challenge for my last lap in ministry and working life but the bonus is that it is near our grandkids in Bournemouth.

Plenty of time to say goodbyes as it does not happen until after Christmas! But I shall miss North Devon greatly and the many friends I have made here as well as the parishioners - great characters all!

With best wishes,

Rev. Chris

7



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

FROM THE RECTOR . . .

Disputed memory

I am very much looking forward to the weekend of commemoration of the First World War at the Manor Hall on 2nd and 3rd August.

The shadow of this terrible war is lengthening now, yet no doubt many of us have family and folk memories. My Grandpa saw his tenth birthday the day war was declared and showed me some of the headlines of the period. Were members of your family involved directly or knew those who were? Maybe some of your memorabilia will be in evidence at our village commemoration.

Monday 4th August will see me in Belgium at the Menin Gate for the daily ceremony at 8.00 p.m. when the Last Post is sounded. Many will be remembering the exact time our country entered the war by holding a candlelit vigil between 10.00 and 11.00 in the evening.

I used to teach history and am well aware of the difficulty of the task of remembering. Memory and meaning are entwined together; what events meant to different people then and now results in memory. becoming contested.

For example, in present day Serbia, Gavrilo Princep, the young 19 year old student who shot the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, is hailed as a freedom fighter. Yet those shots rang round the world and set in motion the chain of events that led to a general European and then a global catastrophe.

Remembering becomes very tricky. Although subscribing a bit less than I once did to 'Lions led by donkeys', the waste of lives and the appalling tactics of sending men up against the lethal fire power of machine guns has haunted generations since. Was the War really necessary? Should we not have stayed out and left the European powers to get on with it? Why were no statesmen prepared to stand back and prevent the descent into barbarity and the implosion of civilisation? These are questions that are being hotly debated and I expect many of us will have a view.

Remembering any major event that sears itself into memory is difficult territory. Memory of the past is all wrapped up with people's identities. One far off night, another figure from history sat with his followers. It was late that evening too. "Remember me like this." said Jesus. "Remember me like this"!

With every good wish,

Rev Chris

13



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

FROM THE RECTOR . . .

Well, so now June is bustin' out all over! I trust your gardens are blooming but it's not going to happen without some cultivation having gone on.

Relationships are like that. To ensure that they are blossoming and at the end of our lives there is a scented garden of remembrance, think what we need to do to cultivate relationships with those close to us. Time spent with friends and family is, of course, vital. Although true friendship contains that awesome capacity to pick up where you last left off, it is vital to build in some element of re-union and celebration to keep things alive and well.

Amongst the special flowers that need to be cultivated to keep close relationships healthy is the gift of forgiveness.

A minister with failing eyesight glanced at the note Mrs Jones had sent him. The note read:

'Bill Jones, having gone to sea, his wife desires the prayers of the congregation for his safety.'

Failing to observe the punctuation, he startled his audience by announcing:

'Bill Jones, having gone to see his wife, desires the prayers of the congregation for his safety.'

Or there was the wife who had just returned home at the end of the day and found her husband was starving. This is what she said: "I've been to karate class, so dinner will be late. Want to make something of it?"! Ah yes . . . conflict!! They say a good marriage is the union of two forgivers.

For want of forgiveness, instead of being healing and soothing places, relationships are war zones where destructive forces rage violently. Anyone who proposes to embark on a close relationship of any sort needs to be aware of the forgiveness imperative. So many issues that cause friction would be resolved through forgiveness. It is a gift, being able to keep short accounts, clear away the past, not bring up past crimes or past times and so build up the wall of frustration. It is a practice, something you learn to do and be committed to keep it up. Forgiveness is a capacity that can cope with conflict and does not mean you can never talk things through in the interests of harmony. It is a gift that keeps the air clear and disarms the skills of unarmed verbal combat.

Best of all, there is the dramatic forgiveness God is prepared to impart to all those who apply through the cross of Christ. Said Paul Flowers, the disgraced Chairman of Co-Op, "I have sinned in the old-fashioned way!" It is hard to talk realistically about sin in contemporary society because fewer people acknowledge the target of the violation, God, just think, you cannot confess if there is no one to confess to.

For me, I am upfront about it. I have sinned in the old fashioned way. Once I was a wilting flower. Now I am a blooming Christian!

Church in June and July sees two weddings, the school leaver's service and our new venture, Messy Church - the craft activity for families being held at the school on the first Thursday in the month. Why not keep spiritually fit this summer and jog to church!

I truly wish you well as you cultivate the life that is busting all around us and at closer to home!

Rev. Chris

10



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

FROM THE RECTOR . . . FALLING TO EARTH

After a hard winter, it always cheers us up to feel the sun on our faces, and its warmth nudging the natural world into life and colour. At least that is how it is today as I look out of my window!

You might like to know that we are starting a new venture called Messy Church. This is a craft based event for all the family and it will take place after school at the school by their kind permission, 1st April, a Tuesday, from 3.15 to 5.15 p.m. Also, we'll be having our usual 'Hymns and Pints' community singing at The Globe on the first Sunday evening of April, 6th, from 8,00 to 8.30 p.m.

At Berrynarbor, we shall be celebrating Easter through a devotional hour on Good Friday from 2.00 to 3.00 p.m. which recalls the Last Hour of the Cross. Then on Easter Sunday from 11.00 a.m. we have 'something to shout about' as we experience the joy of Easter.

As Christians, we celebrate Easter because we believe it provides the great hope of a fresh beginning for humanity. The central story of Jesus' death and return to life points us to God's great love for each one of us.

From time to time in the news, we hear about the courage of someone who has put their own life at risk - or sometimes lost it - in order to save others. I heard about a parachute instructor who guided a woman down who was strapped to him but their parachute failed to open. The instructor knew what he had to do. At the last minute, he turned his body and absorbed the unimaginable shock of falling to earth. He died and the woman lived.

The events of that first Easter really are the pivotal moment that changed the world forever. They say that about 9/11 but how much more did the cross and resurrection of Jesus have epic implications that echo throughout history. Why did he do it? What does it mean for us today? How did that man on the cross being taken down and laid in the earth result in new life on the third day?

We'd love you to join our Easter celebrations this year as we tease out answers to these questions.

You would be sure of a warm welcome.

Rev Chris

10



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

FROM THE RECTOR . . .

In search of the Snow Leopard

So as 2014 begins to roll, decided yet where you are going for a holiday this year if you can get away? Maybe circumstances or money [or both] won't allow for that, but nice to have a break if we can, even if only for a few days.

I am as yet undecided where my next trek will be. In the brochure of my regular travel company [which I cannot name as this will constitute advertising], there is an intriguing trek in the Himalayas I might well end up pursuing. In search of the snow leopard is the name of the trek.

My word it looks exciting, though the downside is camping in sub-zero temperatures which doesn't appeal so much these days! In fact, my hands and feet begin to chill at the thought of it. Nevertheless, the lure is there. Snow leopards are one of the world's most elusive mammals. After a few days acclimatising in little Tibet, the trek takes you into the heart of the mountains of the far north of India in search of this magnificent animal.

There are dreams we never grasp. I heard of an artist who wanted to sculpt an image of a snow leopard. His dream took him to Siberia one winter and there he waited and waited. With rapt attention he waited. For nearly two weeks he waited. But locals were quite clear. "A sighting is only in the gift of the snow leopard!." Two days before the end of his stay, his attention was rewarded. There on the snow bank stood a leopard gazing at him, allowing him to photograph before he disappeared into the white blanket that covered the trees. The artist returned to the spot several more times, secretly glad that he didn't see it again - it wouldn't be the same!

There is a parallel here with a journey into faith. The sighting of God is in the gift of God. We must, I believe, search for God and have a willingness to go and see and try to discover. The All-seeing identity will surely reveal himself to you as you let go of your pre-conceived notions.

Mind you, we have to be in the right frame of mind. There are soft moments when we glimpse the heart of things if intentionally we are open to an encounter that in turn opens us to new possibility.

On this sort of subject, I should like very much to have discussions with local people about your own journey and what you think deep down about life and faith. We will try to arrange a coffee morning in the next few weeks but do have a word if you would welcome such a discussion. Maybe life until now has been a bit of a trek!

So back to my brochure . . .

With very best wishes for 2014,

Rev Chris

15



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

FROM THE RECTOR . . .

As I write these words, there are serious problems being reported in the NHS. I don't know what your experience is of accident and emergency, but A & E seems to be a barometer of the pressures on hospitals, especially in the winter. In addition, some hospital waiting times seem to have been falsified. Santa doesn't have that problem with his national elf service!

We have arrived once again at Advent. Great themes will start to play - darkness to light, conflict and peace, life and death, heaven and hell, time and eternity, judgement and healing! Nothing too serious then!

A problem this Christmas will be the squeeze on the cost of living. Families struggle with rising prices of food and especially energy. How on earth will we pay that electricity bill? One initiative that the church is getting involved with in Combe Martin this Christmas is a Food Bank. This will operate for the first two weeks of December and cardboard boxes will be around the village. Retailers and landlords are coming on board which is great! Please bring some non-perishable items and place in the boxes which will be emptied at regular intervals. Distribution will take place in the week leading up to Christmas, probably in the foyer of the town hall each morning. Families will be able to have between 3-5 items according to how much comes in. If more is needed, proof of being unemployed, etc. would be helpful. Look out for more details. This is for people in Berrynarbor as well, both to give and to receive.

Advent is about waiting, not just as children think. There are different forms of waiting. Waiting for Christmas is one thing but what about waiting for an operation? Or when you suffer from depression, perhaps you lie there waiting for morning and then wait for the end of the day. Advent is about waiting with hope, waiting with openness, looking to God with anticipation. I have had to sell the house at different times in my life; you have to be ready. Anyone can come anytime! Preferably by appointment, people can come to view. That is what it means to be open to God. You have to be ready, you have to live with anticipation, being prepared to open the door. This is the right attitude to make the most of the Christmas season. We get everything else ready but most of us will leave out the spiritual dimension and what that can mean to us if we are open. Fancy confusing that with tinsel!

It's sad. One of my favourite carols rarely heard or performed uses an old Andalusian tune which makes it as haunting and beautiful a melody as you can imagine. The 'Carol of the Birds' was a favourite of the 'cellist Pablo Casals, and Joan Baez sang it on a Christmas album some may remember. The second verse goes like this:

The eagle then did rise, went flying through the skies
To tell the wondrous story.
Sang: "Jesus born is he. From sin we are set free
He brings us joy and glory."

Rev. Chris

4



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

FROM THE RECTOR . . .

Can you remember the first joke you ever repeated? The very first joke I heard as a young lad on the school playground was this: 'Why do birds fly south for winter?' 'Because it's too far to walk!'

But have you heard the story of the birds that could not fly? They looked with longing at the clouds, the branches and the best fruits at the tops of the trees. If only these could be theirs. God heard their desire. One night, while all the birds were sleeping, he attached wings to their backs. When they awoke, the birds were furious that God had given them an unwanted burden which they would now have to carry about with them for the rest of their lives. How could God lay upon them more than they already had to bear?

But when one bird began to move its new wings, it was lifted aloft and given a freedom it never knew existed. The birds discovered their burden was a gift. Their wings became a way to a more abundant life. Similarly, in our lives, we can discover the gift God wants to give every one of us. In embracing that gift, we may experience freedom and wholeness like never before. It is the transforming power and love channelled to this world through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Similarly, as we journey through life, what appears like a burden initially may turn out to be the gift for which we've been looking and praying.

Something to think about as we look up and see the birds flying south! No, not because it's too far to walk but because it's that time of year again!

It's also harvest and you are warmly invited to come to the Church and School Family Service on 6th October at 11.00 a.m., as well as the Harvest Supper in the Manor Hall the following Wednesday, 9th October.

While we are on dates, parents please note that our new initiative, Messy Church, has resumed for the autumn and is on the second Saturday morning in the month at Combe Martin Village Hall. This is a family event starting with bacon baps at 9.30 a.m. followed by an hour of fun craft activity.

Lastly, I hope to get an Alpha or equivalent course going once again this autumn to provide opportunity to discuss matters of faith and spirituality in an informal setting. Do let me know if you would like to do this.

Best wishes,

Rev. Chris

9



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

FROM THE RECTOR . . .

July is bursting out all over . . . So this is what we have been waiting for!

I think they used to call it summer but I have forgotten since I moved here three 'summers'' ago! But as I write, July is well and truly blooming. The roses are gorgeous, hydrangea a few weeks behind but promising and the fruit is looking good. Shorts and sandals beckon and we have an end to the occasional unseasonal log fire in the late evening. All worth a wait when it comes!

And what about the great victory of Andy Murray - yesterday at the time of writing! Worth a wait after a three hour marathon in baking temperatures and 77 years since Fred Perry's Wimbledon triumph?

What is it about waiting anyway? 'All good things come to those who wait' was my late father's advice. Or was it a platitude when I wanted my favourite dinner, a special outing or that present? He was trying to tell me that you cannot always have what you want. Indeed, that there is much pleasure in preparing and planning.

For Christians, waiting is built into the scheme of things. Advent and Lent bear witness to that. The coming of Christ into the world and into our lives follows a time of waiting and preparation. The Lord comes into a receptive heart that, like the lovely flowers around us now, have opened before the Son/sun. But waiting is not passive, should be active, a time filled with readiness and development. Patient preparation and often slow process is part of the deal. Ask any good cook!

Speaking of which, it would be nice to think that we could have a bar-b-cue summer for a while. I will sniff as I go round on my pastoral visits!

Best wishes, Rev Chris

6



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

. . . FROM THE RECTOR

What have Tigers, Thunderbirds and the flats of Bonneville all have in common?

Around the turn of the last century, a man called Siegfried Bettman came to this country and started selling bicycles. He was joined by an engineer called Mauritz Schulte. In 1902 they produced the company's first engine powered cycle and three years later had designed and built their own engine.

Alderman Siegfried Bettman

Mauritz Schulte 1895

This was the beginning of a great British company. Through vision, it even survived the Great Depression and in the 1930's, Edward Turner developed that vision and the Tiger motorbike was born.

Any of you remember the Thunderbirds? No, not the puppets whose strings were all too evident as they saved the world. This was the motorbike intended to capture the American market. Marlon Brando rode a Thunderbird in the film 'The Wild One' in 1952. Remember that too?

In 1962, the company took the speed records on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. Unsurprisingly, the motorcycles built in the sixties were named Bonneville.

Alas, by 1983, this great British company collapsed and died. Production facilities began to crumble. Who would have thought that by 1990 there would be a rebirth and a new vision? In this Easter season, it is not out of place to call it a resurrection. And the name of the company? Triumph!

I realise as I look out of my window that we are still a few weeks behind but as I write this, finally there is blossom on the trees and there is warmth in the sun. Despite the strange weather we have experienced, the Easter season we have now left speaks to us powerfully of rebirth and the planting of fresh hope. The light truly shines in the darkest of places.

Ever experienced that triumph and the resurgence of new life within yourself?

Why not have a discussion to explore how you can find new life.

Rev Chris

3



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

FROM THE RECTOR - MEMORIES OF EASTER

Oh dear - time for reminiscing? They say nostalgia isn't what it used to be but I was thinking recently about the Easters of my childhood!

Not coming from a church family with any discernible Christian upbringing, the significance of Easter was a bit lost on me. I do remember getting steamed up about an illustrated article in an educational magazine we had, and that's all we had! The magazine to feed the hungry young mind was called 'Look and Learn'. The edition one Easter had a feature on the importance of Good Friday and its miscarriage of justice. How I wanted to bash those Romans for putting Jesus on the cross!

Every Good Friday we went for a family walk. Invariably the primroses would be out and I smile every time I see a primrose now. The shops were not open, of course, and most entertainments and attractions were shut. Now it seems a travesty and tumult when Good Friday is a day like any other and most likely that is because I have since come to faith. But perhaps, too, it is because Good Friday is no longer special. The Christian content on TV was always building up to being a marker of faith for a Christian legacy in our country. Those were the days!

And of course there were the Easter eggs? Did you gorge and feed on chocolate as I did? Church didn't come into it then so what the reason was for all the fuss I couldn't have told you.

But then came my conversion. The day I realised very clearly that God was for real will always be a day to be remembered in my life - October 21st 1970! I always say that if you dare to take the risk and ask God to show himself to you, you may be 'surprised with joy' as C. S. Lewis wrote. Anyway, that affected my attitude towards Easter. And how! Good Friday became the day when my Lord was lifted up to die for the sins of humanity. Easter day became suffused with new meaning as the return of the King, back from the dead in earth-shattering triumph.

As later I veered towards Anglicanism, one feature that made me realise I was changing my churchmanship and not just my outlook was that Holy Week became increasingly meaningful and full of wonder.

Those are my memories of Easter. What are yours?

Rev Chris

6



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

LETTER FROM THE RECTOR

Dear Friends,

As I write, the season of Epiphany has just got under way in the church's calendar. As you will be aware, it marks the idea of 'showing', the 'showing' of Jesus Christ to the people of Israel at his baptism and his 'showing' to the world, initially through the witnesses guided to pay homage to the infant Christ. Often, this has inspired Christian people to go beyond ethnic and geographical barriers to serve God outside their home culture. This year, I found my thoughts going in a different direction; not about going out to the world but about the way the world has come to us!

We can be proud of the way that Britain has always been a place for the displaced: somewhere the refugee, the homeless or the asylum seeker might come; somewhere the homeless wanderer or the poor searching for a better life might find welcome and a home. In the Old Testament, the people were expressly told, "when an alien resides with you, you shall not oppress the alien . . . you shall not oppress the alien; you shall love the alien as yourself" (Leviticus 19v33-34).

Most of us are products of immigration. I have both Spanish and Dutch blood in me going way back. The population generally accept the comings or goings of people and that Britain is a richer, more diverse and tolerant society as a result. But there are often rumblings about immigration which will be a political battleground in the year ahead. So it does behove us to think about our attitudes to the stranger in our midst (not that we get too many strangers in North Devon apart from 'incomers' like me!).

We wish Dr Rowan Williams well as he has by now taken up his new post as Warden of Magdalene College Cambridge and Justin Welby as he is enthroned next month as the new Archbishop of Canterbury.

Rowan Williams will be a hard act to follow. His intellectual stature is immense. In his last Thought for the Day on Radio 4, he commented on the recent shootings in America:

"If all you have is a gun, everything looks like a target. But if all you have is the child's openness and willingness to be loved, everything looks like a promise."

They don't tell it better than that!

Hoping many of you will consider coming back to church regularly or join in one of our Alpha discussion groups,

Best wishes to you all,

Rev Chris

28



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

. . . FROM THE RECTOR

Warm congratulations to Judith Adam whose very impressive book of Berrynarbor is a memorable record of local life and captures what will otherwise be lost. What next though I wonder? . . . secretary of the Wine Circle, local author . . . !

I have plenty of memories of my own arising from my recent mountaineering expedition. My goodness, what a challenge! The summit of Kilimanjaro is in fact the rim of a volcano. It is the highest point on the planet you can trek to without ropes and technical climbing assistance. At nearly 20,000 feet, you face extreme altitude, extreme effort and extreme cold that seeped through two pairs of gloves.

Nevertheless, despite there being only 50% less oxygen, seeing the sun rise over Africa and walking round its frosty roof is an exhilarating experience. I didn't suffer from altitude sickness but on the way down, my leg muscles were protesting in no uncertain terms! Nothing that the warm seas of the Indian Ocean didn't put right afterwards! If there is a local interest, I shall be pleased to do a slide show.

For now, the church calendar moves forward in orientation as we enter the period of Advent. I am saddened that people tend to gloss over this and rush towards Christmas. That can only reflect a materialistic age for there is much in Advent to make us think. It is far more than a build-up to the main event, as I used to think. Advent is about preparation, entering into a time of self-examination which used to be called a 'penitential season'. That sounds heavy but basically it means making room in our busy lives for God.

I pray that Advent may come to mean something to us this year, so that in turn, Christmas may be more deep and meaningful.

There will be full Christmas services at the church. Beat the rush and come early to avoid disappointment!

Your friend, Rev Chris

18



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

FROM THE RECTOR

People like living round here. Apparently, inhabitants of the rural areas of the West Country are almost twice as likely to cherish where they live than city dwellers. A recent study by insurer NFU Mutual found that more than a third of those living in the countryside 'loved' their local area. Of all areas surveyed in their Countryside Living Index, no one said they disliked their surroundings. Introducing the satisfaction survey of attitudes towards rural and urban areas, the NFU Mutual Chairman observed the clear preference for country living that continues to rise. This was despite the rise in the cost of living which had increased at twice the rate of urban areas in the previous twelve months. The cost of fuel and the cost of running a car results in financial pressure on life in the countryside that is tantamount to year-on-year rural inflation. Crime was also very much the main bone of contention for country people, a blot on the landscape.

Yet despite crime and the cost of getting around, the countryside continues to have much to offer. An abundance of amenities and vibrant high streets in urban areas are clearly no match for the fresh air, outdoor pursuits and community spirit cherished by those who live in the country. As one West Country incomer put it, "I think you tend to work more efficiently when you know you can go for a walk on the beach in the sunshine."

Of course, how communities think of themselves is not just a matter of beautiful natural surroundings that enhance that mysterious factor called 'quality of life'. It is a complex mix of tradition, history and previous experiences. Local people here probably make sense of life in a different way according to whether your family has lived here for generations or whether you are an incomer. The effect of social change on patterns of life and faith is indeed fascinating and I hope to have some conversations with local people in the near future on this subject.

As I write, change is of course in evidence in physical and not just the social environment. Autumn is coming on and summer is ended. What a mixed experience that was! A summer of sport like none other combined with the wettest summer for a hundred years!

Now we are looking towards harvest time and school and church celebrations I am away in Africa from 21st October for twelve days - Kilimanjaro here we come! I return in time for the Candle Service and Remembrance Sunday.

By the way, October and November sees that discussion and DVD course about life and faith I told you about before, taking place at The Globe Inn on Monday nights. It is called Alpha and will be led by George Billington and myself. No questions too hard or too easy to discuss and it's all interesting and enjoyable in a completely non-threatening atmosphere. Why not try these things?

Best wishes, Rev. Chris

15



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

. . . from our Rector ROOTED!

As I write, I have been doing some garden clearance over the weekend. Nothing too strenuous or heroic but enough to take advantage of the green bin moment in North Devon! My goodness, aren't some of those bushes and weeds deeply rooted? Nettles in particular seem to be everywhere. The rain hasn't helped that aspect of life; the heart-warming greeting of everything lush, green and profuse means it's all spread! Some of those roots have got well stuck in....

If we need any reminder, the Bible shows us how much we are firmly rooted in this world. The ancient texts of the Hebrew Scriptures depict human life as being cradled amidst a creative sphere exploding with diversity and wonder. What we used to call mankind (whoops- not anymore!) is firmly rooted amidst a stellar canopy. Indeed, it is even said that God stretched out the heavens in a phrase that echoes the incredible idea of an expanding universe! The Roman orator Cicero observed that God did not make us on all fours like a dog to be focussed on what is below us and around us but on two legs so we could look up and wonder. It doesn't end there, of course, and we are also firmly rooted in land and a place that is shaped by huge physical forces (we call geology and meteorology). Lastly, we are placed in a setting that includes the enormous array of life forms we see around us and our relationship to the earth. In a course on science and faith that has just finished, that explores if there is contradiction between them, we have been looking into our place in the creation. Courtesy of Google and the National Geographical Magazine, some stunning images have accompanied this exploration. All this raises big questions about the fragility of nature, environmental degradation and how we protect and preserve natural resources against the need to feed and house growing populations. It also raises far-reaching questions about who we are and whether we are just animals or is there something in our nature that sets us apart?

Sorry if you missed that but you may like to know of another course that is taking place in September that may be less taxing but will stretch your spirit rather than boggle your mind. 'Start' is a six-session discussion and DVD course designed to help people think through where they are going in their lives, what does it mean to have a faith and is there anything in it anyway?! The sessions are free and cover such issues as: Life is for living. Oh my God! Jesus who? What's gone wrong? Dying to save us. Into the arms of love

With kind permission, the discussion course will take place at The Globe on a Monday night in the family room. 'Start' starts on 3rd September for 6 Mondays except Monday 17th September. Hope to see you there. If possible, please let me know if you can come or just turn up!

With every good wish,

Rev Chris (Rector)

21



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

FROM THE RECTOR

Dear Friends

On Sunday 3rd June - the special Service of Thanksgiving to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, 9.30 a.m. at Combe Martin [without the usual Communion] and 11.00 a.m. at Berrynarbor. Musical items and involvement from school children will take place.

Amongst prayers children will be praying is this prayer:

O God our Father, you love all your children in this and every nation: we give you thanks for Elizabeth our Queen at this time of Jubilee; give her your strength and protection, your love and your peace, that she may joyfully serve you and her people all the days of her life; we ask this through Jesus Christ, our Lord and our Friend. Amen

The Queen is one of the most impressive religious leaders in Britain. She says little in public about her Christianity, but what she does say - usually at the end of her Christmas Day broadcast - is powerful in its directness. Having discussed the celebrations, tragedies and anxieties of the past year, the Queen affirms, naturally but unflinchingly and with no attempt at religious relativism, her faith in Jesus Christ. This is from her message last Christmas Day:

"Finding hope in adversity is one of the themes of Christmas. Jesus was born into a world full of fear. The angels came to frightened shepherds with hope in their voices: 'Fear not', they urged, 'We bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.' Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves - from our recklessness or our greed.

"God sent into the world a unique person - neither a philosopher nor a general, important though they are, but a Saviour, with the power to forgive. Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It can heal broken families, it can restore friendships and it can reconcile divided communities. It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God's love."

In the face of a growing divide between faith and secularism, the monarch delivered a staunch defence of the Church and religion. The Queen, speaking to leaders of Britain's nine main religions on one of the first public events to mark her Diamond Jubilee in February said the Church of England was "woven into the fabric of this country" and had helped to build a better society. The Queen took the unusual step of highlighting the powerful role faith plays in society.

"The concept of our established Church is occasionally misunderstood and, I believe, commonly under-appreciated," She said. "Its role is not to defend Anglicanism to the exclusion of other religions. Instead, the Church has a duty to protect the free practice of all faiths in this country."

I believe our country is fortunate to have had such an impressive record of dedicated service.

Please note our summer series on wonder and the creation will take place on Tuesday evenings in June and July. It is this dimension of wonder that is lacking today for so many. In the wake of the destruction of civilisation after the First World War, the German sociologist Max Weber said that a key feature of modern life was its drabness. We live in a world where uniformity and sameness characterise things. Mass production, mechanical and now electronic ways of living create distance and a loss of aura that undermines things being special and wonderful. The loss of religion, as he saw it, contributes to this since we try to have an explanation for everything and no longer see the hand of God. Urban living adds to this scene enormously for in the country, it is easier to glimpse a sense of wonder.

One aspect of our church's Mission Action Plan is to try to create a spirituality hub in North Devon. In other words, we want to build on a sense of wonder that is there to be evoked, especially when we look up. Exmoor has recently been granted Dark Sky status - amongst the first anywhere in Europe. Here is something to draw on. It lends itself to pilgrimage, to a ministry of spiritual tourism and enhancing the experience of those who live here.

More of this in due course but a start on this aspect of our Mission Plan is intended for our summer series. This will take two forms. Firstly, our series of Countisbury epilogues on summer Sundays in July and August will have the creation as its theme. Speakers will be contributing to this awareness and it makes for a great evening out, especially if the weather is good to us as it was last year. Seeing the sun die away and the coast in full throttle is very special.

Secondly, we will be laying on a summer series of seminars and Bible study showing how "The heavens declare the glory of God." Seminars saying something about the cosmic architecture and how it all came to be in place will be accompanied by biblical material about the creation. A sub-text of this subject is always "Is the Bible in conflict with modern science?" To accompany this emphasis, we want to arrange some evening walks, guided by expert eyes and hands to make sense of what we see when we look up. So come along if you wonder what Genesis actually says, if science and faith are in conflict or is their marriage the great event of the 21st century?

Best Wishes,

Rev. Chris

24



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

LETTER FROM REV. CHRIS

Dear Friends

900 Easters

As I write, everywhere nature is waking up.The festival of flowers has begun its annual pageant and daffodils fill every grove at least thats how it is in my garden.Wait till April really gets going. Nature really will have woken to humming life and glorious technicolour. The seasons get demarcated in my garden by colour.April is the yellow month!

Its like that with a faith that centres on the events of the first Good Friday and Easter. God raised him up and life came bursting out more irresistible than any flower, more irrepressible than any plant. Jesus could not remain in the tomb for long. He broke through.We know all too keenly that life does that in our gardens but not with people. Even with the promise of resurrection and the life eternal, the death of loved ones haunts us profoundly. Human or animal life does not return not to this world. Yet with Jesus it was different. He was full of divine life.God raised him up and his soul and body came back, restored not to a temporary state in which death has been suspended but to an eternal power in which he would never die again. This is Easter- it means rising!

The evidence for the resurrection is a lot stronger than you might think. This is not the tooth fairy.Do you realise that at one stroke, the authorities could have stopped the new Christian movement in its tracks? They could have produced the body! That would have put an end to this nonsense about Jesus coming back to life.But they didnt and they couldnt. The tomb was empty. This was a crime scene and the body of evidence had disappeared. Who moved the stone? No one ever visited the tomb and made it a shrine of pilgrimage. The tomb completely fades out of the story.If the authorities never produced the body of Jesus, neither did his followers. Even when intense persecution threatened, the first Christians kept on insisting that Jesus had returned from death and that they were eye-witnesses.

For over nine centuries, the church in Berrynarbor has been proclaiming and witnessing to this message, especially at Easter. That makes over 900 Easters!900 times, bells, readings, chants and hymns have been alive this time of year with a message of joy and hope.

Heres a thought.If any archaeologist should ever be able to find the tomb of Jesus beyond doubt, the local church here would have to pack up and go home!They wont, of course, but the resurrection is so central to Christian faith that take it away and it all collapses.Jesus rose again and this incredible fact means that on offer is complete forgiveness, the chance to wipe the slate clean, peace, strength and Gods very live presence and hope for the future.

By all means discuss and debate with me what an Easter faith means. Or come along to a special meditation on Good Friday at 2.00 to 3.00 p.m. to mark the last hour of Jesus on the cross, or on Easter Sunday morning at 11.00 a.m.

Best wishes,

Rev Chris

P.S.While we are on dates, here is a big whoops! I was inaccurate in the February Newsletter regarding Bishop John Jewell, the local boy.This year is the 450th anniversary of a major book he wrote in defence of the Church of England and the moderate position it had come to.It was called The Apology.2012 is not the 500th anniversary of his birth for John Jewell was born in 1522. What a mistake for a historian to make!

4



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

LETTER FROM THE RECTOR - TOO SMALL TO FAIL . . . .

Do you think Christmas is all it's cracked up to be? It may be that if you are over a certain age, nostalgia for the ghost of Christmas past brings a rush of pleasant memories but there is little cheer at the moment. Having young children around you as parents or grandparents or having a jolly good nosh is great fun and lights up our lives of course. For many people sadly, Christmas brings past or present experiences of family rifts, loneliness or the passing of someone we loved which will drain the colour from the way we see tree and tinsel. For me, although busy, there is still something special about Christmas Day and what goes with it.

Plus there is a message at the heart of Christmas we can so easily forget - often because we think we have heard it all before and familiarity brings not so much contempt as indifference. But the explosive impact of God becoming a fully paid up member of the human race and dying in our place has lost none of its ancient power for those who open themselves profoundly to it.

As I write, the world is aflame. The financial system teeters on the brink of meltdown; there are convulsions in the Middle East and demonstrations and protests in the West about greed, pensions and spending cuts. Unemployment is rising; a full throttle banking crisis is a distinct possibility and we are sliding into what they call 'moral hazard'; that there are incentives for success amongst financial institutions but no penalties for failure. Once again, judgements may have to be made about whether banks are too big to fail. There is not much hope to go round.

Against that gloomy background, consider the Christ-child, the focus of God's mission to save the world from itself. If there is anything to this Christmas message it is that here is God inserting himself into the folds of history, not as a mighty warrior righting all the wrongs, but as a baby. This intervention was too small to fail. Delicate and vulnerable though it was, what this baby came to bring could not be overcome. I thought of that because as the whole world knows, I became a grandpa this year for the first time. A tiny baby, cradled with love and fragility - how can this be any kind of answer to what is going wrong with the world. But babies grow - that's what they do! To hear some talk about Christmas and to take a glance at cards and carols, you could be forgiven for thinking that Jesus remained as a baby! Think again: the babe of Bethlehem became the man of Calvary!

So amidst all that seems a denial of hope in a world aflame, why not pop to church this Christmas, catch up with carols and special services that are being arranged? As we soak up the atmosphere though, let's not allow the cosy familiarity to deny us a chance to respond to the living God who came to relieve the heavy weights we carry inside by taking them on himself.

I wish you a warm glowing Christmas and a new year full of hope.

Rev. Chris

5



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

HOPE IN TROUBLING TIMES

What a turmoil the world seems in at the moment . . . .

As I write, this week has seen the anniversary to mark the terrible day in 2001 when planes flew into skyscrapers and Manhattan's two front teeth were knocked out. Then there is news of rising unemployment, especially for young people. Sadly, a society that does not effectively invest in its young will reap the consequences. That was accompanied by further news of financial instability in Europe with knock-on effects that will concern us all. Real income is already falling on average.

Sorry to sound gloomy and I do hope that this autumn finds most of us in good heart and enjoying community life. As a tinge of brown begins to colour the trees, there is certainly much to give thanks for which is why harvest with its celebration of the creation remains an important marker of life. Our Harvest service on 2nd October and follow-on service and Supper on the 5th October will be great celebrations of and with food! Get spiritually fit- jog to church. Book early to avoid disappointment!

Although the venue is Combe Martin, this is close enough for me to want to mention an event coming up which some of us may find helpful. The church wants to give an opportunity to explore the message about Jesus and to do so in a non-threatening and entirely open way. To do this, we are offering a course this autumn that will allow local people to bring their questions and comment into a discussion group.

The course is called "Christianity Explored" and is a 7 week exploration of the claims of the Christ. Who was this man? Liar, lunatic or Lord? The course is based on Mark's Gospel and enables us to sit down and read what those who knew Jesus said about him. It will be held at the Pack of Cards by their kind permission and takes place every Wednesday evening at 7.00 for 7.30 p.m. The evening will finish around 9.00 p.m. The first session will be a taster evening over a tasty meal. You will need to sign up as numbers will be strictly limited (people can't just drop in and drift off if you see what I mean!).

It all makes for an interesting series of evenings. Why not come along this autumn?

Sign up - either in the church foyer or numbers to Rev. Chris at the Rectory on 01271 883203.

Maybe our perception of church is in a box which we think we have clearly marked and labelled - especially when it comes to births, marriages and deaths. That continues to be important of course and people seem to appreciate those occasions when weddings, Christenings and funerals provide meaningful times for all concerned. But is there a whole lot more to the Christian message than that? Is it possible to have a living relationship with the living God- or is that so much hype?

Come along and explore the issues. No questions are barred!

Rev. Chris

3



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

LETTER FROM THE RECTOR

The Rectory,
Combe Martin

Dear Friends,

As I prepare to leave you, I just wanted to say 'Thank You' for making my time here so memorable. Thank you for allowing me to share in your moments of laughter and joy, and tears of sorrow. We have experienced the highs and lows of life together and those moments will always stay with me. Our friendship has been an expression of the love we share.

Throughout my ministry I have tried to show and express something of God's love for you. I apologise for the times I have failed but I shall always remember your smiling faces, and the times we have shared together, in Church, at school, in the pub, along the road, in the shops.

When the Queen's anniversary was celebrated and television's Richard and Judy came to Combe Martin, I was given one question that I would be asked by the presenters, which was "What are the people like?"

I never actually got the chance to give the answer I had prepared, because they were running out of time at the studio! I probably muttered something like "There are good and bad here", but what I really wanted to

say came from one of my favourite stories about a gamekeeper who liked to shoot ducks and wanted to try out his new gun dog. When he shot a duck, he said to the dog, "Go fetch." The dog looked up, wagged his tail and calmly walked across the pond, picked up the dead bird, walked back and dropped it at his feet. The gamekeeper couldn't believe his eyes! He shot another duck, and exactly the same thing happened again. He could hardly contain his excitement when he invited a few friends along to see the new gun dog in action. At the pond he shot a duck, and the dog behaved exactly the same as before. The gamekeeper looked at his friends. Not a flicker! He shot another duck and exactly the same thing happened again. Not a flicker! Unable to contain his excitement any more he said, "Did you notice anything special about the dog?" One of his friends, in a broad Devon accent, replied, "Funny you should say that. he can't swim, can he?"

So often we do not see the miracles around us, and so often we take our friends and loved ones for granted. Open your eyes and tell your friends and loved ones just how much they mean to you. Then, maybe, I shall have achieved something here in my ministry. God bless you all.

Your Friend and Rector,

Keith Wyer

 

On a very practical note: When I leave on 30th June, after thirty eight years of ordained ministry, I have to cut all ties with the Parishes. In accordance with Diocesan rules for retirement, the Bishop's permission to officiate, that is take services, is withdrawn for twelve months, and the priest has to re-apply if he or she wishes to help out anywhere in the Diocese after that time. So I am afraid I cannot 'come back' to carry out normal Sunday Services, Baptisms, Weddings or Funerals. During the interregnum, these will be organised by the Wardens. A couple of years ago, the Bishop of Crediton assured me that my position would be filled straight away, so hopefully you will not have to wait long to celebrate the arrival of your new priest.

8



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

LETTER FROM THE RECTOR

The Rectory,
Combe Martin

Dear Friends,

One of my Christmas presents this year was a DVD of Simon Rattle with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra playing Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring"; Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No.3 and Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker."

For years I have been waiting for Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra to issue Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" after seeing them on television perform it at the Albert Hall during the Proms season. It is not available on CD, only on DVD. So I sat down to watch and listen to my recording. Can you imagine my frustration when during the performance, the picture would freeze and the music jump a few bars!? It was like being driven mad with the old 78 records when the needle got stuck. Remember? The fault spoilt the whole experience.

When something like this happens, I suppose in sheer frustration we might just throw the whole lot out! Or, we could take it out and examine the disc and remove any specks of dirt there may be, give it a good clean, and try again.

With my turn of mind, it reminded me a lot of Lent, when we are encouraged to see if there is anything in our lives which is spoiling the image which God has of us.

We are encouraged to look at our lives and remove the things which do not enable us to be the best we can possibly be. [Missing the mark is actually the meaning of 'sin'] In God's expectation of us he realizes that we are human, and we do make mistakes, either deliberately, or by omission. He does not take us out and discard us, in frustration, but asks us again to look at his example of love and ask for his gift to enable us to change, or improve.

He has the vision of what He wants us to be. Being human we spoil this vision and expectation, but God does not 'give up' on us.

He gives us the encouragement and support we need as shown in Jesus and his teachings. What is his vision for us? To be the loving, caring people that esus describes as 'his family' because we do the will of God.

Have a Happy and productive time as we move into Lent.

 

With all good wishes,

your Friend and Rector,

Keith Wyer

21



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

LETTER FROM THE RECTOR

The Rectory
Combe Martin

We often complain about the commercialisation of Christmas and Father Christmas appearing in shops and on cards in August. Well, I remember a story about a class full of children in London, of all religious faiths, being asked about Christmas. The teacher asked who celebrated Christmas and was very surprised when a young Jewish boy said that they celebrated Christmas every year. He was asked to say why. He said his father was a toy maker, and every Christmas Eve he used to take his son by the hand and take him to the warehouse, and show him all the empty shelves and say, "Thank you God for Christmas."

Now, presents, children and Father Christmas are all linked. Father Christmas is the same as Santa Claus, a European variation of our Saint Nicholas who was a Bishop in the year 326 and whose saint's day is the 6th December.

He was going home one night and overheard a conversation through an open window which indicated that the children were to be sold off the next morning into slavery because the family were so poor. This was to be their last night together as a family and Nicholas was determined to do something about it. In the dead of night, he crept back to the house, leaned through the open window and deposited a gold coin in each of the sandals at the foot of the bed. The family were saved by the 'miracle', although it didn't take them too long to discover that it was Nicholas who was responsible. That's why we have Chocolate 'gold coins' in our stockings at Christmas, and why we have Father Christmas, which actually means the Father who gives Christ's Blessing. Christ's Blessing is for all God's children, whatever their chronological age. His Blessing or gift for us all is the gift of eternal life.

Happy Christmas!

With all good wishes for a Happy Christmas and Wonderful New Year.

Your friend and Rector,

Keith Wyer

6



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

LETTER FROM THE RECTOR

The Rectory,
Combe Martin

Dear Friends,

How's your memory these days? I hope it's not as bad as the tale I heard about a young barman.

An old man walked into a pub and ordered a pint. Just as he finished his pint and was about to leave, the barman said, "Oi, you haven't paid me."

"Oh yes I did." replied the old man. The barman eyed him suspiciously, and said, "OK, I believe you."

The old man rushed outside and told the first person he met that the barman inside had a bad memory. Why not go in and have a free pint?

Looking forward to his free pint the man went in and ordered a drink. As he was finishing his pint, the barman said, "There is something strange going on today. A man just came in and ordered a pint and then left without paying. If anyone tries that again I'll sort him out."

"Quite right too," replied the man, "Just give me my change and I'll be off."

Often as we get older our memory gets a bit 'overloaded'. It's like the man who said he loves looking at Midsomer Murders because although he knows the story, he cannot remember who 'done it'. Sometimes we need reminding again and again, like children have to be reminded to say "Thank you." 

Harvest Festival is here to remind us to say "Thank you" to God for all his gifts, and also to say "Thank you" for his Son, Jesus Christ and all he has done for us.

And, of course, Remembrance Sunday is there to remind us of another sacrifice made for us and our country, and the opportunity to say "Thank you" in our hearts for all those men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice that we might have life and freedom.

I'm sure that is something we shall not want to forget.

With all good wishes,
Your Friend and Rector,

Keith Wyer

21



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

LETTER FROM THE RECTOR

The Rectory,
Combe Martin

Dear Friends,

At the railway station or the bus station I used to hate the words "All change!" Having made oneself comfortable in the seat, and having just started a good book, everything was thrown in the air. Out we got, onto a draughty station platform, sandwiches in one hand and suitcase in the other, to wait yet again for another train. And, of course, the inevitable rush to secure the best compartment and the seat by the window.

Prices in the supermarket are "all change" as well with precious little change from a ten pound note! The cost of things, especially petrol, is "all change" and one feels the security we once had is being undermined all the time. It's the same in the church. "All change" seems to be the message from the Diocese in the way we run our parishes. Is nothing sacred?

In periods of uncertainty and change, it's always worth hanging on to the fundamentals. Take my train journey for instance.  The reason for my journey was to reach my destination - for a holiday or trip out. As long as I reached my destination it really didn't matter if I changed trains once, twice, or even more frequently. Yes, it was inconvenient, but there were other considerations of which I knew nothing.

It's the same with changes in the church. What really matters? We can change or even get rid of clergy and bishops, because the real foundation is God and his love for us as revealed in Jesus.  That's what the church building and the congregation stand for. Yes, it is easier to have the care and oversight of a clergy person, but even if there were no clergy, we would still be expected to show God's love for the world.

It may be "all change" in the world but in our community we need to hang on to the values that unite us. We need to maintain that caring, concerned attitude which some would describe as good neighbourliness, and others would describe as the love of God shown in practical concern. And it is this attitude that the world needs to learn from us, so that we can, in our own quiet way, change the world for the better.

And of course, the one thing that doesn't change is God and his love for us as revealed in and through Jesus. Now that's the real foundation!

 

With all good wishes,

Yours Friend and Rector,

Keith Wyer

17



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

LETTER FROM THE RECTOR

The Rectory,
Combe
Martin

Dear Friends,

There was once a caretaker at a synagogue who was made redundant. He lost his income and started to fall behind on his mortgage.  He went to the synagogue every week and prayed. He poured out his heart to God asking him to help him. He pointed out to God that all his problems would be solved if he won the Lottery. Nothing happened.

During the following week his car was repossessed and he was threatened with eviction. At his weekly prayers he explained all this to God, and as God was all-powerful, surely it was within his power to let him win the lottery? Nothing happened. 

During the following week the bailiffs turned up, removed most of his furniture, and his wife left him. At his weekly prayers he told God all about this, and said that all his problems would be solved and his wife would come back to him if he just won the lottery, "Please God."

Suddenly a voice thundered out of heaven, "Give me a break! At least buy a Lottery ticket."

So often we ask God to do something without lifting a finger to even show how important a thing is to us. If we are asking God to bless and help the poor through organizations like Christian Aid, do we actually support them financially? If we see an injustice do we just pass by on the other side? Are we part of the 'silent majority'?

On our own we may feel powerless, but if God has put into our minds 'good desires', he will also give us the power to achieve them.

That's what Whitsun or Pentecost is all about. It is God's power enabling us to change, both our sometimes selfish attitudes and the way we treat other people. It is all a question of co-operation, working for and with God, rather than against Him. Then we are fulfilling our vocation to make the world a better, not worse, place to live.

With all good wishes,

Your Friend and Rector,

Keith Wyer

18



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

LETTER FROM THE RECTOR

The Rectory,
Combe Martin

Dear Friends,

A great big "THANK YOU" to everyone in the village who responded so magnificently to our appeal for help with the bells.

It certainly proved an 'opportunity' [see my last letter] for the whole community to come together and enjoy not only curry but some wonderful entertainment in the Manor Hall and the Globe - despite, on occasions, the weather.

Thank you so much to those of you who organised and took part in the activities. As I write this, the carpenters are due to start work on the bells and you have raised the money for that. I am sure it must be some sort of record for so much money to be raised in such a short time. I think it reflects the affection in which the bells and the bell-ringers of Berrynarbor are held and I take this opportunity to thank Michael and his intrepid band of ringers for all their hard work over the years. I think our ringers are great.

Oh, just in case you are wondering, I do not intend to have a Gift Day this year. Your love and support for the Church has been generously demonstrated already. Once again, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

With all good wishes, Your Friend and Rector,

Keith Wyer.

5



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

LETTER FROM THE RECTOR

The Rectory,
Combe Martin.

Dear Friends,

There was once a Hotel in the West Country which was drifting along quite nicely, but the manager wanted to improve things. So he got all his staff together and told them that things needed to improve, especially their mental attitude. There was too much laziness and negative thinking. People complained too much, and that was just the staff! He wanted a new start with a fresh attitude! In future there would be no problems, only opportunities.

With this in mind, he wanted to see a big improvement starting with the clergy conference which was starting that very afternoon.

Inevitably some clergy arrived early [glad to get out of the parish] and were shown to their rooms. After a few minutes the telephone rang down at Reception.

"Good morning, Reception. How can I help?"

"Good morning. This is the Revd. Jackson-Smythe in room 201. I have a problem."

The receptionist, remembering the "pep-talk", responded. "We don't have problems here, only opportunities."

"Er, hum . . that may well be, but I have a blonde in my bed."

Problems or opportunities? It depends on how we view things. The problem of the village Post Office and Shop closing, became an opportunity for the village to come together to produce something which was vital for the community. What a blessing it is too!

This year will bring many problems I expect, but we can view them as opportunities to improve the quality of life for all the villagers.

It's the same for the church. As some of you may know, we have a "problem" with the bell frame which will need replacing or repairing. However, while we are waiting for the various authorities to give their permission, we have an opportunity to start raising the money necessary for the repair. I am sure that with a good positive attitude and the good-will, which is obvious in the village, Michael need have no worries, and bells will once again ring out over Berrynarbor.

With all good wishes,

Your Friend and Rector,

Keith Wyer

16



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

LETTER FROM THE RECTOR

The Rectory
Combe Martin

Dear Friends,

All too often in the past, the Church has been charged with making people believe in a better world to come because life is bad on earth, preaching a form of 'escapism'. Christmas can be a time when people wish to escape from the harsh realities of the economic situation into a world of beauty and wonder, as highlighted in children's eyes and our imagination. Some people think they can buy their way into the hearts of others by buying expensive gifts - trying to escape from the fear of rejection by others.  But because our options may be reduced this year, for obvious reasons, let us just consider what Christmas is really all about. First it is all about Jesus being born in poverty. In a stable for animals, not a home for people. Placed in a manger not a cot. Born a refugee not in a secure home environment. [This is not escapism.] But nevertheless, born in an environment of love. How often on cards and in crib scenes do we see the 'holy family' together, bound in the mystery of birth and love. We cannot buy love, we can only give it away and see its results. There is no fear of rejection here - only a welcoming presence that seeks to embrace. [God has started his ministry of reconciliation by being born among us as being very vulnerable. We are all very vulnerable, and God shares that vulnerability.]

The shepherds - the outcasts of the Jewish world at that time - have the vision of heaven and are invited to go and see this thing that has happened at Bethlehem. We are also invited to 'come and see' in our hearts. For it is only when Jesus is born in our hearts that we even begin to get a glimpse that this event is not just something that affects us now, but has eternal qualities. As we go through the life and death of Jesus, where he opened his arms wide on the cross to embrace the world, the message comes through loud and clear that we are the object of God's love for the world. He does care, and feels for us, and wants us to begin to enjoy the eternal gifts he has in store. But you cannot buy or force love, you can only give it and hope that the recipient responds.

That's what Christmas is all about. Not the giving of expensive gifts, but of responding to the vulnerable love of God as revealed at Christmas and sharing that love with others.

Have a really wonderful & joyful Christmas,

Your Friend and Rector,

Keith Wyer

17



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

LETTER FROM THE RECTOR

The Rectory
Combe Martin

Dear Friends,

The other day a colleague was telling me about a time when he was driving his very old Ford Fiesta at a steady 28 mph in a  built-up area, when he noticed in his mirror a very expensive Aston Martin driving up his tail-pipe, very anxious to get by.  My colleague, out of sheer devilment I suspect, carried on his sedate way. As they came towards a bend in the road, he noticed the police waiting with a radar speed gun. Being the careful driver he was, he actually slowed down.  This was too much for the high flying executive who wanted to go places! He put his foot down and shot round the bend, right into the arms of the men in blue. Sure enough a few hundred yards up the road the Aston Martin had been pulled over. My colleague waved politely as he passed - poetic justice.

The trouble is, I think we have all at some time or other been guilty of exceeding the speed limit and were just grateful that we weren't caught. So perhaps we ought to be more kind in our judgement of others, especially if the driver of the Aston Martin was a hospital surgeon on his way to an emergency.

We may judge others, and think "Poetic Justice", but God never does. He always looks for the best and even loves us when he knows that we have done wrong. He positively goes out looking for us to bring us back "home" with him. [Just think of the Prodigal Son and the love of the Father.] That's why Jesus was sent into the world, to reveal the extent of God's love for us. However, that does excuse us from driving carefully when the welfare of others is at stake.

With all good wishes,

Your Friend and Rector,

Keith Wyer

15



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

LETTER FROM THE RECTOR

The Rectory,
Combe Martin.

Dear Friends,

I've just got back from a short trip to the island of Arran in Scotland. Five hundred miles from door to door, not including the ferry crossing.

We had a good journey both up and down from the isle. It was great to get in the car and drive off at 6:15 a.m. and arrive at the ferry terminal at 3:15 p.m. Across the blue water, the sleeping warrior (name given to the mountain range by some Scots on the mainland) beckoned to us. The crossing was very calm. With the car safely tucked away with the other vehicles, it was time to relax in the lounge looking through the forward windows towards our destination.

It suddenly struck me. I was no longer in control. In the car I could steer the vehicle any way I wanted. I could travel at any speed I wanted. I could stop at a service station if I wished or even turn off the motorway. But now, my path across the water was determined by the Captain who could go as fast or as slow as the ferry would allow [and most comfortably and safely for his passengers], and I couldn't do a thing about it! In one sense it was a great relief. I had been driving for miles, and now someone else had the responsibility. If I trusted the Captain to do his job I could relax and enjoy the trip until we arrived safely at our destination.

It was a bit like life really. Once we realize that we are in God's hands, and let go, and allow him to take over we can enjoy the trip. Oh yes, we need to have faith or trust in our Captain - that he knows the route and the destination and that he will bring us safely to our eternal home. But that reassurance comes from the life, teaching, death and resurrection of Our Lord.

Enjoy the trip.

With all good wishes,

Your Friend and Rector,

Keith Wyer

11



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

LETTER FROM THE RECTOR

The Rectory, Combe Martin

Dear Friends,

There are some grandmothers of a certain age to whom the word "Chippendales" does not denote a piece of furniture! (Enough said!)

And the meaning of the word "gay" has changed dramatically. And if I said to you what do the words "joint", "grass" and "coke" conjure up in your mind, I expect I might get quite a few different answers!

Now, what does the word "Trinidad" conjure up in your mind? Some might think of a Caribbean island with palm trees on a white sand sea-shore with soft gentle breezes fanning your golden brown body. Some might think of H.M.S. Trinidad from the Second World War.

Yet others may think of Christopher Columbus who in fact discovered the island. As he sailed towards the island he thought he saw three small islands, but as he got closer and closer he realised that in fact it was three mountains on one island, which reminded him of the Trinity, three and yet, one. Hence the name for the island.

But the concept of the Trinity is still a wonderful mystery, because it seeks to do justice to the revelation of God as Father (as taught by Jesus); the Son (Jesus-God in human form); and Spirit which is another way of expressing "God in action". The word ""God" can mean different things to different people. Yet the Christian doctrine of the Trinity tries to give as full a meaning as possible to that word, while humbly remembering all the time that our finite minds cannot grasp the full reality of an infinite God.

That is why Christians ask the help of the Holy Spirit to guide and help them in their earthly pilgrimage of discovery. Words never give the full meaning of what we are trying to express, that is why actions speak louder than words! That is why God came to earth in human form.

With all good wishes,

Your Friend and Rector,

Keith Wyer

12



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

LETTER FROM THE RECTOR

The Rectory, Combe Martin

Dear Friends

With Spring in the air, it reminds me of the short story by Oscar Wilde about the selfish giant. You probably know it very well. I didn't until a couple of months ago when the Sunday School at Combe Martin retold the story to the congregation.

The giant wanted to keep the children out of his garden where they used to play. He built a wall around it to keep them out. Then winter set in, and stayed for months, but just in his garden. Outside spring had come, but not for him. He was very sad and eventually realised how selfish he had been. Winter stayed in his garden until he suddenly heard a bird singing. He looked out and saw the trees coming into flower because the children had found a way in and were playing in the branches. He was delighted and allowed the children to play in his garden. Spring and summer had come! However, one tree was still in winter because a young child couldn't reach the branches to climb up. The giant ran over and lifted the child into the branches, and immediately it came into flower.

The giant loved to see the children in his garden and the garden bloomed, but he never saw this one small child again until he was very old, when he saw him by the tree in bloom. As he ran over his heart filled with rage. "Who did this to you?" he demanded when he saw holes in his hands and feet. "These are the marks of love." said the boy, "And as you allowed me to play in your garden, so come into mine. Paradise."

Read the story for yourself. Oscar Wilde's version is much better than my couple of sentences, but it makes one or two points.

If we are selfish we put up boundaries to keep others out of our world. We devalue ourselves as well as others. We actually need others to become fully alive.

Springtime reminds us not only of life coming back to the earth, but also of our need to let life back into our existence. The quality of life is so important and by helping others, we actually help ourselves. It also reminds me that children are

great at breaking down barriers! When we are trying to be all stern and serious they will say or do something which will make us laugh, and "open us up". The story also reminds me that the risen Jesus (still with the marks of his passion) came to bring us life, and that we should have it in all its fullness.

A Happy Eastertide to you all.

Your Friend and Rector,

Keith Wyer

<

17



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

LETTER FROM THE RECTOR

The Rectory
Combe Martin

Dear Friends,

Now that we are into 2008, will it be a good year or a bad year? Are you an optimist or a pessimist? George Bernard Shaw said we need both optimists and pessimists in society. An optimist invents an aeroplane. A pessimist invents a parachute.

There is a lovely story about two brothers who wanted horse riding lessons for Christmas. When they rushed down to the Christmas tree on Christmas Day morning, they did not find the usual presents all wrapped up neatly beside the tree. Instead they found two buckets of manure and a fork.

"Oh no!" said the first brother, "Where are all the presents and the money to go horse riding? No one ever listens, and no one cares! How rotten! This is the worst Christmas I can ever remember. All we have is a bucket of manure to put on the garden."

"Don't be so silly." said the other. "Can't you see? If there is a bucket of manure, then there must be a horse somewhere. We've got a horse each for Christmas! Come on, it must be outside waiting for us."

When we are in the middle of events, it's sometimes hard to see the wood for the trees. For many of us, it's only afterwards that we discover the silver lining in the storm clouds. But so often when we look back, it seems as if there was a pattern, or plan, in what happened, and sometimes we reluctantly (or happily) see that things have worked out for the best.

So often we feel pessimistic, but when we realise that we are in God's hands, then we have grounds for optimism.

With all good wishes,

Your Friend and Rector,

Keith Wyer

28



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

LETTER FROM THE RECTOR

The Rectory
Combe Martin

Dear Friends,

Did you see that repeat programme on the television the other month about those who have been awarded the V.C. for bravery over and above that expected by a British serviceman?

It was a fascinating programme highlighting the courage of soldiers, sailors and airmen. The thing that struck me about all these brave men is that you would probably just pass them by in the street without realizing their brave history. They were all unassuming men. They were not glory seekers.

The main person in the programme happened to be the presenter's father-in-law who was at Arnhem and his exploits defied even the Hollywood film-makers wildest dreams, knocking out Tiger tanks single handed while defending his wounded companions. His story was exceptional, and his daughter didn't even know about it until after his death. Her photograph of him showed him smiling behind his civilian work desk. If you walked into the office, you probably wouldn't even notice him. I think it was the humility of all those featured in the programme that impressed me.

Then last week on the BBC they did a series on "Carers" - how one woman was caring day and night for her husband who had Alzheimer's said that she had "lost" her husband years ago, and now was his carer not his wife. There were tears in her eyes as she spoke. It was out of love for him that she cared for him, although he did not even recognize her.

Then there were the children who are carers, who look after relatives before going to school, then dash home when school is over to carry on caring until the next school day begins. They have lost their childhood. Again, there was no "song and dance" about the situation, they just got on with the task in hand in a most unassuming way.

All this part of the real world is in sharp contrast to those who make the headlines in giving large donations to party politics and get a seat in the House of Lords as a result. God definitely sides with the lowly and humble who just get on with their caring and concern. That's why All Saints tide is so important in the Church. It reminds us not only of the great saints who were put to death for their faith, shining examples of Christ's love in action, but also the unnamed millions of Christians who have quietly got on with their lives of caring for others. They are saints too, although they would never admit it. A saint is someone who makes it easier to believe in God, and it's easier to believe in a loving caring God when his children are loving and caring also. That is just one of the messages in the festival of All Saints.

With all good wishes,

Your Friend and Rector, Keith Wyer

6



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

LETTER FROM THE RECTOR

The Rectory
Combe Martin

Dear Friends

Isn't life unfair! You do your best and nobody cares! You know you have the talent, the experience and all the qualifications for the job, and someone inferior gets the post.

It reminds me of J.S. Bach when he applied for a post as Director of Music. He had to send a sample of his work to show if he could produce church music. As a result, he produced what some critics have claimed is the greatest piece of music ever composed, the B Minor Mass. The score is breathtaking and the whole piece takes about two hours to complete. There is a double choir with organ and orchestra and soloists. It truly is a heavenly piece of music which is a favourite with many people.

Sad to think that Bach never heard it in its entirely, and he didn't even get the job! Instead, he was at St. Thomas' and continued to compose music every week for the choir, and later generations of choir boys used to take his music out of the cupboard to wrap up their sandwiches! We will never know how much music was lost.

Yet Bach, even when he went blind, continued to do his best although he was regarded as 'old fashioned' by his musical sons. Despite the disappointments, he continued to finish all his work with the words: "To God be the Glory".

Even if no-one else knows how good you are, God does, so at least you've got one friend who does care.

 

With all good wishes,

Your Friend and Rector

Keith Wyer

22



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

LETTER FROM THE RECTOR

The Rectory
Combe Martin

Dear Friends

John Constable [1776-1837] is one of the greatest artists England has ever produced and is considered to be one of the finest landscape artists in the history of art. His work includes such masterpieces as "The Hay Wain", "Dedham Vale", "The Cornfield" and "The White Horse", etc.

On one occasion when he was very famous, he was staying at a village inn where a young girl of eleven was also staying and trying to paint landscapes.

It so happened that one afternoon he came across this young girl painting but without much success. He stood quietly by as she tried to make the paint behave itself but she was getting more and more frustrated and angry.

The great man went and stood by her and asked if he could borrow her brush. The girl handed it over. With a few quick strokes, Constable, without altering in any way the work the girl had done, transformed the painting into a thing of beauty.

When we invite God into our lives, He never seeks to change what we are, but transforms us into what we have the potential to become.

With all good wishes.

Your Friend and Rector

Keith Wyer

12



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

LETTER FROM THE RECTOR

The Rectory
Combe Martin

Dear Friends

Easter celebrates New Life. Jesus was raised from the dead and  appeared to the disciples.

All that happened about two thousand years ago. What about now? Today I came across Anthony Bloom's book,  "School for Prayer." He writes:

" While I was reading the beginning of St. Mark's Gospel, before I reached the third chapter, I suddenly became aware that on the other side of my desk there was a presence. And the certainty was so strong  that it was Christ standing there that it has never left me.This was the real turning point.Because Christ was alive and I had been in his presence I could say with certainty that what the Gospel said  about the crucifixion of the prophet from Galilee was true, and the centurion was right when he said "Truly he is the Son of God"... I became absolutely certain within myself that Christ is alive and that certain things existed.I didn't have all the answers, but having  touched that experience, I was certain that ahead of me there were nswers, visions, possibilities."

His presence and New Life is here for all of us to experience. That s a real cause for celebration.

A Happy and Joyful Easter to you all,
With all good wishes,
Your Friend and Rector,
Keith Wyer

19



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

LETTER FROM THE RECTOR

The Rectory
Combe Martin

Dear Friends,

I had a digital camera at Christmas. It's a very 'posh' one, with 10 mega-pixel capacity and inter-changeable lens! Impressed, aah? Not only can you have wide-angle to telephoto in one lens, but you can also have macro lens capability as well. This little camera also has the ability, by pressing a little button, to focus automatically and a red light flashes when this is done!
 
If it's too dark, the flashgun pops up automatically and fires so that the perfect shot is recorded. I can then view the photograph at the back of the camera and 'zoom in' on any part of the photograph to make sure I want to keep it. If I don't, I just delete it and carry on. I think it even tells me the time anywhere in the world, but I've not yet
discovered if it can make me a cup of tea.
 
I was thinking, wouldn't it be marvellous if we could just focus in on God by pressing a button? But I suppose if we didn't like what we saw, or didn't like the message, we could just press a button and delete it and carry on. But God isn't like that. He is not an object to be photographed in that way. He is more of a presence or sensation.
 
Sometimes when we go into a Church, we 'sense' his presence and his peace. Sometimes when we see a wonderful view or a fantastic sunset, we feel a sense of awe and wonder. Sometimes we get a sense of his love when somebody does something for us we didn't expect. I suppose that's the problem really, the fact that God isn't static, like a photograph, but dynamic and active and trying all sorts of different methods ofcommunication to reach us.

It is not just a question of seeing, hearing,touching, but of being aware all the time. The wonderful photographs that we take just capture our subject at one moment of time. The views or the person we've photographed have been there for a long time, it's just that we have seen something that has attracted our attention at that particular moment. God has always been here, and he is trying different ways of attracting our attention. Perhaps like the keen photographer who always has his camera with him, we too ought to be on the look out for God in our everyday world.

With all good wishes,
Your Friend and Rector,
Keith Wyer.

33



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

LETTER FROM THE RECTOR

The Rectory
Combe Martin

Dear Friends,

I love the story about an eight year old girl who was so excited on Christmas Eve. All the house was decorated, and there were presents around the tree, including a big one with her name on it. It took her a long time to go to sleep, because she was so excited. Her parents were woken up at two o' clock in the morning, as she called out, "Mommy, Daddy, come and look!"

"Oh dear", thought her father, "She has opened her surprise present. Oh well, I'd better go down and then come back to bed later." Wearily he put his dressing gown on and left the bedroom, only to discover his daughter on the landing, gazing out of the window.

"Oh, Daddy, do come and look! Isn't it beautiful? Look, there in the sky. The star of Bethlehem is shining!"

The little girl's delight in the shining of the star, beat all her presents for magic and beauty. She was captivated by the star and what it represented. It reminds us that Jesus has to be born in our hearts and minds so that we can experience the joy and beauty of what Christmas really means. It has nothing to do with profit margins and the "big sell". Nothing to do with eating so much that we feel sick. It is to do with the miracle of God on earth so that we can share with God in heaven.

Have a wonderful and Christ-filled Christmas,

Your Friend and Rector,

Keith Wyer

22



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

LETTER FROM THE RECTOR

The Rectory
Combe Martin

Dear Friends

The other day I came across the story of the cave. Do you know it? It goes something like this:

There was once a dark cave, deep down in the ground, underneath the earth and hidden away from view. Because it was so deep in the earth, the light had never been there. The cave had never seen the light. The word 'light' meant nothing to the cave, who couldn't imagine what 'light' might be.

Then one day the sun sent an invitation to the cave, inviting it to come up and visit. When the cave came up to visit the sun it was amazed and delighted because the cave had never seen light before, and it was dazzled by the wonder of the experience.

Feeling so grateful to the sun for inviting it to visit, the cave wanted to return the kindness and so it invited the sun to come down to visit it some time, because the sun had never seen darkness.

So the day came and the sun went down and was courteously shown into the cave. As it entered, it looked around with great interest, wondering what 'darkness' would be like. Then it became puzzled and asked the cave, "Where is the darkness?"

 

It seems to me that that is exactly the same response God makes when he enters our inner hearts and selves. Jesus the light and love of the world, dispels the darkness, fear and hurt in our lives when we invite him in.

With all good wishes,

Your Friend and Rector

Keith Wyer

11



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

LETTER FROM THE RECTOR

The Rectory
Combe Martin

Dear Friends,

Have you found your dream home? The place where you want to spend the rest of your life? The place where everything is just right and you
wouldn't want to change it? Well if you live in Berrynarbor, then you
may well have found your "dream home". In which case I bet you had to dig deep into your financial treasure chest to acquire it. But of course it was worth it, and you can't measure the value of your dreams by mere money.
Some things are just beyond price. It may be your home, your loved one, your family, your friends.
All these "treasures" are mere "samples" of the joy, peace, love, and fulfilment of the eternal treasure, which Jesus describes as "the Kingdom of God". All the most precious experiences of life are but pointers to the reality of God's Kingdom.
Jesus tried to describe it in the most joyful and happiest experience that most people of his day enjoyed - a wedding banquet, which in Jesus' day went on for at least a week, with free food, drink, accommodation
and wonderful happy company! Jesus said that it was so good, that it was worth going "all out" to enter. So where is it? All around you, and "look, The Kingdom of God is right inside you." (Lk.17:21, "The New
Testament", a new translation by Nicholas King.)
I hope that as you relax during the hot summer days, and muse on the blessings you enjoy, you will indeed find it!

 

With all good wishes,
Your Friend and Rector,
Keith Wyer

22



Artwork: Peter Rothwell

LETTER FROM THE RECTOR

Dear Friends,

Friedrich Wilhelm, who ruled Prussia in the early eighteenth century, apparently had a short temper. He also detested ceremony. He would walk the streets of Berlin unaccompanied and if anyone happened to displease him - a not infrequent occurrence - he would not hesitate to use his walking stick on the poor offender.

Not surprisingly, when people saw him at a distance they would quietly "disappear". Once Friedrich came pounding down a street when a Berliner caught sight of him - but too late! His attempt to hide in a doorway was foiled.

"You there!" said Friedrich. "Where are you going?"
The man began to shake. "Into this house, Your Majesty."
"Is it your house?"
"No, Your Majesty."
"A friend's house?"
"
No, Your Majesty."
"Then why are you entering it?"

The man now began to fear that he would be taken for a burglar. So he blurted out the truth.

"To avoid Your Majesty."
"
Why would you wish to avoid me?"
"Because I am afraid of Your Majesty."

At this Friedrich Wilhelm became livid with rage. Seizing the poor man by the shoulders, he shook him violently, crying, "How dare you fear me! I am your ruler. You are supposed to love me! Love me, wretch! Love me!"

I am reminded that St. Paul, talking about God, said, "Perfect love casts out fear." Love makes its appeal to us through the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord. (The Pauline hymn to love, so often read
at marriages services, can be found in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 13.)

With all good wishes,
Your Friend and Rector,

Keith Wyer

18