Tuesday, 19 May 2015
We have just passed Whit Sunday, did you notice? Sadly it passes many people by. Some of you may remember that we used to have a moveable Bank Holiday which was usually referred to as Whit Monday as it followed Whit Sunday and this was the start of the school summer half term holiday. Whit Sunday or Pentecost as it is referred to in the Bible is 50 days after Jesus rose from the dead on Easter Day. Easter is calculated by the movement of the Moon and therefore so is Pentecost or Whit Sunday. However in 1971 it was decided to fix the date of this bank holiday for convenience and it became known as the Spring Bank Holiday and so the association with Whit Sunday and thus with Pentecost was lost and for many it was only a memory.
Why Whit Sunday you may ask, well it is commonly believed that as people were often baptized/christened on that day and the tradition was to wear white so the word Whit was derived from white.
Why you may ask were baptisms/christening taking place on that day? The answer is is the other name for that day, Pentecost. The Day of Pentecost was the birthday of the Church, when Jesus followers were together after he had returned to heaven, they we waiting for something special. It came in the form of a rushing wind and tongues of flame settling on the disciples. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and were enabled to teach and travel around the world telling the stories and teachings of Jesus and so the early church was born.
Christians believe that the Holy Spirit is the presence of God with us every day and if we are open to His spirit we produce fruit, that is we can demonstrate it by 9 attributes; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control.
I don’t know about you but I think these are good attributes for all of us to have whether we are Christian or not. Whether we remember Whit Sunday, Pentecost or the coming of the Holy Spirit it’s certainly worth remembering the fruit of the spirit and if we worked hard at these I think the World would be a better place don’t you?
Every blessing, Rev Cate
Posted by Christine Gibbins at 19:45
Monday, 20 April 2015
Spring has certainly arrived, hasn’t it? The weather up to now has been very kind to us, perhaps by the time you read this it will be raining, but I hope not.
Certainly the weather has been great for the first few weddings of the season. I’m sure we all love a good wedding, when we are celebrating the love shared by a couple and which they are openly declaring as they publically commit themselves to each other. That love which they share of course comes directly from God though Jesus Christ, through his death and resurrection which we celebrate particularly at Easter.
At Easter we fill our churches with flowers in celebration just as we fill the churches with flowers at weddings in celebration. Somehow the sight and smell of floral arrangements lift our spirits and help us feel that there is something special happening. Celebrating God’s love for us all is certainly something very special and even though the blooms die away, God’s love for each and every one of us doesn’t, it’s there for us forever.
Often when I’m talking to children about God’s love I try to get them to understand that it’s not soppy, it’s not about hearts and chocolates etc but about actions, kind deeds. We can see love being shared in the way that people behave with each other and when God’s love is shared we find that the world around us is a happier place. A kindly smile and a helping hand are particularly good ways of sharing the love of God.
When the risen Jesus Christ appeared to his disciples he breathed on them and said “peace be with you”. We too can breathe God’s love on others not a literal breath but a kindly thought or action.
If there was more breathing of God’s love around the world I am sure we wouldn’t have as much pain and suffering that we see every day.
The blooms of celebration open up and smile at us, perhaps we too can open up and smile more frequently and we might notice a lifting of the collective spirit.
Every blessing, Rev Cate
Posted by Christine Gibbins at 22:15
Friday, 13 February 2015
I came across this comment the other day by Jimmy Chapman, “Disagreements between people are going to happen. It’s human nature to disagree with one another at times because we are different people! We are made out of the same stuff, but we are different people in spirit, attitude, thinking, etc.”
This got me thinking, when we look at the news or read our papers there are reported so many disagreements. In fact it often appears that the media only like to report on disagreements rather than agreements, there are of course exceptions.
Disagreements are going to happen but it is the way we deal with them that is important. People have strong views about certain issues and emotions can run high, but there are always two sides to an argument/ disagreement and both views need to be aired equally and most importantly listened to. It is when the two parties don’t except that others may have a view that problems occur and we can all see the consequences of this is the many areas of conflict around the world.
It is about respecting other views even when they differ so much from our own. We are always keen to teach our children about respecting others opinions but do we remember to do it ourselves? Are we sometimes too ready to jump to conclusions before finding out all the details? (I know I can be guilty of this!)
I was once given a tip about going for a difficult interview, I was told not to answer the questions too quickly but to pause for just a moment to collect my thoughts and that the answers would be so much better. It worked. Sometimes I think we need to stop and pause for just a moment before responding to an opinion different than ours to avoid upset and discord. Sometimes we need to think about how our opinions may be received by others. This can be a difficult task but one which I pray I can do better at.
I pray that you, the media and particularly politicians too may just pause for reflection occasionally and those disagreements may not have escalate into the dramatic consequences we see reported on a daily basis.
Every blessing, Rev Cate
Posted by Christine Gibbins at 09:55
Wednesday, 31 December 2014
As I write this letter we are quickly approaching that mad and frenetic time of year – Christmas. Prior to this we have the lead up period of preparation which in the church is known as Advent. Traditionally at this time we have used imagery of looking for the light, seeking the light of Christ through the darkness of winter.
Winter this year has been slow in coming, the temperature has been slow to drop though the rain certainly hasn’t. The leaves have remained on many of the trees longer than usual despite the winds. So we could say that winter hasn’t really set in as it might. Perhaps we haven’t really noticed the decline in the amount of light around us, or have we?
Light is essential for growth, we can’t do without light. For many people the lack of sunlight causes great emotional distress so in fact light is essential for all of God’s creation to flourish. We use light in many ways in religious practice. We light candles to remember God’s presence with us, we light candles to remind us that Jesus is the light of the world and that he lights our paths, we light candles as a sign of prayer, we light candles to remember our loved ones departed and we light candles in celebration. The bringing of light into a situation is extremely important and uplifting both in its religious significance and its social significance.
At this time of the year as we enter Advent, the preparation period, we are moving towards that great celebration of the birth of Jesus, God in human form, who brought light into a very dark world. We celebrate this season by lighting up our houses with a variety of decorations and as we do so may we think about the lighting up of our world by the baby in the manger, who brought God’s love into the world directly to each one of us and in doing so lights each one of us up with his love. As we dash headlong into this season, with all that it brings, let us just pause for a moment of wonder and be lit up with the reason for the season, Jesus the light of the world.
May I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Joyous New Year.
Every blessing, Rev Cate
Posted by Christine Gibbins at 14:50
Sunday, 14 December 2014
Back in September 2012 the ‘Churches Together in Ottery’ (CTIO) recruited a Youth Worker with a particular emphasis on detached street work.
CTIO also started a charity called The06 to oversee this work. James Ballantyne fulfilled this role until the spring this year when he moved back to the North East.
The06 then began to re-evaluate the role and made some changes to the job description. At the same time Devon County Council was making plans to close most of the Devon youth centres.
As a group concerned with services for young people The06 decided they would do all they could to keep the Ottery Station Youth Centre open.
Although the Ottery Youth Club ceased to operate on October 10th a lot has happened in the past month. It is great news that it will re-open on Wednesday December 17th. This will be a special evening, with the local press present.
The actual building and site is in the process of being transferred to the local community and we plan to establish a community hub at the Station Centre for the wider use of organisations in and around the town.
It is important to know that this youth club is not just for the youth of Ottery but also for the surrounding villages including Feniton and Payhembury.
The acquisition of the building means that when The06 recruits its new youth worker in 2015 he/she will have a facility from which to operate. One of the upstairs offices at the centre is earmarked for our use for church youth work.
The06 have been speaking to all of the churches within Ottery and the surrounding villages seeking their support for the costs of the new Youth Worker.
At the end of November the pledges received amounted to around 15% of what is needed. So we have still some way to go. If church members and others are willing to pledge a sum of money, no matter how much or how little, towards this project please contact Mac Dick, Chair of The06, who is happy to answer any questions you may have. He can be contacted at MacDick1@aol.com and he will send out pledge forms.
In early 2015 the Youth Club will begin meeting regularly again staffed by ex Devon County Council youth workers. It will be wonderful when this is matched by The06 youth work.
Posted by Christine Gibbins at 21:56
Friday, 8 August 2014
None of us I expect have any actual first hand recollection of the WW1, our experiences are though other people. Friends and relations and through the media.
My Personal story- is about my Grandad on HMS Lion, flag ship at the Battle of Jutland. He was, working in the boiler room, it was very hot and he kept a towel handy to mop his brow, well he needed to go to the "heads", a seaman's term for the toilet, while he was away from his post the ship took a direct hit, in the boiler room, if Grandad had not left the area, I would not be here relating this to you, he would have been killed. On his return to what was left of the boiler room he found two large pieces of shrapnel on his towel, and I have them here today to show you.
I heard it said this week that much of our information has come though the War poets and perhaps this has given us a particular perspective on the happenings during the war. World War One caused an outpouring of literature that had never been seen before.
When looking through some the range was amazing from the graphic to the funny written from the frontline or by "canaries" the munition girls, chaplains to foot soldiers, officers to young waiting wives, all with the same theme of pain but encouragement, frustration to desperation.
An enormous emotional response to a horrific loss of life but a sense of the necessity to endure it.
In all the media coverage there has been little about the churches response to WW1, clergy however have been sent from Church House resources for services and the Royal British Legion have also sent resources and we use some of these today. However I wondered at the churches responses at the time, it was easy to find out information about Chaplains, from poetry of Woodbine Willie:
The Spirit by Woodbine Willie
When there ain't no gal to kiss you,
And the postman seems to miss you,
And the fags have skipped an issue,
When ye've got an empty belly,
And the bulley's rotten smelly,
And you're shivering like a jelly,
When the Boche has done your chum in,
And the sergeant's done the rum in,
And there ain't no rations comin',
When the world is red and reeking,
And the shrapnel shells are shrieking,
And your blood is slowly leaking,
When the broken battered trenches,
Are like the bloody butchers' benches,
And the air is thick with stenches,
Though your pals are pale and wan,
And the hope of life is gone,
For to do more than you can,
Is to be a British man,
Not a rotten 'also ran,'
These letters of Rupert Edward Inglis (1863-1916) – A Chaplain’s WW1 to his parish.
His first letter, then many more which describe the horrors he saw and those he supported during injury and death.
I think most of you will understand how I come to be writing from France. I have felt that in this great crisis of our nation’s history, everyone ought to do what he can to help. I have said this both publicly and privately, but it has been hard to tell people that they ought to leave their homes, to go out into strange and new surroundings, to endure discomforts and danger—perhaps to face death—it has been hard to tell people that this was their duty and then to remain comfortably at home myself. So that is why I have left you for an indefinite period.
I am proud, very proud of what Frittenden (his parish) has done. I know how hard it has been for many of the soldiers to leave their homes and their families and occupations; but the harder it has been, the greater the credit and the greater the reward.
I need not tell you that Frittenden will be constantly in my thoughts and that it will make things easier for me here if I hear that everything is going on well in the Parish.
I ask for your prayers. I ask you to pray that I may be a help to those to whom I have to minister out here. That God will bless and keep you all, is the prayer of
Your Affectionate Rector, (Signed) Rupert E. Inglis.
After many letter home came The inevitable:
From the Revd. Neville Talbot, S.C.F. Headquarters, XIV Corps
Wednesday, 20th September, 1916.
On Monday afternoon, about 3.15, whilst searching for wounded who had been lying out for several days, he was hit by a shell and killed instantly.
There followed numerous letter to his family commending his Christian commitment to so many .
These are individual Christian accounts but how did the church respond to the outbreak of war?
In many different ways:
There had been an appeal and criticism of government action by some Christian groups but in the end The arch- bishop of Canterbury, Randall Davidson, together with other Anglican bishops and Free Church leaders, responded at length and with astonish- ment...
It has not been a light thing for us to give our assent to the action of the Government of our country in this matter. But the facts of the case as we know them have made it impossible for us to do otherwise.... It is upon these facts that we rest our assured conviction that, for men who desire to maintain the paramount obligation of fidelity to plighted word, and the duty of defending weaker nations against violence and wrong, no possible course was open but that which our country has taken.
God knows what it means to us to be separated for a time by this great War from many with whom it has been our privilege – with whom we hope it will be our privilege again – to work for the setting forward of the Christian message among men. We unite wholeheartedly with our German brethren in deploring the disastrous consequences of the War, and in particular its effect in diverting the energies and resources of the Christian nations from the great constructive tasks to which they were providentially called on behalf of the peoples of Asia and Africa.
But there must be no mistake about our own position. Eagerly desirous of peace, foremost to the best of our power in furthering it, keen especially to promote the close fellowship of Germany and England, we have nevertheless been driven to declare that, dear to us as peace is, the principles of truth and honour are yet more dear.
This came from a book "We will remember" complied by the CTBI and the chapter on the churches response concludes with this reflection which I would like to share with you:
Bible readings: Isaiah 28:14-21, Jeremiah 21:1-10
From the outbreak of war, Isaac Watts’ paraphrase of Psalm 90 became
one of the most popular hymns in Britain:
O God, our help in ages past, Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast, And our eternal home.
Under the shadow of thy throne Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is thine arm alone, And our defence is sure.
What assumptions lay behind the use of “our” to mean “Britain”?
The prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah (see the above readings) in their day radically questioned the idea that God would always be on the side of Jerusalem in a time of peril. How does this square with “patriotism”?
Both sides – Britain and Germany – appealed to justice, duty and honour. For the British churches in particular, the violation of Belgian neutrality provided a crucial moral imperative. It would therefore be wrong to accuse them of just being flag-waving patriots unthinkingly bowing to the state.
Yet how can we be sure that our appeal to morality is genuine and not just a hypocritical or self-righteous disguise for patriotic impulse?
Both the British and the German churches fell in with the respective policies and justifications of their respective governments. Do you think this was inevitable?
What do you think might have happened if British and German church representatives had been actually able to meet early in the war, and not just exchange appeals and messages?
On a day such as this when we are commemorating and remembering the war to end all wars, they are questions which are worth reflecting on.
One thing which we can also reflect on is these St John's gospels, given to each soldier as they went off to war, there are tales of these being in a breast pocket of a soldier and it prevented a piece of shrapnel entering his chest.
These have been given to children in our church schools, asking them to try to find someone who could talk to them about either war and how they felt, but I know some have just wanted to hold onto them, one lad I know wouldn't let his out of his pocket as it was so special.
What is special to us, are the words of Christ important for us to hold onto? They were certainly thought to be 100 years ago, thought important for encouragement and support. Today as we think about WW1 we should also be like those troops thinking about the words of Christ and perhaps, just perhaps it will encourage us all to live out Christ's commands and work for peace in whatever way we can.
Posted by Christine Gibbins at 08:41
Monday, 21 July 2014
St Andrew's Church Feniton are holding a WW1 Commemoration Service at 11am on 3rd August 2014.
We would like to invite anyone with connection to the village and the men who served in the War.
Feniton History Group will put up a display of our fallen soldiers and serving men and the "Home Front"
Posted by Christine Gibbins at 21:43