Take the Election prayerfully and seriously

Elections are in the air. No, don’t turn over the page! I’m not joining the pre-election morass of words and promises. Though I do support my fellow bishops in our Pastoral Letter that caused such a fuss in February. You can find it on the diocesan website if you haven’t seen it. The basic message is: politics has become somewhat sterile and self-interested – so turn out and vote to improve things.

But there are other elections also happening. In your parish church, the Annual Parochial Church Meeting is an opportunity to choose churchwardens and church council members. And, maybe, even stand for election yourself. It’s too easy in church life to grumble about how ‘they’ do things: but perhaps the right thing is to offer to take part and help to do it better. Then there are elections to Deanery Synods.

The old joke is that a Deanery Synod is ‘a collection of people waiting to go home’. I would like that to change to ‘a collection of people listening to God and each other’- as together we navigate the tricky waters of the future of our churches. Actually, your Deanery Synod members are rather important. They have to elect a new Diocesan Synod this year – and I am very keen that our Synod helps grasp the many opportunities and challenges that the Church is currently facing.

And lastly, a new General Synod is to be elected this autumn. Any church member can be a candidate, but Deanery Synod reps are critical, because they actually choose who gets elected. So, take the General Election prayerfully and seriously. But please also take our church elections seriously too. You might be one of the people God is calling to serve his church by taking on a role as PCC member, Deanery, Diocesan or General Synod representative. It could be you! That is something to think and pray about.

With warm best wishes

+Peter Bath and Wells

Annual Parochial Church Meetings

Our churches are continuing the annual review process and Annual Parochial Church Meetings. If you are interested in supporting the people and work of the church, please come along to Dinder to see what has happened over the last 12 months and what we will be thinking about over the next year.

Everyone who is on the Church Electoral Roll is welcome to join in these meetings, which begin with a short public meeting for the election of Churchwardens. Nomination forms for Churchwardens and Parochial Church Council Members are available in the churches. Dinder APCM Monday 13th April at 7.30pm in the church (beginning with a short evening service).

Why Holy Week?

240px-Pilton_churchOur annual journey through Lent is almost over and the great celebration of Easter upon us. As we prepare to travel through Holy Week we will think about the last week of Jesus’ life and try to understand some of his journey; from the triumphant entry to Jerusalem, the Passover meal, the emotions in Gethsemane, the depths of betrayal, and the pain of the crucifixion to the heights of Easter Sunday and beyond.

It is this journey through the week that is so important to understanding our faith and our God. Some of the services may not be easy, especially those on Good Friday, when we are led into thinking about, and maybe sharing some of the pain and betrayal of Jesus (obviously just a small echo), but how can we truly celebrate Easter Sunday unless we have shared some of those depths? Our own life journey is filled with highs and lows.

It is true that unless we experience some of the low points we can’t really appreciate the high points. It is the contrast between these experiences that makes our lives what they are. It is the same at Easter – how can we celebrate the risen Christ unless we stand with the crucified Christ? So this Holy week I encourage you to spend some time contemplating Jesus’ earthly journey; maybe you could come to some Easter services you have never been to before (details are in this magazine), or maybe just spend some time reading the Easter Story.

But whatever you do, prepare to enter into the journey to face the pain and uncertainty, and then get ready to appreciate the joy, wonder and hope of Easter Sunday and beyond.

Chris Butler

This time of year….

This is my favourite time of year, new life coming into being in the countryside around us. It’s a time of new hope and new beginnings, as nature comes awake after the winter rest. I also know it is a time of hard work for many who work on the land.

This month also sees the continuation of Lent. Some of you will be wondering just how long it is until you can eat chocolate again or enjoy that glass of wine (or whatever you have tried to give up), others will be taking part in our Lent course or maybe taking up the Diocese’s challenge to cut your carbon during Lent (it’s not too late to join for the rest of Lent – see the Bath and Wells website).

In the church our two great celebrations are Easter and Christmas, but the preparation for these events is as important as the celebrations themselves.
I was given a poem the other week called “The Dash” by Linda Ellis. It is looking back on someone’s life thinking about the dash which separates their birth date and death date on their gravestone. The poem is too long to publish here in its entirety, but here are a couple of extracts to accompany you on the remainder of the journey through Lent:

‘For it matters not, how much we own, the cars…. the house…. the cash What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard.
Are there things you would like to change…? For you never know how much time is left that still can be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough
to consider what’s true and real
and always try and understand
the way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger
and show appreciation more
and love the people in our lives
like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect
and more often wear a smile,
remembering that this special dash
might only last a while.’

Chris Butler

KEEPING OUR GOOD INTENTIONS

With Christmas and New Year behind us, how are your NewYear resolutions going? Many of us make them with good intentions and look forward to the change in our lives that they might bring about over the coming months or maybe our lifetime.

We wake up on January 1st and are full of hope and determination yet for many of us our resolutions simply remain nothing more than just good intentions. We trip early and give up and little if anything changes in our lives.

For most these resolutions are broken within a week with only 8% of the population seeing them through.

I often wonder why we give up so easily, and I include myself in that statement.Very few achieve success on their first attempt. Behind great successes there are so often many failures. Success (as Nelson Mandela said so clearly) is down to not giving up, but by getting up again and again – as many times as necessary and starting again, considering other ways to accomplish our goals.

In writing to the Church in Philippi the Apostle Paul wrote: but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on (Phil 3:13b). I think these words can give hope to those of us who don’t get it right first time, encouraging us to not allow past failures to cause us to give up.

Later this month, the Season of Lent will begin. For many it is a time for reflection, abstinence and starting again. Those resolutions that seemed so important at the end of January could be rekindled, if only for the days of Lent. However, you never know where it might lead and

this could be the year when your New Year Resolutions become more than just good intentions.

Elaine Brightwell

THE NEW YEAR

I don’t know about you but, although I try and resist the temptation to make New Year’s resolutions, I do try and start the year on a positive note (I will lose weight and get fit is a bit of an annual cry but you never know – maybe 2015 is the year….).

The turn of a year is a chance to look back and forwards:
– to look back to see what the last year was like – for some it will be a relief to replace the 2014 calendar with 2015, others will be able to look back on some amazing highlights and remember 2014 with pleasure;
– to look forwards to 2015 – none of us can know exactly what 2015 will bring but we can imagine it will have its share of ups and downs. Some may have reasons to dread 2015 but many will welcome in the New Year with feelings of optimism and hope.

Below is the beginning of a poem written by Minnie Louise Haskins. Published in 1908, it was used by George VI for his Christmas address in 1939 after his daughter (our Queen) gave him a copy. It always feels very appropriate as we enter a new year with all its hopes and fears, dreams and worries, pressures and joys.

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”

So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.

Although we cannot predict what the future will bring, many of us would like the assurance of safety expressed in the first line of the poem, but we all know

that no one can give us that. The poem also reminds us that, however dark or light our lives feel, even in those darkest places we are never alone. For many of us we have friends and family we can count on but we also have the assurance that God is with us and all we have to do is reach out our hands.

Chris

ADVENT and the CHRISTMAS SEASON

The Advent calendars are all started and the countdown to Christmas is beginning in earnest. Each year it seems to get busier and busier and the countdown starts earlier and earlier.

For some it is a countdown they enjoy, the decorations, the Christmas Carols in the shops and in our Churches, planning to see friends and family, to exchange presents and to eat too much. For others it is a time of sad memories and missing loved ones, or worrying how they are going to afford everything Christmas appears to demand – they just long for it to be over.

The advertisements on the television sell a perfect Christmas with families or couples all together round a lit fire smiling and laughing, a dream which only a few of the lucky ones can live up to. What the majority of the advertisements fail to do is to tell of a Christmas many years ago in a cold stable when Jesus, the hope of the world, was born.

In our Churches we will be celebrating the birth of Jesus and the hope we believe He brings. The details of all the various services are in this magazine and we would love as many people as possible to come and join us. Alternatively our churches are open during the day for you to have some time out, some quiet time; do take advantage of them and also we hope we will see you sometime over the Christmas season.

Wishing you all a Christ-filled Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

Chris

Introducing myself……

For those of you who haven’t met me yet I am Chris Butler, and I am privileged to be the new Priest in Charge of this Benefice and I am really looking forward to getting to know all of you and the local communities. I want to start by thanking so many of you for your warm welcome; it feels good to be here.

A short bit of background – I grew up near Guildford, Surrey, the youngest of four children. I went to school at St Catherine’s School in Bramley and Godalming Sixth Form College. I then was lucky enough to go to New Zealand and spend 6 months with my brother and his family. As well as enjoying the beauty of the Islands I also worked on the local apple orchards to pay for the exploration. I joined the Ministry of Defence in 1987. I then joined Frazer-Nash consultancy in Bristol as an environmental consultant trying to work out how to minimise the environmental impact of MoD kit.

In 2008 I was selected for ordination training and then spent 2 great years in Durham at university where I had the opportunity to explore much of the North East. I especially enjoyed my visits to the Holy Island of Lindesfarne, where my love of Celtic Christianity has grown.

I have been a Curate in Cheddar, Draycott and Rodney Stoke for the last 4 years and have really enjoyed being part of three different communities as, although they were very close together, they each had their own character.
I am an enthusiastic supporter of Bath Rugby, although I tend to mostly watch from the comfort of my sofa these days. I also enjoy pub quizzes (although you may well hear about the infamous occasion in Draycott when our team got a Bible question wrong!).

Having been a cat owner for many years I am now trying dog ownership and I have a 1year old lurcher/staffie cross called Leah so you will probably see me being taken for a walk at some point. We are both looking forward to exploring the area, and finding some good dog walks of which I am sure there are many. Please do let me know of any of your favourites.

That’s plenty about me. I hope to see many of you at our services and other village events, and I look forward to hearing your stories.

Chris Butler

‘It rained and rained and rained and rained and….’

I don’t know what you did on Bank Holiday Monday, but I was taking part in the Annual Raft Race in Wells. And my word did it rain. It was so wet you couldn’t tell who had fallen off their raft into the moat and who were simply spectators. It was such a shame, as so much work had gone into organising it. I felt particularly sad for the stallholders, most of whom were volunteers, who had come to raise money and support for various local charities. As the rain poured down they were forced to seek shelter under trees and gazebos. There were lots of good causes represented, with a wide range of charities all of which do a fantastic job in different ways. It made me realise again just how fortunate we are in this country to have so many charities which together provide vital support, advice, care or assistance to millions of people each week. Most of that amazing work would not happen without volunteers playing their part and giving their time.

The same is true in the Church. We are so richly blessed with dedicated people who give so generously of their time, maintaining our churches and ensuring that they are open and welcoming; overseeing church finances and safeguarding; serving on committees or as a school governor; working with children and young people; praying; taking services; preaching; visiting and caring for people. The list is endless. In many of our smaller churches, however, it is not always easy to get people who will serve as churchwardens, treasurers or church officers and sometimes the ‘turn’ on the coffee or flower rota seems to come round somewhat too often.

So let me use this article to encourage everyone to ask the question: ‘Is there something else that I could do to support my church and to play my part in serving my local community?’ If there is, I am sure your offer to help will be warmly received.

With warm Christian greetings