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Welcome to St John's Church, Gowerton
Croeso i Eglwys Sant Ioan Tre-Gŵyr


Due to the situation with Coronavirus, church services are reduced, please see below for the latest information.

Alex is going to post updates below during the closure period, please keep checking back :)

Julia’s Jottings (May 2021)

Monday:
No glass slippers but a dazzling, crystal-clear glass teapot so blended Whittard’s orange Peoke and Co-op 99 blends…ahhh…sublime…strange never could get chemistry in school but clearly with age comes wisdom.

Tuesday:
Here we go again Spring cleaning. A very positive start I feel, washed both the front and back doors, definitely a whiter than white ‘persil’ effect – very satisfying.

Wednesday:
So proud, hubby made MA leader. Timothy chap 6 v 12.

N.B I’m still a B.A, ah well as my brother said all those years ago, shame I got the letters in the wrong order – the boy had a point.

Thursday:
Undecided about continuing the traditional seasonal clean – rain overnight and this morning– physical change can be reversed- question is can I be bothered to implement that process or make weathering a chemical change? Oh how a little knowledge can indeed be a dangerous thing.

Indulged in Spring sunshine and decided to take tea outside (well cup of), sat on garden bench only to find it collapse under my weight-oops - rotten wood or not confirmed my decision to continue with domestic cleansing if only to burn a few calories.

Friday:
Haven’t purchased a power washer, used soapy water and old-fashioned yard brush to clean path. Yep feel smug, must have burned many, many calories - what with scrubbing and extracting 4 garden waste bags of weeds as Proverbs says, “Your education is your life” – so that explains why I opted for physics and not chemistry – my exercise will be repeated irrespective of whether regulations allow gyms to open!!

Saturday:
Do feel my heart is not in this, after an hour ‘decluttering’ all I discarded was wedding dress from 28 years ago (did keep the buttons, feel sure they may be useful) and an old puzzle book. Hey-ho it’s a start.


Pont Gors Fawr Benefice Announcement - 4th May 2021

I would like to invite all elected/appointed parish officers to an informal meeting, beginning with a short act of worship, on: Tuesday, 18th May at 7pm in St John’s, Gowerton.

The purpose of this gathering is to put names to faces and give me the opportunity to address you all with regards to our new beginnings, and the wonderful possibilities that lay before us all.

Rev Alex Pye, Vicar

  • All Covid restrictions will be adhered to - face masks, social distancing.
  • Don’t forget the benefice Eucharist at 7 pm on Wednesday evenings.


    Rumbelow’s Ramblings for the 5th Sunday of Easter

    In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

    Amen.

    Have you ever been asked to do something you really didn’t want to do?

    How many of you can say that you have done what was asked of you?

    And how difficult was it to trust the person who asked in the first place?

    Today’s readings are all about trust in God! Abraham’s trust, David’s trust, Philip’s trust, the Ethiopian eunuch’s trust, and the trust Jesus had in his Father.

    Many years ago someone said to me that I would make a good priest!

    No way, me, a priest?

    My reaction, had you known me then was based on the facts that I was very shy, hard to believe I know, but at that time I wouldn’t even stand up to read in church.

    I was not particularly well educated, I’d only managed to get a couple of ‘O’ Levels at school and had left at the age of 16.

    I didn’t think I was worthy of such an important position and thought I didn’t know enough about God, Jesus or the Bible.

    Roll forwards 30 years and here I am. I told you last time how much my trust in God had brought me to where and who I am today.

    But what about the trust shown by the characters in our readings today.

    Abraham, a little bit of a hero of mine who, not only does he leave his homeland and everything he has known in his life to this point but, when God asks him to, he is willing to follow, in faith, when asked to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. Why?

    What was God thinking?

    Why did God need further proof of Abraham’s willingness to trust in him and why ask Abraham to do such a ridiculous thing?

    And why on earth did Abraham go along with this plan?

    It is important to remember here that, in ancient culture, where your identity was defined by your ancestors and your future by your descendants, being childless was a particularly heavy burden to carry. To have no children then; was to have no future. We are told that Abraham’s body was as good as dead and Sarah’s womb was also dead; there was no chance of the family line carrying on. So when God promised that Abraham’s family would outnumber the stars, the promise of a child was a wonderful recognition by God, of the importance of this family.

    Roll forwards 20 years and the unthinkable happens. God demands, not asks, demands that Abraham sacrifice his miracle son, to him, as a burnt offering.

    God says, ‘take your son, your only son, whom you love – Isaac – and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.’

    When God asked Abraham to leave his country and go to a new place, Abraham didn’t really have much to lose. In the stories the ugly duckling, the washed-up boxer and the busker are always willing to take a risk - they have hit rock bottom. But in Abraham’s story, it is only after the happy ending had arrived that the story really heats up, and when God asks for a child-sacrifice, Abraham has everything to lose.

    His reputation would no longer be as the founder of a great nation, but as a fool, even a murderer, who killed his only child when he knew he was too old to have another. Abraham would no longer be known as blessed by God, but instead as someone cursed by God. Instead of seeing his family multiply, it would be cruelly cut short. Abraham may have given up his past without qualms, but when he was asked to raise the knife to Isaac, ‘he was asked to surrender his future as well.’

    If Abraham did as God asked, he had everything to lose – including his faith.

    Is the God who forbids murder really telling Abraham to kill his son?

    Is the God who expressly forbids child-sacrifice really demanding the blood of an innocent boy?

    If we look more closely at Abraham’s story we can see three things.

    1. His faith is not a leap in the dark. We cross the road every day without even thinking about it, but in a philosophical sense we cannot be certain that we are going to make it to the other side. We gather the evidence around us, the speed and amount of traffic on the road, and we make informed decisions as to when it is safe to cross.

    2. Abraham’s faith is not only based on evidence but also on relationship. When we are very young children our parents take us to a room with one or two strangers and allow one of them to stab us. We don’t understand why or how she could do this to us but we trust in our relationship with her that there was no evil intent here; and we are taken back a few more times for follow-up vaccinations. When God asks the seemingly impossible, Abraham has enough evidence and a good enough relationship with him that he can see no evil intent here.

    3. Abraham’s obedient actions may be an engagement of his common sense. Abraham is held up throughout the Bible as a famous for his faith.

    Abraham knows that Isaac is referred to specifically as the starting point for a whole nation of descendants, as numerous as the stars in the night-sky. In Isaac’s very existence, Abraham had already experienced the power of God overcoming the power of death. So when Abraham was asked by God to do the impossible, he knew, with absolute certainty, that God had the power to perform the impossible and that God had been unchanging in his faithfulness in the past. So even when asked to lift the knife to kill his own son, Abraham trusts that God will step in to stop this sacrifice from happening. Abraham knows that something will happen so that his family line will live on!

    So faith in God is not unreasonable, not blind, not silly or fool-hardy. Faith in God is measured, reasonable, evidential and considered.

    If we think God is asking too much of us, then we need to ask why we think that way. We need to weigh up the evidence and consider all the things God has shown us and done for us so far, and we need to trust. Trust that God has our futures wrapped up with good things. He will never expect us to do something that goes against his wisdom, his laws or his love for us. We just need to trust him and go with the flow, sort of speak, obey and be brought to where he wants and needs us to be.

    God gives the impossible - and he also demands the impossible. When God is fulfilling our dreams it is easy to trust and obey him, until he asks the impossible. When God surprises us – when he demands what we could never imagine – this is a good sign that we are connecting with him, the real God.

    Amen.


    Hi folks,

    Please could you do me a favour? Back in January Pete and I were contacted via the website for Gowerton Local History Society (GLHS) and subsequently took possession of a large number of photographs of Della Bowditch and her husband Harry. Della was born in Waunarlwydd and (as far as I know) attended Sardis Chapel and Harry was from Gowerton. The couple were childless and travelled extensively, all around the world. Does anybody have any memories of either Della, Harry or any other relative of theirs and would you be willing to assist Pete and myself in identifying them? I'm going to send them in to West Glamorgan archives, but the more I can identify the more likely they are to keep them for posterity. Unfortunately, because Pete and I are moving I need to get this done as soon as I can. I would ask if anybody can help to please get in touch with us on Pete's mobile 07949153448 or email me at sian.pritchard.sa5@gmail.com.

    Take care and keep safe

    Sian xx


    Pye’s Ponderings, April 25th, 2021

    Text: John 10 verse 11

    “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

    Recently I was asked about how you construct a sermon (a not uncommon question!) Well, first look at the appointed reading and then it’s 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.

    For this morning however, certain words came into mind and I have tried to link them together.


    Nails – of the cross, pain, suffering…..
    Yet the nails also hold us together

    Scars – shown to Thomas
    But a healed scar is stronger

    Resurrection – we believe in Jesus’ resurrection
    Just like a phoenix rises from the ashes, renewed and invigorated

    Instructed – Jesus opened their minds to the Prophets
    Just as Jesus continues to instruct us today

    Everyone – not just us!


    Reorder the letters in bold print and you get the word:

    RISEN

    For bread to rise it needs yeast, for us to be a risen church we need Christ.

    “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

    Jesus laid down his life for us and we must respond by accepting his guidance and grace.


    NOTICE 22nd April 2021

    The planned evening Eucharist service for Wednesday 28th of April will, unfortunately, not now be taking place and had to be moved to Wednesday 5th of May.

    This is because the Reverend Alex Pye will be inducted as Incumbent of our new benefice of Pont Gors Fawr (St John’s, Gowerton with St Barnabas, Waunarlwydd) at St Mary’s, Swansea that same evening.

    Please can I ask you to cover Alex, Julia and the family in prayer as they take this very important next step in their ministry. Prayers also would be appreciated for the congregations of both churches as we forge forward together.

    Many thanks 🙏🏻 God bless.


    Easter 3, 2021 St John’s

    May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart, be now and always acceptable in thy sight, O Lord our strength and our redeemer. AMEN

    Text: Luke chapter 24 verse 36

    “As they were saying this Jesus himself stood among them.”

    I am sure, like me, over the last week you have been reading stories in your papers or listening on the news to recollections about Prince Philip. One stood out for me, about a priest (whose name I missed), who preached at a royal occasion. At lunch afterwards he was sat next to HRH Philip, who questioned him at length about his sermon. He wanted to know his sources, his reasoning and his theological reflection. The priest commented that the Duke was astute, knowledgeable and very challenging in a positive way. He also commented that he didn’t eat much of his lunch…I’m not surprised! PAUSE

    I find it interesting that when children have enquiring minds they are complemented and encouraged to push the boundaries, and continually ask why and how. It’s seen, and rightly so, as healthy and positive. However, when it comes to our faith questioning apparent contradictions in scripture, in some circles, is seen as dubious and definitely not encouraged. We are sometimes directed to accept all Biblical text without engaging our brains and entering into positive debate.

    In our gospel today we are reminded of the physical resurrection of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, how he appeared to some of the disciples and invited them to touch him and then he ate some broiled fish.

    BIG PAUSE

    For me, so many questions come to the fore at this point. Primarily, what sort of body is this?

    He cannot be touched by Mary ‘until he is ascended’, but invites the touch of Thomas, and those he met in this room. He is no ghost but ‘flesh and blood’ and can eat fish; he can pass through walls and locked doors (so had no need to move that Stone except to show that he was gone); and he can appear and disappear at will. Seen only by those who love him, so is it only because he is unexpected that he is so hard to recognise?

    What kind of body is this?

    Easter faith asserts that Jesus lives but claims nothing specific about a restricted corpse or defines what a ‘resurrection body’ is. How can we understand life in another dimension or this glimpse of a new creation? We are facing mystery.

    Ken Taylor, a Methodist Minister, in his commentary says:

    “When he held the bread at Emmaus, and in the upper room, and especially with Thomas, the marks in his hands and feet, wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, are the signs by which he is recognised. We need to explore more fully how the presence of the living Christ is best identified by the marks of suffering Love.”

    So what does it mean to be a living church in today’s world? Or perhaps more significantly, how do we represent the ascended Christ in our world? Most importantly, I feel, is that we should not try to portray our community as an elevated form of perfection where all questions have a positive answer, where there is a clone-like unity of belief. No. Honesty, truth, love and acceptance should be emblazoned on our walls. As we move into a new era with our friends at St Barnabas, of course there will be challenges, friction and disagreements, and we must face and bear these together for the greater good. The ultimate example to us all is the risen Christ who bore and showed his wounds because of his love for all humanity. To be a living proactive church we must mirror this in our won discipleship. He was perfect and we most definitely are not. Mistakes will be made. Yet, we have the gift of his perfect love and guidance to enable us to face all that lays ahead.

    The Perfect Church

    If you should find the perfect church
    Without one fault or smear,
    For goodness sake
    Don’t join that church
    You’d spoil the atmosphere.

    If you should find the perfect church
    Where all anxieties cease
    Then pass it by, lest joining it
    You spoil the masterpiece.

    If you should find the perfect church
    Then don’t you ever dare
    To tread upon such holy ground
    You’d be a misfit there.

    But since no perfect church exists,
    Made of perfect men,
    Let’s cease on looking for that church,
    And love the church we’re in.

    Of course it’s not the perfect church,
    That’s simple to discern.
    But you and I and all of us
    Could cause the tide to turn.

    What fools we are to flee the past
    In that unfruitful search
    To find, at last, where problems loom
    God proudly builds his church.

    Amen


    Benefice Eucharist - Announcement from Alex 15/04/21
    Delighted to tell you all that this service will continue on a weekly basis, beginning on Wednesday, 28th April at 7 pm in St John's church.

    To book for this service you will need to phone Deborah on the Wednesday prior (Wednesday 21st April) between 10 and 12 noon (553446)

    All Covid precautions/restrictions will remain in place.


    Rumbelow’s Ramblings - Acts 4.32-35

    We always seem to focus on poor old Thomas at this time of the year so, for a change; I want us to focus on the passage from Acts 4: 34 and 35.

    Paul says:

    ‘There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.’

    It intrigues me and nudges at my belief that the best way to ensure my long-term security and stability is to work hard and save well.

    The work hard I’ve been able to achieve, the saving well, not so much!!

    But this attitude certainly isn’t all bad; it’s good to be challenged from time to time about the way we think about our finances, our possessions, and our community.

    The first thing I’d like us to look at together is how the financial generosity of the early Church began with the believers being ‘of one heart and soul’ and with the apostles sharing their testimony of the resurrection of Jesus.

    The early Church were a diverse group of Jews, Gentiles, men, women, old and young. They were different from each other but united through a life-changing encounter with Jesus. The death and resurrection of Jesus, followed by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost had bound this community together, had given them one heart, one soul. Their unity and the grace bestowed upon them by God found its expression in a natural overflow of generosity.

    The reality of the cross and the empty grave did not lie dormant, a comforting doctrine for difficult times, but moved the community to live in a new way, as if part of a new kingdom. They did not claim private ownership of their possessions but prioritised people instead.

    The early Christians understood that their lives were not their own, they had been bought at a price. They were no longer living for their own comfort, stability or pleasure. And we have received this same spirit as our brothers and sisters in the early Church. We testify to the same resurrection, we worship the same Jesus.

    And when we understand that that our lives are no longer our own, we too are freed from the belief that we must achieve our own comfort at all costs. People become more important than possessions. When we testify to the resurrection of Jesus, we testify that we are no longer dependent on the security of wealth but on the total completeness of what Jesus has done for us.

    But wait just a minute; you may be feeling that this is a passage about impossibly generous Christians with impossibly high standards. You may be feeling that this model of giving would never work in your life, with your income, your benefits, your financial commitments, debt, children, grand-children, and the list goes on and on. Even as I speak you may be figuratively closing your hands and your heart around your finances. I know that’s often my response. Talking about money is never popular, but this is about so much more than money.

    Over 20 years ago now, in May 1999, my family moved to Gowerton and at that time I was working in Swansea, travelling in everyday and trying to find parking which didn’t cost the earth. Soon enough a job became vacant at Gowerton Surgery and I pondered the move as it meant a drop in salary, but eventually I was given a position here. I didn’t realise it at the time, but Jesus had a plan for me!!

    Over the last 20 years or so I have been challenged to take ever bigger and more significant roles at St John’s until I eventually recognised the call into ordained ministry – the rest, as they say, is history.

    But at each turning point there was some financial loss involved.

    In order to change jobs, I had to take a cut in pay.

    In order to study, I had to work less hours and to work less hours; I had to take a cut in pay.

    In order to become the person I am today, there have been some financial reductions. So how have I managed to stay on top of things?

    Well, obviously I have a husband to support me with some of the things I have had to do but, at each and every stage of my growth there have been gains too. With the change of job there was no need for parking fees, with each drop in hours there has always been a change in the tax codes so that, all in all, I have never lost out by much!!

    In 2 Corinthians 9:7, Paul says that ‘each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.’ Giving is an act of freedom, not a subscription charge, not a penalty.

    As we’ve seen, the early Christians’ hearts were changed by their experience of the resurrection of Jesus. Their perspective on their community was shifted by the knowledge that each and every one of them was infinitely valuable to God, valuable enough to die for. The community loved one another and put this love into tangible action.

    In this passage we can see the early Christians selling their land and their houses and using the proceeds to give to those in need. The early Christians did not cling to the gifts of wealth God had given them, but offered them up to bless others.

    Now, I’m obviously not recommending that we all go from here and sell everything we have, that would be crazy. I know that here in Gowerton and in Waunarlwydd, your generosity and particularly your love of your church have helped us to keep our heads above water and Alex and I are extremely grateful for all your hard work in keeping our churches alive and financially viable.

    Just imagine with me what life would look like if people were considered as precious as money and possessions; if hearts and hands worked for the building up of the community; if we had such a grasp of the scale of the resurrection that the attraction of wealth faded away entirely.

    Paul says in Acts:

    ‘There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.’

    What could that look like in our lives, in our community? Could our homes be opened up? How could our church finances be redirected to invest in more outward looking projects? What are our next steps?

    Let’s try and see what God's plans for our lives are and see if there is anything else I, you, we could do to build the Kingdom of Heaven here in our community.

    How beautiful a picture and how powerful a witness this would be for the watching world.

    Amen.


    Easter Day, 2021 St John’s

    In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. AMEN

    Napoleon escaped from his island prison. His armies regathered under the French flag and Europe was plunged into war. The British army under Wellington landed in Belgium and prepared to fight near a small village called Waterloo. There was no way of communicating to England the news except by semaphore. Day after day a man watched from the tower of Winchester Cathedral, peering towards the south coast. On a misty day the watcher received a message: ‘Wellington defeated.’ The mist came down and a sadness filled Winchester and spread over England. The watcher stayed at his post. After a long while the mist lifted and the message was repeated: ‘Wellington defeated’. But now 2 more words were added and they made a great difference: ‘Wellington defeated the French.’ The assumed defeat was a victory. A new message sped to London. Bells rang out and flags flew. The message, which seemed one of defeat, was in fact the start of the news of victory.

    For the truth to be known the whole message has to be heard.

    In our Gospel today the women were “trembling and bewildered”. We are told in the other gospel accounts the disciples were filled with fear and grief, they were scared and anxious- understandably! Collectively they didn’t know the whole story, it was yet to be revealed to them.

    We, of course, do know the glorious truth, so to relate to their experience is nigh on impossible, and so we celebrate today the resurrection which leads to the ascension and Pentecost.

    In ten years’ time I wonder what people will make of 2020 and 2021. What will historians say when they review our newspaper headlines and television coverage, and political response? Our country has been filled with fear due to the pandemic. They will have the advantage of knowing the whole story. Will they comment on how communities have pulled together, even when faced with death and destruction? Will they comment on how H.O.P.E was never extinguished?

    Our faith, which is centred on the resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ, when death was defeated, and hope, love and forgiveness was freely given to us all, is a foundation stone that is indestructible.

    The prayer from the Mothers’ Union sums it up beautifully,

    God Almighty, we praise thy holy name in this joyful Eastertide. We thank you, Lord, through your death and resurrection we have won the victory and your redeeming grace and love. Loving father, fill us with new life so that we may love one another and do what you want us to do in sharing your love with those who don’t know you. In Jesus’ name we pray.

    AMEN


    Rumbelow’s Ramblings for Palm Sunday

    Sally Prendergast, a Curate at Wendover and Halton, created a booklet for her congregation to use at home in Holy Week, based on the Lectionary readings, and I’m going to use what she has said for Palm Sunday as the basis of my sermon today.

    Jesus and his disciples head out of Jericho and begin the twelve-mile walk to Jerusalem for the Passover. It’s uphill, dusty and even for hardened travellers; it’s a bit of a slog. Once they reach the suburbs with just a couple of miles to go, Jesus sends two of the disciples to find a colt that has never been ridden; akin to a virgin offering, something symbolically pure and perfect for a king. Roman soldiers would often commandeer beasts, and so could kings.

    We all know this story so well that I don’t think I can tell you anything new, and yet there is always something new to discover when we read about Jesus. We can find this story in all four Gospels, so it must be pretty important or why would these four writers have bothered writing about a ride on a donkey? It may have something to do with the writings of another man – Zechariah. This prophet’s writings, in chapter 9, verse 9 were coming true:

    Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!

    Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he,

    humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.


    So there is something important about this story, another revelation about Jesus as someone very important, someone holy, a king, a Messiah, the Son of God!

    Sally says that there’s a tension between royalty and humility, but the crowd sees only what it wants to see; a king, powerful and mighty, coming to save them from oppression.

    The people on the road would also have been going to Jerusalem for the Passover, a very important festival in the Jewish calendar, and some of them would have come across Jesus before, hearing him speak perhaps, or maybe he had healed one of their relatives or friends? But they recognise him as someone far more important than your ordinary, run-of-the-mill rabbi or teacher; they feel that there is something very special about him, even if they can’t quite put their fingers on what it is about him. Could this be the promised messiah, coming to save them all from the oppression of the Roman Empire?

    Sally continues: They throw their cloaks on the dirty road and wave branches, not just palms but reeds and foliage, in his honour.

    Let’s listen to what Sally says the young donkey may have been thinking. Oh, if only animals could talk!

    “It’s strange how the day unfolded. Two men came and carefully untied me, and explained to my owner that I was needed. I’ve hardly left my mother’s side, but I felt strangely calm as I was led away. Picking my way down the hill, I saw a man unlike any other. He had the kindest eyes, and he slipped so lightly onto my back.

    People threw their best cloaks onto the ground as we walked, and I scuffed them in the dirt. Precious fabrics, ground into the dust, because of the man I carried. They waved branches, and they shouted and sang and yet they didn’t startle or frighten me… with this man I felt safe.

    We walked on and on, the crowds shouting ‘Hosanna, hosanna’, part of a song I hadn’t heard before. They seemed full of joy and hope! And yet I could sense a deep sadness, an ache in the man’s heart. I bore more than the weight of this man, and I wonder what he himself was carrying.”


    We know the anguish and sadness that Jesus carried on that journey to Jerusalem, knowing that at the end of the week he would be hanging from a cross. But the little donkey knew nothing of this, all he knew was that he felt safe being with Jesus!

    I wonder how the donkey’s Mum was feeling about him being taken away from her, and for someone to sit on his back at such a young age. Would she have been frightened? Would she have been worried that he may be injured? Would she have wondered if she would ever see him again? And I wonder what stories the colt told his Mum when he did eventually return home.

    If he was anything like my grandson Ioan, it would have been all excitement and fast speech, trying to get all the information over as quickly as possible in case some of it was forgotten.

    Lastly, Sally tells us that cloaks were precious to their owners, symbols of status as well as garments for warmth and protection. Throwing them on the ground before Jesus was an act of worship.

    I wonder, if you had been there on the road that day, whether you would have thrown down your coat, have a look at the coat you are wearing today and try and remember how much it cost you, how long you’ve had it, whether it’s one of your favourites, and then ask yourself the question again. Would you have thrown it on the dusty, dirty road (remember there were no pristine tarmacked roads in Jesus’ day) getting trampled underfoot by, not only the donkey, but others coming along the road as well?

    So the donkey is a sign that the Messiah will come as an instrument of peace and restoration and not as an instrument of war and violence. We still think of the hero riding in on a “white horse” to save the day. Jesus rode in on a simple donkey to save the world. A young donkey that felt safe with Jesus on his back.

    I hope we can feel safe knowing that Jesus is with us too, not riding on our backs, but dwelling in our hearts, in our souls, in our minds, and in our strength. Jesus gives us his love which enhances our lives, and creates in us better, purer, richer, lovelier hearts, so that we are willing to give that which we have to those who are in need.

    I would like to urge you, when you get home have a look around your house for your most treasured item, what would it take for you to give it away as an act of worship? Remember, a true act of worship is not giving something that can easily be replaced, not something that may even take a few weeks or months of saving to replace, it is giving something irreplaceable, something special, something loved.

    Alex’s favourite carol has the lines:

    What could I give him poor as I am?
    If I were a shepherd I would bring a lamb.
    If I were a wise man I would do my part;
    Yet what I can I give him, give my heart.


    Amen. BOOKING DETAILS FOR HOLY WEEK

    Palm Sunday (28th March) 10.30 am – book as usual on Wednesday 24th from 10 am -12 noon

    Wednesday in Holy Week (31stMarch) 7pm – book on Monday 29th between 11am and 12 noon

    Maundy Thursday (April 1st) Prayer Room in the Church Hall – book with Rev Sue after the Palm Sunday service.

    Good Friday (April 2nd)10 am - book on Wednesday 31st March between 10am -12 noon

    Easter Day (4th April) 10.30 am – book on Wednesday 31st 10 am-12 noon


    Vestry Introduction/Explanation

    I thought it was necessary to explain to you all where we are now, logistically and constitutionally. Last year’s Annual Vestry did not take place due to Covid restrictions, and like most other parishes, we followed the guidance of the Diocese and received the Archdeacon’s permission to reappoint all our officers for the following year. We still sent in our accounts and reports on time.

    This year is very different as well. Due to our amalgamation with St Barnabas into one cluster parish we will be appointing 4 officers to serve on a Benefice PCC alongside 4 reps from St Barnabas, (although this will need to be ratified at a future meeting) as well as appointing a St John’s committee, which will oversee the management of this church only.

    The result of these changes is that this will be our last St John’s Annual Vestry; in the future it will be a benefice Meeting. This does not take away in any shape or form your individual contribution to the future of our parish.


    St John’s Parish Report

    This year instead of individual reports I am going to attempt to give an overview of our parish.

    During the last 12 months certain hymns have come to my mind – depending on my mood. For example:-

    ‘O Lord Hear our Prayer’

    ‘Blessed Assurance’

    Guide me O thou great Redeemer’

    ‘God Forgave my Sin in Jesus’ name’

    These are just a few examples. As I was preparing this report another was prominent in my mind, ‘Great is Thy Faithfulness’, which tells of God’s unstinting love and support for us all, but it’s the word ‘faithfulness’ that resonates with me. Your faithfulness to each other and to this church of St John’s .

    Ernest Hemmingway, the author and journalist stated, “Never go on trips with anyone you do not love”, and boy, haven’t we all been on a journey, or trip, over the last 12 months. And yet, even if our place of worship has been closed so much has continued; our Mothers’ Union has continued its invaluable work supporting Faith in Families and keeping in touch with fellow members and the wider congregation. For our younger members “Messy Church in a bag” has been very successful, and we are all grateful to all involved. Archbishop John, in his St David’s day address, reminded us that “it’s the little things which have made a difference”. The small actions you have all made during this trying year, I believe, have drawn us closer together – phone calls, texts, face Book, postings, alongside the tireless work of our Stewardship team (both outside and indoor), the hall management team, Parish treasurer and Wardens, not forgetting the work of my invaluable colleague, without whom we would not been able to achieve so much in so many areas.

    Little things they are not, because collectively, alongside numerous other examples, we have stood firm and resilient.

    What next year has in store for us, nobody knows. However, I am absolutely certain that united we will stand bonded together by love and faithfulness. As Ernest Hemmingway stated the journey will be exciting because we love each other.

    Alex


    Julia’s Jottings (March 21st)

    Saturday If a 20 year old trainee paramedic thinks a 20 year old Welsh rugby international looks young, little wonder I thought him a boy!

    Sunday Decided to avoid the by-ways on afternoon amble and hit the new footpath cum cycle route. Pleasantly surprised when a neighbouring cleric came from behind and complimented my outfit, good to know my Sunday best is still appropriately named.

    Monday Actually tried on my “new dress”, well…it’s that age factor again, I mean it is new but it’s not brand new, all the labels are still on but purchased it last year, in the pre-Christmas era when the shops were open, and…it was in a sale, but and here’s the catch, it’s summer wear, so well, with the sun shining I decided to try it on ….fortunately even after the Christmas binge and lockdown excess it DOES fit. Talk about a feel-good boost, now all I need is a warm day to wear it.

    Wednesday Drinking tea boosts those little grey cells after all. I mean thanks to one of my favourite “posh” teas I was able to help cleric answer crossword clue– but a cup of Pekoe can’t beat run-of the-mill Co-op 99 in a morning!

    Thursday Lucrative exercise session around Gowerton, found a ‘free to anyone’ plant and then blow me a table with ‘free to a good home pick a book’ stall; feel benefits were greater than skipping in the Vicarage drive.

    Friday Strolled around idyllic surroundings enjoying the blossom and shoots of Spring, all beyond beyond the five mile radius from home–and yet legal – the joys of the Covid jab and having to wait 15 minutes before driving back from Margam Orangery!

    Sunday Traditionally –in our family- 21st has always been seen as the first day of Spring, well, it was 59 years ago and my historical instincts quite like it that way! My twin cousins catch me up again age-wise. I do feel this is perhaps not nearly as important to me now, but as a child, when they only lived a few doors away, my 15 days of being a year older and therefore (in my view) able to have authority had ended. Ah well at least hubby, myself and both cousins are now on an equal footing…….look out baby brother…….


    Rumbelow’s Ramblings for Mothering Sunday

    I know how much Alex likes his acronyms and so we start today with this. We are looking for someone who is:

    O - Organised - Is very good at planning and structuring the minutes and hours of each day and week.

    E – Encouraging - They would be reassuring, inspiring and always cheering us on.

    H – Helpful - Is caring, co-operating, supporting and aids us in our tasks.

    M – Multitasking - Can do more than one thing at a time, taking on multiple tasks.

    R – Remarkable - They would be amazing, outstanding and incredible, leaving others wondering how they manage.

    T – Tender - the final quality is that they are kind-hearted, gentle, loving and affectionate

    Now let’s mix these letters up.

    The Wikipedia definition puts it like this:

    So what is a mother?

    1. A mother is the female parent of a child.
    2. Mothers are women who occupy or perform the role of bearing some relation to their children, who may or may not be their biological offspring.
    3. Thus, depending on the context, women can be considered mothers by virtue of having given birth, by raising their child or children, supplying their ovum for fertilisation, or some combination thereof.

    Such conditions provide a way of defining the concept of motherhood, or the state of being a mother.

    But the meaning of being a mother is virtually endless. A mother is a selfless, loving human who must sacrifice many of her own wants and needs for those of her children. A mother works hard to make sure her child is equipped with the knowledge, skills and abilities to make it as a competent human being. Being a mother is perhaps the hardest, most rewarding job a woman will ever experience.

    From the day they are born, a child will test a mother’s patience. No matter what they do or say, being a mother means you will love your child unconditionally, something we associate with God's love.

    A mother shows her child how much she loves them with hugs and kisses, listens to her child as they recount their day, plays games or slips a note in their lunch box letting them know how much she loves them.

    Being a mother means being there to teach your child important rules and roles of life, from being an empathetic human being to learning how to be responsible for one's actions. As her children grow up, they are going to face an onslaught of differing thoughts, opinions and values from their friends, the movies, internet, television and magazines. A mother will help guide her children to figure out their goals and values in life as well as teach them the importance of an education, manners and so, so much more.

    A mother will also discipline her children, a skill that will benefit them throughout their life as well as at school, work and life at home.

    A mother will often be the carer, nurse, cook, teacher, play-mate, taxi driver and many other things, and will relish all the times she is able to spend with her children, never complaining (much) and very often, not needing any assistance.

    In our readings today we see two mothers, the first giving away her child. Can you imagine doing that?

    Hannah had wanted and prayed for her child for such a long time.

    “’For this child I prayed; and the Lord has granted me the petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives, he is given to the Lord.’

    She left him there for the Lord.”

    This was the custom of the day, a first-born son was offered to the Lord and left in the Temple to be taught and brought up by the priests.

    What a sacrifice!

    Samuel would have been just weaned, so about 3 to 4 years old. But I suppose it was just like women of today who send their children to boarding schools for their education. Still, not something I could imagine myself doing if I’d had a son!

    And the other in our Gospel reading, this is a mother giving up her son, giving him up to death, to God.

    Mary had probably heard the stories and rumours about Jesus being raised from the dead from the disciples and all those who travelled with him and, in her heart of hearts, I’m sure she would have loved to believe this to be true. But having your son’s lifeless body put into your arms after a crucifixion must have toppled all these ideas from her mind. And even after the proof of his resurrection was hers, I’m not sure she would have truly believed that he was alive again as she would have been unable to hold him, spend any more time with him or do any of the things a mother enjoys doing for her child.

    But this is also a child giving away his mother;

    “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.”

    Now this one is somewhat easier to understand; a son wanting the best for his mother when he knew he could no longer be around.

    To be a mother is hard! But it is also rewarding, fulfilling, and one of the best things jobs have ever had. I just hope my children think I’ve done a reasonable job.

    So what is a Mother? Maybe Katherine Nelson Davis’ poem, What is a Mother?, can help us out.

    A mother is someone to shelter and guide us,
    To love us, whatever we do,
    With a warm understanding and infinite patience,
    And wonderful gentleness, too.

    How often a mother means swift reassurance
    In soothing our small, childish fears,
    How tenderly mothers watch over their children
    And treasure them all through the years.

    The hearth of a mother is full of forgiveness
    For any mistake, big or small,
    And generous always in helping her family
    Whose needs she has placed above all.

    A mother can utter a word of compassion
    And make all our cares fall away,
    She can brighten a home with the sound of her laughter
    And make life delightful and gay.

    A mother possesses incredible wisdom
    And wonderful insight and skill-
    In each human heart is that one special corner
    Which only a mother can fill!

    Amen.


    St John’s Update

    Dear friends,

    I am delighted to tell you all that the ‘Risk Assessment’ for the re-opening of St John’s for a service on Sunday mornings has been approved by the Archdeacon. I can therefore confirm that on

    Sunday, 14th March at 10.30am

    We will be open again!

    Can I also remind you that to book a seat you need to:

  • Phone Deborah on 553446

  • Wednesday morning

  • NO SOONER than 10am

    And also at the service ALL Covid restrictions will be in place (face masks, 2m distancing, hand sanitising).

    God bless,

    Alex


    Pye’s Ponderings, Lent 3, 2021

    Today’s Gospel: John chapter 2 verses 13-22

    I take as my text verse 15 and I am quoting from a contemporary version of the Bible:

    “Jesus made a whip out of the cords and forced all of them, both the sheep and cattle, to leave the temple, he turned over the tables and scattered the money of those who were exchanging it.”

    It is very healthy for your faith to be challenged, in fact I would go so far as to say that it is essential. Today’s section of John’s Gospel does just this. It challenges us all with regards to our mental image of Jesus, and our preconceived ideas with regards to his character. On my visit to a South African black township in the late 1980s, as part of a Church delegation, I went into a church built by the residents, and on the wall at the back of the sanctuary was a depiction of Christ on the cross, a black African Christ. I can still picture it today. I was transfixed, mesmerised, my Western-culture influence of my mental image of Jesus was destroyed, yet in that moment I believe I grew as a Christian.

    In today’s reading the challenge is regarding Jesus’ character. I believe the vast majority often picture him as a gentle, forgiving, quietly-spoken individual. Yet personally, I rejoice when I read about his all too human responses, whether it be anger or another deep emotion. Today we’re told he made a whip out of cords and herded the sheep and cattle out of the temple. He then physically turned-over the tables and threw out the money-lenders - angry - he was livid, and then shouted at them, ‘Don’t make my father’s house a place for buying and selling.’

    We need to understand why. Why he was so angry and emotional? We need to understand what was going on in the temple that day.

    Every Jew over the age of 19 including Jesus would have to pay temple tax, so that the services and the sacrifices could continue. Each had to pay half a shekel, which was about two days’ pay. Furthermore this had to be paid in Temple shekels or Jewish shekels, other currencies were seen as unclean. As pilgrims came from all over the known world, in the temple courts there were moneychangers. If trade had been straightforward there would have been no objection. But this is what Jesus saw: the exchange rate was extortionate, since to exchange to the shekel people were being charged a whole day’s wage or 50% profit; outside doves could be bought for about a day’s wage, but inside they were being sold for about 20 times as much. In the name of religion people were being cheated. This was extortion and it seemed no one spoke against this injustice. It made Jesus really angry that the synagogue was being used like a robbers’ den, so Jesus made a whip and drove the sheep and the oxen out of the temple, overthrew the tables and poured the money out.

    Ther are times when it is right and necessary to be angry. Jesus was angry against the evil being done in the name of faith. Evil often triumphs because good people are afraid to speak out. When we hear of people being driven out of their homes, or the great rain forests being destroyed we should be angry and we should act. Some of our more fundamental brothers and sisters in the Christian Church interpret this section in such a way that they forbid card sales or Fairtrade stalls in their church building, they miss the point. It was the extortion for personal gain that caused our Lord’s anger NOT the provision of materials for sale.

    Innocence or ignorance are two words that come to mind. Children’s innocence is eroded far too quickly in today’s world, as we grow older life often becomes more complicated and challenging; issues that never used to concern us such as money, politics, employment and trade suddenly become central to our thinking. The injustices of our country and the world are now front page news, so to claim ignorance is a sin, not to speak out for justice and for the starving is a sin, not to be angry is a sin.

    As followers of Jesus Christ we are called, nay commanded, to speak out against the injustices of our world. Some say politics and religion should not be spoken of together. Desmond Tutu (whom I was fortunate to meet in South Africa) said in response to that statement they were reading a different Bible to him. The politics of equality, compassion and peace are central to the message of Christian scripture.

    The call to us is to stand alongside the homeless, oppressed and hungry and demand a response from our Governments - not as violent vigilantes but as pro-active missionaries.

    Stand up, be counted, speak out.

    Alex


    St John’s Update - 2nd March 2021

    I am delighted to announce, that cautiously, we are planning to open our church for worship on Sunday, March 14th, (Mothering Sunday); taking into account the Welsh Government and the Church in Wales ongoing guidance and advice.

    The same restrictions will remain in place, namely:

  • Wearing of face masks
  • Social distancing
  • Limited seating

    Booking for this service will again be taken the Wednesday before (No earlier than 10am), with a secondary reserve list which will be carried over to the following week.

    Please note the new booking number Deborah:- 553446 (from Wednesday, 10th March 10am).

    We also hope, that in the very near future, to offer a second service for our friends at St Barnabas, due to their church being closed for renovation.

    Can I stress that all these plans are dependent on the Covid 19 cases continuing to fall.

    God bless and stay safe.

    Alex


    USPG and Lent Boxes/donations

    These will be collected by Easter by Jennifer.

    And finally, please see details for our Annual Vestry – nomination forms and Parish accounts available on request.

    Thank you


    PARISH OF GOWERTON, SWANSEA

    THE ANNUAL VESTRY meeting of the parish will be held on

    Sunday, 21st March, 2021 following our service in St Johns church.

    Signed

    ……A.F. Pye…………………………………………………… (Incumbent)

    ………………………………………………………….(Churchwarden)



    ………………………………………………………….(Churchwarden)

    Agenda

    1. Prayers

    2. Apologies

    3. Minutes of previous annual vestrys

    4. Parish reports/accounts

    5. Appointment Vicar’s warden and assistant

    6. Election People’s warden and assistant

    7. Election of St John’s Church Committee members

    8. Election of new Benefice PCC members

    9. Election of Ministry Area Forum members

    10. Appointment of auditors

    11. Vicar’s report

    12. A.O.B. (for which notice has been given)

    13. Closing prayers


    Saint David’s Day

    When we think of Saint David’s day, we think very little about the man we are celebrating. From my experiences of the day there was very little mention of the man who did so much for Christianity in Wales. I can remember taking part in school eisteddfod’s, eating cawl and welsh cakes and wearing traditional Welsh costume, daffodils and leeks but I can’t remember much being said about the Saint who we were celebrating, and I went to a Welsh school! Saint David was a remarkable man, with a remarkable story that starts even from his birth. He was born to a Saint – Saint Non who is said to have given birth in the middle of a great storm. It was expected that David would be a priest from a young age and so he was sent to a monastery to be taught by another Saint – Saint Paulinus. It is said that Saint David performed many miracles during his lifetime, the most famous of these seem to be restoring the sight of his tutor Saint Paulinus when his sight began to fail him and more famous again, causing the ground to raise up under his feet when preaching to a crowd. St David is also the reason that the national symbol of Wales is a Leek as he instructed the Welsh army to place leeks on their helmets to be able to differentiate between the Welsh Army and the Saxons in battle. But arguable more importantly than all this, Saint David founded multiple monasteries and churches around Wales and brought the Gospel to many of the Pagans and continued to influence the faith of those in Wales long after his death. It is believed that Saint David died on 1st of March 589AD aged over 100 years of age and therefore his Saints Day is celebrated today.

    Lord, we pray that you would continue to make your people miracle makers in your world, help us to comfort and care for those around us whether through an act of kindness or just a word of encouragement.

    Finally Lord, we thank you for Saint David, he faced many trials in his life give us the strength to be like David, unshaken in our faith in you.


    Pye’s Ponderings - Lent 2, 2021 – Sunday 28th February 2021

    Gospel: Mark chapter 8 verses 31-38

    Text: verse 34 “And he called to him the multitude with the disciples, and said to them, “if any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

    Along with the writer David Adam, when I read this section of Mark’s gospel, the child’s game ‘Follow the leader’ comes to mind – I’m sure you all know it. It’s fun when the leader is doing nice things and safe things like waving your hands around, but you have to think twice when the leader starts doing things that are challenging, or even dangerous.

    Jesus had asked his disciples to leave everything and follow him. Initially it was an amazing time of miracles - of healing, with large crowds and adulation, but now the mood was changing. Now he began to teach them that following him could become the way of suffering and loving. For loving always involves suffering, and it is costly. We can perceive that it was hard to keep up with him as he strode towards Jerusalem, and harder still to keep up with his thinking, he stated, “If you come with me you will have to be ready to die for me, and for my kingdom.” There and then it meant literally ‘to die’, here and now it means ‘dying to self’, and it is still costly.

    Having a cross to bear does not refer to a bit of rheumatism, or to an awkward friend or relative, but involves self-sacrifice. It may well be that following Jesus has proved more costly to you than you first thought, not only in time and money, but in wear and tear. We often have to face apathy or ridicule, we often feel that we have been misrepresented or abused, and it hurts. On a more positive note the surprising Christ may have led you to unexpected places, he still has much to teach every one of us of his mind and of his ways.

    The author Alan Dales wrote this most perceptive paraphrase,

    “If you want to help me, you must give all your heart to it, you must put yourself last, you must be ready to let people do their worst to you and you must keep your eyes on me.”

    Our primary focus today, and in the future, must be to follow Christ’s example, be led and directed by his word as found in Holy Scripture. I cannot promise that there will be no stumbling blocks and challenges, but in faith I can promise you that you will be sustained by God’s love and God’s grace. God never leaves your side and is always there to help you.

    To finish, a short piece from a book called ‘Out of the Mouths of Babes’, which has been lent to me recently, “The daughter of a priest asked her mother, ‘Why does Daddy pray before he preaches?’ Her mother replied, ‘He asks God to help him.’ A cloud came over the little girl’s face and she said, ‘Why doesn’t he then?’”


    St John’s Update

    Dear friends, You will all be aware that the level 4 lockdown will be continuing for another 3 weeks, so unfortunately our services will remain suspended….however!!!!!!

    I am delighted to tell you that the interior of our church has been re-ordered so as to enable us to hold worship when the restrictions have been eased. Tony Holt and I have moved all the pews to create a safe and legal space (see photographs on our Face Book page). The same restrictions with regard to numbers and facemasks will remain, alongside the other procedures we had in the hall, but this does give us hope that our celebration of Easter will be possible this year.

    Good news, I am sure you will all agree.

    Please stay safe and God bless you all.

    Alex


    Rumbelow’s Ramblings 21st Feb 2021

    THE RAINBOW PROMISE – GENESIS 9: 8-17

    Why are there so many songs about rainbows?
    And what’s on the other side?
    Rainbow’s are visions, they’re only illusions
    And rainbows have nothing to hide …
    Someday we’ll find it … the Rainbow Connection
    The lovers, the dreamers and me.

    These musings from the great contemporary philosopher, Kermit the Frog, focus our attention on the central image of our First Lesson from Genesis 9 … The Rainbow.

    We are hard pressed to come up with a symbol or image that has a wider appeal than the rainbow. Many people are drawn to this remarkable optical and meteorological phenomenon that causes a spectrum of light to appear in the sky, when droplets of water capture the light of the Sun in a perfect manner to create a multi-coloured arc.

    I know these are good scientific explanations for what causes a rainbow, but who cares?

    We love rainbows … we sing about them, we point them out to each other, we will pull off the road to look at one and, when successful, we thrill at the capture of a rainbow in a photograph.

    Our Old Testament Lesson for today recalls the wonderful Scriptural narrative of Noah and the flood, one of those Bible stories we feel we know about as well as the Nativity account or the events of Holy Week.

    But in reality, we generally miss the point of this story. The most common mistake we make is to simply think of it as a delightful children’s story of animals in a house boat and the appearance of a rainbow as a kind of “all clear” signal that the flood-time is over.

    The other common mistake we make about this story completely ignores children, as we interpret the story as a description of a time when God was so discouraged by human rebellion that God, in effect, reversed the Creation. That which God had pronounced “good” in the creation, is now seen as “evil”. Instead of holding back the waters to create the heavens and the earth, God allows the waters to flood the whole earth, wiping out nearly everything. Thus we have a story of the Creator God, now totally overcome by wrath and fury, ready and willing to reverse Creation by destroying everything.

    Neither of these interpretations of Noah and the Flood are helpful. A better way to understand the story is to see it as an expression of God’s determination to restore the harmony that was the original purpose in the creation. In today’s lesson we see God establish a covenant with Noah and his descendants, not based on a demand for better behaviour but purely based on God’s gracious promise to put aside forever the option of destruction.

    So the event that is captured in our Old Testament Lesson takes on profound significance. In effect, all of creation is given a new beginning, a new chance to live in accordance with God’s will and purpose. I suppose we could say that this is not a new beginning, but a restoration of the earlier promise. God uses the remnant preserved by Noah and his family on the Ark, as the beginning for a new and abundant harvest.

    The essence of our Old Testament Lesson, a certain example of Good News in the Hebrew Scriptures, is found in the promise that God makes to Noah and his sons: “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” [Genesis 9: 9-11 RSV]

    I think this is a wonderful story. The story tells us that the rainbow should have a special meaning for us as Christian people. Ok, I know the rainbow has been appropriated for all sorts of purposes and causes:

  • when my children were young there were Rainbow Guides, a branch of the Girl Guiding Association,
  • the rainbow has become a symbol of inclusivity particularly for Gay and Lesbian people,
  • it’s the name attached to a baby born to parents following a miscarriage,
  • the rainbow remains a peace symbol throughout Europe today,
  • it has become a symbol for the NHS and key workers during the pandemic

    and I’m sure you can think of many other ways the rainbow is used.

    Today we observe the first Sunday of Lent and begin the serious work of preparing to celebrate the Death and Resurrection of our Lord. The events of Holy Week certainly are more powerful than the rainbow God hung in the sky for Noah and his sons to see. And yet, I believe, they parallel each other. Both events declare that God is not driven to punish, but desires to restore. Both events capture the wisdom of those precious words from John:

    For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. [John 3: 16, 17]

    Many of us, or people close to us, have been devastated by economic unrest and natural disasters. I am not just thinking of all those who have been impacted by the pandemic or by floods, hurricanes, and wild fires, but also those who have been uprooted by the floods of bank foreclosures, lost employment, and the general economic downturn.

    So, let’s not forget we are a people of faith. Let us point to the rainbow and to the empty cross and remember: God has not forgotten us. God has promised that He will not forsake us when the flood waters of sorrow and suffering threaten. Hold on to that promise and never forget that the cross and the rainbow remind us that God has made a covenant with us and that covenant will never fail.

    AMEN.


    Ash Wednesday, 2021

    Dear friends,

    I must confess, (very apt for today), that I feel much was lost when we side-lined our green prayer books. They have a depth of material for our worship and prayer life, using language, perhaps, not relevant to the 21st century yet beautiful nonetheless. Bearing this in mind I invite you all to read the Collect and Gospel from St Matthew for Ash Wednesday, and then, in a quiet time, use the following section of the Litany found in the aforementioned prayer book. The season of Lent gives us the opportunity to access our own personal faith and discipleship. It’s a time of prayer and preparation for the celebration of the world-changing events of the first Easter, which hopefully and, God willing, we will be able to mark in a far more substantial way than we did last year.

    Alex

    The Collect

    Lord, who for our sake did fast 40 days and 40 nights: give us grace to use such abstinence, that, our flesh being subdued to the Spirit, we may ever obey thy godly motions in righteousness and true holiness, to thy honour and glory, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

    Matthew 6. 16-21

    Jesus said “When you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Do not lay up for yourself treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

    The Litany

    O God our Father, Creator of heaven and earth.

    Have mercy upon us.

    O God the Son, Redeemer of the world.

    Have mercy upon us.

    O God the Holy Spirit, the Comforter,

    Have mercy upon us.

    O holy, blessed, and glorious Trinity, three Persons and one God.

    Have mercy upon us.

    Remember not, Lord, our offences, nor the offences of our forefathers; be gracious unto us; spare thy people whom thou hast redeemed with thy most precious blood.

    Spare us, good Lord.

    From all evil and mischief; from pride, vain-glory, and hypocrisy; from envy, hared, and malice, and all uncharitableness,

    Good Lord, deliver us.

    From sloth and idleness; from worldliness, greed, and covetousness, from hardness of heart, and contempt of thy Word and Commandment,

    Good Lord, deliver us.

    From fornication and all other carnal sin; from all the deceits of the world, the flesh and the devil,

    Good Lord, deliver us.

    From lightening and tempest; from plague, pestilence, and famine; from battle, violence and murder, and from sudden death,

    Good Lord, deliver us.

    By the mystery of thy holy Incarnation; by thy holy Nativity; by thy Baptism, fasting and Temptation,

    Good Lord, deliver us.

    By thine Agony and bloody Sweat; by thy Cross and Passion; by thy precious death and Burial,

    Good Lord, deliver us.

    By thy glorious Resurrection and Ascension; and by the coming of the Holy Spirit,

    Good Lord, deliver us.

    In all times of tribulation; in all times of prosperity; in the hour of death, and in the day of judgement,

    Good Lord, deliver us.


    FOR ALL MEN ACCORDING TO THEIR NEEDS

    We beseech thee to hear us, O Lord God; and that it may please thee to give us a heart to love and fear thee, and diligently to live after thy commandments;

    We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

    That it may please thee to bring into the way of truth all such as have erred, and are deceived;

    We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

    That it may please thee to strengthen such as do stand; and to comfort and help the weak-hearted; and to raise up them that fall; and finally to beat down Satan under our feet;

    We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

    That it may please thee to help and comfort all who are in danger, necessity and tribulation;

    We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

    That it may please thee to preserve all who travel by land, air or water; all women labouring of child, all sick persons, and young children; and to show thy pity upon all prisoners and captives;

    We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

    That it may please thee to defend, and provide for, widows and orphans, the old and the lonely, and all who are homeless, desolate, or oppressed;

    We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

    That it may please thee to have mercy upon all men;

    We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

    That it may please thee to forgive our enemies, persecutors, and slanderers, and to turn their hearts;

    We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

    That it may please thee to provide for our use the fruits of the earth, that we and all men may thankfully enjoy them;

    We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.


    III

    That it may thee to give us true repentance; to forgive us all our sins, negligences and ignorances; and to endue us with the grace of thy Holy Spirit to amend our lives according to thy holy Word;

    We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

    Son of God;

    We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

    O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world;

    Have mercy on us.

    O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world,

    Grant us thy peace.

    O Christ, hear us.

    O Christ, mercifully hear us.

    Lord, have mercy upon us.

    Christ, have mercy upon us.

    Lord, have mercy upon us.


    Our Father, who art in heaven,

    hallowed be thy name;

    thy kingdom come;

    thy will be done;

    on earth as it in heaven.

    Give us this day our daily bread.

    And forgive us our trespasses,

    as we forgive those who trespass against us.

    And lead us not into temptation;

    but deliver us from evil. Amen


    The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all evermore. Amen.


    Pye’s Ponderings (14th February)

    I have spent a lot of time recently asking myself the following question in my quiet times:

    “Where is God in all this scary mess?”

    A strange prayer, you may think, for a priest, nonetheless it’s been very real for me. We are all living in a world filled with fear, mistrust and anguish, and seeking reassurance and comfort.

    Firstly, the pandemic has devasted so many communities and families, and I fear, remain a dividing factor in all our futures lives for some considerable time.

    Secondly, our church life is evolving before us, with the introduction of Ministry Areas and new benefices, challenging yet very necessary.

    For what it’s worth, I believe God is active in the quiet times, the words of kindness and trust we share amongst each other, the support we offer those who are in need, and most of all, the belief that we never walk alone, because our Lord is always by our side. This is keeping my head above water so to speak.

    All this can be summed up by saying that we are called to manifest God’s love and support through our own words and actions.

    Today is the feast of the Transfiguration, as well as St Valentine’s Day; you may thinjk they have little in common, however with a little lateral pondering perhaps there’s more here than you may think…on the one hand our Gospel reading today from St Mark reminds us of the occasion when Jesus took Peter, James ad John up a high mountain and was transfigured before their very eyes, and God, his father said, “This is my beloved son, listen to him.”

    Jesus chose to reveal to the chosen 3 who he really was, to underline his divinity.

    Then, on the other hand, Valentine’s Day was, in my youth, an occasion to send an unsigned card to a young lady expressing your romantic feelings towards them, because you were too embarrassed to do it face to face – hoping they would work out who the card was from, innocent days! And now on February 14th there is an opportunity to remind your loved one of your heartfelt love for them, now and always, to manifest your true feelings through words and gifts.

    The chosen 3, namely Peter, James and John, had their eyes and hearts opened to the reality of Jesus their Saviour, and on Valentine’s Day we re-open to remind our loved one of the true depth of our love.

    The link maybe tenuous but I would claim it is there nonetheless.

    Jesus said,

    “A new commandment I give to you, love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.” (John chapter 13 verses 34-35)

    Alex


    Julia’s Jottings

    Monday
    5.30 am: A rare opportunity to flick a duster around the study. Of necessity the Vicar cannot be aware of this (otherwise he objects), unfortunately a ‘flick’ is insufficient around the skirting boards,.. along the edge of the book shelves, …his desks and the computer screen – suspect this is due to the time lapse since the last ‘clean’; nevertheless the shelves has now lost their trendy grey look and are back to diocesan white melamine board. Not honestly sure it’s a classier look.

    3pm Spoke to friend- who kindly listened to me letting off steam and helpfully informed me of click and collect at local library. Shall act on the information immediately.

    Tuesday
    The problems of working from home beginning to delay bed time, it takes so long to choose appropriate clothing for work, needs to be suitable for on-screen, and warm. Do feel some colour is needed to brighten the image. Hubby looked across at coat hanger and announced “Don’t think much of your choice for tomorrow - black is very uninspired!” Mmmm pointed out he was looking at his freshly pressed clerical shirt NOT my episcopal purple cardigan outfit!

    Wednesday
    Very excited, picked up hand-selected library books. Delighted with choice, always rely on a librarian to find good material, and interest. Certainly keep me enjoyably entertained for the rest of lockdown.

    N.B Funny isn’t it, suspect libraries are not usually described as ‘exciting’ – mind you with sliding glass doors closed in front and behind me, and a predominance of masked features beyond it did feel as though I’d gone to visit an inmate at a penal institution!

    Thursday
    It took God 6 days to create the Heavens and the Earth, confess it has taken considerably longer for me to piece together 1000 piece jigsaw of the world but still feel very smug. God required one day’s rest, I’m taking the whole of half term. God felt everything he did “was good”, whereas I am “over the moon”.

    Saturday
    Weather is considerably colder than 28 years ago but he’s still mine, delighted with the beautiful flowers he got me for the anniversary. They say you get more alike well for the first time we both selected the identical anniversary cards – probably had something to do with Hobson’s choice in the local Co-op!

    Note to self: I know in daughters’ eyes this is longer than a life time but I didn’t expect to receive a catalogue for mobility aids – hum as hubby says postman is a very brave man!!!


    Message from Alex, Sunday 7th February

    To the congregations of Llwchr Ministry Area,

    I have been asked by our Area Dean, the Rev Canon Peter Brooks, to circulate a letter to all our churches laying out the next tentative stages with regards to our Ministry Area.

    Firstly, I take it as a great honour to be appointed as the new Ministry Area leader, succeeding the Rev Canon Dr Ian Davies, who served us all with great wisdom and pastoral care; it now falls to me to build on the sure foundation he put in place.

    In “The Church Times” over the last few months there have been a number of advertisements in the ‘situations vacant section for Ministry Area leaders, in our province, and further afield, each setting out a broad list of characteristics/abilities that are required for the post in question; the word ‘daunting’ comes to mind! Two other words stood out for me, ‘collaborative’ and ‘communication’. Here in Llwchr M.A we are blessed with a diverse and strong ministry team – both lay and ordained, who work alongside proactive congregations in seeking to proclaim the Good news of Jesus Christ our Saviour.

    The next stage for us now is to form a Ministry Area Forum, made-up of individuals who share the Diocesan vision and are excited by the opportunities that lay before us, this group will need to work together to draw up plans for our short and long term, and then share these plans widely so everybody is aware of where we are going and how we intend to get there!

    It is suggested that 2 members from each benefice, along with the clergy, be appointed to represent their respective churches, hopefully at our next annual vestries. It is of paramount importance that these individuals are focused on our joint future and are aware of the hopes and fears of their worshipping communities.

    Personally, I am enthused by the possibilities that will be coming our way, and my fervent prayer is that when this dreadful and scary pandemic has been controlled, and we are all allowed more freedom which we crave so much, we can then, with God’s direction and grace move forward together unified and filled with hope.

    Alex Pye (Rev)


    Benefice Update

    At present my role as having “pastoral oversight” at St Barnabas enables me to support your present zoom worship and preside at any necessary occasional offices (baptisms, weddings and funerals). The amalgamation of our two churches necessitates a “Deed of Title” from the Archbishop and Diocesan Registrar, this has been applied for in writing by myself requesting ratification of our new benefice to be called ‘Pont Gors Fawr’, and my new role would then be of Incumbent of this new venture alongside that of Ministry Area Leader of LLwchr, which has already been confirmed. When we receive affirmation of this request we can then move forward and begin building our new future together.

    This will mean that our new joint PCC will have to meet regularly to plan our worship patterns and discuss our administration and finance. I have been asked, on a number of occasions, from people of both parishes, ‘What’s the plan? What’s the vision?’ Any of these cannot hope for success unless they are compiled by all who are involved, for what it’s worth, my hopes and prayers and vision, is that our new benefice will express itself through diverse worship based firmly on the Sacrament and the Word as laid down by the Church in Wales, and also that everyone will be encouraged to express their faith using their God given talents. Some may say that this is a utopian and unattainable ideal, I would reply that it is a surmountable challenge that should be at the goal of all Christian worshipping communities and benefices as well as Ministry Areas.

    We are about to enter the important season of Lent, my colleague, Rev Sue Rumbelow, and I will be producing material for Ash Wednesday, which will be posted on both websites and also communicated by e-mail. Already in place are 2 Lent courses, one on zoom led by Rev Dr Adrian Morgan and the other by e-mail compiled by Sue. All details are available on our websites.

    I look forward to leading ministry and mission with you all.

    Alex


    Rumbelow’s Ramblings for Candlemass (Sunday 31st January 2021)

    Candlemass marks the end of Christmas tide, with all its joy and celebration. It was the day when people returned to normality after the festivities that have been enjoyed (although not so much this year).

    For Simeon and Anna too, it marked an ending…but for them this end is exactly what they has been waiting for. They knew that God’s Saviour was on the way, but not when he would arrive…so the sight of that little group in the Temple, one family among so many others, is the answer to a life-time’s prayer.

    That, of course, is what the Nunc Dimitis is all about.

    The words are so familiar to most of us, through their constant repetition at Evening Prayer, that it’s easy to lose sight of the impact of the experience for Simeon and Anna. They had waited for so long and, being human, they probably despaired at times. Would God’s promised Saviour truly arrive in their lifetime? Perhaps they’d just imagined that God had spoken to Simeon. But, whatever their feelings, they kept on waiting faithfully. I certainly find that there are times when belief is easy, when God feels very close, and his plans very clear. But against those must be set other periods when he seems conspicuous by his absence, when prayer feels as if it might simply be an empty waste of time, when the plans which I was so sure were God-given seem likely to be just another one of my ‘mad ideas’, after all.

    That’s the time to remember Simeon and Anna, waiting day by day, with no apparent difference in any of the outward circumstances of their lives. It’s a time to remember, and to rejoice that their faith was rewarded by the sight, touch and sound of their infant Saviour. It’s a bittersweet reality, of course, which reflects the season’s position on the border between Christmas tide and the Lenten journey towards of Holy Week. God’s salvation will be costly, not only for Jesus, but also for those who love him. So, instead of offering Mary congratulations on her fine son, Simeon greets her with words of mystery and foreboding “a sword shall pierce your soul also”. I wonder if she remembered them as she stood at the foot of the cross weeping.

    You are probably all wondering why I have chosen to focus on Candlemass and its readings instead of the set Sunday readings.

    Well, some of you will know that recently (back in November) I was licenced as an ‘Anna Chaplain’.

    The name ‘Anna Chaplain’ was chosen for its echoes of Anna, the widow and faithful older person who, together with Simeon, recognised the baby Jesus as the Messiah and the fulfilment of God’s promises.

    The Anna name reinforces the fact that much of the work is with those who have suffered loss and bereavement. It is a hope-filled ministry which recognises that many older people have wisdom to impart to younger generations and life lessons to share when it comes to spiritual formation. Appropriately, Anna, the name, means ‘gift’ or ‘grace’.

    Increasingly, many older people are feeling that they are beyond the interest and concern of their wider community and even, sometimes, their church. There is a growing focus on youth and young families, to the extent that being an older person can be isolating as well as challenging.

    Anna Chaplaincy seeks to accompany older people at this age and stage of their lives. Anna Chaplaincy is a person-centred and non-judgemental ministry for people of strong, little or no faith at all.

    Such a focus on spiritual care may express itself in helping people to reflect on their life’s journey – both the joys and the sorrows – and, where appropriate, enabling the healing of memories and the celebration of life experiences to foster more hope and resilience.

    An Anna Chaplain also has a wider role within the community as an advocate and a champion of the contribution older people make to society. They may enable cross-generational encounters in the church and wider community for the benefit of people of all ages.

    Spiritual support provided in a gentle and loving way brings comfort and relief to people who may be at a low point in their lives. It enables older people to live with greater meaning and purpose. Finding some peace in their later years, they may be better prepared to face the end of their earthly lives.

    I want to encourage many of the more elderly people in our communities of Gowerton and Waunarlwydd that they have a full and spiritual ministry still to carry out in their later years; whatever their situation, and I hope that I can count on some of you, especially those who have already been involved with this work, to help me with this mission. Keep me in your prayers as I keep you in mine and, if you feel you can help in any way, please get in touch.

    God bless.

    Sue x


    Julia’s Jottings - January 31st

    Saturday
    Yeah, new skipping rope has arrived so the regime can begin (better late than never).

    Monday
    Accosted by, “Are you the local clergy couple?” My initial reaction was to flee but honesty got the better of me, and in what cannot honestly be described as my most affirming tone I confirmed my wedlock to the Vicar! Bless, his collar was obscured and his resemblance was more akin to that of Dick Turpin than the local cleric. Never realised the role carried such notoriety !!

    Tuesday
    A Lock Down 3 routine is emerging. Housework, paid employment, then at 5pm reunite in the kitchen for a cross word . Ooops, “A faithful witness does not lie” , I mean hubby does his daily crossword and my contribution is a mere couple of clues and a cuppa.

    Wednesday
    Who’d have thought that as a trypanophobic I belong to an exclusive – but I feel select group -which includes a local journalist and a very senior cleric; amazing what you discover reading the local rag. Feel less guilty now that a medic instructed me not to bother giving blood again because I was too much hassle. Suppose hubby might claim he had that revelation years ago………

    Thursday
    I mean it would be totally unreasonable to skip when there is so much precipitation –and having just mopped the kitchen floor (again, I feel it would be self-defeating to re-enter the Vicarage - so the decision is made – as and when the weather improves so my training will recommence. QED

    Friday
    Oh yeah I am on trend a national newspaper headlined a health related article with a picture of skipping and listed the merits of such exercise. Feel chuffed. Read on – big mistake – the author skips for 2 hours a day, does he have nothing else to do? Clearly he’s not married to a cleric and working online. Decided compromise is the way forward, will do a percentage of this, settle on 2 minutes a day.

    Saturday
    Exercise has resumed - feel as though the rope is turning faster and definitely for longer - accept that the pace is not akin to that of boxers in the gym but nonetheless, without doubt can honestly claim to be the fastest skipper within the local ecclesiastical perimeters. Pye’s Ponderings

    Sunday 24th January, 2021

    Last Sunday at the St Barnabas Zoom service the reflection focused on the word “kind”, and how important it is to show kindness to all with whom we come into contact; a smile and a friendly gesture achieves so much. We were also reminded of the importance of showing this affection to, not just those who we feel comfortable with, but also to those who are very different to us, and appear on the surface, to behave and speak in a way contrary to our faith, morals and standards.

    This started me pondering!

    How can we all show more kindness in our daily lives? I have mentioned before my love of acronyms so bearing this in mind, I offer you the following:

    K – knowledge
    I – Inspires
    N – Non-judgemental
    D - Discipleship

    Know a person, know their story, stay interested and patient enough to listen. Due to His divinity our Lord Jesus Christ could see into the hearts of his questioners. He was aware of their needs and their troubles, as He is aware of ours today,

    “But I the Lord look into a person’s heart and test the mind” (Jeremiah chapter 17 verse 10)

    We don’t have this ability. What we do have is the opportunity to dismiss physical appearance and wealth, and search the true individual to answer their cries for help. We need to want to do this because as Luke chapter 12 verse 34 states, “Your heart will be where your treasure is.”

    Our true treasure is to communicate the love, forgiveness and hope of Jesus Christ to all mankind.

    Alex

    N.B. Next week’s reflection will be from my colleague – Rev Sue Rumbelow. And finally, I have just received official confirmation of my appointment as Ministry Area Leader of Llwchwr. Please keep me in your prayers as I begin this new stage of my ministry. I will be sending out a letter laying out our collective vision for the future as soon as possible.


    St John’s Update

    At our P.C.C. this morning (18th January, 2021) the following motion was passed unanimously:

    We the P.C.C. of St John’s Gowerton, affirm our support for the amalgamation of our parish with St Barnabas, Waunarlwydd, to form a cluster within the Ministry Area of Llwchwr, and we formally request a deed of title from the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon to enable us to move forward as a united benefice.

    Also, it was announced that our church hall roof has been repaired, huge thanks to Roger Harris, however services will not recommence until the Covid 19 situation improves.

    God bless and stay safe,

    Alex


    Epiphany 2, January 17th 2021

    I take as my text for this morning a line from our gospel of St John:

    “He found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow me.’”

    The theme running through our readings for today is that of finding and being found. It always reminds me of the game, ‘Hide and Seek’ we all played when we were children, and no doubt with our grandchildren and children today. Playing hide and seek with a little child is a bit of an art form isn’t it? To hide yourself well-enough to make it difficult for the child to find you, but not too well so as to panic the child into thinking that you have really disappeared, and then when they hide judging the right time to find them – not too soon and not too late!

    The Old Testament reading is the well-known story of Samuel and Eli. I once heard it described by another cleric as the day that God found Samuel, which is so wrong it’s unbelievable. It is the story of when Samuel found God.

    God never loses anybody. He called to Samuel three times and it was only then that Eli perceived that it was God calling him, and then Eli said to Samuel those thought provoking words:

    “Speak Lord for your servant is listening.”

    In our gospel reading Jesus finds Philip, but Philip tells his friend that he has found Jesus. Jesus found Philip in the physical sense but God through Jesus, knew that Philip was searching for him in his prayers and thoughts, and then Philip said to his friend, Nathaniel, Again in our gospel reading,

    “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.”

    Both these people were searching for something and they found it – but they were never lost in God’s eyes.

    The question that arises for us is, do we wish to be found? And also on another level, have we found ourselves?

    It is a very important fact of faith that God is always with us, He never leaves our side, and when we feel that he has we just need to rediscover Him. Below is a short hymn that you have probably heard before:

    Open our eyes, Lord,

    We want to see Jesus –

    To reach out and touch Him

    And say that we love Him.

    Open our ears, Lord,

    And help us to listen:

    O open our eyes, Lord,

    We want to see Jesus!

    It’s very true, that on numerous occasions during all our lives, we shroud our faith with the issues and problems of our daily lives, and we fail to see God at work in our world. We may close our eyes and ears, but God is always there, because we have been given freedom of choice, we are able to choose whether we find time for God in our lives. AMEN


    Sermon: Epiphany 1, January 10th 2021

    The Baptism of Christ


    Text: “I have baptised you with water by the will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark chap1 verse 8)

    Today’s readings focus on the power of the Holy Spirit, in Genesis, “The spirit of God moved over the waters” (chapter 1 verse 2); Psalm 29 verse 3 states, “The voice of the Lord is upon the waters”; and in the Acts of the Apostles we are told that “Paul laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them and they spoke with tongues and prophesized”. Then in our Gospel we hear of the baptism of Jesus by John, which concludes with, “Thou art my beloved son with thee I am well pleased.”

    God bestowing his life-giving spirit on creation and mankind, we have all received this same blessing at our own baptisms. I have, for many years, on this Sunday encouraged the congregations I have ministered to, to renew their own baptismal promises, and remind them of God’s bountiful love and generosity.

    Let me remind you of the decisions that were made for you by your Godparents and parents, when they declared what they believed.

    The decision

    You have declared your wish for this child to be baptized. We therefore now invite you to respond to Christ’s call.

    Do you turn to Christ?

    I turn to Christ.

    Do you repent of your sins?

    I repent of my sins.

    Do you renounce evil?

    I renounce evil.

    The Profession of Faith

    We invite you now to profess the Christian faith.

    Do you believe in God the father, the Creator of all?

    I believe and trust in God the Father.

    Do you believe in his Son Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world?

    I believe and trust in God the Son.

    Do you believe in God the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of life?

    I believe and trust in God the Holy Spirit.

    This is the faith of the Church.

    This is our faith.

    We believe and trust in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.


    At your Confirmation you affirmed all this in the presence of the Bishop.

    The sacrament of Baptism is universally regarded as the imparting of Divine Grace, I like to explain this as the lighting of an internal candle that cannot be extinguished, however how brightly it burns depends on you…….

    We all believe that Jesus came to be a light to the world, and we are called to reflect this light through our words and actions.

    At this junction in our history the need for hope, forgiveness and love is of paramount importance, the grace that has been bestowed on each and every one of us gives us the ability to shine brightly in the present darkness.

    So the call, nay demand, for us all is to shine brightly in our homes and communities – socially distanced of course – the love of God will sustain us all.

    Alex


    St John’s Church Hall Update

    We are still awaiting the builders to repair our leaking roof, alongside this and the lock-down unfortunately there will be no services for the foreseeable future.

    Can I remind you again of the Zoom service from St Barnabas, at 10am Sunday, as well as other opportunities on the Church in Wales website.


    Julia’s Jottings

    New Year’s Day:
    Morning: Really approve of friend’s New Year resolution to appreciate the little things shall adopt it myself
    Afternoon: Without daughter at home to help with jigsaw have decided 1000 pieces is not “a little thing”, it’s quite large and I don’t appreciate it enough to persevere. Will look for something smaller!

    Saturday:
    Younger offspring harped on about importance of “dressing up” during lock down to boost morale and rightly so! But for one day only I am slumming it in £5 joggers (burgundy colour which I feel is a little classy), oh yes a thoroughly enjoyable indulgence.

    Sunday:
    Reverted to ‘dressing up’ donned Christmas gift dress and topped it with smart coat to perambulate parish in the Winter sunshine, was chuffed when jogger overtook us and began to run backwards in order to compliment me on the fit and shape of my coat – now that IS a boost to my spirits.

    Monday:
    Confessed to hubby (I feel it’s an occupational hazard of his) that second resolution has started badly – intention to skip daily has had a false start – I can’t find the skipping rope.

    Tuesday:
    Opted to continue lock-down tradition of deep cleaning the Vicarage, successfully tidied the condiment and spice cupboard in the kitchen - very satisfying. Aim to do ‘baking’ cupboard next.

    Wednesday:
    Oh yes, forget the cupboard did the dining room, brass gleams, eradicated wildlife well cobwebs, discovered a vintage bottle which according to the date on the bottle just had to be drunk – so here goes with a glass of Schloer Light. Cheers!


    Pye's Ponderings

    Message for 3rd January, 2021

    To everyone at St John's, Gowerton and St Barnabas, Waunarlwydd,

    My inspiration for this pondering on the first Sunday of a new year, is not from our lectionary readings, but from one of our much loved Christmas carols,

    "The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight".

    'Happy new year' is the traditional greeting we share with one another at the beginning of January and rightly so; this year it has a far more focused and relevant undertone. We are experiencing a time like no other, a time of uncertainty and fear. Those from St John's will know that I have a great love of acronyms. The word 'fear' is one such example:

    F – face

    E – everything

    A – and

    R – recover

    In 2020 our churches have been challenged to function in a new and exciting way using social media, outdoor services and many other varied methods of mission and evangelism. Our churches are not closed, however we have been forced to remodel ourselves to meet the needs of our communities, which I believe, is an exciting venture to embark upon, and collectively we WILL face everything and without a doubt recover and flourish.

    Another acronym for you now:

    H- hold

    O – on

    P – prayer

    E – enables

    As Christians we have a unique foundation block, Jesus Christ our Saviour, whose birth we have just celebrated. Our faith tells us we are loved and never alone, and that through prayer and worship we can be strengthened, consoled and directed in all aspects of our lives. We also, as disciples, are commanded to share this hope and joy with all people.

    In 2021 the remodelling will, without doubt, continue and personally I look forward to embracing a "new normal" with you all.

    The carol 'O Little Town of Bethlehem', which I used at the start of my pondering, finishes with the following words:

    O come to us, abide with us
    Our Lord Emmanuel"

    With these words in mind I wish you all a positive, safe and wonderful New Year.

    Alex


    Hello, for those of you who don't know me in Waunarlwydd I am Julia – Alex's wife. Occasionally I do something called 'Julia's Jottings', there were originally written to fill a page in a parish magazine Alex started in one of the other Welsh dioceses several years ago, and they have continued as a monthly contribution wherever he has been. However, over the last few months they have become more frequent. They are intended as a light hearted take on happenings in the Vicarage, everything written about HAS happened although perhaps not on the day stated!


    Julia's Jottings December 2020

    Sunday
    Definitely not my usual routine, can't say I have ever spent part of Sunday morning going through Henry's bag. And all because I thought I'd hoovered up a piece of jigsaw yesterday. No jigsaw piece was located thus, either I didn't hoover well–enough or the piece was missing BEFORE we did the puzzle. After consideration opted for the former.

    Monday
    Went for a jaunt – legitimate exercise. Decided the clear December skies provided the idea opportunity to accompany Vicar on his preamble around the parish. Mmmm, it was more akin to 'Singing in the Rain' than 'Walking in Winter Wonderland'.

    Tuesday
    Heard visiting daughter exclaim, "Well, that didn't happen when I cooked!" maybe not but someone has to do a Vicarage safety check and I'm pleased to report the smoke alarm is loud. NB Hubby's meal was delicious even if he had been a little over zealous with his pan-frying.

    Wednesday
    Responded to doorbell and spotted gift on the step, scanned grounds and saw friend/colleague at the gate. Exchanged seasonal greetings and discovered she was off in search of marzipan and icing to complete relatives' cakes. It would have been churlish not to give her my unopened packs, anyway just knew this lady would produce a far better finish that I could ever dream – after all failed 'O' level cookery isn't exactly a signpost to a career in cake decoration.

    Christmas Eve
    Traditionally a time for me to wrap hubby's presents and prep veg for the big day. But lo! He was home – a new experience for us both – didn't feel able to abandon him and although it was lovely to have his company for the whole evening both of us are looking forward to normal services resuming next year.

    Wishing everyone a happy and safe 2021



    Saint John The Evangelist's Day
    December 27 – Rumbelow’s Ramblings


    THE COLLECT
    Merciful Lord, we beseech thee to cast thy bright beams of light upon thy Church, that it being enlightened by the doctrine of thy blessed Apostle and Evangelist Saint John may so walk in the light of thy truth, that it may at length attain to the light of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

    THE EPISTLE - 1 St. John 1.1-end
    THE GOSPEL - St. John 21.19-end (The Message)

    As we come to the end of John’s Gospel we see that he concludes by repeating something he has written earlier on.

    In John 20:30-31, he stated, “Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”
    Here, he says that if he had written all that Jesus did, even the world would not contain the books. He’s exaggerating, of course. But as has been pointed out, if Jesus truly is the incarnate Son of God, as John claims in the prologue, then John 21:25 is not really an understatement.

    I love a book, don’t you? I have a whole ‘library’ of books, in a large cupboard at home, that I can use to help in writing sermons and exploring more of the Bible, there are prayer books and many, many more in order to study and reflect on Jesus life and work.
    I also have a Kindle, so I have even more books on there!

    But imagine if there were so many books written about Jesus’ miracles, signs and sayings that the whole world would not be able to hold them!

    Would we have no room for any other books?
    What other books would we NEED?

    St John was a prolific writer himself; author of three letters, the Fourth Gospel, and probably the Revelation to John in the New Testament, although the jury is still out on that one!

    I can see what John was getting at. There are many places in the Gospels where we would like to hear more of what Jesus was saying and doing. We may wish, at times, that Scripture had given us more details about some things as in Luke 24:27 (And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.) What did Jesus explain to them and how did he say it so that it would make sense?

    We have to trust that the Lord gave us all that we need for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3-4 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.) His Word is sufficient for us to come to salvation and to grow in holiness. We need to work at applying the Scripture that we have, not wish for Scripture that we don’t have!

    If all the ‘other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book’ were written down then there would be so much more for us to study so that we could understand Jesus life, why he came to earth, his relationship to God and many other things which we now take by faith.

    But John leaves us with some crucial questions:
    Have you believed in Jesus as your Saviour and Lord?
    If so, are you trusting Him for your future, including the trials you’re now facing and the ones you will face?
    Are you faithfully serving Him?
    Are you living in light of His promise to return?
    And, are you trusting the reliability of His inspired Word?

    John wrote these things so that we would trust in Jesus, the sovereign Lord. So let’s answer the above questions carefully and truthfully and work towards being the people we were created to be.

    Let me share this prayer with you. It was written by an Eighty five years- old SSND Nun in Eastern Nigeria.

    Dear God, I ask you to bless me and to watch over me this day.
    May my feet walk, where my presence will be a glimpse of you,
    May my hands touch someone in pain,
    May my eyes always see the good in everyone they meet,
    May my ears listen only to praise, and not to words that tear down,
    May my mouth always speak the truth,
    May my mind not judge others because they different,
    May I just be myself and a reflection of you,
    May my heart be restless until it rest in you,
    I ask this in the name of your Son and your Spirit for today, tomorrow, and all my days.
    Amen.



    St John's Christmas Message, 2020 (24th December 2020)

    To all my dear friends,

    I heard recently on the radio a song I hadn't listened to for years,

    “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth,
    My two front teeth".

    I'm sure you all know this light-hearted little ditty. Apparently, it was written in 1944 by Donald Yetter-Gardiner, a teacher in Smithtown, New York, and he penned it because a large proportion of his pupils had lost their front baby teeth and were having difficulty enunciating certain words.

    This started me pondering around the word ‘want,' with relation to the Christmas story. Joseph wanted somewhere to stay overnight in Bethlehem; Mary wanted somewhere safe because she knew the birth of her child was imminent; the shepherds wanted to see the baby after the announcement of the angels, and at a later date, the kings wanted to pay homage to the new king that they have travelled so far to see. Now if we change the word ‘want', which is a wishful, not demanding, word that our children often use on their Christmas lists to Santa, to the word ‘need', which is a more definite plea for something essential, the nativity story becomes more urgent: - Joseph and Mary were in need, the shepherds and the kings were driven by an inner need, all-consuming need to see this special child; - this pandemic has forced us ALL to differentiate between our wants and our needs. We all want the Christmas we know and love, families, friends and parties, but are we prepared to put others at risk because of these wants? Do we really need that type of Christmas? As Christians we can all still celebrate the birth of the Word made flesh in our homes, and also through the wonders of social media, and the much maligned telephone, it is something we need to do .

    Yes, our churches are closed and we can't meet together but as my colleague Rev John Gillibrand in Pontardulais stated this week, “Christmas is NOT cancelled", it just needs to be celebrated in a different way.

    Hopefully, all of you who can will stand on your doorstep on Christmas Eve to sing ‘Silent Night' and on Christmas Day itself you will begin with a prayer of thanks for the birth of the Christ child, the following is just a suggestion:

    O Lord our God, as we celebrate again the festival of Christmas, we ask you to make us humble and loving like Jesus, who did not come to be served but to serve, and who said that it is better to give than to receive; so that, in his name, we may devote ourselves to the care and service of all those who are in need. We ask this through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord.

    Can Julia, Rebecca and I wish you all a happy and safe Christmas, we are missing you all.

    With love

    Alex


    St John's Christmas Challenges Number 4 (Christmas Eve)

    Well, there are 2 challenges today – the first is ether to find or make (use dollies or white paper) an angel or a star to put on your window sill or on your window in a lighted room to show how Jesus' birth was announced. Here are some ideas – of course your own would be better I'm sure!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65enc17fOuo

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9NdRAqjSFg

    The second part of the challenge is to stand on your doorstep at 7 pm and join us to sing ‘Silent Night' and if you want a laugh beforehand play this link –don't worry about the signing but it gives you some music to sing to, go on put a smile on your face.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqZJh85c9wM

    Merry Christmas one and all.

    Alex



    Rumbelow’s Ramblings

    How do you celebrate Christmas?

    At home, when I was a child, we had lights in the window of our house, a Christmas tree in our living room, and (best of all) presents under the tree which were so hard to resist and leave alone until Christmas day. I remember a strong sense of excitement that grew until Christmas Day, then trying to be quiet as my sister and I explored what Santa had left for us.

    After attending the church service Christmas morning we would then go back home to open our presents. I remember eating a lovely Christmas dinner with Mam, Daddy and Helen, then the trek over to my grandparent’s house in Cwmdu and the smell of non-alcoholic ginger wine and tangerines in the parlour when we got there.

    As a teenager I remember being at home and hiding in the parlour with the grown-ups, who liked to have a little drink, knowing my Nana would hit the roof if she thought there was any alcohol in the house! I remember family gathered together, celebrating the joy of being with each other on a cold winter’s evening, and then the journey home again.

    Mary and Joseph’s journey was, I’m sure, much longer and dustier. They had no idea what was waiting for them when they got to Bethlehem (they wouldn’t have been able to go on-line or make an advanced booking). they probably thought that they would be able to stay somewhere, an inn or with family, but we are told that there was nowhere.

    So many families today have nowhere to stay, so many people are homeless and living their lives on the street but Mary and Joseph eventually found a safe place so that Jesus could be born. There would have been no Christmas lights, no huge meal, no presents and no watching the television and falling asleep during the Queen’s speech. So different to what we expect today.

    But a special day it was. Jesus Christ, the messiah, God's own Son was born and the first people to enjoy the sight were the shepherds, the lowest of the low, those who were not family or friends but strangers.

    In this time of uncertainty, when we would all like to spend time with our families and friends over Christmas, let’s remember that Mary and Joseph didn’t have that luxury either, but they were warm, and happy just to welcome the Son of God into the place they were staying and feasting on the love that came into their hearts. Let’s remember that more simple time as we spend a simpler Christmas this year.

    May I, and my family, wish all my church family the love of God the Father, the joy of the birth of our Saviour and the grace of the Holy Spirit in our lives this festive time. Merry Christmas and God bless you all.

    Sue xx



    St John's Christmas Challenge day 3 (23rd December 2020)

    Well now, it's getting very close to the big day and everyone around seems to be feeling low, but we still have much to be grateful for and to enjoy. So, bearing that in mind, your challenge for today is to write down tall the letters of the alphabet and then find a word associated or linked to Christmas for EACH letter – don't take it too seriously – for example one of the things I have for ‘Q' is Quality Street – after all it has been a tradition to have a big tin of those at Christmas for years! There is another option for Q!

    Today’s carols are ‘In the bleak mid-Winter’ and ‘While Shepherds Watched’.

    Good luck with today's challenge



    St John’s Community Christmas Challenge - Day 2

    Monday 22nd December


    So when Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem we all know it was busy. Today’s challenge is for you to write a list of ALL your family and friends (include those you’re not so keen on too!) Then choose one to phone this morning and another this afternoon and spread a little Christmas cheer.

    Please note - messaging (texting, Facebook, Twitter etc. is NOT allowed), you must do it the old fashioned way and actually SPEAK over the phone.


    JOKE: Why couldn’t Mary and Joseph stay at the inn?

    Because there was no Zoom at the inn! BOOM BOOM!


    Today we have 2 carols,

    ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ and ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’.





    St John’s, Gowerton
    Christmas Week 2020

    Monday 21st December

    Dear friends,

    It is with great sadness I inform you that our Church Hall has had to be closed due to the roof leaking, so unfortunately our services are cancelled until further notice.

    Can I remind you again, of the Zoom services from St Barnabas and the many and varied options on the Church in Wales website.

    Sue and I will be sending out numerous pieces over Christmas.

    Sue, David, Julia and I all wish you a Happy, peaceful and Safe Christmas.

    Alex

    We are ALL affected by the new lockdown and tier system and every one of us will have had to change or amend our Christmas festivities, nevertheless we are a community and as such enjoy doing activities together….so every day this there will be something you can do if you want to it won’t require any expense or pressure, but hopefully give you that warm feeling (and a challenge) as we fill the time up to Christmas!

    Festive Challenge 1

    In those words from the opening of Mission Impossible…”
    Your mission, should you choose to accept it…”

    Apparently it is about 70 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem (as the crow flies), or 90 miles by road, and even today it takes about 2 ½ hours to do the journey- . So your challenge for today is to do 5 lots of 5 min exercise (each 5 min representing one of the half hours needed for the journey). If at all possible you need to be on your feet – you may dance to some music on the radio, walk around your flat, bungalow or house, of course you could just walk around your lounge.

    And our carol for today is “O Come All Ye faithful”



    See you tomorrow!



    Advent 4, 2020 (Remotely)

    St John’s, Gowerton (20th December 2020)


    Gospel Reading: Luke chapter 1 verses 26-38

    I take as my text for this morning verses 26-27 from our gospel:

    In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Hail, O favoured one, the Lord is with you!”

    I’m sure you will have all heard of the saying, “God works in mysterious ways…..” and also during your own lives you will be able to recall examples of this – I know I can! In Isaiah, chapter 55 verse 8 you will find the following, “God’s ways are not our ways, nor are his thoughts our thoughts.” We see the truth of this when we consider the people God calls to serve him in specific ways throughout scripture. From David, the youngest (and therefore, humanly, the least considered) son of Jesse (1 Samuel chapter 16) to Saul, the persecutor of Christians (Acts chapter 9), God’s choice of those he calls to serve so often challenges our human judgements.

    Mary was a young girl betrothed to a carpenter, living in an insignificant backwater of the Roman Empire. There was nothing in her past that could have prepared her for what Gabriel told her was to happen. She had been specially chosen – favoured - by God, but she appears to share nothing of those features that many today associate with that favour; good health, wealth or high social status.

    Mary’s ‘blessing’ was to bear a child out of wedlock (which could have seen her stoned to death) – a child who would later be executed as a criminal. The experience of Mary should remind us that God’s blessing has no connection with human standards of acceptability, wealth or comfort, and offers no easy reassurances.

    In opening ourselves to receive God’s blessings, we, like Mary, are encouraged to step out in trust. Like her, we too are challenged to ‘Go out into the darkness and put (our) hand into the Hand of God’ (Minnie Louise Haskins, The gate of the Year).

    God’s blessing and stay safe,

    Alex


    Julia’s Jottings, Christmas 2020

    Saturday
    When I ‘pruned’ a bush in the first lockdown younger daughter complained I’d made a hole in it; well….learnt my lesson…granted there isn’t much a bush in which to leave hole!

    Monday
    Popped to local library to update my selection of books, fancy me writing a “blog which means I was “blogging” pre-blogs – I would never have thought it. Note to self: Still prefer the term “Jottings (but it is amazing what lexicology you can pick up from the local library).

    Tuesday
    Whilst pretending to clear out a cupboard had a eureka moment – found some Christmas cards that I must have purchased in a sale, oh what joy, what foresight, let’s hear it for pseudo cleaning!

    Wednesday
    Do feel my airer of 27 years has seen better days whilst officially it’s not antique, suspect in today’s world could be classed as ‘vintage’ and anyway most of the plastic coating has come off! My hero, my live-in priest cum confessor purchased one for me, not just any one, oh no a luxury one.

    N.B. Delighted with new drying contraption, luxury it may be, it’s certainly taller, but I’ve decided after getting trapped in the mechanism, to leave it up as a feature on the landing. Mmmm I consider it a modern, multi-functional sculpture.

    Friday
    The Lord indeed works in mysterious ways, hubby quite down what with being unable to celebrate Easter, hold a communion for the anniversary of his 25th year of ordination, failed risk assessments that have closed the church, a leaky roof that has closed the hall and then…a light amid the gloom elder daughter has got engaged. Only one issue that means…I will be a ..mother-in-law, let’s hope I’ve learnt from my own mum who was excellent in the role and my present mother-in-law.


    Hope you and your families (whether they are with you or distant) all have a

    Happy Christmas



    Saturday 12th December

    Dear friends,

    It is with deep regret, and after consultation with the Reverend Sue and, the Wardens and stewards, that I announce our Sunday service will be suspended until further notice, for the safety of us all. This is due to the worrying rise in Covid cases in our area.

    We hope to still hold a Christmas Eve and Christmas Day service, but they are dependent on the situation at that time.

    Can I urge you all NOT to meet with other households indoors or outside, and diligently follow the Welsh Assembly advice with regard to social distancing and sanitizing.

    If you wish to follow a Sunday service can I recommend the Zoom service from St Barnabas, Waunarlwydd, and also the Church in Wales website which provides links to many services.

    For St Barnabus Church Zoom link: Click here

    God bless you all,

    Stay safe,

    Alex



    Pye’s Ponderings Advent 2, 2020

    The collect for today from the old Green Book begins with these words:

    Awaken our hearts we beseech thee to prepare the way” .

    Prepare the way for what? For the coming of Jesus Christ.

    “Awaken our hearts” – what are you like first thing in the morning? Do you look your best?

    Our house is firmly split down the middle, me slow, Julia active. But at the end of the day when we’ve all come- to, we need to be fed and washed before we can begin our different days. In our case it’s usually a shower and cereal – if you’re lucky!

    But there are different ways of being washed and fed. If we, as a church, are going to prepare the way for the coming of God’s kingdom, we truly need to wake up to the realities of the challenges that lay before us, and, we also need to be washed and fed. I believe that we are about to enter an exciting time of change and challenge, not a reshuffling of what we’ve got but real change. This will only result in growth and renewal if we concentrate on our primary function as Christians in our communities.

    What is our primary function? It is not the maintenance of buildings, or present structures or the paying of bills, it’s the letting in of true light and banishing darkness, as well as sharing, proclaiming and living our faith, and we’ll only be able to do this if we are washed and fed.

    I keep returning to this washing and feeding because for us it’s very important that we are washed, or cleansed by God’s forgiveness, and fed by scripture and the sacrament of the Communion.

    Jesus said, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgement, but has passed from death to life. Truly, truly I say to you, the hour is coming and now is when the dead will hear the voice of God, and those who hear will live.

    If you exchange the word ‘dead’ for ‘unbeliever’ , it takes on a whole different meaning, perhaps even the one it was originally intended to have. It is for us to be the audible word of God that will turn the hearts of the lost and those who live in darkness, so that they may find life with Jesus.

    An awesome responsibility, not just mine, but ours. It can only be achieved if we have love in our hearts, love for those close to us, but more importantly love for those who have no experience of the love of God. Here’s a piece taken from Frank Topping’s ‘Lord of Time’, entitled ‘The Treasures of Time’, I wonder if you can relate to it.

    Another day’s post
    Stares up at me from the breakfast table.
    Without opening them
    I can see from their cellophane windows
    That they are about insurance, assurance,
    Renewals and bank statements.
    There is one, thank God, hand written,
    From one of my sons.
    And suddenly it is very clear
    What things matter most.
    Insurance companies may go bust,
    Money is worthless
    In itself
    Status is a shallow fraud
    But love is without price.
    The older I get,
    The more I’m inclined to be obsessed
    With security and safety
    Taking precautions
    Against poverty in old age.
    But this morning’s post
    Makes it very clear
    That the greatest investment
    I can ever make
    Is love:
    In the love of my wife and children,
    In the love of friends,
    In the love of God.
    For love bears all things,
    Hopes all things, endures all things;
    Love never ends.
    In itself,
    Money is worthless.
    Without laughter and familiar faces
    Time is meaningless.
    Without faith, and hope and dreams
    The future is poverty stricken.
    Lord,
    May I never seek
    The security of things
    At the expense of those I love.
    Teach me instead
    To store up days that never fade,
    Shared minutes
    That moth and rust cannot corrupt.
    Bills and bank balances
    May come and go.
    But the treasures of time
    Are measured in love.

    AMEN



    Message for 29th November 2020

    To all Church Officers, members of the PCC and congregations of St Barnabas Waunarlwydd and St John’s Gowerton

    As many of you are aware, the Revd Canon Dr Ian Davies retires at the end of December and we wish Ian and his family many years of peaceful retirement whilst also giving thanks for his insightful and spirit blessed ministry.

    From 1st January 2021, in accordance with the Llwchwr Ministry Area plans which were agreed some time ago, Waunarlwydd will come under the Pastoral oversight of the Reverend Alex Pye at Gowerton. The creation of the new Benefice as in the case of Loughor with Gorseinon and Penllergaer with Pontardulais, will be formally recognised later in the year.

    Many of you within the Ministry Area would have been aware of this intention which was accepted by the Archbishop and has no doubt been discussed at your PCC’s as part of the overall Ministry Area strategy. The final grouping together in the Ministry Area of Waunarlwydd with Gowerton can now take effect following Ian’s retirement as was always the intention.

    Alex is an experienced priest and he has already been in discussion with your church officers about the ongoing continuation of the patterns for worship, the building work at Saint Barnabas and other administrative matters supported by the Area Dean and Archdeacon.

    This is an exciting opportunity for the provision and continuation of ministry to your two churches and I know you will support Alex, Sue and the Church Officers in the undertaking of this task.

    With Ian retiring also as Ministry Area Leader, the Revd Canon Peter Brooks, the Area Dean will also act as the Ministry Area Leader for the time being.

    In the meantime please know that you are held in the Archbishop’s prayers and have his support and thanks in all you are seeking to undertake for the future of the church in your communities.



    Sunday, 15th November, 2020

    Dear friends,

    Text: 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 verse 11

    “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

    I am sure, that like Julia and I, most of you will have watched the Festival of Remembrance on the television last Saturday night; poignant and emotional are words that come to mind, it made me feel very proud to be British, not English, Welsh, Scottish or Irish –British. The interview with the nurse who was an Army reservist struck me particularly, having served in Afghanistan she was now on the hospital frontline fighting this pandemic, and commented that the present situation was far more challenging and emotionally stressful. So much for those who decry our nation’s response and claim over-reaction!

    Each year at Remembrance we are reminded of how people pulled together to face the aggressors, and how important it was to support our communities in any way they could using their own particular gifts, I repeat to you again my text:

    “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

    Our gospel reading today from Matthew is well known to you all, Jesus’ parable of the talents and especially the foolish servant, who buried his gift for fear of losing it.

    It is an acceptable interpretation to understand this as a challenge to use our won God given abilities for the greater good. No one gift is more important than another because collectively they can make a difference and enhance all our lives.

    Bearing this in mind I would like to share with you the following entitled ‘The Piano’.

    A piano could be a lesson in racial harmony. It has black keys and white keys. They have to work together to make music.

    A piano could be a lesson in pop psychology. Like any stringed instrument, it can make music only when its strings are under tension. That message could comfort people who fear tension tearing them apart.

    But the message I like best came from a group of people who noted that each key on a piano can play only one note. Just one. “We humans like to thinks of ourselves as independent”, the group said. “We want to be jacks-of-all-trades, self-sufficient.” The piano reminds us that it’s enough to be able to play one note, as long as we play it in tune. Then the musician can use us to make beautiful harmony.

    That’s why we gather in congregations, they suggested. So that each of us can play the note that each plays best, and God can use us to make beautiful music.

    God bless you, stay safe.

    Alex


    Advent, Season of Preparation

    Get ready for Christmas
    with the
    St John’s bespoke
    Advent calendar


    A unique limited edition design each one is hand-made and recyclable.

    All donations will go to
    St John’s Gowerton

    Phone Alex or Julia at the Vicarage to place your order.





    See link: St John's Messy Church on Facebook



    Sunday 8th November

    Remembrance 2020

    Dear friends,

    As we are still in lockdown there will be no service for Remembrance Sunday, however we are all being encouraged to stand outside our front doors at 11 am in silence, to mark with gratitude, those who gave their lives for freedom and peace in the two World Wars and since. I will be placing a wreath on the gates of our church, saying some simple prayers.

    For Remembrance Day itself I have attached some prayers and the Act of Remembrance for you to read at home, again at 11 am. So that due respect and thanksgiving can be made by us all.

    Our Sunday service will resume on November 15th, with the same booking arrangements.

    Lastly, in the coming weeks I will be meeting with the wardens from St Barnabas to begin the discussions with regard to our amalgamation into one parish next year. Please keep us in your prayers.

    Alex

    Remembrance

    Sunday 8th
    - 11 am Stand outside houses
    - 2 minutes silence

    Wednesday 11th

    - 11 am Prayers and readings to be read at home


    Prayers and Act of Remembrance

    For use at home

    (Parish of St John’s, 2020)

    Let us pray for the peace of the world:

    For statesmen and rulers that they may have wisdom to know and courage to do what is right…..

    For all who work to improve international relationships that they may find the true way to reconcile people of different race, colour and creed…..

    And for men and women the world over that they may have justice and freedom and live in security and peace….

    Lord in thy mercy

    Hear our prayer.


    Most gracious God and Father, in whose will is our peace: Turn our hearts and the hearts of all men to thyself, that by the power of thy Spirit the peace which is founded on righteousness may be established throughout the whole world; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

    Let us pray for all who suffer as a result of war:

    For the injured and the disabled,

    For the mentally distressed,

    And for those whose faith in God and in man has been weakened or destroyed….

    For the homeless and the refugees,

    For those who are hungry,

    And for all who have lost their livelihood and security….

    For those who mourn their dead,

    Those who have lost husband or wife, children or parents…

    And especially those who have no hope in Christ to sustain them in their grief….

    Lord in thy mercy

    Hear our prayer


    Almighty God, our heavenly Father, infinite in wisdom, love and power: Have compassion on those for whom we pray; and help us to use all suffering in the cause of thy kingdom; through him who gave himself on the cross, Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord. Amen


    Act of Remembrance

    Let us remember before God, and commend to his sure keeping:

    Those who have died for their country in war;

    Those whom we knew, and whose memory we treasure;

    And all who have lived and died in the service of mankind.

    They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old:

    Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

    At the going down of the sun and in the morning

    We will remember them.

    We will remember them.


    Almighty and eternal God, from whose love in Christ we cannot be parted, either by death or life: Hear our prayers and thanksgivings for all whom we remember this day; fulfil in them the purpose of thy love; and bring us all with them, to thine eternal joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


    A poem for Remembrance Day

    “The Inquisitive mind of a child.
    Why are they selling poppies, Mummy?
    Selling poppies in town today.
    The poppies, child, are flowers of love.
    For the men who marched away.

    But why have they chosen a poppy, Mummy?
    Why not a beautiful rose?
    Because my child, men fought and died
    In the fields where the poppies grow.

    But why are the poppies so red, Mummy?
    Why are the poppies so red?
    Red is the colour of blood, my child.
    The blood that our soldiers she.

    The heart of the poppy is black, Mummy
    Why does it have to be black?
    Black, my child, is the symbol of grief.
    For the men who never came back.

    But why, Mummy are you crying so?
    Your tears are giving you pain.
    My tears are my fears for you my child.
    For the world is forgetting again.


    Rumbelow’s Ramblings For the peace of the world (BCP p326)

    Readings: Micah 4. 3-5, 1 Timothy 2. 1-5, Psalm 29. 1-4 and 9-10, Matthew 5. 43-end

    The Bible teaches us that we should pray and give thanks “… for all men: for kings and all who are in high positions…” (1 Tim 2:1).

    We all have people we love in our lives and we understand why we would pray and give thanks for our parents, siblings, grandparents, friends, and neighbours who are kind to us, people who love us and have loved us from the start. It’s easy to love those people back because we know they care for us. It’s also easy to pray and give thanks for teachers, doctors, and the leaders of our country. We are thankful for their wisdom and governance. We want the best for them and we ask that God would give them understanding to do their work in the best possible way.

    It is difficult, however, to understand how to pray for those who hurt us, people who rub us up the wrong way, those that are not easy to get along with, those you have nothing in common with. What about the people you consider enemies and the people you try to avoid because they’re just different? It would be easy to answer their unkind actions with unkind actions of our own. We can call them names, talk behind their backs, or pick on them in return. That’s worldly thinking, and that’s the kind of thinking that doesn’t belong in any Christian.

    We know there are bad people who do bad things. We don’t give thanks for the bad things they do, but we can pray that they will accept God’s love and turn their lives around for the better.

    Why would we do this?

    The Bible teaches us that we do this so that “we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and reverence” (1Tim 2:2). When we pray for others we learn about respect. We understand that “there is one God” (1 Tim 2:5) and that God is in charge. We learn about how to be peaceful.

    Jesus says if we only love the people who love us, we’re no different than anyone else in this world (Matt 5: 43 to end). Everyone loves the people who love them; God’s people love everyone, even their enemies. Loving our enemies is a way to bring Heaven to this world because in Heaven, there is only love!

    Jesus prayed, “Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.” He wants that to be our prayer as well. Jesus wants us to bring his love to people who need him while we are here on Earth. Heaven is a real place, and one day, those who love the Lord will go there. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have some Heaven here on Earth. Let’s commit ourselves to being God’s love on Earth. Let’s spread love to everyone we meet so that others can see Heaven is real in us.

    In this time of unrest and uncertainty, and as we approach Remembrance Day, isn’t it our duty to pray for peace and to work towards bringing that about? With all the terrorist attacks, with the hatred and wrangling over the presidential election in America and with all the uncertainty of what is to happen throughout the world during this pandemic we all need peace in our lives. Jesus taught us to love our enemies, knowing that if we did, we could bring a little Heaven to our world, right now!

    On a lighter note, who likes sweets?

    Do you have a favourite sweet? - My favourite sweets are "Jelly Babies.

    "Jelly Babies" when they were first made were not called jelly babies, they were called "Peace Babies" because they were produced after the 1st World War, and each colour represented a country which fought in the war. But we all know that it wasn't long before the 2nd World War started, and because sweets and chocolate were not essential goods, the production of "Peace Babies" stopped. Our story doesn't stop there though, you see after the War, a man decided to buy the factory were "Peace Babies" were made. This man was a very special man, as he loved Jesus.

    Can I let you into a secret?

    Not many people know this secret....

    There are secret symbols hidden on each "Jelly Baby" which can help us tell others about the wonderful love of Jesus Christ!!

    Do you want to know what they are?

    Black = You can see a Heart, which represents the sin in our lives.

    Green= You will see the Baby Crying, which represents God's sadness that People didn't know the way to Heaven.

    Red = You will see a B which represents "Blood" as Christ died to show how much he loved us and to show the way to heaven

    Pink = Is a Baby, when we become a Christian we become a "child of God"

    Yellow= Is wearing a Necklace, which represents the riches of Heaven.

    Orange= Is wearing a Bum Bag which tells us that we need to be prepared for Jesus coming again.

    We can use these “Jelly Babies” as we pray to remind us of all the things we need to pray for. And I think I prefer the name “Peace Babies”, just as a reminder to also pray for peace.

    Almighty God, from whom all thoughts of truth and peace proceed: kindle, we pray thee, in the hearts of all men the true love of peace, and guide with thy pure and peaceable wisdom those who take counsel for the nations of the earth; that in tranquillity thy kingdom may go forward, till the earth is filled with the knowledge of thy love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


    Julia’s Jottings (8th November, 2020)

    Monday
    Fire break has let me without any excuse – just have to go for it and clean the oven yuck, ah well here goes, I suspect a little bit of elbow grease never hurt anyone…

    Tuesday
    Minor miracle can see shiny shelves sparkling, now to the floor, definitely a Cinderella week, shattered mop and non-essential items unavailable just have to expose myself to housemaid’s knee. Suppose as a historian I have natural affiliation with old techniques, and yes, gleaming floor is very satisfying result. Wonder whether now is the opportunity for hubby to practice levitation thereby reducing mucky footfall in kitchen area. Sneaky suspicion miracles are reserved for something of greater gravitas.

    Wednesday
    Definitely somewhere between a ‘tinkle’ and a ‘thud’, yep a gentle sort of crunch. Duty called so finished supporting student online before racing to trace origin of sound, Discovered cleric checking all wall hangings – definitely no fallers. Ah well, doesn’t appear to be anything significant and think of the extra steps racing around checking rooms and cubby holes. Conundrum - have enough calories been burnt for an elevenses’ treat?

    Thursday
    Have forgotten how therapeutic the old A,B,C (adhesive, backing, cutting) technique can be. Takes me back to being a young teacher in the B.C. (before Computer)days when one had to produce individualised and bespoke work cards and display headings. Here we go again, once a historian always a historian not sure whether I’m learning from the past or just a Luddite! No, no just realised today it’s called “crafting” ahah so I am on trend after all ☺ Q.E.D.



    Pye's Ponderings, 1st November, 2020

    Today's Gospel is the following, Matthew chapter 5, verses 2-12:

    "And he opened his mouth and taught them saying,

    "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

    Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

    Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

    Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

    Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

    Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

    Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.""

    A few years ago at Christmas, I pointed out that we all could be "little angels", and by that I meant bearers of good news from God. So, with that in mind, today I have a question for you all on All Saints day. Have you the potential to be a saint?

    What is a saint? A person who is recognised as having an exceptional degree of holiness or likeness to God……

    I'll grant you that the Roman Catholic church gives more specific criteria i.e. verified miracles, and dead for at least 5 years (in most cases), however for the sake of today's pondering I feel the words ‘holiness', ‘likeness' and ‘closeness to God' stand out. Let's pick out a few key phrases from our Gospel – the Beatitudes – and reaffirm what they meant to Christians.

    1. "Blessed are the meek" – people who are humble, patient and teachable.

    2. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness" – individuals who strive to have high morals and ethics.

    3. "Blessed are the merciful" people who are forgiving and live according to God's word.

    4. "Blessed are those who are pure in heart" – communities who are striving to live according to God's word.

    5. "Blessed are the peacemakers" – those called to help resolve conflict.

    When you combine these characteristics Matthew chapter 5 verse 16 becomes attainable,

    "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."

    So, perhaps being a saint is beyond all of us, but we do have the potential to reflect God's love, grace and forgiveness in today's needy world.

    God's blessing on you all,

    Alex


    The Weekly Quiz

    I thought this week as we have moved into the penultimate month of 2020 a look at what the Bible says about seasons may be appropriate

    1. At the beginning of Acts what are we told (Acts 1 verse 7)?

    2. Later, also in Acts but chapter 14 verse 17 what does it say comes in their seasons?

    3. Returning to Matthew (chapter 24 verse 32) how he tell us we know when summer is near?

    4. What was not needed to be written about in 1 Thessalonians 5:1?

    5. What did God give us to mark the seasons, days and years (Genesis 1:14)?

    6. And in Genesis 8:22 we are told what will never cease on earth?

    7. Psalm 74 tells us which seasons God made, what are they?

    8. And how does he mark those seasons (Psalm 104:19)?

    9. In the Song of Songs or the Song of Solomon which season is past (2:11)?

    10. Finally, perhaps the most quoted verses about the seasons (Ecclesiastes chapter 3 verses 1-11)

    The answers are after Julia's Jottings!


    Julia's Jottings

    Monday
    Oh woe is me- gone is the time when I could go cross-eyed and read the bedside clock! And to make matters worse had to scramble round on the floor to find my glasses –which I'd knocked off- all I could find was a top to a biro. Never did find out the time, but on positive note I didn't wake sleeping beauty either.

    NB Eased myself out of very warm bath and picked up the toothpaste thinking it was my glasses – the future is anything but clear- especially when my mask steams my glasses up!

    Tuesday
    Blooming cheek that girl definitely had attitude when I told her to turn up the volume, I AM qualified to know whether level 4 is too loud, ….and why, I want to know, when Vicar asks Google dot to do anything she does it straight away? Decided I shall remain a Luddite.

    Wednesday
    Watched ‘River Cottage', feel inspired, new venture for this failed ‘O' level cookery student, decided to make Scotch/Drop pancakes for the first time in my life. Oh yeah, positive result, de-lic-ious.

    Thursday
    Agggh, discovered side-effect of home-baking, new skirt waist line is just a tincy bit tight, nevertheless can rectify this, now I've finished my 5 year patchwork project may well get round to adding a little elastic to waistband.

    Friday
    I know they say time passes more quickly the older you get but seem to have done a whistle stop tour of the ecclesiastical year in a morning. Began by using left-over Yorkshire batter to make pancakes (traditionally the harbinger of Lent), watered the ‘Remembrance' cacti, indulged in producing Advent product, and completed lunch with a mince pie. Yes in the Vicarage life can move at an amazing rate of knots.


    Answers

    1. Times or dates

    2. Food/crops

    3. The fig tree's leaves get tender and come out

    4. Times and dates

    5. Lights/stars in the sky

    6. Seedtime and harvest, summer and winter

    7. Both summer and winter

    8. The moon

    9. Winter

    10. There is a time….



    Pye's Ponderings 25th October, 2020

    Dear friends,

    The Gospel reading for today: Matthew chap 22 verses 34-36

    I heard it said this week that it was like our country had hit the rewind button, and we were back to March and the beginning of the first lock down. On the one hand I can understand their point, and also their apprehension and fear, however there are major differences. Firstly, there is a better understanding of this pandemic, and secondly, we know how long (hopefully), these restrictions will be in place, and most importantly we most definitely know how our communities can pull together and support each other, and also reach out to those who feel isolated and lonely. St John's will again, keep in touch with as many as possible via phone, email and social media, and I encourage you all to keep in touch (Following the regulations of course) and be people of prayer, hope and thanksgiving.

    This Sunday's Gospel, which I referenced at the beginning of these ponderings, is pertinent to our present situation, one line stands out – verse 39

    "You shall love your neighbour as yourself".

    For Covid to be suppressed we all need to adhere to the restrictions and stay at home, keep social distance, shop locally – not just for our personal safety but for our neighbours', friends and family. If we truly love them all it is worth making the sacrifices that are asked of us all.

    You will all be in my constant prayers –

    Stay safe,

    Alex

    PS If you have the opportunity play this link the song made me smile :)

    https://youtu.be/PZnqf0Gw47E


    Quiz Time!

    We are all in need of a little sparkle in our lives at the moment so why not find the gems and precious metals listed in the Bible? As my Gran would have said list these "bobby dazzlers" and brighten your day.

    1. Job chapter 28 verse 18
    2. Exodus chapter 28 verse 20
    3. 1 Timothy chapter 2 verse 9
    4. Numbers chapter 31 verse 22
    5. Genesis chapter 4 verse 22
    6. Ezekiel chapter 28verse 23
    7. Revelations chapter 21 verse 19
    8. 1 Chronicles chapter 29 verse 2
    9. Isaiah chapter 54 verse 22
    10. 1 Corinthians chapter 3 verse 12
    11. Lamentations chapter 4 verse 7
    12. Daniel chapter 10 verse 6




    Julia's Jottings

    Monday
    Decided hubby needs a bigger intake of Vitamin C so have ½ grapefruit each for breakfast. Slight snag can't find grapefruit spoons so had to take it in turns to eat said fruit, did clean crockery drawer though –one less job for lockdown!

    Tuesday
    Walking home from work a workman lay down on the pavement in front of me, now it's now everyday a man throws himself at my feet, bit of a quandary should I confess to Vicar? I mean I've only said "good morning " to this chap as I pass in the morning. Phew, transpired he was trying to see if the kerb was level. Personally I'd have used a theodolite.

    Wednesday
    Definitely a whoopsi on my part –rather over enthusiastic spraying the fly on landing window which seemed to have been around for ever- alright maybe an over exaggeration but certainly a jolly long time – so I sprayed…and sprayed some more. Hubby asked whether I was trying to create an early snow scene on the glass. Mmm going to wait until lockdown before I get stool to climb up and clean it!

    Thursday
    Don't think my fingers are as green as the local cleric's, definitely recall my Mum calling my kitchen plant a ‘Christmas Cacti' – so far it's previously bloomed at Easter and Ascension, suppose it's getting closer it's laden with buds and I reckon will be my Remembrance Cactus this year.

    Friday
    Never paid much attention to Popeye, but decided he was right after all. Had spinach leaves instead of lettuce with salad yesterday, decided to whizz over kitchen floor before work but as I was doing so the whole of the plastic mop handle shattered.

    Note to self:
    (i) Go easy on the spinach in future.
    (ii) revert to old fashioned hands and knees method – feel it's safer than modern mops.

    Saturday

    Old habits die hard as they say, in the first lock down we woke at dawn without any alarm- and lo this morning we were awake BEFORE dawn, thank heavens the clocks go back tonight at least we'll be waking in the light.



    Rumbelow's Ramblings

    Camino Walking

    I take as my text for today the first few words from the reading from Isaiah: ‘Strengthen weak hands and make firm the feeble knees!'

    No sermon as such today, as Alex has asked me to say something today of the challenge I set myself back at the beginning of June.

    After seeing a link on a friend's Facebook page to a company who run virtual missions and as, at the moment, a lot of things seem to be being done virtually. I wanted a bit of a fitness challenge to do for my big ‘0' birthday coming up on Wednesday; I decided to look into arranging to take part in a virtual mission of my own.

    The company, The Conqueror Virtual Challenges, lets you choose from an array of challenges that you can do in your own home or outside. You can walk, run, cycle or swim, or they have a chart for converting any other form of exercise into miles. Each time you exercise, you add the amount of miles/kilometres you have travelled into an app on your phone and the total is gathered, letting you know how far you've gone and how far you have left to go.

    The challenge I decided on was the Camino de Santiago – St James' Way. This is a pilgrimage that I came across quite a few years ago now when Sue Steward and I were going to Christian Festivals like the Big Church Day Out and Greenbelt, and we both said that we would like to do some part of the Camino de Santiago for ourselves.

    There are lots of different routes to the Cathedral at Santiago but the ‘Virtual Mission' one is the Camino Frances which starts in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France and takes you across the top of Spain 480.9 miles to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela just about 50 miles from the west coast.

    The route takes you through lots of countryside and towns of all sizes and gives you email postcards along the way:

  • Pamplona – running with the bulls

  • Estella – where they hold the GP Miguel Indurάin cycling race

  • Logrono – The capital city of the Rioja region

  • Alapuerica – a tiny town with a population of just 195 inhabitants

  • Burgos – with its cathedral holding UNESCO status

  • Carrion de los Condes – with a monetary that has been turned into a hotel

  • Leon – with the famous Casa Botines – a local bank designed by Gaudi

  • Hospital de Orbigo – where they have a bridge that was just the right length and width to be used for jousting

  • Ponferrada – where the Romans first made gold coins as currency

  • Triacastela – with a famous sculpture of a pilgrim (il Pellegrino) made of bronze by the Galician sculptor José María Acuña

  • Palas de Rei – one of the best preserved medieval military castles in Spain

  • Finishing at Santiago de Compostella – where, at the pilgrims mass, they have a huge thurible on a rope which, when pulled and set in motion, travels the whole length of the main aisle of the cathedral.


    Those of you on Facebook will have followed my journey and read all the highlights given with these postcards.

    As well as the postcards, the challenge gives you incentives and encouragement along the way to keep you going, little awards for each 10% of your journey and, in August they decided to plant a tree somewhere in the world every 20% of everyone's journeys so by the time I've finished there will be 3 trees somewhere in my name.

    To keep me going, whilst on my treadmill, I have watched some fascinating films about the Camino, the best one being ‘The Way' with Martin Sheen. Martin plays an American Ophthalmologist who goes to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to pick up his son's remains after he falls and dies on the pilgrimage, gets sidetracked and ends up walking the Camino himself and making peace with his son along the way; Walking the Camino – focuses on 6 people who are walking the Camino and getting out of their comfort zones; and A Way to Forgiveness – which follows a Catholic woman who needs to come to terms with her divorce and forgive herself and her husband. I have also watched some Netflix series' – Once Upon a Time and Lucifer, and done some reading and praying along the way.

    I worked out that in the 20 weeks, from the 3rd of June when I started, I would have to do just 3.4 miles every day. That sounded do-able but I didn't allow for rest days or injuries and that is something I will remember for the next challenge.

    I would like to say that I have really enjoyed my challenge, and I have, especially when out in the fresh air with Ioan and other members of the family, but I could have done without the blisters, the knee and hip pains and the sheer exhaustion along the way. I recently came across this saying - ‘Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, and sometimes, in the middle of nowhere, you find yourself.' I'm not sure I found myself, but I now know what I can do if I put my mind to it.

    I have asked for sponsorship along the way, for Cancer Research UK, as cancer has had a very big impact on my family in particular and also on my friends, and Alzheimer's Research UK also dear to my heart after watching the heartbreak of a couple of work colleagues go through some pretty awful times with their loved ones. And lastly to raise some much needed money for our church. So far Tony has collected £320ish and I hope to have another £150 or so to add to that. The money with be split three ways for the two charities and for our church and I have said, and Alex doesn't know about this, that I will fund-match the third which will go into church funds. a big ‘THANK YOU' to all of you who have donated so far xx

    The plan was to finish this on my birthday, on Wednesday, but last week Alex and I decided that I would try to finish it today. Unfortunately, due to the pains, mainly in my knees, I still have just under 8 miles to go, so didn't quite make today's deadline but will definitely finish it before Wednesday.

    Coming back to my chosen verse - ‘Strengthen weak hands and make firm the feeble knees!' Anyone could have done this challenge, and thousands of people have and I thank God that my knees have held out.

    I think my next one will be a lot shorter and I'll make sure I have rest days but this is something I want to keep on doing now, just for the fitness side of things.

    Sue x



    Pye's Ponderings, October 11th, 2020

    Readings:

    Isaiah chap 25 verses 1-9, Psalm 23,

    Philippians chap 4 verses 1-9,

    Matthew chap 22 verses 1-14


    I take as my text for this morning the last line of our gospel reading:

    "For many are called but few are chosen"

    I'm sure like me, all of you will have had invitations during your lives to events or social evenings; some would have excited you, others, if you're honest, filled you with foreboding! And if you could, you would make your excuses. It's also true, I'm sure, those evenings out you weren't looking forward to turned out to be absolutely tremendous, leaving you with memories that you will never forget.

    The readings for today are full of joy. Isaiah and Jesus both talk about a feast. Isaiah says how God will wipe away all tears. In Psalm 23 the psalmist rejoices in the presence and protection of God, who is compared to a shepherd. St Paul asks us to ‘rejoice in the Lord always' and, to emphasise it, he repeats, ‘again I say rejoice'. To be invited to come to God or to be a Christian is not a gloomy, life-restricting event; it is life extending and joyful. Jesus compares it to being invited to a wedding banquet. It is a joy to be invited into God's presence and we miss out on this if we refuse to come. Those who excuse themselves, exclude themselves. God has given us an open invitation; if we do not come, the fault lies in ourselves.

    It is interesting to look at the excuses because they are not bad things in themselves. People miss out by going about their daily work and doing that alone. Many of us allow the call of earthly things to deafen us to the heavenly. We spend a good deal of time on that which is passing away and ignore that which is eternal. We are in danger of seeing to our bodies and neglecting our souls. Because God does not force us, it is easy to have prayer and even God low on our agenda. But if so it is we who miss out.

    Again from our gospel reading:

    "How did you get in here without a wedding robe?"

    The connection may not be immediately obvious, but Jesus here continues the same thread of teaching begun in last Sunday's passage from Matthew chapter 21. On a superficial reading, the story in this parable seems monstrously unfair, why go to the trouble of inviting someone to a wedding banquet, but then condemn them to punishment – simply because they were inappropriately dressed.

    Jesus is saying that it is not enough to simply to accept an invitation and ‘turn up'. The religious leaders of Jesus' time believed they knew it all and there was nothing further to learn; they had ‘turned up'. Jesus' words act as a warning to Christian readers not to fall into the same trap.

    It's not what you wear or which church you attend, or what the service is, it's all about your inner faith and preparation for forgiveness and the acceptance of the sacrament.

    AMEN


    Just a reminder

    Booking for our Sunday service remains the same, please phone Sue Steward, 10 am (no earlier) on a Wednesday; those who end up on the waiting list are GUARANTEED a place the following Sunday.

    Also we are researching the possibility of having a midweek service at 6 pm. If you are interested would you let me, or Sue R or the wardens know as soon as possible.

    Thank you

    Alex



    St John's Information Update - 26th September 2020

    Dear friends,

    Our Church Hall is now "ready to go" due to the extensive work of our Hall Manager, Mr Roger Harris and our cleaner, Pauline; to both I express my thanks and gratitude.

    The result of their hard work is that our worship on Sunday will go ahead indoors, but can I remind you that face masks are mandatory.

    This Sunday's service will be a service of prayer for our country based on Psalm 121 and Mark chapter 11 verses 22-25. The following Sunday, October 4th, will be our Harvest celebration, this year it is a "Bring a Tin" service. If you are unable to attend due to the restricted numbers please feel free to drop off your tins at the Vicarage and then will be given to a local Food bank.

    God Bless,

    Alex


    Julia's Jottings (Sept 27th 2020)

    Monday
    First time for everything I suppose – I've never washed a bride and groom before. Realised the lady's outfit was not fashionably "off-white", more "mucky white"; so submerged her and her fella in Fairy liquid, scrubbed gently, but firmly, and left to dry. Suppose ‘tis only to be expected, after all this hand-knitted couple were presented to me during our photos outside the Cathedral 27 ½ years ago. It's probably more a reflection of my lack of spring cleaning over the years –ooopsi!

    Tuesday
    Noticed a new phrase has crept into Vicar's vocab, "I'm off to see my slugs" has replaced the pre (first) lockdown phrase, "I'm just popping over to the church for a minute". Not sure the substitute is showing how , in his own caring way, he is checking up on all God's creation, after all they may be part of our Triune's world but so are the veggies he's growing for my Christmas lunch.

    Wednesday
    Took advantage of half-day and decided to swap wardrobe to winter outfits, working on the premise when I brought out my Summer clothes the weather changed for the worse, maybe this time they'll be the opposite effect…here's hoping.

    Friday
    How can I lose a skirt - I've checked wardrobe, drawers, case with summer clothes, but all to no avail and most annoyingly I can't blame the girls, after all they're not here which is even more frustrating cos it MUST be MY FAULT. I know I can't lose weight so a skirt that I wear all year round is even less likely.

    Saturday
    At last, after six whole months managed to wake late (which in my book counts as a lie-in), OK so it's 7.30 and the only day we don't have an alarm but none the less feels like quite an achievement.



    Announcement from the Vicarage

    I am delighted to inform you, barring changes to regulations by the Church in Wales or the Welsh Government, our outdoor service will be moving into the church hall next Sunday (27th September, 2020).

    The same booking arrangement will continue with regards to attendance and the legal necessities of numbers and social distancing. Everyone who attends MUST wear a mask throughout the service. Also, we are looking very carefully at adapting the church building to enable us to hold services, and other events, inside the church, which would necessitate the removal of pews.

    I will keep you updated with regards to all these matters as regularly as possible.

    God bless,

    Alex

    If you wish to attend next week's service please phone Sue Stuart on 879524 on Wednesday morning from 10am onwards.



    Readings – 13.09.20
    Exodus 16: 14-31
    Psalm 95: 1-7
    John 4: 5-42


    Lord God, the maker of all, as we bow down in praise this day, make us attentive to your voice and do not test us beyond our enduring; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

    Rumbelow's Ramblings

    Our reading from St John's gospel today, which we would have heard on the third Sunday of Lent this year, may seem like a strange reading to choose, but I have chosen it because of a desk diary I have in work.

    You know the kind – it has a verse for the day and a note from some religious writer. This one, written for the 3rd of September, struck me and made me think in a way I hadn't thought before, and it's always good to explore a new idea.

    The verses were from John 6: 47-48 – ‘He who believes in Me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life.'

    But the note which was written by Esther Burroughs, taken from her book ‘Splash the Living Water', focuses on the Samaritan woman by the well And also the disciples. Jesus is tired from his journeying and has sat down at the well in a town of Samaria called Sychar. A Samaritan woman came to draw water; Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?" (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

    Usually, when we read this passage we focus on the woman or the water. Jesus promises her the living water welling up so that she may never go thirsty again.

    But I want us to focus for a time on the disciples!
    What were the disciples doing?
    We know that they had gone into the town to buy bread, food. But when Jesus first called his disciples, what did call them to do?
    Were they just to be his servants, his lackeys, to pander to Jesus every need or want? I don't think so!

    Didn't he call them to spread the good news?
    And yet, when they went into the village to buy food; that seems to be all that was on their minds.

    Ok, so they were tired and hungry too, they probably would have liked to have stopped by the well for a drink, but they went in search of food and that's exactly what they came back with.

    And when they came back they found Jesus had been speaking with a woman, in the light of day, a woman of ill repute, a woman he didn't know, couldn't have known, and a Samaritan to boot – what was he thinking?

    But Jesus goes through her life with her and tells her everything she has ever done.

    I wonder, if Jesus went through your life with you, would you feel any better than that woman did? I know I wouldn't. There are things in my past that I would rather not think about or remember, there are many things I am less than proud of, many things that I would prefer to stay behind locked doors, the skeletons in the cupboard if you will.

    But Jesus goes through her life with her and tells her everything she has ever done and she is - so impressed, awestruck and convinced that she is in the presence of, at the very least, a great prophet, if not, the Messiah that; ‘leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, "Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?" They came out of the town and made their way toward him.'

    She, the woman of ill repute, the woman who had had five husbands and was now with another man who was not her husband, went back into the town where no-one paid her any attention apart from to ridicule or despise her, and we are told that ‘Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, "He told me everything I ever did."

    So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers.

    They said to the woman, "We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Saviour of the world."'

    Esther Burrows says – When the disciples went into the village, they only brought back food. When the Samaritan woman went into the village, she brought back the entire village.

    The disciples, who knew the Bread of Life, went for physical bread.

    Tired, hungry and thirsty, the disciples' thoughts were on sustenance and rest, not on transforming the lives of those they met.

    The woman, who had just met the Bread of Life, brought the hungry to the Bread of Life whom she knew as the living water.

    On Messiah, who always looked for the good in all those he met, leading them to his Father, to God.

    One woman, a Samaritan with a bad reputation but with a heart for change, brought her entire village to Jesus so that he could teach them and lead them to his Father.

    One village – forever changed.

    I'm not saying that any of us here are like this woman, but we are not perfect. If this one woman could bring so many to God, through Jesus, how many lives could be changed through us? We are the disciples of Jesus and our concern should not always be for physical food, for bread, but for the Holy Spirit, the living water and we need to pass that water on to others, for Christ's sake.

    Amen.



    Pye's Ponderings, 6th September,2020

    Readings: Ezekiel chap 33 verses 7-11
    Psalm 119 verses 33-40
    Romans chap 13 verses 8-14
    Matthew chap 18 verses 15-20
    In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. AMEN

    I take as my text for this morning Matthew chap 18 verse 15:

    "If your brother sins against you go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother."

    An honest admission to you all, when I read today's gospel I thought, ‘Oh my word! Let's look for something else.' But, I don't give up easily, so I read the other two readings and 2 lines stood out to me, firstly from Ezekiel chap 33 verse 7:

    "So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me."

    And then Romans chap 13 verse 8

    "Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbour has fulfilled the law."

    These two together remind us of our responsibility as Christians of our need to love one another and forgive (FORGIVE). So I went back to this section of Matthew's gospel and read alongside it the musings of David Adams, a religious commentator. He stated that, "today's gospel is a difficult reading in that it does not sound like Jesus at all, it's more like statements from a committee." I couldn't agree with him more, and I am reminded of a Christian Aid poster from the 1980s which said, quite simply, "God so loved the world he didn't send a committee". PAUSE

    This section suggests that gentiles and tax collectors are outcasts, but this was not the way of Jesus. It also suggests there are limits set on forgiveness, again this is not the way Jesus works. I feel that at its simplest this section is about the breakdown of relationships, and more importantly their rebuilding. The advice is relatively simple, speak about your hurt or grievance rather than letting the resentment and anger boil over. Meet up and talk about it, see if you can come to some sort of agreement. If this fails get help from friends, and if this still fails try and deal with it within the community. What underlies all this is that we are to seek to love and to forgive, and within this congregation we are in the presence of God. Our God is always ready to help but we cannot ask God to heal broken relationships if we have made no effort ourselves.

    This is true of every request in prayer God will work with us but not instead of us.

    When we meet as a church we need to spend time rejoicing in the presence and in the peace of Jesus, we do not come for sermons or hymns – good as they maybe – but to rejoice that the Lord is here and his Spirit is with us. Particularly in these strange times we must never forget that he is with us this morning, outdoors in Gowerton, he is in our homes, our schools, our places of work, in fact in all places. People who say they can only find God in the peace and tranquillity of a building are not seeking Him with an open and faithful heart. So, I finish with another quote from Romans:

    For I am certain of this: neither death nor life, no angel, no prince, nothing that exists , nothing still to come, not any power, or height depth, nor any created thing, can ever come between us and the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8 38-39)



    Rumbelow's Ramblings – Sunday 30th August 2020

    Today is the commemoration of the death of John Bunyan, a spiritual writer who was born in Elstow, Bedfordshire in 1628. He was a largely self- educated man who used the Bible as his grammar. He read very few other books, and they were all piously Protestant in nature, yet he produced ‘The Pilgrim's Progress', probably the most original text of spiritual genius of that century, telling the story of the man Christian on his journey through life to God. History tells us very little about Mr Bunyan, but what is clear from his writings, is that the salvation of the soul was what mattered most to him. Our collect and readings are taken from Exciting Holiness, a book of Festivals and Lesser Festivals celebrated by the churches of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

    I don't know how many of you have read John Bunyan's book ‘The Pilgrim's Progress' but I must admit I did enjoy it when I read it a while ago and have since lost my copy. If I remember rightly, it read a lot like real life, the ups and downs, the temptations, the things we are called to leave behind! All these things tie in to our lives today.

    And so the book starts:

    "I saw a man clothed with rags ... a book in his hand and a great burden upon his back."

    Part 1, written in 1678, the story is presented as the author's dream and follows the adventures of a man called Christian who is travelling a road after leaving his home, his wife and his children, to find his way to God. From the City of Destruction ,to the Celestial City.

    Christian seeks to rid himself of a terrible burden, the weight of his sins, which he feels as a great burden, after reading a book, presumably the Bible.

    He meets a whole load of wonderful characters and immense problems along the way.

    Evangelist points him toward a wicket-gate, and he heads off, leaving his family behind. He falls into the Slough of Despond, dragged down by his burden, but is saved by a man named Help.

    The pilgrimage continues along with its ups and downs, Christian continues his journey, and he comes upon a cross and a sepulchre, and at that point his burden falls from his shoulders and eventually after many more trials and problems and being led astray, Christian has to cross a river as a test of faith, and then, after presenting his scroll, is allowed to enter the Celestial City.

    Today is the commemoration of John Bunyan's death in 1688, one of the Lesser Festivals of the Church and very rarely celebrated in Wales, if at all. But we can all learn something new about ourselves when we become pilgrims.

    Pilgrimage is nothing new, and I know many of you have been on pilgrimage to many different and varied places, and for many different and varied reasons. I have had the privilege of being a pilgrim to Walsingham on quite a few occasions and also have considered travelling to things like Big Church Day Out and Greenbelt in the same way.

    At the moment I'm doing a quite different kind of pilgrimage – thinking I would like to take on a challenge for my big ‘0' birthday coming up in October, I decided to sign up to do the Virtual Camino de Santiago, which starts in Saint Jean Pied de Port in France, goes all along the top of Spain, to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, and so far have done 290 miles of the 480.9 (60%). I'm hoping to finish on said birthday and hoping to raise some money for our church, St John's, for Cancer Research and Alzheimer's Research along the way by sponsorship, and I'd like to thank all those of you who have already helped me or promised to help me do that.

    Our reading from Exodus this morning also starts off with a kind of pilgrimage, but one that eventually goes horribly wrong and takes an amazing 40 years to travel the distance that should have taken 11 days, just because the people do not listen to God along the way. God promises his people a ‘good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey', but we know that there were many trials and tests along the way.

    The letter to the Hebrews urged people to ‘lay aside every weight and the sin that clings to us so closely' so that we can look to Jesus ‘the pioneer and perfecter of our faith'. And in looking to Jesus we might see the heavenly kingdom, the Celestial City waiting for us, for when the time is right, to eventually go home to God.

    Our Gospel asks us to ‘be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man'. Let's be ready to face our judgement by Jesus, let's put down our sins like John Bunyan's Christian and let's not let our hearts be weighed down with overindulgence and drunkenness.

    Just as John Bunyan tells us a story of a man who tries, in his own power, and with the help of others, to get to God, we too have stories to tell about our journeys to God, and we need to share those stories with others. Let's not keep the good news just to ourselves. Like John Bunyan, let's tell our stories so that others can come to God through Christ, our Lord and Saviour.

    Amen.


    Julia's Jottings (30th August)

    Sunday
    Can't make up my mind whether standing in our garden (behind the fence) to listen to the service is more like being in the royal enclosure or a leper colony.

    Tuesday
    Today's the day. After illness, bad weather and pure laziness the time has come when I must restart my exercise regime and take up youngest's skipping rope once more.

    Both surprised and delighted when I managed to complete 100 skips in two batches of 50.

    Wednesday
    Signs of Autumn are definitely around, received timetable for new academic year, boxes of chocolates have appeared in the local supermarket and hubby has planted spuds for Christmas, woe betide him if he says to me in late November – "It's too early, we haven't had Advent yet". I'll just put on my smug look, and in my best Vicar's wife tone say, "But darling, you started before Harvest!"

    Thursday
    As usual I appear to be somewhat behind the trend, suspect baking banana loaf was the thing to cook during lockdown, only now do I cook one due to the number of bananas left over from Ma-in-law's visit. On the understanding that ‘self-praise is no praise' it has turned out beautifully moist and tasty, nevertheless rather than do it again, next time we have a visit I'll purchase fewer bananas.

    Friday
    Informed daughter I was going to have a relaxing afternoon – of which she fully approved- turned out finished mowing the church grounds, and two out of the 3 Vicarage lawns. Ah well going back to work may be the more relaxing option after all.

    Saturday
    The sun shone, the bride and groom were both radiant, and it may be the most popular date of the year for weddings, but this one was definitely the most special. Congratulations to Deniville and Gwyneth, Mr and Mrs Morgan.

    NB Did feel a little conspicuous in Asda shopping for a frying pan and baby-grows, indeed did note several people doing a double-take as I darted through the (supermarket) aisles . In future will remember not to go shopping when dressed for a wedding!

    Julia's Jottings will return in October on a monthly basis due to being back in work.



    Sunday 23rd August, 2020

    In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. AMEN

    Readings: Romans chap 12 v1-8

    Psalm 124

    Matthew Chap 16 v 13-20

    My text is from Matthew:

    "Who do men say that the Son of Man is?"

    In our gospel today, Simon becomes Peter. Jesus recognizes something in him, so that he states that he will be the foundation of the future church; the church will be built on his faith.

    Peter – flawed, impulsive, an uneducated fisherman, with a tendency to put his mouth into action before engaging his brain. I like Peter!

    Let's go back to our Gospel. It's important to be clear that at this stage the phrase "son of God" did not mean ‘the second person of the Trinity'. There was no thought yet that the coming king would himself be divine, though some of the things Jesus was doing and saying must already have made the disciples very puzzled, with a perplexity that would only be resolved when, after his resurrection, they came to believe that he had all along been even more intimately associated with Israel's one God than they had ever imagined. No: the phrase ‘son of God' was a biblical phrase, indicating that the king stood in a particular relation to God, adopted to be his special representative (2 Samuel chap 7 verse 14 and Psalm 2 verse 7).

    To begin with it looked as though Jesus was simply endorsing their dreams. If Peter had declared that Jesus was the Messiah, Jesus had a word for Peter as well. The name ‘Peter' or, in his native Aramaic, ‘Cephas' means ‘rock' or ‘stone'. If Peter was prepared to say that Jesus was the Messiah Jesus was prepared to say that with this this allegiance, Peter would himself be the foundation for his new building. Just as God gave Abram the name Abraham, indicating that he would be the father of many nations (Genesis 17:5), so now Jesus gives Simon the new name Peter, the Rock.

    So, for all of you this morning I have a question, who do people say you are? And, perhaps an even more challenging question, ‘How would you describe yourself?' Before you even assess this question let me remind you of a section from our readings from Romans this morning, chapter 12 verse 3.

    "For by the grace given to me I bid every one among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgement, each according to the measure of faith which God has assigned him."

    I re-ask the question now, ‘How would people describe you?' Perhaps a good mother or grandmother, a caring father, a good friend, a good neighbour. PAUSE

    But would they describe you as a Christian? Do you reflect the principles and morals of the Christian faith in your words and actions? I have always been concerned that it seems to me that a large number of people are reticent in openly declaring their allegiance to Jesus for fear of ridicule. I know \I've mentioned to you before how much I would love to issue you all on a Sunday morning with a clerical shirt and collar, for you to wear the following week as an outward sign of an inner belief.

    Jesus perceived something very special in Peter; Peter perceived that Jesus was divine, so the question I have posed this morning is very challenging indeed. If you believe that Jesus is your saviour, the Son of God, do you show it in your lives or conceal it in your heart? AMEN


    Julia's Jottings

    Monday
    Decided my spout needed cleaning the only problem is – why do I find the right size brush? You see the glass teapot is gleaming but the spout shows signs of use.

    Tuesday
    Certain that my training as a teacher of the deaf has honed my hearing, acknowledged group chatting on roadside and then heard, "Yes, she's the Vicar's wife" (felt quite accusatory); to which I heard the response "I saw her husband about marrying me because we got married in another church!" Sorely tempted to respond, "Yes, he's already married….to me!" But that would have been churlish - clearly a banns issue.

    Wednesday
    Eureka hardware shop in Mumbles provided the necessary implement and now my beloved teapot gleams, feel sure the tea tastes better too!

    Thursday
    Dawned on me that the lockdown deep-clean occurred nigh on 5 months ago and after scanning the dining room realised some of the deepest, darkest recesses may require a spruce-up. Suppose it won't do any harm to run a duster over the rest of the Vicarage.

    N.B. It is, of course, purely coincidental, that this housework resurgence is taking place a couple of days before my Mother-in-law is coming to visit. I mean it's logical to do it now, I'm back in work next week for a day!

    Friday
    Know how Twiggy must feel, I could be a walking ad for M+S - wearing their dress, sandals and raincoat, all purchased in the sales since the reopening (along with T-shirts and jeggings!) Ah see, that's what happens when the kids move out and go to university, no more New Look for me.



    Pye's Ponderings, August 16th, 2020

    In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. AMEN

    I take as my text the first line from today's Gospel reading:

    "My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my saviour."

    Yesterday was the feast day for the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of our Lord, and our Gospel is from the Magnificat, a much loved part of our Evensong services.

    I decided to look-up the word "magnify" in the dictionary and it stated, "1. Make something appear larger than it actually is" – obviously not right for our context, and then, with the prefix ‘archaic', "praise highly and glorify". So Mary was praising God highly.

    But then I started thinking, which always means trouble, what about the first definition? Making something appear larger than it actually is. The vast majority of mothers and fathers have a love for their child, that in most cases focuses on their little angel's good points, and enjoy nothing more than praising them up whenever possible, sometimes completely ignoring the fact that their offspring is a little…… darling, if you know what I mean. We are all guilty of this sometimes, I know that I am.

    Sooooooooooo I have pondered, are we being asked to see Jesus through Mary's eyes, not pray through her, but see her son through her experience. Mary knew that Jesus was divine because God, through His angel, had told her,

    " And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus." Luke chapter 1 verses 30-33.

    So, as my pondering continued I have come to the conclusion that the second message of our readings, for this important feast day is just this, we should see and read about Jesus through Mary's eyes. Mary, who magnified and praised God through the whole of our Lord's life.

    In our services during this pandemic we have not been able to sing our praises or congregate inside our churches to magnify our Lord, yet now we are able to receive the sacrament of the Eucharist, the central fact of our Anglican church; and most importantly, we can pray daily in many different ways. The Lord's Prayer, as taught to the disciples by Jesus, is and must be central in our prayer life. Let's remind ourselves what we are saying during the Lord's Prayer:

    Our Father who art in Heaven God is in heaven which is open to us if we just confess Jesus Christ as our Saviour.

    Hallowed by thy name God's name is special, is holy.

    Thy kingdom come Bring your kingdom to us in our lives today.

    Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven We will do whatever God wants us to do, as God wants us to mirror his love and forgiveness.

    Give us this day our daily bread Give us enough food to eat and not be greedy or wasteful

    And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us We pray to be forgiven and have the strength to forgive others.

    And lead us not into temptation but deliver is from evil Do not let us be talked into doing wrong things, help us to make the right choices, keep us away from bad things.

    For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory This is God's world and it should be a good world to live in.

    For ever and ever

    Amen So be it.

    So in our Lord's Prayer we are magnifying God and asking for guidance and strength.

    I would like to finish this morning with another well-known prayer, the prayer of serenity,

    Grant to us the serenity of mind to accept that which cannot be changed; courage to change that which can be changed, and wisdom to know the one from the other, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen SO BE IT


    Julia's Jottings

    Saturday
    Time for the Pye Scrabble challenge –and opportunity to use latest edition to cleric's library–, daughter's birthday pressy for Father was an up-to-date OED after she'd declared my 1980 prized edition, an antiquity unsuitable for using to settle Scrabble disputes!. That's as maybe, but at least it can be lifted without causing a hernia, the new tone is NOT a concise version!

    Sunday
    Chuffed to bits – hubby was mentioned on BBC Radio 2 AND so was St John's Gowerton -absolutely thrilled never heard his name on national airwaves before and what's more after the song ‘Let's get Together' the DJ said "That's for that lovely Vicar!" Feel it's always great to have my opinion confirmed especially by an astute broadcaster.

    Monday
    Strange old world we inhabit. Trying my best to ‘shop local' so ordered hubby's book from Waterstones in Swansea, but today I asked questions- serious questions. I mean I could have printed it myself in the 10 weeks we've been waiting. Lady in shop extremely helpful and told me to phone their branch in Ballymena – last time I checked this wasn't local but again extremely pleasant assistant assured me it'll arrive ASAP.

    Tuesday
    Chewed the cud with lovely neighbour over the garden fence (socially distancing) when she started waving at study window, she admitted she had no idea who the chap was but he'd waved back! Slightly concerned - not sure how many men she thinks I keep in the study – personally I think ONE cleric is quite enough for any woman.

    Wednesday
    Hallelujah –Vicar's book has arrived and he has something new to read whilst theologically reflecting. Decided to use new dictionary to develop my biceps and discovered ‘local' can mean restricted to a particular area - know what the 360.1 miles between Swansea and Ballymena is my sort of local.

    Thursday
    Left –handed day. No problem with that except that as far as I'm concerned every day is a left-handed day – no issue!



    Pye's Ponderings, Sunday, 2nd August

    Readings: Collect for marriage (page 331)

    1st reading: 1 Corinthians chap 13 v 1-7, Psalm 121

    Gospel: John chap 15 v 9-12

    Text: Jesus said, "As the father has loved me, so I have loved you. Dwell in my love."

    Watching Channel 5, ‘Our Yorkshire Farm' –brilliant

    Parents with 9 kids, ranging from toddler to one in uni

    I'm fascinated by the logistics:

    - 77 pairs of knickers a week,
    - A box of Weetabix a day
    - School uniforms X 8
    - 11 pairs of wellies
    - 33 pairs of knives and forks to wash up after dinner

    All the children help on the farm from tupping sheep (look it up), feeding cows, catching mice, mending stone walls.

    They watch birth, growth and death on a daily basis and cope because it's explained and normalised not trivialised or sensationalised – its life!

    They are a wonderful family where true love is expressed openly and practically every day.

    Repeat text: "As the father has loved me, so I have loved you. Dwell in my love."

    Last line from 1 Corinthians: "There is nothing love cannot face; there is no limit to its faith, its hope and its endurance."

    As a family of believers here in St John's we are also members of the wider family of the Diocese and Province, and for us to cope with the present day challenges we need to dwell in God's love and share it with one another.

    But back to my farm, the simplicity and beauty of their Christmas celebrations turned me to tears, the nativity story was not just told but explained, the gifts were simple but generous and full of love.

    I wanted to be there, it was, in my opinion, blessed and pure, not perfect but real.

    My prayer is that our post-pandemic communities can reflect this ethos – full of perfect imperfections and divine love.


    Julia's Jottings (Holiday edition)

    Sunday
    "Though the tempest rave and the wild winds blow," well OK it wasn't quite THAT bad but ‘twas certainly more than a few raindrops falling on my head for the outdoor Eucharist; noted the congregation donned a rainbow of wet-weather gear, from navy blue (very appropriate) to episcopal purple (as modelled by the curate) and the Vicar in a dashing liturgical burnt orange, personally I opted for lifeboat yellow – colour of positivity (the rain stopped)….and cowardice, I was stood behind the fence in the Vicarage grounds- never far from the safety of shelter; couldn't help but be impressed by the evangelism shown by the many umbrellas clearly visible in the church grounds.

    Tuesday
    Hubby's birthday – ah yes I have a ‘sugar-daddy' once again and what an adorable chap he is.

    Wednesday
    Talk about "Lead kindly Light", Vicar acquired a chrome lamp standard (obviously with my approval), pal and I followed the purchaser carrying it along Mumbles front – if it hadn't been for the sunshine and relaxed clothing it could have been an Advent procession! Lost sight of our leader amidst the throng –well OK we were chatting and fell behind – but there like a beacon stood the lamp on the pavement and once again we were part of the procession.

    Thursday
    Do love bright colours in the garden but suddenly have a plethora of Crocosmia, at least I think that's what they're called, in garden. So remaining true to my natural gardening style (that of destruction rather than planting) I decided to divide and conquer –only now do I read that this technique rather restores vigour in the plants –and there was I trying to clear a bit of ground! There's clearly more to gardening than I thought.

    Friday
    Knobs! In this time of make do and mend rediscovered 4 –as yet –unopened though rather fetching blue and white stylish doorknobs. Fell in love with them all over again, do feel the knobs are being are more obdurate than obliging to my wartime spirit.



    Pye's Ponderings, 26th July

    Can I begin by thanking those who came last Sunday for our first open-air service and also all those who made it possible to take place. Our theme was ‘Missionary work of the Church'. The theme this Sunday is prayer.

    I take as my text 1 Timothy 2 verse 1, "First of all then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for all men."

    At our service I will be concentrating on the differences between the words, ‘prayer', ‘intercession' and ‘thanksgiving', and how all of them should be combined in our daily conversations with God. I will be concluding with the two following prayers,

           God our Creator, our centre, our friend,

           We thank you for our good life,

           For those who are dear to us, and for all who have helped and influenced us.

           We thank you for the measure of freedom we have,

           And the extent to which we control our lives;

           And most of all we thank you for the faith that is in us,

           For our awareness of you and our hope in you.

           Keep us, we pray, thankful and hopeful

           And useful until our lives shall end.

            Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.
            A New Zealand prayer Book.



           O God, I thank thee for all the joy I have had in life.

            Byrhtnoth, 10th century

    Love and prayers for you all,

    Keep safe,

    Alex


    Julia's Jottings

    Monday
    Discovered the cleaning power of Pink – feel I only need the 40's style headscarf and full body pinny and I'd be away. Well they do say small things please little minds.

    Tuesday
    Found a new position in life and one I'm proud to have – officially appointed Wheelbarrow girl to chief groundsman – oh yes, that means I'm guaranteed to improve the count in my number of steps at least once every 3 weeks –just watch me go with that wheelbarrow! Handy hint given by younger daughter about how to use it as a foot rest whilst waiting for next load have been memorised and will definitely be useful.

    Wednesday
    How times change! Met up with old friend – actually not ‘old', let's say long-standing friend from university days; we had become ladies who not so much lunch but certainly enjoyed partaking a coffee whilst nattering! However, in current circumstances we visited B+M, I was delighted with a set of 3 oversized tea towels as was my pal with her windscreen wiper. Oh yes relaxed lockdown brings small pleasures.

    N.B. Our take away sausage rolls tasted as good as any Michelin stared lunch. Mmmm

    Thursday
    Completed needlepoint panel of the invasion by William the Conq. Needed to find something to keep my fingers fit, searched wardrobe in spare room and rediscovered a charted embroidery design purchased from an antiques fair – after viewing it can understand why it had been pushed to the back for "a later date". Agh well, do feel this IS that time. Decided to put into practice what Vicar said about thanksgiving for small pleasures – hubby will be delighted!

    Friday
    I do find destructive gardening very therapeutic, successfully filled garden waste bag with dead wood – but will bear in mind Romans 11 verse 20 – find living with a cleric can keep me grounded, but will remind hubby James chapter 3 verse1 lest he forget!



    Pye's Ponderings (19th July)

    Dear friends,

    Here is what I will be saying at our first open air service in the church grounds this Sunday. This will be the first service since lockdown, and it will be wonderful to celebrate the Eucharist again, however it also is a great opportunity for evangelism, as we are open and will act as a reminder to anyone in the area that the church is still active.

    I came across the story whilst reading one of my favourite authors - Father Brian D'Arcy.

    It's about a member of the congregation who used to attend services regularly, but stopped going. After a few weeks the vicar decided to visit him. It was a chilly evening.

    The priest found the man at home, alone, sitting in front of a blazing open fire. The man guessed the reason for the Vicar's visit, but welcomed him in and sat him next to the fireplace, then waited. Both men sat comfortably, without speaking; and both were mesmerized by the fire.

    After a time the priest picked up the tongs, and carefully lifted a burning ember and put it on one side of the hearth by itself. Then he sat back down, again without speaking. The host was intrigued.

    As the one lone ember's flame diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more.

    Just before the Vicar was ready to leave, he picked up the cold, dead ember and put it back into the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow again with the warmth and light of the burning logs that surrounded it. As the priest reached the door to leave, the host said, "Thank-you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon. I shall be back in church next Sunday."

    Wishing you God's blessing,

    Alex


    Julia's Jottings

    Monday
    Took advantage of fine summer weather and breakfasted outdoors – able to wave to friend driving down street on way to work – suspect it's not traditional for Vicar and his wife to greet parishioners in dressing gowns!

    Tuesday
    Partook in a little singing + signing whilst hoovering–fairer for - when heard a strange ringing noise – surely Henry wasn't objecting after all I was doing it in my mind – haven't got enough hands to sign and steer vacuum cleaner and singing aloud is unfair on anyone who maybe passing by– realisation dawned – it was the door bell!

    Wednesday
    Can't fault the staff in A+E, it was efficiency personified – even had a free gift on arrival – a mask, today's essential fashion accessory. The doctor accessed technology to confirm diagnosis, it was very comforting to know her suspicions were correct although did recognise phrase "I'm just going to confirm what I think by checking" as a certain trainee paramedic has mentioned! Good to know medical phrases cross professional boundaries.

    Thursday
    In those halcyon days of my youth it may have been true that "The Boys are back in Town", however in late middle age I couldn't be more delighted to see "The chaps back in the church grounds" and boy did they do a wonderful job.

    NB Remember to add name to the rota so can share the shearing duty.

    Friday
    I've decided pharmacists have a talent for understatement, the label says ‘may make you sleepy'. Sleepy my foot!!! The tablets knock me out for two hours every afternoon, ah well at least the swelling has gone, and when conscious (for three quarters of the day) I do feel much better.

    Sunday
    Quite aware of ‘Sitting on the fence' but it's the first time I've been behind the fence for a church service – strange times indeed.

    Monday
    Have noted working neighbour does set off earlier –suspect it's to avoid the waving cleric. Understand seeing him in a hooded grey robed would be off-putting for the staunchest of Protestants, one doesn't expect local priest to look like a badly dressed off-colour monk.



    Update 15th July

    Dear friends,

    Can I begin by thanking all of you who have kept my family in your prayers over the last 2 difficult and worrying weeks, I am delighted to tell you that my eldest daughter is much better and my wife is well on the way to recovery.

    Our daily lives seem to change rapidly at the moment with the relaxation of some measures and the introduction of new ones; the same can be said of the Church with regards its opening or not. Unfortunately, due to the Welsh Government and the Church authority restrictions we are unable to open St John's at this present time, however I am delighted to inform you we have received permission to hold an open- air Eucharist in our church grounds this Sunday (19th July), numbers will be limited to 25 and strict social distancing will be in place alongside the necessary hygiene measures.

    The service will be at 10.30 and if you wish to attend could you please phone me on 01792 927158 to avoid being turned away on the day.


    I very much look forward to seeing those of you who are able to come.

    God Bless, stay safe,

    Alex



    The Curate's Capers – update for Sunday 12th July

    Apologies first of all from Alex this week. Julia has been taken ill with a virus infection (NO, IT'S NOT COVID), and has had to spend all of his time and energy on looking after her as well as worrying about his daughter Debbie, in Newport, who has been laid low with Covid but is now recovering, thank the Lord. A very worrying time for Alex and his whole family. I'm sure you'll join your prayers with mine for a speedy recovery for both Julia and Debbie, and the strength and resolve Alex will need over the next week or so. We wish you all well and back to health with the strength of Jesus by your side.

    That being said, Alex has asked me to fill in the slots for the usual Facebook and Web Page ramblings for this week at least.

    Still reeling from the news of our close family friend's death, it's been a bit of a strange week to say the least. Some of you will have got to know Anita a little over the time she has been joining us on a Sunday morning with my sister-in-Law, Judith, and it's been quite a shock and a sad time for us all. We've since learned that she had heart failure caused by an enlarged heart and bronchopneumonia. Happily for her, she died peacefully in her sleep but now we have to wait for a post mortem just to make sure there were no other underlying factors. Still no news on when we may be able to have her funeral but will keep you posted.

    Sunday I competed my usual walk on the treadmill – 4.1miles – and I was very pleased with myself for having done this early enough to have a relaxing time for the remainder of the day. Just as I was settling down we had a call from Siân asking if we would like to go for a walk with her, Chris and Ioan. Never one to say no to spending time with my gorgeous grandson, we decided to have a little stroll down to Penclawdd, to GG's for ice-cream, and back again – another 5.8miles. Needless to say I was fit for nothing after that but knew I had to get up for work the following morning.

    This week, my colleague in work at the Surgery has been away on holiday so that I have had to cover some extra shifts. This always leaves me feeling exhausted by the end of the week, I'm just not used to working full time as a Secretary and am looking forward to seeing her come back next week. Luckily this week I have had no funerals to do or that would have put a spanner in the works as I wouldn't have been able to cover all the extra shifts.

    Monday I had a, not insubstantial, cheque in the post which I was not expecting! Turns out it was a pay-out for my PPI that I put a claim in for quite some time ago now, and I'd forgotten all about. A very nice surprise! And then I had a letter to explain that there was another amount that was due to me too!! I felt so lucky!!

    So Monday and Tuesday were spent at the Surgery, doing some date entry, typing and running around after the doctors, chasing them to complete the referrals and letters they needed to do this week. I had no energy and legs like lead on Monday and so the walking went by the wayside but I got back on track on Tuesday and Wednesday.

    Wednesday was the day Alex spent all morning in A&E with Julia, trying to find out what was causing her to be so ill. Oblivious to this until the afternoon, I carried on with my tasks at work and with the walking in the evening.

    Thursday started out fairly sensible with work but a planned play-date in the afternoon with Ioan was a must by now. We had some fun at home with some new toys and investigated the new bedding for when he can come over to stay again. We went for a run in the car with Tadcu (David) and, when he finally stopped talking, Ioan had a nap for about an hour whilst we drove around Llanelli and Gower, knowing that as soon as we stopped he would wake up again. He really is such a talkative little fellow now! His laughter rings bells of joy throughout my heart and, now that we can have a cuddle again, all is well with the world.

    Friday was a day everyone at the Surgery was dreading as one of our colleagues was leaving, moving on to pastures new, moving up in the world having been out Deputy Manager for some time, to become the Manager at another Surgery. It was hard to see her so upset about leaving us all but we all wished her well and we know that, although she will be very much missed here, her new Surgery is very lucky to have her. Having come to the end of the day I have managed to get past 25% of my walk, having now travelled just over 122 miles!

    I'm not sure what the weekend is going to bring yet but I know that, although this week has been quite strange with one thing or another, and having to sort out everything at Anita's house, as she has no close family in Swansea capable of doing this for her, is quite a strain in itself.

    Still, I'm not complaining, just trying to make some sense of all that has happened this week. All this running around and ‘doing' reminds me of Martha in Luke's gospel (10:40)

    ‘But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me."'

    If you remember, Jesus tells her that she is distracted by many things and that Mary, her sister, has chosen what was needed, to sit at Jesus feet and listen to him. How often have I been distracted this week – well, all week I think, but when I have had a moment or two to myself then spending time with Jesus, in scripture and prayer, is what has kept me going.

    Just after these verses we come to chapter 11 and the teaching of the Lord's Prayer to the disciples, and to us. I have been thinking about this prayer for some time now and trying to work out it's meanings. Some things have stood out for me – like if you don't stop halfway through the sentence; ‘and forgive us our sins (trespasses, debts) as we forgive those who sin (trespass) against us.' We are not asking that all of our sins are forgiven in my mind, just to be forgiven as far as we are willing to forgive, that's quite a hard pill to swallow sometimes. And another line; ‘and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil (the evil one)'. What if we add an extra comma (there was no punctuation in the original texts after all) saying; ‘and lead us, not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.' That seem to make more sense to me asking Jesus to lead us, but also deliver us.

    I wonder if you would change anything in the Lord's Prayer so that it makes more sense to you?

    Love and blessing to you all for having read Rumbelow's ramblings to the end. May God grant you a happy week ahead and plenty of times for peace and stillness.

    Sue x


    This week's quiz is just a short one for you, but no clues so see how you get on!

    1.) Who was the first Martyr after Christ?
    a. Moses
    b. Phillip
    c. Paul
    d. Stephen

    2.) How did Enoch die?
    a. Murdered by his son
    b. Old age
    c. In battle for the promised land
    d. He didn't

    3.) What does Barnabas mean?
    a. Blessed by all
    b. The Encourager
    c. One who walks softly
    d. Redeemed

    4.) Who was the first King of Israel?
    a. Josiah
    b. Saul
    c. Samuel
    d. David

    5.) Who was David's best friend?
    a. Festus
    b. Urriah
    c. Nathan
    d. Jonathon

    6.) How many people came to know Christ on the day of Pentecost?
    a. 3,000
    b. 2,000
    c. 200
    d. 5,000

    7.) How many apostles were there?
    a. 12
    b. 7
    c. 6
    d. 24

    8.) What was Jesus's first miracle?
    a. Multiplied the fish and bread
    b. Healed a leper
    c. Walked on water
    d. Turned water to wine in Cana

    9.) Who was the oldest person in the Bible?
    a. Moses
    b. Methuselah
    c. Nimrod
    d. Adam

    10.) How tall was Goliath?
    a. 6'5" tall
    b. 6' tall
    c. 8' tall
    d. 10' tall


    Here are the Answers to Sunday's quiz

    1. d
    2. d
    3. b
    4. d
    5. d
    6. a
    7. a
    8. d
    9. b
    10. d



    Pye's Pondering from the Vicarage

    5th July, 2020


    Dear friends,

    Those of you who were able, pre-lockdown, to attend our family services will know of my love of acronyms, where you take each letter of a word, to be the first letter of a new word, which either then enhances your original word or changes its meaning. It all stems from the first time I came across the following; when a person says they are "fine" what exactly do they mean? For me ‘fine' means,

    F – Fed up

    I – Insecure

    N – Neurotic

    E – Exhausted

    You can have a lot of fun with acronyms and I often do! However, one has evolved in my mind with regard to our present situation and struggles. It has become very apparent to me that a lot of people, from all age groups, are very frightened at this time,, and understandable the word fear is used on a daily basis in all our newspapers and all our television news broadcasts.

    Julia will tell you that I have an annoying habit of looking for the silver lining in every cloud, so with regards to the word ‘fear' I offer you the following,

    F – Face

    E – Everything

    A – And

    R – Recover

    At St John's we are fortunate to be part of a community of faith, friendship and fellowship, which collectively will support and sustain us through the present crisis.

    "Fear not", said he for mighty dread,

    Had seized their troubled minds". (While Shepherds Watched)

    I recently read that apparently the words "do not fear", or a similar phrase, is written 365 times in the Bible (one for each day of the year). We are indeed fortunate to have such a book, such a faith, such a Saviour. So, let us be filled with hope not fear and look forward to the day when we can all join together to worship our Lord Jesus Christ, who banishes fear through His holy presence.

    God's blessing on you all,

    Alex


    Parish Puzzle – Trees, insects and fruits

    Since Julia and I have spent so much time outdoors over lockdown, in the Vicarage garden and church grounds, we thought this was very appropriate.

    Just choose the answer that matches the reference. Enjoy

    A B C D
    1. Neh 8:15 MothMyrtle Apple Spider/td>
    2. 2 Sam 16:1 Olive Poplar Raisins Melon/td>
    3. Prov 6:6 Ant Raisins Cedar Fig/td>
    4.2 Sam 5:11 Melon Locust Apple Cedar/td>
    5. Deut 8:8 Locust Fig Grasshopper Olive/td>
    6. Job 13:28 Olive Myrtle Locust Moth
    7. 1 Kgs 8:37 Locust Oak Almond Moth/td>
    8. Gen 30:37 Oak Moth Poplar Apple/td>
    9. Job 8:14 Fig Grasshopper Spider Cedar/td>
    10.Num 11:5 Oak Grasshopper Fig Bee/td>
    11. Song 2:3 Fig Ant Locust Apple/td>
    12. Num 11:5 Melon Cedar Bee Apple/td>
    13. Ex 37:19 Moth OakAlmond Olive/td>
    14. Judg 14:8 Fig Poplar Melon Bee/td>
    15. Gen 35:8 Moth Oak Almond Spider/td>
    16. Is 17:6 Olive Melon Locust Spider/td>
    Answers follow Julia's Jottings


    Julia's Jottings

    Monday
    Chatted amicably to Mother-in-law but do wonder whether lockdown is taking its toll - one of the ways she amuses herself is to watch her new bin's self-closing lid, I like to think this is because she's admiring the engineering not because she's trying to find suitable music to accompany it. N.B. Fortunately we don't have such advanced bins , nevertheless will keep close eye on hubby to see if this trait is inherited.

    Tuesday
    Noticed tendency for new exercise regime to evolve, frequent need to run outside to re-stand potted sunflowers blown over by unseasonal elements is helping fitness levels, completed 80 skips WITHOUT stopping and in the rain – go girl!

    Wednesday
    Returned to my roots felt, like a latter-day Robin Hood taming the "wild" garden around large tree in forgotten part of the Vicarage grounds- never fully appreciated learning about asymmetric haircuts until now. Admit didn't ride through the glen, but created a clearing.

    Thursday
    Felt a right nincompoop/hoodlum returning from local shop when it started to rain, dressed for gardening so wearing college hoodie had to put up hood – increased pace and kept head down, didn't want to recognised in new look.

    Note to self: Sometimes it's better to ignore Guiding motto "Be Prepared" – couldn't garden due to unsuitable weather conditions – so could have worn ‘regulation' clothing anyway.

    Friday
    Noticed language and times they are a changing – occupants of Vicarage are not being left behind –who needs celestial bodies and mythological figures to label days of the week, following have been employed to adapt outdated and meaningless terms: Washday (granted somewhat traditional); Vegday (always fresh and great selection when collected from local venue early evening); Meatday ( phone through order a.m. and delivered promptly and efficiently); Clapday (spanner- in-the-works as this has now finished and this week Clapday was on old Sunday…or as it's now known Frustrated Vicar Day …aggh chaos); Binday (thanks to efficient Swansea Council); Brownieday( a late starter but most welcome treat from Gowerton café) and Frustrated* Vicar day.


    Answers to ‘Trees, insects and fruit' puzzle.

    1. B
    2. C
    3. A
    4. D
    5. B
    6. D
    7. A
    8. C
    9. C
    10. B
    11. D
    12. A
    13. C
    14. D
    15. B
    16. A



    June 28th, 2020 Pye's Ponderings

    St Peter tide and Ordination weekend


    Dear friends,

    This coming Monday is the feast day of saints Peter and Paul, Apostles; and usually this weekend is when ordinations take place in our cathedrals, a time of great celebration for individuals and their families as their calling to ministry is affirmed and blessed by our Bishops. This year marks the 25th Anniversary of my ordination at St Woolos Cathedral, Newport, and my family and friends had planned to mark the milestone with a gathering and a meal, and yet, obviously this could not happen. Putting aside my sorrow at not being able to lead collective worship this Sunday I am not despondent nor downhearted , what I have witnessed and been privileged to be part of in our community over the past few months has filled me with great hope for the future. If you look up hope in the dictionary part of the definition is as follows, "expectation and desire/person or thing giving hope".

    The well-known hymn ‘All my Hope on God is Founded' states the following,

    "All my trust He shall renew;
    He, my guide through changing order,
    Only good and only true."

    Our faith in God in these challenging and changing times provides us with a firm foundation to face the ‘new order' of our lives. The hymn finishes with these words,

    "Hear Christ's call one and all:
    We who follow shall not fall."

    Through prayer let God guide us and sustain us.

    God bless you all,

    Alex


    Julia's Jottings

    Monday
    Fear I can procrastinate no longer, repercussion of working from home coincides with fewer steps so need to take action. Decided to use daughter's skipping rope, which was clearly excess luggage for her return to Sheffield. Plan for day 1 = 50 skips.

    Tuesday
    . Walked to shops with hubby; clearly wanted to clear his conscience by expressing his dislike for the sound of my "floppy sandals". Feel he does have a point, I have already decided not to wear them for this morning's exercise as they continually broke my rhythm yesterday by slipping off mid-skip. Therefore, resolved that more secured footwear appeases both parties –a sling-back style would be safer for the wearer (me) and preferable for the parson(him) as the reduction in my height due to smaller heel means this wife is slightly shorter than hubby. Decided to increase skip target to 60.

    Wednesday
    New fitness regime obviously paying-off, handkerchief hem skirt's first outing this summer and I still need a pin in the waistband. Boosted by success decide no further delay with the fitting of Hands Together polo shirt, do feel XS is a step too far…. OH JOY it fits!!!

    Completed 70 skips.

    Note to self: Have decided to cap skipping target for present, do feel any extension may require a First Aider to be on stand-by.

    Thursday
    Am concerned my washing machine has gone rogue – have been waiting, with peg-beg tied around my waist for 15 minutes, whilst the machine dashboard has shown time remaining to be 1 min since I donned it! Decided to de-bag and retreat from domestic chore and do skips.

    N.B. Correct decision to stop at 70. Absolutely no regrets.

    Friday
    Why does Google answer me back but carry out Vicar's request without question? However should I have the audacity to make a request the retort is one of mischief, I mean when I asked if a certain shop was open the response was "Call them"! Bloomin' cheek. Going to ban any copies of "1984" from this abode.




    From the Vicarage (Sunday 21st June)

    Father's day and the longest day of the year.

    Dear friends,

    Sunday's gospel is Matthew chapter 10 verses 34-39, look it up and read it before you ponder the following.

    The teaching point here, I feel, is to show that God cares for us and how this should drive away fear.

    Matthew is a Jewish Christian, he sees Jesus as the fulfilment of the Jewish hopes and he reiterates one of the great themes of the Bible. Jesus says, ‘Have no fear, do not fear.' In a world of darkness and trouble it is easy to fear and to lose hope but we are not left alone because our Lord is with us. In this passage fear is mentioned four times.

    In our world today there is a great deal of fear and anguish understandable, so no one is immune from these feelings, fear of the moment and rear of the future; it is so easy to fall into the trap of being consumed by this fear and yet there is so much to celebrate and give thanks for in our community, and further afield. The willingness of individuals to help and reach out to those who are isolated and struggling – Gowerton Rugby Club, the Nomad and the Co-op to mention just 3, who have reached out with generosity and love. I am sure their actions will never be forgotten alongside the many individuals who are working tirelessly in various ways, it was stated to me that people were "proud and pleased to be part of our collective response" and it would be remiss of me not to mention Councillor Sue Jones and her tireless work and support.

    As we tentatively move forward with our lives the words of a well-known hymn come to mind:

    Bind us together, Lord,
    Bind us together
    With cords that cannot be broken;
    Bind us together' Lord,
    Bind us together,
    O bind us together with love.

    We are not alone, we are blessed.

    God bless you all,

    Alex


    The Sunday Puzzle

    This week our quiz is about the church in the Bible, specifically the New Testament, and what it tells us, or indeed teaches us. I hope you enjoy our little challenge and it leaves you feeling positive.

    1. On what is the church foundation built and what will never happen to it according to Jesus? (Matthew chapter 16 verse 18)

    2. The early believers did not have a church building like St John's but they did stay in touch and share and do something else too – what was that? (Acts chapter 2 verses 43-47)

    3. Where did Phoebe serve the church? (Romans chapter 16 verse 1)

    4. Priscilla and whom helped the church in 2 ways, and how did they help? (Romans chapter 16 verses 3-5)

    5. Is 1 Corinthians chapter 1 verse 2 addressed to us? And what does he ask Jesus to give us in verse 3?

    6. In Romans chapter 14 verse 4 how are we told we can help the church?

    7. Paul is very specific about what the church is in Ephesians chapter 1 verse 23 – what is it?

    8. Who are the living stones of the church? (1 Peter chapter 2 verse 5)

    9. Throughout Revelation there is a clear message for churches, but what is it? (Revelation chap 2 verses 11,17,chap 3 verses 6, 13)

    Answers follow Julia's Jottings


    Julia's Jottings

    Monday:
    Let it never be said that on those pre-lockdown holidays when people sailed the seven seas, cruises were purely for relaxing– ah no – by getting up early(ish) and wandering on to the sun deck, cup of tea in hand, one could watch the breakfast chefs making omelettes – and it has come to pass that over our enforced stay at home omelettes have become a signature dish of mine, praised by my onsite cleric, thus proving "The mind of the prudent acquires knowledge".

    Tuesday:
    "She prepares her bread in summer", now I don't like to think of myself as an "ant" but I side with the Book of Proverbs and not our Gospel writer on this occasion who, quite rightly I feel, says we shouldn't store our treasures on earth, however whilst 2 pairs of sandals in the sale last year are not on the same scale as baking bread, nor is it technically stockpiling valuables and… given the circumstances of the last few months…. I feel vindicated for storing said purchases ready for the coming summer.

    Wednesday:
    Do feel daughter teaching her Father how to get Google to make an ‘announcement' was a mistake – for one thing the technology is in the kitchen and if I am elsewhere in the Vicarage it is impossible to hear – there's a lot to be said for old fashioned shouting I suggest.

    Thursday:
    Woke early again, do feel desperation is setting in, unable to find anymore cupboards to clear I polished wooden top of digital radio, oh woe is me.

    Friday:
    Just as hubby had given up on his newly laid grass in the Vicarage, the rains came and there before our eyes the grass grew and the lawn was extended, and what timing, just as restrictions are being lifted thus the church grounds can be handed back. Indeed, the trees in the field shall clap their hands with joy!


    Answers to ‘Church' puzzle

    1. Peter, death will not overcome it.

    2. Praised God (they also shared possessions and money to all in need).

    3. Cenchreae.

    4. Aquila and they risked their lives for Paul and the church meets in their house.

    5. Yes; grace and peace.

    6. By proclaiming God's message.

    7. Christ's body.

    8. You and me.

    9. "If you have ears then listen to what the Spirit says to the churches!"



    Weekly Message from St John's Gowerton (Pye's Ponderings) for Sunday 14th June

    Dear friends,

    If I wrote truly about my ponderings over the last week, I would probably get into a great deal of trouble; the disjointed politically motivated response to the easing of the lockdown across the four nations is causing confusion and anger, and there was me thinking we are the United Kingdom –silly me!

    Then the tragic death in America of George Floyd, yes, of course the culprits should be punished with the full weight of the law, and also racism, in any form, is abhorrent, but mass gatherings in their thousands during this pandemic, I despair.

    My prayer life (and sleep, may I add), have been fractious to say the least, and yet I have been sustained by two things, firstly the collect for peace;

    Almighty God, from whom all thoughts of truth and peace proceed: kindle, we pray thee, in the hearts of all men the true love of peace, and guide with thy pure and peaceable wisdom those who take counsel for the nations of the earth; that in tranquillity thy kingdom may go forward, till the earth is filled with the knowledge of thy love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

    And secondly, a song by Jason Mraz which is titled, ‘Look for the Good' and which Julia's signing group are practicing, it sums up my most basic prayer, try and listen to it – the words are printed below.

    Yours honestly,

    Alex

    Look for the good in everything
    Look for the people who will set your soul free
    It always seems impossible until it's done
    Look for the good in everyone
    Hmm, hmm-hmm
    Hmm-hmm, hmm-hmm
    Hmm-hmm, hmm-hmm
    Hmm-hmm
    Hmm, hmm-hmm

    [Chorus]

    Look for the good in everything
    Look for the people who will set your soul free
    It always seems impossible until it's done
    Look for the good in everyone

    [Verse 1]
    People done gone crazy, people done gone mad
    People done forgot the superpowers we all have
    We were born to love, not hate
    We can decide our fate
    And look for the good in everyone
    And celebrate all our mistakes
    If there's a silver lining (Silver lining)
    You still have to find it, find it, find it

    [Chorus]
    Look for the good in everything, hmm, hmm
    Look for the people who will set your soul free
    It always seems impossible until it's done
    Look for the good in everyone

    [Verse 2]
    Everyone needs sunshine, everyone needs rain
    Everyone is carrying around some kind of pain
    I see who you are, you're just like me
    I see you're searching for a purpose, guided by a dream
    I see who you are, I'm just like you
    I get lost sometimes and I forget what I came here to do
    I keep on trying (Keep on trying)
    When it gets frightening

    [Chorus]
    Look for the good in everything, hmm, hmm
    Look for the people who will set your soul free
    It always seems impossible until it's done
    Look for the good
    Look for the good
    Look for the good in everyone
    Everyone is nature, everyone is God
    Everyone is love and light and vibration
    Look for the good, look for the good
    Everyone gets mad sometimes and maybe they should
    Look for the good
    Look for the good
    Yeah, look out for all the heroes in your neighbourhood
    Look for the good
    Look for the good
    Life sure would be sweeter if everybody would

    [Chorus]
    Look for the good in everything
    Look for the people who will set your soul free
    It always seems impossible until it's done
    Look for the good in everyone
    Look for the good in everything (Look for the good)
    Look for the people who will set your soul free
    It always seems impossible until it's done
    Look for the good
    Look for the good
    Look for the good in everyone


    Julia's Jottings

    Saturday
    Ah ha! Had a wonderfully warm bath, reclined in a tub of bubbles and ‘voila' the splinter disappeared, come out, gone, extricated itself; proving initial gut feeling that my two "medics" were a little over zealous with their suggestions of needles, squeezing and other such horrors was right – I'll stick to the painless old wives' tale.

    Tuesday
    Feel Repair Shop is not only a good tonic but an education, always had an interest in horology and although I don't have two pairs of specs now feel informed sufficiently to tackle kitchen clock, used sellotape to secure battery after clock had stopped again even after receiving new power source and Eureka!

    Wednesday
    I feel it's always a positive to have a trade up your sleeve, so served a little more of my apprenticeship for Pickfords by helping Vicar move furniture from dining room to lounge –impressed myself and proved that over the years I've helped cleric to move so much church and church hall furniture I had picked up sufficient (both mentally and physically) to be able to re-position myself so he went backwards. I may have served more than a 7 year apprenticeship but it's paid off.

    Note to self: Would prefer working day not to start with a 4 in it!!!

    NB. ‘Our Vicarage made perfect' has a certain je ne sais quois, however once again feel career move into television is less of an option than becoming a chattel conveyor.

    Thursday
    Decided to ignore the amassing grey clouds and dress brightly, considerable lighted my mood. Daughter returned from work took one look and said, "You look like a fruit salad" – well it's healthy if not necessarily complementary.

    Sunday
    As the song says "Look for the good in everything" and although younger daughter will be sorely missed now she's gone north, the resigned tone in her voice suggesting I was a poor challenger, did nothing for my ego every time she beat me at Mancala.



    Alex's update Sunday, 7th June – Trinity Sunday

    From the Vicarage

    Dear friends,

    Bearing in mind the popularity of my wife's "Julia's Jottings", (all true if somewhat embarrassing), my offering to you this Sunday could be entitled "Pye's Ponderings"!

    Last Sunday we celebrated the Feast of Pentecost and this weekend it's trinity Sunday, and also we should have been at Brecon Cathedral celebrating 100 years of the Church in Wales…and yet we are still at home, not isolated just distanced. Struggling, yes. Beaten, definitely not!!!

    The Gospel reading for today (Matthew chapter 28 verses 16-20) concluded with these words,

    "I am with you always to the close of time."

    The promise that we are never alone if we just open our hearts to our Lord.

    I read somewhere that we are all like radios, and we have the ability to choose which channel we tune into, one of doubt and fear, or one of hope and compassion. And also like radios, the noise or words we use will depend on what we are tuned into. Freedom of choice is an awesome responsibility!

    Our televisions and newspapers are full of division, blame and terrible violence particularly in the USA, it is infectious and has the ability to corrupt our minds. To balance this and cleanse our minds and thoughts, we need daily to tune into, through prayer, the giver of hope and love to all mankind, Jesus Christ our Saviour.

    As I am writing this my radio is tuned into radio 2 and playing "Simply the Best" by Tina Turner, let me remind you of one line:

    "You're simply the best, better than all the rest,

    Better than anyone, anyone I ever met."

    Who she is singing about I know not, but to me, it resonates with my chosen text,

    "I am with you always to the close of time."

    God bless you all,

    Stay safe,

    Alex


    Strain the Brain Time

    This week we are focusing on hymns, having not sung any together for a while I have looked back through my records to pick out some of the regular ones we use in our services and also a few from those nominated for our top 10 list. I will give you the first line then see if you can do the 2nd (and maybe more) and also give the name of the hymn. Don't forget to sing along and enjoy remember they are songs of praise after all. Good luck!

    1. "And can it be that I should gain…" Written by Charles Wesley (588 in Hymn Ancient and Modern)

    2. "I, the Lord of sea and sky….." Perhaps you know the chorus better it starts like this, "Here I am, Lord, is it I Lord….." (494 in Ancient and Modern)

    3. "Lord the Light of your Love is shining……" This was number 4 in our top 10 and again you may know the chorus better "Shine Jesus Shine, Fill this land with….." It's 719 in Ancient and Modern and 445 in Mission Praise.

    4. "Praise to the Lord the Almighty, the King of creation…." (765 in Ancient and Modern and 564 n Mission Praise.

    5. "All things bright and beautiful…." A favourite from our school days I suspect and a hymn even non-church goers know, it even starts with the refrain –which means recurring lines; it's popular at weddings and funerals and is number 5 in our top 10. (A+M 533, MP 23)

    6. "Guide me, O thou great Redeemer…." Sung by Welsh rugby fans the world over and number 7 in our top 10 (A+M 652, MP 201) Strangely in ‘Ancient and Modern' – the more tradional hymn book it's ‘Redeemer' whereas in ‘Mission Praise', it's ‘Jehova'!

    7. "Come let us sing of a wonderful love…." ( M.P. 94) Orginally this was published in a book of hymns for children.

    8. "Amazing Grace how sweet the sound…." Written by the Anglican clergyman John Newton (A+M 587, MP31)

    9. "Love Divine, all loves excelling…." Wesley's phrase, "changed from glory into glory" is almost a direct quotation from 2 Corinthians 3:18 (KJV) Anyway it was number 2 in our top

    10. "The Spirit lives to set us free…." Now if you aren't sure or want someone to sing along with have another look at our service for Ascension and Pentecost and you can join the Smith family who sang it for us. (A+M 264, MP 664).


    Julia's Jottings

    Saturday
    Getting a little despondent , lost at boules and fared no better at croquet on the Vicarage lawn, both my opponents triumphed during the competitions. I blame my glasses, I feel sure I'm aiming the mallet towards the hoop when I hit the ball but it tends to veer off. Don't like to think I'm a poor loser but it's getting wearing.

    Monday
    Very positive half hour, Beetles successfully translated across the landing- not the myriapod variety but a fleet of the four-wheeled range – and I must say they fit well into their new garaging at the top of the stairs, although the landing to the "West Wing" of the Vicarage will take longer to hoover now.

    Tuesday
    "Blurted out: "Oh I've found Tinky Winky!" – hubby, who was curled up in bed next to me, was a little (understandably I felt) perturbed, clearly, on this occasion I'd ignored that very useful maxim of "remember to engage brain before opening mouth" – explained it was one of the names in my Word search!

    Wednesday
    Very dispirited. Weather has been more than delightful for the last few days, whilst I have been unable to find my hidden, nay lost, summer wardrobe. Decided to dust single bedroom – well, let's face it, it's the only area that has escaped my attention over the last few weeks. Eureka! There they were, in a case between the bedside table and wall – oh what a joy, I too can join summer.

    Thursday
    Feel the need to make a public apology – here I am in my glad rags and the weather has taken a turn for the worst, furthermore according to the Met office it's set to continue. Feel it's a hint I've done something to displease Him. Will take time to consider my actions.


    ANSWERS TO THE HYMN CHALLENGE
    1. And can it be that I should gain
    An interest in the Saviour's blood?
    Died He for me, who caused His pain—
    For me, who Him to death pursued?
    Amazing love! How can it be,
    That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
    Amazing love! How can it be,
    That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?


    2. I, the Lord of sea and sky,
    I have heard my people cry.
    All who dwell in dark and sin,
    My hand will save.
    I who made the stars of night,
    I will make their darkness bright.
    Who will bear my light to them?
    Whom shall I send?

    Here I am Lord, Is it I Lord?
    I have heard you calling in the night.
    I will go Lord, if you lead me.
    I will hold your people in my heart.


    3. Lord, the light of your love is shining
    In the midst of the darkness, shining
    Jesus, Light of the world, shine upon us
    Set us free by the truth you now bring us
    Shine on me, shine on me

    Shine, Jesus, shine
    Fill this land with the Father's glory
    Blaze, Spirit, blaze
    Set our hearts on fire
    Flow, river, flow
    Flood the nations with grace and mercy
    Send forth your word
    Lord, and let there be light


    4. Praise to the Lord, the almighty, the king of creation!
    O my soul, praise him, for he is your health and salvation!
    Come, all who hear; brothers and sisters draw near,
    praise him in glad adoration!


    5. Refrain:
    All things bright and beautiful,
    all creatures great and small,
    all things wise and wonderful,
    the Lord God made them all.

    1 Each little flow'r that opens,
    each little bird that sings,
    he made their glowing colors,
    he made their tiny wings. [Refrain]

    6. Come let us sing of a wonderful love, tender and true;
    out of the heart of the Father above,
    streaming to me and to you:
    wonderful love dwells in the heart of the Father above.


    7. Guide me, O thou great redeemer,
    Pilgrim through this barren land;
    I am weak, but thou art mighty;
    Hold me with thy powerful hand:
    Bread of heaven, bread of heaven,
    Feed me now and evermore,
    Feed me now and evermore.

    8. Amazing grace (how sweet the sound)
    That saved a wretch lie me!
    I once was lost, but now am found,
    Was blind, but now I see.


    9. Love divine, all loves excelling,
    joy of heaven, to earth come down,
    fix in us your humble dwelling,
    all your faithful mercies crown.
    Jesus, you are all compassion,
    pure, unbounded love impart;
    visit us with your salvation,
    enter every trembling heart.


    10. The Spirit lives to set us free
    Walk, walk in the light;
    He binds us all in unity,
    Walk, walk in the light.
    Walk in the light,
    Walk in the light,
    Walk in the light,
    Walk in the light of the Lord.



    Alex's update Sunday, 31st May, 2020 - Pentecost

    Dear friends,

    My text this morning is Acts Chapter 2 verses 1-21

    Please look it up and read it at least twice.

    Pentecost, Whitsun, the birthday of the Church, a time of celebration and a time of rejoicing. I would like to concentrate, just briefly on verses 4, 6 and 17,

    ""And they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance"

    "And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in his own language;"

    "And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams;"

    Speaking in tongues is a phrase that more often than not confuses people to say the least, and fills them with distrust and fear, as it did for those on that first momentous day; were they drunk? Were they deranged?

    It is very important for us to remember that the crux of the matter, so to speak, is that Almighty God wanted to speak and reach out to the whole world, whatever language they spoke. Verse 17 states,

    "And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams;"

    "Pour out my Spirit on all flesh" – not just the chosen nation or of the chosen few but all of mankind.

    Society today speaks a different language to the worship in our churches, this is a fact we cannot nor must not ignore. Our liturgies may and indeed are beautiful but to the outside world they are meaningless and irrelevant. Our challenge is to take God's Word of hope, love and forgiveness out into our communities and communicate in such a way that the message is understood and is relevant. In other words we need to speak in tongues of today not yesterday.

    To illustrate this I finish with my 3 verses , but this time from the Youth Bible, Acts chapter 2 verses 4, 6 and 17:

    "They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak different languages by the power the Holy Spirit had given them. When they heard this noise, a crowd came together. They were all surprised, because each one of them heard them speaking in his own language.

    God says: in the last days I will pour out my Spirit on all kinds of people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions."


    The Spirit lives to set us free, let us walk – and talk – in the light.

    Alex


    Free Pentecost Prize Hamper
    The total number of pictures and plaques hanging in Gowerton Vicarage is: 64

    Three people guessed 67 but the name drawn out of the hat was

    JAYNE ☺

    CONGRATULATIONS


    Pentecost 2020

    What can you see in the Bible?

    We've all heard of 2020 vision, some of us are fortunate enough to have had it, many of us need to wear glasses to be able to get anywhere near it, but what does the Bible tell us about seeing and vision? Let's have a look!

    1. Were you paying attention to this week's message…in Act chapter 2 verse 17 who will have visions old men or young men?

    2. In Jeremiah 23 verse 16 why did are we told NOT to listen to the prophets of Samaria?

    3. In Numbers chapter12 verse 6 when does the Lord give people visions?

    4. In Acts chapter 9 verses 10-12 two men had visions from God but how are they linked? By the way what street was Saul in at the time?

    5. Who had a vision in Acts chapter 18 verses 9-10, and what was he told to do?

    6. Joel chapter 2 verse 28 should be very familiar to us – why?

    7. Revelation chapter 21 verses 1-5 is a sure foundation for hope for us all – what does it say?

    8. Isaiah chapter 6 verses 1-9 inspired John Wesley and he wrote about it in one of his hymns "And can it be", both Isaiah and John Wesley needed to understand and worship before serving God, Think of the words of the more modern hymn, ‘Here I am Lord', can you remember the chorus?


    Julia's Jottings

    Saturday
    Stubbed my little toe on one of daughter's weights left on the floor – absolutely no sympathy shown me in my hour of need.

    Note: Toe has gone black and blue (literally), only comment was "you bruise easily", Wonder if using a crutch and perching toy parrot on my shoulder may encourage a more sympathetic response but suspect will only result in further derision.

    Sunday
    Suddenly the 2 medics resident in the Vicarage (albeit one "ex" and the other "working towards") are experts on little toes having, between them, more knowledge than any I have read or heard about in A+P (Anatomy + Physiology) over the last 9 months. Nevertheless after complaining about my hip aching due to limping I hobbled out of the ‘consultation', was aware of the comment ‘old age doesn't come on its own', they clearly hadn't taken in to account that my injury had not affected my hearing!

    Monday
    Love hearing the dawn chorus but if Our lord could arrange for the birds to have a couple of hours line in (just occasionally) that would be absolutely dandy, I do feel 6 am is a far more civilised time to be woken.

    Tuesday
    Rebecca quite astutely noticed her dad always apologises to me even if it's not his fault. On reflection she does have a point. I must try not to jump to conclusions and point the blame so quickly. However, do feel there is no need for the Vicar to change his ways – I love him just the way he is with all his perfect imperfections!

    Wednesday
    My dad used to sing the little ditty "I'm a lumberjack and I'm OK" – odd really since he was an accountant and had an aversion to gardening, nevertheless found myself singing it whilst watching hubby and daughter give tree a short back and sides – felt working in the hairdressing department meant I was able to offer helpful pointers. As they do say – no experience is ever wasted.


    ANSWERS TO THE Quiz on Vision
    1. Young men
    2. Because they are made up in their own minds, they are not visions from God.
    3. In their dreams
    4. Ananias was told to go and find Saul and told what to do when he found him, and Saul had seen Ananias in a vision. Straight Street.
    5. Paul, he had to talk to people.
    6. It's the verse quoted in Acts chapter 2 verse 17
    7. It offers a description of life with God beyond death.
    8. Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?
    I have heard you calling in the night
    I will go, Lord, if you lead me
    I will hold your people in my heart.



    Alex's message, May 24th 2020

    Dear friends,

    This Sunday Sue and I have done another service for our website and Face book page, the following is the script - so to speak, for those of you who are unable to watch our offering…

    At this time in all churches the feasts of the Ascension and Pentecost are firmly on our minds and in our prayers, it's a time when we consider carefully what we believe. Bearing this in mind I begin with a short section of a song from the musical ‘Whistle Down the Wind' popularised by ‘Boyzone' in 1998.

    "No matter what they call us
    However they attack
    No matter where they take us
    We'll find our own way back
    I can't deny what I believe
    I can't be what I'm not
    I know I'll love forever
    I know no matter what."

    Alongside this 2 readings for you to look-up, Psalm 100 and 1 Corinthians 13 8-13.

    I was asked and questioned recently, "Is church closed – where's your God/ Is He furloughed?" So to answer that 5 words which when combined remind me that God is active to say the least.

    I – inspirational work of the NHS + front line workers
    A – admiration for people literally risking their lives for us
    T – thankfulness that's being expressed on Thursday evenings and much more
    H – hope that the community spirit being expressed now continues
    F – family, the importance not just of biological but our family that is St John's

    All of these spell a word: FAITH

    Another line from the Boyzone's song we began with,

    "And I will keep you safe and strong and sheltered from the storm, no matter where it's barren, a dream is being born."

    Faith in our Lord doesn't mean there won't be problems and challenges in your lives but it does give you strength and courage to face them and look forward with hope. We believe that Jesus will NEVER leave our side

    May God's blessing be up on you all.

    Alex

    ********************************************************************************

    Thank you to everyone who has returned their bunting ready for the "birthday of the church" which is this coming Thursday on the Feast of Pentecost, and thanks must also go to Sue for coordinating and organising it all. Naturally it is impossible to have a birthday party without a cake, so here is a special recipe for you in place of our weekly quiz, we do hope you enjoy tracking down the ingredients ☺


    Scripture cake

    (A fruit cake with Old Testament flavour)

    Ingredients
    200g/8oz Genesis chap 4 verse 4
    200g/8oz Jeremiah chap 6 verse 20
    4 Isaiah chap 10 verse 14
    2tbs 1 Samuel chap 14 verse25
    280g/10oz 1 Kings chap 4 verse 22
    ½ tsp Leviticus chap 2 verse 13
    1 tsp 2 Chronicles chap 9 verse 9
    350g/12oz 1 Samuel chap 30 verse 12 (continued on next page)
    50g/2oz Numbers chap 18 verse 8 chopped
    2 tbs Judges chap 5 verse 25

    How to make it
    1. Preheat oven to 170/150 fan oven, gas 3. Grease and line 20cm/8" cake tin.
    2. Cream Genesis and Jeremiah until pale and fluffy. Add Isaiah and Samuel a little at a time, beating well after each addition.
    3. Fold in the Kings, which you have sifted with Leviticus and Chronicles, and then the Samuel and Numbers. Stir in the Judges to make a soft dropping consistency.
    4. Bake for 2 ½ hours until a skewer comes out clean. With a long, slowish baking of this kind you must use your judgement: check the cake in case it appears to be browning too much, and if so shield it with foil or greaseproof paper. Start testing 20 minutes before the time is up, and don't omit the skewer test.
    5. Once cooked remove from the oven and leave in the tin for 30 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.


    Julia's Jottings

    Tuesday
    Mmmm it's just as I feared wasted energy and zeal at beginning of lockdown – so much that had been achieved will need to be redone- take the dining room already dust is reappearing and to make the situation more serious I now use it as ‘office backdrop' for "teams" screen when in work, SO dilemma is thus – do I clean it now at the beginning of half-term, or leave it until sessions restart? Denouement: - move computer to another more recently room cleaned room.

    Wednesday
    Can't believe a formal complaint was made about the natural divots and ‘forest like floor' on Vicarage croquet lawn – wouldn't mind but I was the one losing. Strange how a kiddies set can inspire such competitive spirits.

    Thursday
    Deployed new strategy for outdoor vista and had luxurious afternoon tea on same lawn – delicacies included delicious homemade fruit cake and English Breakfast tea. Lesson learnt:- for peaceful session employ kitchen supplies not recently discovered treasures from newly tidied garage!

    Friday
    Can't seem to get used to having neighbours who can look up (and presumably into) our bedroom window. Must make mental note to draw curtains before undressing. On a positive note, due to church being closed I can't be blamed for putting them off attending.

    Saturday
    My butt is filling again, unsurprising really but very satisfying delighted recent thunderstorms have replenished water level even if I did behave like a rabbit in headlights and retreat under duvet with amazing speed – never have been a fan of lightning!



    Alex's Sunday Message, May 17th, 2020

    Dear friends,

    I am using Matthew chapter 9 verses 37 and 38 as my text for today,

    "Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest."

    Well, my cucumbers, tomatoes and potatoes are sprouting, the grass seed has taken and my bedding plants are blooming. Monty Don better watch his back Agricultural Al is learning by the day! Joking aside I am really enjoying the garden and realise only too well how fortunate my family are to live in a house with plenty of outdoor space, compared to so many who are less fortunate.

    Over the past weeks Sue and I have tried our best to keep in contact with as many of you as possible via phone, email and Face book, and can I reiterate that if you are in need, in whatever way, please don't hesitate to contact us.

    It has been very noticeable that our website and Facebook page are flourishing to say the least, ( a little note here to thank Julia for all her work – in particular her ‘Jottings'). Sue informs me that 1,242 people looked at out V.E. Day service (a little note here to thank Dave Rumbelow for his help), and over 500 people regularly visit St John's website. Which brings me to my earlier text, "The harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few", there is I believe a huge evangelical opportunity on our doorstep, so to speak, it fills me with hope and even excitement, perhaps instead of being sowers of the seed it's time to harvest the crop.

    When our church is open again, which it will be, let's fling open the doors to everybody with joy and acceptance in our hearts, because we have a message for all humanity, a message that is one of forgiveness, acceptance and love, all made possible by the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ our Saviour.

    May God's blessing be upon you all,

    Alex


    Parish Puzzle:

    That Great British Topic of Conversation: The Weather

    1. What sort of weather is mentioned in Psalm 148 verse 8 – tick all that apply:- Snow, wind, sunshine, storm, cloud, mist, thunder, lightning, rain, hail
    2. Again what weather conditions are listed in Matthew chapter 16 verses 2-3? Interestingly this is still often heard quoted today! Snow, wind, sunshine, storm, cloud, fair, thunder, lightning, rain, hail
    3. Leviticus chapter 26 verse 4 tells us the sort of weather required to produce fruit but what is it?
    4. In Job chapter 37 verse 9 which of the following does he mention? Snow, wind, sunshine, whirlwind, cloud, fair, thunder, cold, rain, hail
    5. So in Jonah chapter 1 verse 4 what 2 types of weather are mentioned?
    6. What sort of weather did Elijah pray for in James chapter 5 verses 17-18?
    7. In Job chapter 37 verse 17 from which direction does the wind blow?
    8. In Amos chapter 4 verse 7 it sounds like a conversation you'd hear in Wales so what is being talked about?
    <>9. Haggai chapter 1 verse 11 is describing another type of weather phenomena is it : Flood, drought, hurricane, blizzard
    >10. We are told in both Luke chapter 8 verses 23-25 and Mark chapter 4 verse 39 about something that frightened Jesus' followers – but what was it?
    11. Revelation chapter 16 verse 21 describes yet another type of weather but what is it?
    12. John chapter 3 verse 8 tells us about something that is very relevant for us as the it lnks with the feast after Ascension* in the Church's year .
    13. Take heed of this advice in Luke chapter 12 verse 54! 14. We finish with a verse from Matthew which is often misquoted-but what is it ? (Matthew chapter 5 verse 45)

    * Ascension is celebrated on May 21st and Pentecost on May 28th .


    Julia's Jottings

    Sunday
    Daughter requested black out curtains – unable to provide –however solution found by hanging three pairs of curtains on same rail. As they used to say "The need is great the time is short" and anyway triple hung curtains –just as tasteful as thrice cooked chips but healthier as extra calories burnt-off rather than added.

    Monday
    Oh the pressure of having efficient and clean neighbours I refuse to wash on Sundays but scanning gardens from the rear of Vicarage decide I can't be the only one NOT to wash for two consecutive days – rummage around to find full load and hang it out high and proud!

    Tuesday
    Very impressed when daughter receives a letter with a wax seal – hubby got Church Times in recyclable bag –it would appear the generation gap gets ever more recognisable.

    Wednesday
    Local cleric decided to reorganise pictures on Vicarage walls – was blissfully unaware of this until heard a none to reassuring crash – the Prodigal Son had fallen. He was replaced quite unsubtly (I feel) by The Arc d'Triomphe print.

    Thursday
    Without appearing disrespectful, after studying the story of creation with unprecedented detail I have been unable to discover any mention of the fact that dandelions show grow 50 times as quickly as grass in the church grounds, nor do I consider it one of those plants "that bear grain or fruit" – clearly God is having another laugh!

    Friday
    Sleeping more soundly nowadays do wonder if this isn't a result of a cheeky nightcap snifter –alcohol donated by a friend, however will discover conclusive results about sleep theory tonight as finished final miniature last night.


    ANSWERS to the Biblical Weather Puzzle

    Hail, snow, mist, storm.
    Stormy
    Rain
    Whirlwind/wind
    Wind/tempest
    Rain
    South wind
    Rain
    Drought
    Storm/windstorm
    Hailstones
    Wind
    Cloud/shower
    Sun and rain


    Update for Sunday May 10th

    Dear friends,

    Hind sight or fore sight, which would you prefer? The Gospel according to Matthew tells us in chapter 6 verse 34,

    Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day's own trouble be sufficient for the day."

    On April 1 st it was to have been our Annual Vestry Meeting, and the following was to be my address;

    "We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held I honour, but we in disrepute."

    1 Corinthians chapter 4 verse 10

    The dictionary defines a fool as someone who thinks or acts unwisely and according to the dictionary to be foolish is ‘lacking good sense or judgement', and foolhardy means ‘delighting in needless risks'.

    The very core of Christianity seems foolish to our world – the Virgin birth – miracles – the Resurrection – life after death…..

    And yet Christianity has survived for over 2000 years, it still plays an important and vital role in our world, it still attracts new people because of the message of Jesus Christ, that of love, hope and forgiveness.

    So, the question is, are we fools for Christ? Are we willing to be foolhardy in the face of aggressive condemnation and apathy?

    Here in St John's the coming year will be full of challenges with regards to the maintenance of our buildings and on-going financial pressures.

    Our west wall urgently needs to be repaired and the process has begun with regards to grants and quotes, I am expecting it to cost between £20-30,000.

    The parish share continues to be our largest outgoing, and recently, on your behalf I spoke at length at the Area deanery meeting about the stark reality that the make-up of the share could not be met, which resulted in the recommendations being returned to the DBF for further investigation.

    On paper these issues seem insurmountable, and logically it would appear foolhardy and foolish to even attempt to climb these figurative mountains. And yet (for the second time), scripture comes to the rescue:

    Strength:1 Timothy chapter 1 verse 12, ""I thank him who has given me strength for this, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful by pointing me to this service."

    And hope: Romans chapter 12 verse 12, "Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer."

    In the face of challenges it is our faith in Jesus Christ that gives us strength and hope.

    We have much to celebrate here in St John's and if we stand united and, dare I say, defiant, no hurdle is too high for us to clear.

    We must never lose sight of our primary function in this community which is to be an open and welcoming place of worship, prayer and comfort in times of need; as a place where people can come and experience the love of God through our actions and our words.

    I commend this parish report to you with heartfelt thanks to all who make this church a vibrant expression of God's love.

    What a different world it was then, however some challenges remain and I am sure you agree our priorities have become more focused.

    Alex


    The Weekly Puzzle

    This week we are looking at how one number in particular occurs time after time in the Bible; indeed over the last few weeks the number ‘40' has been discussed and mentioned in lots of different contexts. So let's check some of them out

    1. Who said Ninevah would be overthrown and after what period of time (Jonah chap 3 verse 4) ?
    2. Deuteronomy chapter 9-18, -who was where and for how long?
    3. Exactly how long did Jesus fast for (Matthew chap 4 verses 1-2)?
    4. In 1 Samuel chapter 17 verse 16 are we told happened for 40 days and nights?
    5. What are we told happened for 40 days in Acts chapter 1 verse 3?
    6. Judges chapter 3 verse 11 informs us the land had rested for 40 years and then who died?
    7. 2 Samuel chapter 5 verse 4 tells us David became king when he was 40 years old and reigned for 30 years - or is it the other way round?
    8. 2 Chronicles chapter 9 verse 30 reports which king reigned for 40 years?
    9. The same book (2 Chron) tells us a second king also reigned for 40 years in chapter 24 verse 1, but who was he?
    10. Let's pop back to the book of Acts, in chapter 13 verse 21 which king do we learn about?

    GOOD LUCK!


    Julia's Jottings

    Friday
    Very confused by ‘Gardeners' World', every week you are given a list of jobs to do- can only assume I'm doing something VERY wrong because if I was compiling ‘Jobs for the week Ahead' it would read: Week 1: Mow Church and Vicarage grounds Week 2: potter- weeks 3+4 repeat previous two weeks. N.B. Very pleasing to be able to check a signing protégé was receiving designated Hands Together homework from her Grandma (a more senior member of signing group) . Proving God does indeed work in mysterious ways –the CWR (Church Wheelbarrow Run) –doubles up as depositing grass cuttings and progress check on student out for daily walk opposite side of local by-pass.

    Saturday
    Used out of date cans to prop old baking trays containing plastic seed cups on window ledge as my cleric doesn't have a green house. Bonus: Newspaper said tinned foods are fine to consume 3 years after date on tin – therefore slow growing seeds are fine QED

    Monday
    Dishwashing duty is more pleasant now there are blooms to appreciate along fence and back wall, washing-up has also become an excellent way of burning calories as it involves the VSA (not to be confused with CWR). Necessitating quick sprint and war cry to deter brazen squirrels, consuming hubby's grass seed, saves doing couch to 5k run! (VSA=Vicarage Squirrel Alert).

    Tuesday
    Concerned little cheeky nightcap had taken more effect than I cared to admit, so called "Smart Speaker" in bedroom bing-bonged and proceeded to announce all older adults in the Vicarage should be tucked up in bed – just about to toss the thing out of the window when younger offspring declared it was her! My Luddite instinct tells me modern technology is definitely dodgy.

    Wednesday
    Grated thumb on cheese grater, drew blood; in-house first aider moaned she was unused applying plasters – I considered her very derogatory about stemming my blood flow.

    Answers to Quiz:

    1. Jonah, 40 days
    2. Moses 40 days and 40 nights
    3. 40 days and 40 nights
    4. For 40 days and nights the Philistine came forward.
    5. The apostles saw Jesus for 40 days after he was raised from the dead.
    6. Othniel.
    7. David was 30 years old and reigned for 40 years.
    8. Solomon reigned in Jerusalem for 40 years.
    9. Joash.
    10. Saul.



    Update Thursday 7th May

    For VE Anniversary celebrations, there will be a short VE Day service (filmed at St John's) put on the St John's Facebook group tomorrow.

    Also, Christine's concert is shown below.



    Update Sunday, May 3rd

    This week I have two texts for you, the first is Psalm 23 verse 4:

    "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me."

    And secondly, the Gospel according to John chapter 10 verse 7:

    "So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep."

    You will all have heard of the sayings, "Home is where the heart is" and "Home sweet home", both of which are particularly relevant to us all during the lockdown we are all experiencing at this present time. The author Catherine Campbell, in her daily reflections book ‘Journey with me' states the following:

    "Home. The place we feel safest, where danger is usually kept outside the door. Where we can kick off our shoes and be ourselves; where the stress of life is replaced by the comfort of the familiar. Home. Where we are known and loved. Home. Jesus promises to meet us there. In the routine of ordinary everyday life is the very place we should wait for Him. He'll turn up for sure."

    John's Gospel reminds us that Jesus is the entrance door for His sheep, which we sometimes interpret as the door to our churches, which are open to all who are in need of peace, friendship and guidance…..and yet our churches are closed!!

    In the 1980s Paul Young had a song entitled ‘Where ever I lay my hat That's my Home", which today reminds me that if we invite Jesus into our homes he will indeed "lay His hat" and stay with us to sustain and give hope and assurance in these scary times, Psalm 23 verse 4 sums this up perfectly,

    "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me."

    So, in our new daily lives at home Jesus is with us, in our lounges, in our kitchens, in fact in every room! Which brings me to a little prayer for you all,

    All that I am,
    All that I do, All that I ever have,
    I offer now to You.
    All that I dream,
    All that I pray,
    All that I ever make,
    I give to You today. AMEN

    Alex


    Last week's puzzle was all about names of road and streets within our parish, well this week I am being more specific and I suspect there is nothing you won't have heard of before, but nevertheless it is another way of helping us find out a little more about what's in our Bible so this week …….

    It's All in the Name

    1. Isaiah chapter 9 verse 6 – a good place to start with 4 names in one place!
    2. If you've read my message this will be easy: John chapter 10 verses 7 and 9.
    3. Very apt for the season we are in 1 Cor. 15:3-4
    4. Luke 1:32
    5. Something to remember in our present situation 1 Tim. 1:1
    6. Let's return to John - John 8:12
    7. Even Job knew Him by name: Job 19:25
    8. Our Christmas story gives us this name, Luke 2:11
    9. But Luke gives us another name too: Luke 19:10
    10. Back to John for another title: 1 John 2:1
    11.Even in the last book of the Bible we find another name: Rev. 1:8
    12.Another name provided in the Gospel according to John: John 6:35
    13. Matthew provides us with another descriptive name: Matt. 9:15
    14. The Psalmist was right: Ps. 118:22
    15. Perhaps one of the most familiar names: John 10:11

    There are numerous other names for Jesus perhaps you can find the references for them yourself; in the meantime can you explain what the following names actually mean – match them with the following definitions:-

    Emmanuel
    Jehovah
    Alpha and Omega
    Messiah
    Redeemer
    Advocate

    Definitions:
    • The beginning and end
    • One who speaks in our defence
    • God with us
    • Eternal, unchanging, self-existent
    • The anointed one
    • To tear loose, to rescue

    We hope this helps you to keep those "little grey cells working".

    Until next week!

    Alex


    Julia's Jottings

    Friday
    Well I've heard of the saying, "I could crush a grape" but in all honesty it's not something I expect to witness –especially on what was my CLEAN kitchen floor. Father (in the biological and ecclesiastical sense) dropped a green one on the floor and simultaneously as he shouted, ‘Opps grape on floor" –or something similar - daughter stepped on it. Guess kitchen floor is clean no more.

    Saturday
    Daughter and boyfriend slipped behind chest, resulting rescue mission involved pulling said pine chest from wall, recovering photo and performing full spring clean on that section of skirting board, which evolved into full scale operation around entire bedroom. And to think "it started with a kiss".

    Sunday
    Husband asked if we could provide suitable gift for a 2nd birthday for a boy who liked diggers - tomorrow! And there was I thinking miracles were his department. Visited present drawer under spare bed……and lo! There appeared within a miniature JCB with a label announcing from afar "suitable for 2+". Lesson learnt – faith can provide presents.

    Monday
    Leant out through study window to greet kindly friend and her pal on their perambulation, crucifix fell from window ledge with quite a racket – could it be a sign of retribution from above? Replaced crucifix after cleaning study windows, local rep said his boss indeed worked in mysterious ways, stating my penitence had made his view clearer

    Tuesday
    Voice from above declared triumphantly it wasn't everyone who had a ‘national countdown' to their 20th birthday. Valid point, but suspect transition from teenage to 20s and conclusion of second lockdown, in actuality, have little differentiation!


    Update Sunday, 26th April

    Dear friends,

    My text for this week is Zephaniah chapter 3 verse 14:

    "Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout O Israel!
    Rejoice and exult with all your heart O daughter of Jerusalem."

    Those of you who know me well, will know that music is not one of my strengths, (an understatement if ever there was one), however I do love to sing, whether it be in the bath or shower, and most of all in church at the top of my voice. We all have favourite hymns we like to belt out, one of mine is the following:

    Give thanks to the holy one,
    Give thanks because he's given
    Jesus Christ His son.
    And now let the weak say I am strong
    Let the poor say I am rich,
    Because of what the Lord has done for us REPEAT
    Give thanks.

    Even in our present situation we have so much to give thanks for, and also remember the blessings we have received through the grace of God. Make a list and put them up in your kitchen. Then make another list of people who have helped and sustained you during this lockdown, and through your life, and then contact them and say "thank-you".

    Bearing this in mind I would like to thank Rev Sue, ‘my little dragon', for all that she has done for our parish and for me. We are indeed blessed by Sue's ministry and friendship. So, this Sunday, at 10 am, choose your favourite hymn of thanks and sing it at the top of your voices…I will be listening!
    May His love enfold you,
    May His strength uphold you,
    May His light shine upon you and
    May His peace surround you.

    Alex


    The Weekly Puzzle

    This week we are joining the ‘virtual' world, have you noticed that since the lockdown everything happens in the ‘virtual world'? We have virtual parties, virtual meals, and yes even virtual services. So, you are now invited to do a virtual tour of Gowerton – oh, and we even dip our toes into Waunarlwydd.

    This is how it works. Below are a list of Biblically linked street names in Gowerton, in alphabetical order, the part of each name that is underlined is spoken of in the Bible! There is also a list of Bible references referring to each road, all you have to do is match them up, be aware most of the thoroughfares have more than 1 quote. When you have done them, if you have a friend on any of the roads why don't you ring them to say hello as you pass on your tour of the area.

    Good luck.

    Alex

    Street names in Gowerton

    Barnabas Place (Waunarlwydd- but very close to Gowerton ☺)
    Cae Dafydd (we've interpreted this as David! Both the English and Welsh versions mean ‘beloved')
    Cedar Close
    Church Street
    Ffordd Butler
    Oakwood Drive
    Mount Pleasant (For ‘Mount' there are 3 mentioned in the Bible: Mt Sinai, Mt Zio, Mt Olives –so climb all 3!)
    Ravensfield
    Roseland Road (I could only find one reference to ‘rose', some translations have ‘lily' instead.)
    Willowbank

    References

    Ephesians chap 5 verses 25-27     *Isaiah 41:19
    Genesis chap 14 verse 13     *John 8:1
    Job 40:22     *Solomon 2:1
    Genesis 40:1     *Acts 13:22
    Genesis 8:6-7     *Galatians 2:1
    Hebrews 12:22     * Galatians 4:25
    Revelation 14:1     * Luke 12:24
    Isaiah 44:4     * Psalm 37:35
    Genesis 40:5     * Genesis 12:6
    Zechariah 14:4     * 1 Kings 4:33
    Isaiah 15:7     * Matthew 22:42
    Acts 4:36     * Psalm 125:1
    1 Chronicles 18:14     * Colossians 4:10
    1 Kings 17:4     * Matthew 24:3
    James 5 14-15     * Luke 1:32
    1 Corinthians 9:6     * Leviticus 27:34
    Deuteronomy 11:30     * 1 Chronicles 14:17
    Leviticus 11:15

    I hope you enjoyed our virtual walk around our parish can I suggest you now put your feet up and have a REAL cup of tea ☺.

    Julia's Jottings

    Monday
    Bloomin' heck this work lark really does get in the way, here am I trying to get all those ‘little extras' done, I'm already behind on ‘normal' housekeeping chores and now I'm moving between 2 computers –hubby's in study (which in all fairness he does need to use occasionally) and daughter's in dining room which rather restricts her jigsaw campaign. And yet, college continues to demand (and rightly so) my time. Ahhhh well at least I've confirmed I'm a people person and not a computer boffin, yep decided it's much easier working alongside real people than faces on screen, I mean have to make sure background is suitable and my wardrobe appropriate.

    Tuesday
    Deciding to pace myself with my panel of the Bayeux tapestry if I'm not careful I'll have a full scale replica, slight snag don't have enough wall space in Vicarage and not sure local cleric would want it to adorn the church walls.

    Wednesday (evening)
    Younger offspring noted the wheelbarrow and gardening tools had been left close to the bluebells in very much of a Monty Don style, had to agree and what a wonderful gardener he is (Alex I mean)! Opposites clearly attract, he plants but I prefer destructive stuff.

    Thursday
    Welcome phone call from little brother (erm decided to find new label well at 6ft and 56 years young and greying ‘little/baby' no longer seem appropriate terms suppose younger is still valid) anyway wanted to speak to Vicar professionally!! Know when one is not required adopted semi-professional secretarial tone and handed him over.

    Friday
    Ooops seem to be doing lots of things but none that are on my original list, does this mean I prioritised incorrectly or I've just put off the important things mmmm, see hubby hasn't even realised glass cupboard has been reordered – had to explain pint glasses, then ½ pint then tall hi-ball followed by short ones, suspect I stand no chance with reorganised condiments!

    Saturday
    Daughter stepping up to mark and helping with church grounds, initially sceptical about input - upon returning from emptying wheelbarrow she passed on tip that if wheelbarrow handles rest gently on the bench you sit on you can put your feet up without said gardening item tipping over. Having tested theory it does work. Ask myself why it took her so long to prove the theory – by the time she took over mowing I had completed three quarters of largest grass area.

    N.B. So pleased she wasn't in her greens – what with green mower on similar coloured surface I'd have never been able to keep check on her movements around lawn.



    Update 18th April 2020

    My text for this weekend is John chapter 20 verses 19 and 21:

    "On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the father sent me, even so I send you."

    I hope and pray that you are all coping as well as you can with our present situation. I personally have never done so much gardening in all my life, and last week I re-ordered my study! I found books I didn't even know I had, and others I'm not sure why I bought in the first place. Also Julia has sorted out my sermons into season order, 26 years of perspiration; again some I am quite proud of and others made me wonder what planet I was on when I wrote them!!

    All of this seems to have affected my times of reflection and prayer profoundly. Scripture is speaking to me in a very different way, and I have spent quite a considerable time contemplating my ministry to date, and how the Church needs to change, or dare I say revert to the priorities of ministry, evangelism and sacramental worship that is relevant to today's world. We are called to be peacemakers and to spread hope and forgiveness in Jesus' name.

    One of the books I found was by one of my favourite authors, Rabbi Lionel Blue, entitled 'Blue Horizons', it has lifted my spirits greatly and enable me to focus on what really is important.

    There is a great deal of humour in this book which has helped a lot, however alongside this there are passages of prayer full of theological truths, one example is the following:

    "The past is too dead to do much about, the future is only a glint in God's eyes, but the present is precious and holy because you can change it and use it to do good to yourselves and OTHERS."

    Our Lord said, "Peace be with you" and then sent his disciples to share this peace and hope with all mankind.

    This is our call today, perhaps more than ever before, and we all have the ability to do it in our own special way.


    May God's blessing be upon you all and I look forward to the day when we can join together to worship and sing praises to our saviour, Jesus Christ, the source of all goodness, love and forgiveness.

    Alex


    Julia's Jottings

    Monday
    A little indulgence viewed 'Escape to the Country' – lovely but extremely happy in uptown Gowerton, nevertheless the show does provide parish with fundraising opportunities; for all those who want a large garden this Vicar's wife would generously give BBC the opportunity to bring along escapees to do church grounds and Vicarage lawns – after all experience is education for the soul, and my experience tells me God DOES have a sense of humour :–

    large ecclesiastical grounds +summer growing season = Wife mows grass

    Hubby (local cleric) who has hay fever

    Therefore charging BBC for privilege of giving others an a reality check that small lawns are beautiful raises church funds and gets job done  QED

    Tuesday
    Washed my trendy 'paperbag' waisted trousers. Emptied washing machine to discover a fiver hanging out of one pocket – is this money laundering??

    Wednesday
    Never have my knobs been so shiny (or indeed any of the other door furnishings). Do feel lockdown could have averted a potential disaster – after wandering into dining room spotted several cobwebs and realised a little more than a flick round with a duster was necessary, and eureka-task completed. Now have to hope current situation is resolved so that delayed Easter coffee bash can be held in Vicarage before it's necessary for me to repeat the whole cleaning process again.

    Thursday
    In accordance with plumber's instructions tested new boiler by turning on every radiator. This included the one in my "signing cupboard" pastor Pye asked whether I was now 'cooking the books'!!

    Friday
    Resolved to reorganise seating for 'Hands Together' signing group when we resume, every member will be seated facing the window so they admire the ivy-free wall and because I will be outside they will have opportunity to practice and develop their receptive signing skills.



    Update 14th April 2020

    Puzzles

    This Week's Teasers ☺

    Hopefully everyone is beginning to find their way around the Bible quite easily now and having a bit of fun too. Alex

    Body Parts in the Bible
    1.Prov. 3:3 tongue neck skill skin
    2.Gen.49:24 arms fingers kidneys sinews
    3.Gen 3:14 ankle liver belly skin
    4.Judg. 5:26 neck kidneys arm head
    5.Ex. 12:22 nostrils liver blood bones
    6.Lev. 8:16 nostrils liver hair teeth
    7.Ex. 29:13 tongue skin teeth kidneys
    8.Jer. 13:23 skin liver belly ankle
    9.Is. 3:16 ankles teeth neck tongue
    10.Gen.49:12 hair arm teeth belly
    11.1 Sam: 31:13 liver teeth ankle bones
    12.2 Sam 18:9 kidneys head skin tongue
    13.Job 10:11 nostrils sinews arm blood
    14.Judg. 7:5 fingers skin tongue sinews
    15.2 Sam.22:9 liver nostrils teeth arm
    16.2 Sam 21:20 fingers blood belly Skull

    Answers are below This quiz was taken from: '80 Bible Puzzles' by Tony Spiller.

    And your next task – should you choose to accept it – is to write down every letter in the alphabet and then think of at least one thing for each letter, but it must be something that makes you happy. The 'things' can be people, pets, objects, absolutely anything!

    Don't forget the Vicarage still has a variety of jig-saws (free of charge) . Please contact us on 927158 if you would like one.

    ANSWERS
    1..Neck 2. Arms 3.Belly 4. Head 5. Blood 6. Liver 7. kidneys 8. Skin 9. Ankles 10. Teeth 11. Bones 12. Head 13. Sinews 14. Tongue 15. Nostrils 16. Fingers



    Easter Day Message

    John Chapter 20 Verse 8

    "Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed."

    "And he saw and believed", following on from our Good Friday text with regards to the centurion stating that, "Truly this man was the Son of God", it has struck me how privileged those individuals were to actually witness the life-changing events of the first Easter. 'Seeing is believing' is a statement you will have all have heard before, and it's very true. I am also reminded of Thomas needing to see the holes and scars on our Lord before he could believe.

    The question now arises – what is the message for us on this glorious day of the Resurrection?

    It is, quite simply, that we are called as believers, to express our faith through action and word, so that people can see and experience the love of God in their lives.

    Ae we all, united, continue to keep the faith in these trying and difficult days, it is vital that we all continue to reach out with acts of love and compassion to all who are struggling and anxious.

    I finish with a prayer from the Mothers' Union

    God Almighty, we praise your holy name in this joyful Eastertide. We thank you, Lord, because through your death and resurrection we have won the victory and your redeeming grace and love. Loving Father God, fill us with new life so that we may love one another and do what you want us to do in sharing your love with those who don't know you. In Jesus' name we pray.

    Happy Easter and may God bless you all.

    Alex, Julia and Rebecca




    Good Friday

    Mark 15 verse 39: "And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that he thus breathed his last, he said, "Truly this man was the Son of God."

    This year as we are not able to have a Walk of Witness, I would like to give you all a different opportunity to be a witness to the events of the first Good Friday, verbally this year rather than visually.

    Instead of walking I want you to phone (NOT email, Facebook or text)as many people as you can and read the following short verse from the Gospel of Mark chapter 15 verse 39

    "And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that he thus breathed his last, he said, ""Truly this man was the Son of God."

    And then say, "The centurion believed. (Pause) I believe. (Pause) Do you believe?"

    Make a note of how many you phone and let's see how many people we can reach out to on this special day, let me know on Saturday.

    Alex

    P.S. I am starting in Canada, how far can you reach?!!!!




    Update 2nd April

    Palm Sunday

    Dear friends,

    Our reading is Matthew chapter 21 verse 9

    And the crowds that went before him and that followed him shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!"

    Holy week 2020 will without doubt go down in history as a week when many will state that the church was closed – no worship, no prayer, no joyous celebration on Easter morn. This is so far from the truth, it shows a lack of understanding of what the Church is, and what Christians seek to proclaim in their lives.

    The church building is just a structure where we gather, to collectively sing praises, receive the sacrament of the Eucharist, pray for those who are in need and give thanks for all the gifts we have all received through the abundant love of God. However, we must never forget that our calling is to express our faith in every aspect of our lives; at this time it is a challenge I grant you, we are, perhaps, not in the mood to sing, "Hosanna to the Son of David" (Matthew 21:9) on Palm Sunday or walk with our Lord towards Golgotha, and yet as people of faith we are sustained and comforted by the words of Holy Scripture, and in particular the words of the Gospels that tell of Jesus' words and actions leading up to his crucifixion on that first Good Friday.

    During next week I invite you to follow with me the words found in the Gospel according to John:

    Monday    John chapter 12 verses 1-11

    Tuesday    John chapter 12 verses 20-36

    Wednesday    John chapter 13 verses 1-17

    Maundy Thursday    John chapter 13 verses 21-32

    Good Friday    John chapter 19 verses 1-30


    After each section set aside some time for a prayer (with a coffee/tea and a biscuit I suggest) and remind yourselves of the fact that God loves you, and will walk with you every moment of your day, if you just open your hearts and minds to His words.

    May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all, now and evermore.

    AMEN

    Alex, Julia and Rebecca



    Update 30th March

    Journeys in the Bible

    Journey 1.

    1. Name all the people on this road that we are told about ((Luke Chapter 10:25-37).
    2. The distance from Jerusalem to Jericho is approx. 17 miles/25 km so you need to do that number of steps on the spot!
    3. Solve these anagrams they all relate to the passage you have just read.

    beguhinor
    ejnoruy
    bbeorry
    deginor
    aaaimnrst
    deehlp
    emnoy
    acimnoopss
    abeent
    eehrt


    Journey 2.

    a) Genesis chapter 11 verses 26-32. Name his 3 sons and any other relatives that are mentioned.

    b) Ur to Canaan is about 600miles (950km) – obviously you DO NOT have to do the journey all at once, but count your steps so you know when you arrive! You will be following the route of the River Euphrates.

    c) Using the letters from the names of Terah's 3 sons a b r a m n a h o r h a r n I have made 32 words of 3 letters or more – see how many you can do.


    Journey 3

    Read Luke 24:13–35. This journey is about 10-12km (7 ½ miles) – don't forget to pace it out, to make it longer you can do the return journey.

    1) On this road Jesus listened to the two people he met, take time to pause, listen and reflect.
    2) Answer these questions- test your knowledge on Paul.

    What was Paul's name before he became a Christian?
    What city was Paul traveling to when he heard Jesus speak to him?
    Was Paul originally a Pharisee?
    Paul wrote a number of the books in the New Testament. Where was Paul when he wrote many of them?
    Where was Paul born?
    Which one of these books in the New Testament did Paul NOT write?
    Paul spent most of his life after becoming a Christian in what occupation?


    Journey 4

    Who travelled from Moab to Bethlehem? The journey was about 80km/nearly 50 miles (don't forget to do the equivalent number of steps).

    Read the book of Ruth.

    Now match the women's names with the correct Bible references.

    A. ELISHEBA    B. JEZEBEL    C. BATHSHEBA    D. RACHEL    E. ZIPPORAH
    F. ELIZABETH    G. SARAI    H. JOCHEBED    I. HANNAH    J. ASENATH
    K. ACHSAH    L. EVE    M. HAGAR    N. REBEKAH    O. ADAH
    P. ANINOAM    Q. PREISCILLA    R. RHODA    S. DAMARIS    T. KETURAH
    U. EUNICE    V. HUSHIM    W. DINAH    X. EGLAH    Y. TAHPENES

    1. 1 Chronicles 8:8    2. Genesis 25:1    3. Genesis 16:1    4. Luke 1:36
    5. Genesis 29:6    6. Exodus 18:2    7. Genesis 34:1    8. 1 Samuel 14:50
    9. Genesis 22:23    10. Genesis 11:31    11. Numbers 26:59
    12. Exodus 6:23    13. 2 Samuel 3:5    14. Acts 18:2
    15.Genesis 36:2    16. 1 Chronicles 2:49
    17. 1 Samuel 1:2    18. 1 Kings 1 16:31    19. 1 Kings 11:19
    20. Acts 12:13    21. Acts 17:34    22. Genesis 3:20
    23. Genesis 46:20    24. 1 Kings 2:13    25. 2 Timothy 1:5

    Answers:

    Neighbour, journey, robbery, ignored, Samaritan, helped, Three, Compassion, beaten



    Update for Sunday, 29th March

    The text for today is from the Gospel of Matthew chapter 4 verses 14-16

    "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."

    Can I begin this message with a big thank you to all who were able, for following Archbishop John's suggestion of lighting a candle in their windows last Sunday as a sign of hope and prayer.

    A well-known Christian folk singer called Garth Hewitt wrote a song entitled 'Light a Candle in the Darkness', the chorus of which is as follows:

    Light a candle in the darkness,
    Light a candle in the night,
    Let the light of God unite us,
    Light a candle in the night.

    The song itself has little relevance to our present situation, however the chorus shouts our message from the rooftops.

    My chosen text from Matthew's Gospel underlines our responsibility:

    "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."

    "Good works" in today's closed-down society involves staying in contact with each other, being constant in prayer and following the Government's advice to stay at home other than to shop for necessities. It is our collective responsibility to adhere to the guidance.

    As Christians we believe in faith that our Lord never leaves our side whatever our predicament. The following is well-known to all of you, let it speak to you today and always:

    One night I dreamed a dream.
    As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
    Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
    For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
    One belonging to me and one to my Lord.
    After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
    I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
    I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
    especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
    there was only one set of footprints.
    This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
    "Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
    You'd walk with me all the way.
    But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
    there was only one set of footprints.
    I don't understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me."
    The Lord replied:
    "My son, my precious child,
    I love you and I would never leave you.
    During your times of trial and suffering,
    when you see only one set of footprints,
    it was then that I carried you."


    May God's Blessing be upon you all.

    Alex

    Don't forget on Sunday morning there are a variety of televised services available on the internet as well as on BBC 1 at 11.30 am.



    Update 20th March 2020

    Can everyone please put a single lighted candle in their front window on Sunday as a Candle for Hope.



    Update 19th March 2020

    Dear friends,

    This is the first of our weekly messages from St John's which will continue as long as the situation requires.

    2 Corinthians chap 1 verses 3-4

    "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."

    In these challenging and worrying times there is a need to take the recent words of the Bishop of Norwich to heart, "We continue to be the church just in a different way, to be a people of hope, to be a people of prayer, to be a people of kindness, to be a people of loving service. Because WE are the people of God."

    This Sunday is Mothering Sunday, a day in which we give thanks to God for all mothers, and focus our prayers on Mother Church, the bride of Christ. The characteristics of mothers resonate with special significance at this present time, to comfort, protect, guide and feed.

    As we all brace ourselves to face the coming weeks it is vital that we remember we all have a role to play with regard to reaching out to the isolated, the lonely and distressed.

    I have been heartened and encouraged by the number of people who have asked, "What can I do?" Councillor Sue Jones is being very pro-active in her efforts to set up a support system for those affected by our present situation, can I encourage you all to keep in touch and contact Sue or myself if you know of anybody who is in need of help. (Cllr Sue Jones 872561, Rev Alex Pye 927158)

    I will finish this edition with a prayer by Michael Ramsey,

    "Most merciful father, you have called us to be a caring Church, reflecting in our lives your infinite care for us your children.

    Help us fulfil our calling and to care for one another in an unselfish fellowship of love; and to care for the world around us in sharing with it the good news of your love and serving those who suffer from poverty, hunger and disease."

    Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.