Storytelling is experiencing a revival. Look through the local events pages
of the newspaper, or the newsletters of art centres and it will not be long
before you are invited to a storytelling event. It is worth going if you can. It
is an extraordinarily skilful and difficult art form, like stand-up comedy
(which grew out of it), and like all the arts, it puts us back in touch with
something essentially human.
The people of the Bible were not just good at stories. They lived stories.
For us, life is often experienced as a series of snapshots or episodes; but
ancient peoples understood themselves as living within, being part of, a story:
the story of the tribe, and key individuals and families within it; but also the
greater story of the people. It would be unthinkable for them to tell their
stories without the presence of God, the author and audience who writes himself
into his own script. The act of remembering (putting back together) through
story was about connecting with the flow of something greater than individual
affairs. The call of prophets was to re-enter that flow with wholehearted
In mid-October we crossed the threshold of a season that, even today, we
associate with storytelling. The cold and darkness of winter, with its sense of
struggle, ageing and death, drives us indoors and, ideally, into the company of
others. It is a time for creating that warm, intimate space which is the
storyteller’s domain. In a culture that has become detached from its story, we
need more than ever to recover this ancient ability.
The storyteller does not only recount bare historical facts. That would be
dull. She provides a perspective: drawing us in, warning of lurking dangers,
laughing at absurdities, and leaving us with searching questions, a wry smile or
a realistic uncertainty. Biblical storytelling has an added dimension:
revisiting past events with the benefit of hindsight and prayer, and uncovering
new things as well as old (Matthew 13:52). These are the stories that make us
who we are.
Anyone who has experienced counselling, spiritual direction or a pastoral
conversation will know the healing power of having someone pay attention to
their story. The one who listens attentively creates a sacred space within which
a reconnection happens with the greater flow of life, and the one from whom life
comes. Finding the presence of God in the midst of our story, finding our story
in the midst of God’s story, is to discover our true selves.
In a matter of weeks we approach again a story at once familiar and yet
always fresh, that, in the bleak midwinter of life’s journey, God remembered us
and showed that we were never written out of his script. Isn’t it time for you
to find your place within it, and to learn how to tell it too?
Two years ago, the work on the Vision Process at St Nicolas’ identified
making connections with the local community as a priority. With this as a focus,
the ‘Celebration of Christmas’ and more recently ‘Welcome on Wednesdays’
established the corner stones. Following months and months of preparation,
planning, and prayer by people in the North Cheltenham Team Ministry, two
visions have recently been realised, to reinforce and develop the building
blocks at St Nicolas’, and to continue and strengthen its work of connecting
with the North Cheltenham Wider Community. During October, I witnessed at St
Nicolas’ a sense of excitement about the future of sharing the Good News about
Jesus Christ, as the hard work generated the underpinning of the visions.
Firstly, Daphne’s vision of linking with the wider community through the
invitation to join the ‘Celebration of Pets’ on 23rd September. This was a
‘first’ for St Nicolas’ and pages 18 and 19 illustrate and articulate this
special event. Secondly, Sue, Miriam and Ruth’s vision of supporting ‘Outreach’
through Messy Church is on-going. Please see page 11 for details.
All the participants will take home memories, and find themselves remembering
aspects of these events throughout the coming days, weeks and months. Our theme
this month is ‘remembering’ and the importance of our five senses to recall
events is paramount.
Our five senses: smell, touch, hearing, sight, and taste are nature’s road to
explore the world. Sometimes in horrific or painful ways, but most remarkably to
give and receive pleasure. It is through the senses that memories are created.
Impressions are received from our five senses, and have a significant role in
the retention of information in our minds. The majority of impressions are
acquired through two respective senses, sight and hearing.
To tease out further how we, as individuals, remember, two stories illustrate
how one man remembers a significant event in his life, and how two soldiers
recall their individual memories in a war-time drama.
How many of you remember Charter Party? He was the 1988 Gold Cup winner, who,
upon retirement, opened the Prestbury Abbeyfield in 1990.
For those of you who recall the above events, what you may not know, is that
when the horse’s owner, Colin Smith, a director of Wimpey, first set eyes upon
Charter Party in 1982 at Condicote, (near Temple Guiting) in the presence of
Prestbury’s renowned jockey and trainer, David Nicholson, ‘the Duke’, he had two
clear impressions of that first visit.
He could not remember meeting the Duke! Worse, he later admitted: “It would
be difficult to find a racehorse that looked more like a donkey!”
I think it would be fair to surmise that Colin’s two impressions were gained
through sight and hearing, but in both cases it was a case of looking without
In May 1941, the Germans launched a paratrooper assault on Crete, resulting
in the British falling back from their defensive positions. Climbing the very
high mountains, they walked mostly at night in a very slow tread with just the
jingling of water bottles and occasional stumbling of people who had fallen
over. One battalion medical officer recalls the most evocative thing as the dew
on the flowers….the aromatic scents of Crete as unforgettable. Another officer
remembers “a journey that showed human nature at its Christian best, but also at
its ugly selfish worst”.
This vignette shows us how differently two men remembered the same drama and
illustrates how precise the sense of smell is.
Our theme for the December/January edition is CHANGE. We love to hear from
our readers. Your comments keep us on our toes and help make our magazine
better. Your feedback is discussed at team planning meetings. It is as a result
of reader feedback that Suzy is collating a series of articles about Celebrate!
and we are delighted to have an excellent ‘first’ in this month’s magazine.
Thank you, Louise.
Sources: The Duke, Jonathan Powell, 1995;
All Hell Let Loose, Max Hastings , 2011
There will be an
Act of Remembrance at
Prestbury War Memorial on
Sunday 11th November 2012
beginning at 10:45am
and followed by a service of Holy Communion at St Mary’s Church
You are welcome to attend either or both of these
“At the going down of the sun and in the
we will remember them”
I would not that
my memory all should die,
And pass away
with every common lot:
I would not that
my humble dust should lie
In quite a
strange and unfrequented spot,
By all unheeded
and by all forgot,
With nothing save
the heedless winds to sigh,
And nothing but
the dewy morn to weep
About my grave,
far hid from the world's eye:
I fain would have
some friend to wander nigh
And find a path
to where my ashes sleep-
Not the cold
heart that merely passes by,
To read who lies
beneath, but such as keep
warm with deeds of other years,
And pay to
friendship some few friendly tears.
As part of our new look and feel for the magazine, we are keen to involve all
our congregations with children, young people, and adults of all ages, and to
this end are planning a series of articles on the popular Celebrate! Service,
held at 9.30am every Sunday at St Mary’s. For our first article, Louise Evans
has kindly offered to write about the experiences of her family, both in joining
the congregation and getting involved…..
“Peter and I settled in Prestbury in July last year. We both work at UCAS, so
Prestbury was the perfect choice for easy access to work, but also our chance to
be part of a community. This was our first house purchase together after living
in rented properties. We fell in love with Prestbury straight away and knew our
house in Linden Avenue would be a home for life for us and our two sons, Cian
and Morgan. Next step, getting to know the community!
We had attended St Philip and St James in Leckhampton for a couple of years,
and although we enjoyed the services, we didn't fully relax with the children in
tow and struggled to get to know anyone. We seemed to rush off at the end to
avoid a tantrum, or to ensure that Cian made his mid-morning sleep.
We started coming to Celebrate! in March 2011 when our offer was accepted on
the house. We knew from childhood experience that the church was a great way to
make family friends, and we knew that we wanted this for our children... and of
course to establish our faith as a family.
We really enjoyed the services, and quickly got to know faces in the aisles.
Celebrate! is a very warm, family-friendly service, and this suited us down to
the ground. Like most children, our boys are not too keen on sitting still, but
the songs, actions, instruments and activities keep them engaged for most of the
service! Celebrate! isn’t just about children, it has enabled us, as Christian
parents, to find a means to celebrate our faith that fits with our family.
I really enjoyed the style of the services and quickly noticed that other
parents and parishioners contributed; this was something I felt I could do and I
approached Fr Daniel.
At UCAS I am the Professional Development Manager with responsibility for all
the training delivered to schools, colleges and universities supporting
applicants through our admissions service. As a trainer, I’m used to public
speaking and don't get (very) nervous. When I told Fr Daniel I wanted to help
with the craft/prayer activities he looked pleased. When I told him that I was
happy to stand up and lead sections of the service he was amazed! I’ve since
learned that volunteers don't pop up often!
After volunteering to help, I joined the Celebrate! Leaders’ Group (alongside
Fiona Haddock, Kathryn Green, Jerry Porter, Andy Macauly, Stephen Murton, Mary
Gardner, Mireille & Nathan Weller and Fr Daniel) and the Celebrate! Planning
Group with Andy Macauly and Fr Daniel. The Leaders’ Group discusses our vision
for Celebrate! including views and ideas from across the congregation. The
Planning Group plans service themes, Bible passages and activities for the
services, meeting around once every six weeks. I also share responsibility for
leading prayer activity planning with Kathryn Green - this finds us cutting,
sticking, and colouring most weeks, and preparation before each service.
Peter has managed to get involved in St Mary’s too, but in a very different
way. Not one for public speaking, he has joined the Bellringing Group, and
enjoys, at the age of 41, being one of the youngsters! He also sits on the
Parochial Church Council.
We have really enjoyed getting to know the community of Prestbury through St
Mary’s. Our faith has grown and our lives are enriched by our involvement in the
church. Celebrate! isn't just a church service, to me it's a way of thinking, a
way of life, a celebration of faith, families and it's fun... as both a leader
and a parishioner”.
Bob and I came to the Cotswolds in the spring of 1952 – to a little cottage
next to the school at the Lower Swell owned by the Stow doctors for their
assistant. His job for a year was paid for by the Government to help integrate
service personnel into the 1948 NHS, as older GPs had to work 10 years in the
service before qualifying for superemuneration and this obviously caused a
In the spring of 1953 Dr Scott Stewart, a popular Prestbury doctor, died
unexpectedly. Bob being nearby and due to vacate the Stow position was invited
to help Dr Lidderdale, Prestbury’s senior partner. The month notice was halved
by mutual agreement and Bob came over to do the surgeries while Mrs Scott
Stewart grieved and eventually moved with her two boys.
Tatchley House was a large house we could ill afford and we looked at several
others for sale at the time. Eventually, with the help of Bob’s father we moved
in with our two wee children in the very week of the Coronation. Some Naval
friends came too with their offspring and we caused considerable speculation on
the first Sunday morning. Bob and Joan had gone to the early service and John
and I to the 11 o’clock where John’s excellent singing voice was noted.
Consequently, the first voluntary job Bob was asked to consider was membership
of the choir. However, many will remember he was decidedly tone deaf! Being
“Honorary Troop Surgeon” to the local scouts was much more in his line and
convenient as they were nearby and maintained possession of the loft above our
garage as their meeting place!
I remember an early gathering in the “Church Hall” (the skittle alley of the
King’s Arms where the car park is now). On the stage were the three new comers
to the village; The Revd Norman Kent, Mr Sydney Shaw from the Priory and Bob.
Parish members from the floor posed questions via the chairman and in tone they
were often amusing and quizzical, in judgement of the three!
Bob did an early surgery at 70 Prestbury Road followed by one at Tatchley
House with six drawers of notes beside him. All the floors were covered in
linoleum and an oil stove in the waiting room was prone to smoke in those days,
patients used the front door with its sliding knob, prescriptions, trustingly
left on the hall table where the east wind would buffet them with each opening
of the door, right past the one and only radiator in the house! One evening, Bob
in his working clothes, busily painting over the endless brown on the stairs,
responded to a ring of the door – “Can I see the doctor?” was the answer!
Services in church in those days were very different, only the priest took
communion at the 11 o’clock and as Bob used to go to one of the two early
services and me to the 11, made easier when Nigel became a boat boy. Norman Kent
quickly learnt that Bob had been brought up in the tradition of the
Congregational Church. He prepared him for confirmation and the following vestry
meeting asked him to be Church Warden a post he held through two interregnums.
Fund raising was for ever on the agenda. First for the Church Hall in
Bouncers Lane, then for the Infant School and thirdly the various stages of
“Improvement for St Nicolas” – extending the “tin tabernade” turning the
orientation and finally when the field had been donated, the new church.
Alarmingly the new Church Hall might well have been burnt down at the first
dance organised there. It was prior to Guy Fawkes Night and the winner of one of
the prizes set light to it in the middle of the floor and Bob and a friend from
our table moved towards it with their glasses of beer when it went off and
peppered the ceiling and one or two ladies’ dresses. Not a happy moment to
remember and sobering for the culprit. Garden parties at Tatchley House were a
fairly regular feature and through nigh on 60 years there, I look back with
strong bonds of Parish fellowship with very happy memories and many, many
How well I remember my Dad telling me this story not long before he died. His
father was a woollen mill owner in Bradford, and expected my Dad to follow and
run the mill after he died. This wasn’t a happy thought, because he wanted to be
a soldier. After much thought, as grandpa was strict, he signed on to be a
soldier, and this was frowned on, but my Dad went ahead. This story I’m
remembering must have been horrific: he eventually found himself on the Somme
and in the trenches.
One day he had to leave the trench for an investigation. He took with him his
gun, and as he approached the top of the trench a German soldier was coming
towards him on his belly, and also had a gun. Sadly my Dad had to shoot and kill
him. Dad was in a bad state, and had to be taken to hospital, and eventually
back to England where he was in a nerve hospital. We three children had always
wondered why he got angry so quickly and shouted. But now we know, and
thankfully forgave him.
How brave our men were in that First World War. We have much for which to be
thankful. Thank God for his story which I shall never forget.
On Saturday 13th October the first meeting of the new Triennium was held at
St Nicolas’ Church, here in Prestbury. Members of the Synod are elected to serve
a term of three years and Father Michael Cozens, Mary Turner and I were present
as representatives of the Cheltenham Deanery.
For those new readers of my reports I should explain that each deanery in the
diocese elects members, lay and clergy to this body and we are split into the
House of Laity and the House of Clergy. At the first meeting of the triennium,
we elect a chairman to represent us at synod and who will also be a member of
the Bishop’s Council, together with other Bishop's Council members we elect.
This was the first business to which we had to attend after we had met for a
very lovely Eucharist. Frances Murton accompanied us for the hymns and the sung
responses and Litany. The brilliant sunlight, Harvest Festival flowers and
richness of the timber vaulted church were magnificent and I felt so proud when
my neighbour remarked, “I don’t like modern churches but this is different.” (St
Nicolas’ members of the Fabric Committee please take a bow!)
After a welcome coffee break, supplied by our caterers, the discussions
began. Bishop Michael very actively encourages genuine debate on matters we have
to decide on and any comments from members are made clearly from the microphone
at the front of the meeting. All are considered before a vote on a motion is
As in our parishes, the Diocese has had to produce an overall plan for moving
forward in spreading the word and beliefs Christ gave us, an overall “Parish
Plan” for Gloucestershire, if you like. The Bishop’s Council had spent a lot of
time in the last year, collecting ideas and facts and putting a draft together
for us to consider. The plan we voted to accept is basically this.
OUR PURPOSE AND OBJECTIVE
1. Worshiping together Through Scripture, Prayer and Sacrament in uplifting
services of all kinds and celebrating pastoral offices with sensitivity and
2. Sharing our Christian Faith and Values through culturally appropriate
evangelism across ALL ages, supporting each other spiritually and materially and
engaging with families and schools, developing our Church Schools as partners in
3. Providing a visible presence in every community and parish by showing
God's Love through identifiable people and buildings; offering welcome,
hospitality and pastoral care to ALL through growing our congregations and
planting new ones by ensuring our buildings are well ordered and in good repair,
fit for the widest possible use.
4. Serve the wider world around us through using our physical, spiritual and
human resources to tackle poverty and injustice in our own Dioceses and beyond,
using our local physical, spiritual and human resources.
Naturally, there was a great deal of discussion on how to make this happen
and Bishop Michael agreed that we should review progress on an annual basis. In
2016, there will be an overall reassessment.
The other matter discussed was, unsurprisingly, the dire state of the
Diocesan Finances. The overall deficit is still rising, all be it more slowly.
The Board of Finance has done exactly as requested and has worked on various
ways of reducing central administration costs. There have been four voluntary
redundancies and more are to follow. They have studied other diocese strategies
and are working to concentrate offices so staff are working in closer units.
Those bills are now dropping.
However, there is one fundamental problem and that is that as parishes face
rising running costs, such as gas, electricity, insurance premiums, maintenance
bills, extra income gathered has been used to pay these as unavoidable, but they
have failed to appreciate that Diocesan Parish Ministry expenses have risen at
the same rate and they, by law, must also be met somehow.
Stipends, National Insurance contributions and pension contributions, are
controlled by governmental legislation. The Diocesan Board of Finance (DBF)
received £5.6 million in Parish Share last year but was obliged to pay out £7.1
million on Parish Ministry. The gap has been filled by drawing on investments
but those are clearly limited and the gap is still growing. At present, they are
utterly determined to maintain the same level of ordained ministry and clergy
training but ultimately, if this sliding debt is not removed, there will be no
replacements when priests leave the diocese or retire. In our own parish we
manage to maintain Eucharistic services between St Mary’s and St Nicolas’, every
day of the week, already many Parishes are just grateful for one a week and that
at varying times. If this problem rumbles on we will ultimately suffer as well.
In 2013, the DBF has budgeted for a £317,000 cut in support services. If
things don't improve a further £500,000 of cuts will be sought by 2015 and at
least £300,000 will have to come from parish ministry. Those cuts will be made
in Deaneries which are not reaching their targets. Only three are at present,
Gloucester, Cirencester and Tewkesbury with Winchcombe.
There are many people in Prestbury who are giving very generously but there
are also many people in our congregations who are not giving at all.
If you value the support, friendship and comfort of belonging in our church,
please, when you read this think jolly hard, and listen to the appeal our own
Finance Committee is going to make.
If you are still with me at the end of this report, thank you for reading on
and spare a kindly thought for those who strive to keep our Diocese running
because there is a lot we do well and can feel proud about, as Bishop Michael
told us in his address. I have just reported here on the most important items on
Lynda Hodges, diocesan
God gave animals a very special place in Creation. In the beginning, God said
‘Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock,
creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals…..and it was so’. Over
these animals man was granted ‘dominion’ but throughout the Bible we are
reminded of both the special role of animals – such as at the birth of Jesus, or
on Palm Sunday - and the duty of humanity to take care of them, even if they
belonged to an adversary:
“If you come across your enemy's ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to
take it back to him” (Exodus 23.4).
For many centuries animals were largely considered as livestock or pests,
rather than companions However in more recent centuries, the role of the ‘pet’
has increased in importance. 49% of us now own a pet, and they are important
members of our families. They teach us and our children about caring,
companionship and ultimately, loss. People love their pets, regardless of
whether they are church goers or not.
As way of improving the connection with the wider community surrounding St
Nicolas, and inspired by a (much bigger) service that she witnessed at the
Cathedral Church of St John the Divine in New York, Daphne Philpot arranged a
Celebration of Pets service to be held at the church on the 23rd September.
Dance from Swan Lake
What followed suit was exactly the connection with the public that Daphne and
others in the St Nicolas team had hoped for, and which they are striving so hard
to increase as part of their vision for the church.
Members of the community, young and old, familiar and unfamiliar, met in the
church hall, accompanied by their pets, to celebrate their role in our lives in
a service led by Fr Michael Cozens. Also in attendance were Reuben Croft from
the Animal Shelter and Jo Begg from Riding for the Disabled, the latter two
guests nicely encapsulating the role of animals regarding what we offer them,
and they to us.
The service was extremely full and varied, including a re-enactment of Noah
and his family building and populating the Ark; a beautiful dance from Swan
Lake, performed by Gabriela from the Helen Gill School of Dance; a song from the
Brownies; and a Pets’ Parade around the hall.
The Brownies Sing
One activity involved people writing the names of favourite pets, past and
present, on stickers and attaching them to flags along the wall. This was a
touching, and commemorative act for those who stood and reflected on the
contribution these animals had made to their lives.
Fr. John Mead interviewed a few of the pet owners and learned their stories.
One of his interviewees was Jerry Porter, who brought along Matt his dog,
wearing a little ‘Pet Therapy’ coat. Matt regularly attends the Junior school
(yes really!) for reluctant readers to practise their skills. The dog listens
attentively, without criticising, and the children’s reading improves.
Fr John Mead speaks to animal owners
Nick Roach also brought a sheepdog in. Unfortunately the training isn’t going
too well because the dog disperses sheep rather than rounds them up! A lovely
story and good luck with those skills!
The congregation also listened as Jenny Mead interviewed Jo Begg about the
work carried out by the charity Riding for the Disabled. RDA provide therapy,
enjoyment and achievement to almost 30 000 people with disabilities every year.
Beethoven the pony was sadly a little too large to attend, but is one of the
many horses and ponies who work with the volunteers.
Jenny Mead speaks to Jo Begg and Reuben Croft
During the service Reuben Croft spoke about the work that goes on at the
Animal Shelter. One of the pets introduced was a very well behaved black and
white cat called Riff Raff, who was rescued and rehomed via the Shelter. Whilst
talking, Reuben revealed that the facility has an on-going requirement for
unwanted blankets, small rugs and towels to keep the animals comfortable during
the cold winter months. There will be a collection box at St Nicolas’ for anyone
wishing to re-organise their airing cupboard, and the Shelter will be very
grateful indeed. Alternatively, please contact Daphne Philpot.
During the service there were no fights, and no gerbils were snacked upon by
pet cats. In fact, one ginger cat sat on its owner’s lap throughout, next to
some hamsters, who were not in the least perturbed!
Daphne Philpot leads out the Pets' Parade
The whole celebration was well organised and very enjoyable, fun for the
whole community and very successful in its message of inclusion to the wider
community - thanks to all who helped and contributed. Fr Michael said it was the
first service focused on the subject of pets that he had ever led in over 20
years of Ministry – but we hope it won’t be the last!
Last year the Cheltenham Committee pledged to raise £5000 for Zimbabwe to
which the EU added X9 making a total of £50,000. This year the target is still
£5000 but the EU will give X3 so that every £1 becomes £4 and the grand total
£20,000. This is for aid to the Lebanon and occupied Palestinian territories to
help those struggling to overcome disabilities and help them become fully
involved members of society.
The main fund raiser is the Autumn Fair on Saturday 3rd November at St
Andrew’s Church Montpellier; please support in person if you can or donate items
for the stalls which can be left in a box which will be in the church, soft toys
would be useful for Gill Ashman who is helping on the toy stall. Many thanks
This time last year you were reading about my visit to Malawi and the
projects supported by the charity. Since then I have continued to work raising
funds for medical items needed by the main and local hospitals and in particular
obtaining equipment for the newly set up eye service at St Luke Hospital, Malosa.
I have recently obtained from an optician his old Slit Lamp Microscope and
Non-Contact Tonometer (puff of air machine for glaucoma testing) so they will be
sent this month with a further box of glasses. You were very generous in the
spring last year enabling me to purchase the testing kit and donating used
glasses for the hospital to issue. I feel that it is important that we maintain
this supply as the service is dependent on having spectacles to issue so please
keep them coming.
The charity runs a gift scheme all the year but it is particularly relevant
at this time before Christmas. I will be at the Real Christmas with cards and
order forms but you can preview the gifts on www.malawimacs.org. I am keen to
help the local health centre at Nkope where many of the iron bedsteads do not
have mattresses and as the £50 is a large sum for one person am asking for
donations in the hope that we can manage to supply more than one.
I hope to see you at the Real Christmas, on Saturday 8th December, many
Colin & I would just like to say how much we enjoyed the Barn Dance on
Saturday evening. It was a real fun evening and lovely to see familiar faces
from ‘Times past’. We haven’t laughed so much for ages and it was great to see
everyone else having such a good time. We very much look forward to the next
Well done and ‘Thank you’ to all those involved.
Brenda & Colin Peebles
Janet and Martin Ford dancing to the music of
Baily’s Beads with John Boucher calling
Picture by John White
Twelve years as a relief housekeeper at Abbeyfield retirement home ended on a
high note for Betty Nation with a presentation at a residents’ musical tea.
She was given roses, a specially-iced cake and a £100 shopping voucher.
During the interval, guitarist Alex Carson gave a sing-a-long performance.
Betty from Tewkesbury who finished her final weekend shift in September, said
“I was very moved and I’m going to miss everyone. It’s such a lovely place, I’ve
really enjoyed my time here, and we all get on so well. I’d have loved to have
stayed, but I’m retiring for medical and family reasons.”
Betty, 70, was praised for her dedicated service by the chairman of Prestbury
Road home’s executive committee, Noel Brick, as he presented the leaving gifts
on 31 August.
It was acknowledged by Helen Davis (Housekeeper) that Betty, who also worked
at Abbeyfield Tewkesbury, was very popular with the residents. Helen said “She’s
a lovely person who has helped us such a lot over the years with our charity
events, as well as being great at her job.” Helen organised a cash collection
from residents, volunteers and the committee for Betty’s retirement presents.
Volunteer, Abbeyfield Prestbury
What a delightful evening we enjoyed in September, with Glenice Yates
demonstrating “Our Heritage”. Glenice has been to our club several time,s but
she was even more entertaining than usual, keeping us all amused with her tales
and giving us really lovely arrangements which several members were lucky enough
to win in the raffle. We also had our third competition of the year, an
arrangement in an unusual container and there were some excellent entries.
On 26th November will be our Christmas demonstration to which all members and
friends are cordially invited. Barbara Priest will be sharing a “Winter’s Tale”
with us. Barbara gave us a fabulous demonstration on her last visit so we should
be in for a treat. Our meetings are held in Prestbury Hall, Bouncers Lane and
commence at 7.30pm with the hall open from 7pm. Visitors are welcome at £6 and
there will be festive nibbles. We also have our final competition of 2012, an
arrangement with a figurine, which all are welcome to enter.
Should you require any further information about the club’s forthcoming
events or to view photos of previous demonstrations please visit our website,
‘My child, when you come to
serve the Lord, prepare yourself for testing. Set your heart right and be
steadfast, and do not be impetuous in time of calamity…. Accept whatever
befalls you, and in time of humiliation be patient…. Trust in him, and he will
help you; make your ways straight, and hope in him.’
Ecclesiasticus or Sirach
chapter 2 v.1, 2, 4, 6 (NRSV)
Our Christian journey is fraught with dangers, delays and detours… sometimes
we think we are being led down paths which become dead ends, at other times we
are reluctant to continue a path, unsure of where it will lead us, and discover,
on arrival that it was the very best place to be!
Whilst out walking one day with my husband, we were trying to walk around a
small island. We started along properly paved paths with properly built bridges.
As we got further away from the houses, the paths became more and more
overgrown, the ‘bridges’ became random logs thrown across the ditches. But the
challenge was still there, to complete what we had set out to do, regardless of
the setbacks and the lack of guidance. The paths divided and subdivided and
choosing the right one became harder and harder, many times we came to ‘dead
ends’ and had to turn back to the original path. Each ditch or stream became
more challenging to cross, the logs unable to hold our weight and broke
resulting in falls into brackish water! All the while, we were being attacked by
swarms of hungry mosquitoes! But we did eventually succeed in arriving safely.
The experience made me aware that our lives are so very similar to this, as
children we are guided by parents and teachers to follow the safe ‘paths’; as we
grow we become more headstrong, believing that we are invincible. We face many
challenges, make many mistakes and above all are foolish enough to believe that
we can face life’s trials on our own, relying on our so-called wisdom and
stubbornness to fight our battles. But through it all God is there, patiently
waiting for our final realisation, when we admit that without Him we are lost
and helpless. It is our very vulnerability on these occasions which allows God
to come closer, to be a true friend in every sense of the word.
The Bible study group I attend recently looked at a book called “Prayer
begins with Relationship” by Cynthia Hyle Bezek. In the first ‘exercise’ we were
asked to consider what our relationship with God was, whether we thought of Him
as Master or Friend, and what our friendship with God should be like. Very
difficult questions, especially when we are reminded that a friendship is a two
way thing, and we ask ourselves what we are doing for God? How can we be a
friend to God?
There are differing opinions on this, from those who believe that God is
Master and must be venerated from a distance, to those who think that Jesus is
more approachable and easier to talk to. But, however you believe God to be, how
can we be ‘God’s friend’ in return for all he does for us. What have we got to
offer Him apart from the type of lives we live, trying to have patience and not
being impetuous, but above all trusting in Him to ‘make our ways straight’.
‘For we are what he has made us,
created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be
our way of life.’
Ephesians 2, v.10 (NRSV)