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Welland Fosse Online Carol Service 2020

Welland Fosse Online Carol Service 2020

We are delighted to share the Welland Fosse Benefice online Carol Service, featuring all five village churches.

Filmed recently under Covid conditions, it is a 45-minute service of Lessons & Carols featuring eight readers, a socially-distanced choir of four singers and four organists/keyboard players, with Christmas prayers led by Christopher Armstrong.

Our churches were decorated for Christmas and the five video segments have been beautifully edited to create a magical service that you can watch from home.

The video will stay online here until the New Year so that you can watch it at your leisure. 

INSTRUCTIONS All you have to do is make sure your laptop/tablet has its SOUND switched ‘on’ and then click on the ‘play’ arrow in the middle of the picture. To experience it in full, once the video has started playing, click on the ‘full screen’ icon in the bottom right-hand corner.

We are so grateful to everyone who volunteered their time and skills to make this possible. 

Christopher Armstrong and your churchwardens wish you all a very Happy Christmas

Remember that most of our churches also have a real live service on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day: please check out the December Services post elsewhere on the website.




9.30 am    Duddington church – Holy communion     (CA)

11.o0 am   Zoom from South Luffenham Church – Morning Worship(  CA)(AR)

6.00 pm    Zoom from Barrowden Church – Compline (CW)



9.30 am    Morcott Church – Holy Communion   (CA)

11.00 am   Zoom and Live Service from Barrowden Church – Morning Worship     (AR)

6.00 pm  Zoom from Duddington Church – CA



9.30 am   South Luffenham Church – Holy communion  (CA)

11.00 am  Zoom and Live Service from Barrowden church – Morning Worship / Carols     (AR)

6.00 pm   Zoom from South Luffenham Church – Compline  (Churchwardens)



10pm Morcott  Church – Christmas communion (Canon Sarah Brown)

11.30 pm South Luffenham church – Christmas communion  (CA)

for both services please book your seats in advance so the wardens can manage social distancing



9.30 am Tixover  Church – Christmas communion  (Archdeacon of Oakham) Zoom and Live Service from Barrowden Church – Christmas Communion  (CA)

for both services please book your seats in advance so the wardens can manage social distancing


SUNDAY 27TH DECEMBER     Christmas I

11.00am   Zoom and Live Service from Barrowden Church – Holy Communion   (CA)



Advent Compline Services 6,00pm on Sunday Evenings

Advent Compline Services 6,00pm on Sunday Evenings

Advent Compline Services


The Season of Advent.

The season of Advent is dominated by the themes of light and darkness.  To mark the season, you are most welcome to join us on Zoom for Compline on a Sunday evening at 6pm for the beautiful evening service of Compline. At the end of each short service, there will be an 8 minute presentation of the Advent themes of darkness and light as found in the arts. 

The first of the 4 Sundays is coming up: 29th November. 

Advent begins this Sunday.  Sunday Morning Services will continue as allowed in church and on Zoom at 11am

However, to mark this season of preparation for Christmas we are offering the short evening service of Compline at 6 pm on Zoom each Sunday evening.

The service will include a short 8 minute reflection on the powerful themes of light and dark in Advent as expressed in various genre:


November 29th                  The Poetry of Thomas Hardy

December 6th                     The Music of J S Bach

December 13th                  The Plays of Shakespeare

December 20th                  The Art of Holman Hunt.


If you would like an invitation to the Zoom Service, then please contact me at

Christopher Armstrong





Join us in Virtual Worship!



From this coming Monday (20 April) Compline returns at 7.30pm every Monday and Wednesday until the end of the current crisis. Please join us for this gentle and short evening service which allows time for our own prayers.


You can also join us every day for Morning Prayer at 8.30am


You will need to download Zoom and put the Daily Prayer App on your mobile phone then email our ordinand, Simon Aley – – who will send you an invitation. 

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices. Sunday 5th April 2020

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices. Sunday 5th April 2020

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices.

Sunday 5 April 2020:  Palm Sunday.

Please remember in your prayers those who are sick:  Ann Fowler, Gill Profit, Jeremy Bagshaw (Kay’s son); Coronavirus) and Barry Broughton.

In our wider prayers we remember the Deanery of Greater Northampton and its Rural Dean, Beverley Hollins.

Don’t forget our very own daily Lent Blog which can be accessed via the Benefice website,

If you have now received your stewardship form, please consider prayerfully how you might respond.  (The Priest-in-Charge has just rediscovered his!).

There are limited number of Palm Crosses in circulation. Please contact your wardens.


If you would like a Palm Cross delivering to your door please email (if you haven’t  already done so).

If you are out for a walk on Good Friday there will hopefully be a wooden cross on the village green, for quiet contemplation. 


Please think of Margaret and Derek Barker.


Here is a short meditation extract for Palm Sunday but first you might want to click and watch this short Pam Sunday video – great for children of any age! Called Holy Moly! It goes on to tell the story of Maundy Thursday too.

You are in Jerusalem – a crowd is gathering. As you peer down the road you see them coming, men, women, a few children their sandals kicking up dust in the dry air. One man is riding, the donkey just a little small, so his long legs drag in the dust.  The stranger standing next to you points and yells, “There he is.”

Your eyes follow the line of his pointing finger. You ask, “On the donkey, is that Jesus on the donkey.”   The stranger nods. As they approach people around you cut palms from the trees and wave them. A chant rises from the watchers. “Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna, to the son of David.” Are you joining them or standing back and just watching?   A victorious king rides a donkey as he returns to his city. What victory is Jesus celebrating?   The little party passes directly in front of you. Your eyes are drawn to Jesus. He turns his head. Your eyes meet and hold their gaze.  What message are you receiving from Jesus? What would you like to tell him?  The moment is fleeting. He smiles and turns to someone else. In minutes the parade is over. Did you wave your flag?   As you watch the little band of people pass through the gates, you realize the sun has dropped even lower. They disappear from view. How are you feeling now? What will you tell your friends about this encounter?

See for much more information, including contact details for

The Very Rev Christopher Armstrong and the churchwardens





APRIL 5TH 2020

A disciple’s viewpoint

I almost don’t know how to bear it. It has been the worst week of my life so far and I’m not sure what will happen now. He did give us clues about what would happen but we didn’t want to understand. Everything seems so final now and we daren’t go out in case we are arrested.

It all seemed so different at the beginning of the week. We had stayed at Bethany for a while after Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead. It was such a strange experience for us and for Mary and Martha. There was a feeling of—I don’t know—perhaps faith, something we could not understand but it didn’t matter. We were all together and Jesus was our Messiah.

Then we were off again and heading straight for Jerusalem. We remembered what Jesus had said about dying and to be honest we wanted him to go the other way! It was hard to keep up with him especially when we tried to go slowly so that it would take longer to get there but I think Jesus had sussed us out and just kept going as if he was on a mission.

Jerusalem was crowded when we got there; everyone there to celebrate the Passover. Herod had ridden into the city and he had arrived as a warrior with all his circus beside him. He was only there because the Romans thought there might be trouble and they wanted to have a presence. People had cheered him and there was a feeling of freedom and holidaying.

Jesus told some of us to fetch him a donkey and her colt. It seemed to be all arranged and it happened just like he said it would. We were somewhat perplexed about why he wanted them but we soon found out! Like Herod he was going to enter Jerusalem but what a difference. He was riding a donkey. But then it happened as he entered by the Golden Gate.

You should have heard them. What a noise! What a sight! What a welcome! I’ve never seen anything like it. Herod must have thought he was popular but people only cheered him because they felt they had to. But Jesus was cheered and palm branches laid in front of him, people running after him, wanting to touch him, be near him, tearing off their cloaks and carpeting the road in front of him.

And the noise was amazing. ‘Hosanna’ they shouted; Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’. And the crowds just kept growing and growing, their throats got sore and they were breathless with all the shouting and running. Jesus sat calmly on the donkey and seemed somehow accepting it all but sometimes there was a sadness about him as though he knew this wouldn’t last.

But we were so pleased that our Lord and Master had at last been recognised by everyone else; although there were some at the back of the cheering crowds who were not looking too pleased, some of the Pharisees and the Roman soldiers who seemed totally taken by surprise. But there was nothing they could do; Jesus, the Messiah had arrived and they could do nothing to stop him; the people had given their verdict and that was that!

Jesus went to the Temple, the rightful place for the Messiah and went inside. Gradually the crowds dispersed and Jesus was left alone (there was something quite sad about this). We wanted him to capitalise on what had happened but he seemed strangely reluctant and spent a long time in the Temple just looking round and being quiet, praying, I suppose. We wanted to carry on with the cheering and whip up the people again, gain their adulation and bask in his reflected glory but Jesus seemed to have lost the impetus.

We went back to Bethany. Jesus seemed to be settled there, although there was such a strange expression in his eyes, such melancholy, wretchedness and, I don’t know, grief. We really didn’t understand but Lazarus seemed to and they spent a lot of time together, often not saying anything but you could see the bond between them.

And now all that joy and cheering seems so far away and as if it never happened. Not only did we enter Jerusalem but we entered the most sombre of all times. This week has been so hard and confusing; the preparation that Jesus had already made for us to be together and share the Passover meal; the Passover meal that we celebrated with him and the strange words that he used with the bread and the wine; his anguish in the Garden when he prayed so hard; the betrayal by Judas with that most intimate kiss and the arrest. I was so afraid and wanted to fight but Jesus said no and I could see his eyes that he really meant it.

He is suffering so much now. The Romans won’t spare him at all because he has made their life difficult and his own people don’t want him either. And not only could I not keep awake when he asked us to, I didn’t even have the courage to say I knew him. Even after all I’d said about being ready to die for him. I have failed him so much; I deny him, I abandon him, I betray him. But I caught his eye as I passed and they were full of love for me, even me. He forgives me and loves me always and offers me everything. He never invited us to worship him but to follow him. He may not be a conventional king but he is my King and I will share in his glory and hope.


Let us pray:

Lord Jesus Christ, we are reminded of how you entered Jerusalem to shouts of joy and celebration. But we remember too how quickly that welcome evaporated, how soon the mood of the crowd changed.

Lord, we know all too well that we are not so different. Our commitment  to you is so often short-lived, superficial, self-centred. Help us to welcome you into our lives with true gladness and to go on serving you, come what may.

Our world is in turmoil, people suffering and hurting. We know that you too have suffered and now suffer with us. May we remember that there is glory in your resurrection and look towards your light. Amen


It is said that a week is a long time in politics and recently it has been a long time for all of us. Life has changed rapidly and is now completely different. In Holy Week so much happened and yet the beginning of the next week brought such joy in the Resurrection. As we enter Holy Week let us remember that Christ suffered and he weeps with us now as throughout the world people are feeling lost and in darkness. Light will return to us and the light of Christ is always there in the gloom.

Keep well and safe and God bless



Mothering Sunday Sermon

Mothering Sunday Sermon

Mothering Sunday  Sermon

John 19: 25-27(NRSV) 

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 

26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” 

27 Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

Let me just check if there is anyone here who really should be here!

If you are a mother, please raise a hand? OK hands down

Anybody here – If you were baptised or Christened at this Church please raise a hand?

So which group is right?

The answer is everyone is welcome and everyone here should be here but Mothering Sunday historically has a special place for those who were christened and who returned and if they were in service as many were when this tradition developed this was the one day each year they might expect to get back to their home church and back then where you grew up was probably where you were christened and in all probability where your parents still lived so you may well see and stay with your mother on your return, if she was still alive. But the mother in mothering Sunday refers not to going home to see your Mum, though chances are you did but going back to your mother church. And this term was used variously to describe the church of your christening and also the diocesan cathedral. So I have seen old church records of bequests from this county made in wills to the mother church which there meant the diocesan cathedral and in view of their age that mother church was Lincoln whose diocese famously stretched from the Humber to the Thames. Often small amounts tuppence or sixpence but they all added up across such a vast area. I have often wondered how many of them ever visited Lincoln Cathedral? I suspect not many. But it was the mother church.

Last year I met a volunteer at our current cathedral – Peterborough and she was passionate about the cathedral, while not declaring any Christian faith, she nevertheless described the cathedral in essentially spiritual terms. It was like a great blanket covering and protecting her she said with the sense of all the souls who have inhabited the Abbey over the centuries. She was passionate about the mother church and because of that passion she gave of her time resource and really loved it. And we like that about our mothers too. Wanting as children to bring Mum breakfast in bed on Mothering Sunday or draw a picture or find some flowers. We need to do something. And Jesus hanging on that dreadful cross as his mortal life sapped from him sees John, the disciple who Jesus loved standing beside Mary and said behold your mother and to Mary; woman behold your son. We know Jesus had a brother James and yet his passion for the wellbeing of his mother leads him to make this statement from the cross. Woman behold your Son. To secure her future care and love and at the height of his passion and pain to focus his earthly passion on his mother. And we see that love and passion for mothers repeated in every generation. Not always – sometimes it is tough, sometimes that love is shattered or abused but generally that parent child love and devotion is echoed down the centuries.

So how do we apply that same passion, that same love to the mother church? Indeed do we? What is our passion? What “floats our boat”? Our favourite football or rugby team? Our favourite TV or film celebrity or band? Our car? Our pet? And how much time and money do we lavish on our passion?

The French writer and aviator Antione de St Exupéry wrote this – strangely about boat building!

“If you want to build a ship. Don’t summon people to be workers, to prepare tools, distribute jobs and organise their work. Rather motivate people to yearn for the wide boundless ocean.”

If you want to grow your Church’s income and resources. Don’t summons them to Church and browbeat them into stewardship but tell them the Gospel and the love that Jesus has for them worked out in His Church. Does that seem a fair comparison with the quote of Antione de St Exupéry? I suggest it might be.

Growing churches often have growing incomes available and resources to deliver mission. Manchester United is a very popular football team far more popular than my local football team, Barnet football club where supporters were known to walk out of the game during the match even when Barnet were winning, which admittedly was not that often! Whereas Manchester United supporters go around in the red and white club strip, travel hundreds of miles to get to Old Trafford, pay extortionate gate fees whether their team win or lose. Because they are passionate about their club. Much the same could be said of passionate collectors of whatever and people passionate about their hobbies. Are we passionate about Jesus and what he has done for us? As passionate as we might be for the wellbeing of our own mothers?

I saw this story in a recent flyer from a medical charity about a woman in Old Fangak in South Sudan, beside the White Nile.

A woman came into the clinic in this remote swampy area. It was the rainy season although it seems that makes little difference these days and the Marram runway was now mud and incapable of being used. The mother was haemorrhaging and losing dangerous amounts of blood. She was a mother and had 5 children in her care. They had come with her but her condition was worsening and in danger. The children were all tested for blood types as supplies were so low and they brought in as many people as they could to give blood if they were suitable and found 3 but it was not enough. The woman needed surgical procedures that would have to be done in the capital Juba but they could not get her flown out. I have driven a car in such conditions and it is pretty scary an aeroplane would be out of the question. It would take days to cross by boat and land to get to Juba and there are no good roads. The woman did not have a few days. Then news came in that a helicopter was passing nearby the next day and they offered to winch the woman up and fly her to Juba. Within a week she had been treated, recovered and that mother was starting her 500km journey back to her family.

There is no suggestion that the Doctor who wrote this account was a Christian but his observation was that it was the generosity, passion and commitment of this mother’s family, friends and professional carers that saved her. That same word again – passion and linked here with generosity. Features we see at this time each year, Mothering Sunday and features we need to see throughout the year for the Bride of Christ which is the Church – the mother church.

I finish with a quote from the Confessions of Augustine – he of Hippo, which was a town in North Africa, not a reference to his horselike features (although photography was pretty useless in the 4th century!)  “You called, you shouted, you broke through my deafness, you flamed, you blazed and being led in my blunders you lavished your fragrance – AND I GASPED!”


The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices

Sunday 1st March 2020:  Lent I

Please remember in your prayers those who are sick:  Ray Kilsby, Barry Broughton and Robin Rowland.

Pray too for the departed: Peter Leach and Ted Bailey.

Remember also in your prayers our sheep farmers who continue lambing in challenging weather.

In our wider prayers we remember the Deanery of Greater Northampton and its Rural Dean, Beverley Hollins.

If anyone still needs The Lent Book, ‘#Live Lent, Care for God’s Creation’, please contact your parish book agent, a warden or the Priest-in-Charge.   Are you signed up to the Benefice website? The first Lent Blog post – our equivalent of ‘thought for the day’ – is there, to be followed by one a week for the six weeks of Lent. All are written by lay people across the Benefice and linked to the #LiveLent themes.


  • Tuesday, 3 March: Lent lunch in St Peter’s 12 noon – 2.00 pm. Delicious homemade soup and rolls.  All proceeds from donations to go to Shelter.
  • Saturday 14 March – Children’s Theatre Group in Barrowden Village Hall 2.30pm. An interactive water adventure, target age group 7 years +, £5.00 (under 18s) £8.00 (Adults).  Book with Sara on 01572 747628.
  • 23 April: please contact Carol if you can make a cake for the Open Day at Red Kite House.


The March issue of the Parish Magazine is on its way, thanks to a new volunteer. Have you given Eric your £5 subscription yet?


  • Mon 2 Mar 10.45-12 noon. Pick up a free coffee, tea or hot choc from the Coffee Connect van, The Boot carpark, then join us for cake in the village hall!
  • Ted’s Funeral – Tuesday 3 March at 11.30am in Church.
  • Next Sunday 9.30 am Family Communion.
  • Friday 13 March Lent Lunch 12-1.30 in the Village Hall.
  • Mr Keith’s community event in the village hall, Fri 20 Mar 7.30pm £11.
  • Advance notice: church spring-clean/churchyard tidy on Mon 6 April from 2pm
  • ‘Still Time’ each Monday 5.30-6pm in Church. Why not join us during Lent?

See for much more information, including contact details for The Very Rev Christopher Armstrong and the churchwardens

Ash Wednesday 2020.The Benefice Service, Barrowden

Ash Wednesday 2020.The Benefice Service, Barrowden

Ash Wednesday 2020.The Benefice Service, Barrowden

“When you fast…wash your face.” Mt.6.17.


Contrary to Scripture?

In a few moments, we will kneel at the altar rail for the Imposition of Ashes.  Will we be disobeying scripture by doing so?  On first reading the wearing of ashes is being outlawed by St. Matthew. Why then are we doing it?

Matthew was a Jew who was called by Jesus from the tax office to follow him.  He knew the Jewish tradition inside out, including their pattern of fasting which – as we have heard – was very public: standing on the street corners with long prayers, looking miserable and a bit scruffy. It was these empty gestures which Jesus criticised yet he didn’t come to abolish but to fulfil the Law.  And we too are called to fulfil the Jewish law, including the call to repentance and we will do so with Christ, in Christ, through Christ, and in the company of one another.

The Jews in Jesus’ day wore ash on their heads but attitudes were soon to change in the church. After the resurrection and the growing popularity of the Christian church, the Romans were very edgy about this new group. The cross was a dangerous sign to be wearing and could result in arrest or worse. So the Christians adopted a secret sign – the fish – the Greek for which was an acrostic for Jesus: ‘Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour’. We can find it today on Christian pottery and in the catacombs. It was only after Christianity became legal with the Emperor Constantine that the cross became popular – and so it remains to this day, or almost so. It reminds us of the hope into which we are baptised and in which we stand together, with that invisible cross on our foreheads. Ash Wednesday is one of those principal days in the Christian Year when we are called to stand together. This cross reminds us that we are dust but dust destined for glory. It is still a gathering point for revolution.  We only have to reflect upon the fate of Christians in China, Russia or Pakistan.



There is strength in numbers, however we identify with each other.

Just before the birth of Jesus, the Romans had to tackle a revolution in their own ranks led by a gladiator called Spartacus.  The Romans were desperate to stamp this out so rounded up their gladiators and demanded that Spartacus identify himself. Otherwise they would all be put to death. He did. He stood up and acknowledged his name. But then, so did others, all of whom were called Spartacus, until the whole hillside was bristling with men called Spartacus. It’s an inspiring story and one beloved of revolutionaries. That story has been immortalized not just in film but in an overture by Saint Saens. It has a dark, brooding start in a minor key but then gathers to a finale with crashing percussion, brass and trumpets.



And so Christ’s will is for us to carry through Lent identifying with him and with each other to the glorious finale which is Easter Day.  Jesus used the word ‘hypocrite’ to describe those who faked their fast.  The word means actor, pretender, dissembler. And we can fall under that criticism too if we are not prepared to see this journey through.

A hypocrite would not change. He or she would carry on just as before. But the cross calls us to repent or change direction; to take on board the way of the cross. It is never too late. Normally one has to change and change again; to keep on following the cross, with the support of Christ and one another. Newman said, ‘To live is to change and to be perfect is to change often’.

This cross of dust reminds us of our mortality. It also reminds us of that invisible cross of baptism which – like Spartacus – binds us together in glory.




All are Welcome at any of our Services

across the Benefice this Sunday, 



8.00 am Barrowden Church Holy Communion (CA) BCP
9.30 am Duddington Church Holy communion (CA)
11.00 am Morcott Church Holy Communion (CA)
5.00 pm  Tixover Church Candlemas  (CA)

Candlemas  (CA)

Readings : Heb.2.14-end  Luke 2.22-40  BCP. Gal.4. 1-7  Luke 2. 22 – 40

CA = The Very Reverend Christopher Armstrong AR= Mrs Anne Robinson (Reader)
BCP= Book of Common Prayer