The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices Sunday 22nd. March

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices Sunday 22nd. March

 

Lent 4, Mothering Sunday

Please remember in your prayers those who are sick:  Ann Fowler and Barry Broughton.

Remember also in your prayers our sheep farmers who are working towards the end of lambing, and thank you that the lambs are mostly out and enjoying the sunshine and that hopefully the crops may be planted soon.  Give thanks for the spring flowers and songbirds brightening up the longer days.

 

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, www.wellandfosse.org,

If you have now received your stewardship form, please consider prayerfully how you might respond.  We hope our campaign can be completed by Easter Day.

South Luffenham Church is open all day, every day, for private prayer.

 

A Thought and Prayer for Hard Times:

In this our first Sunday under restrictions due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we remember and give thanks for all mothers and remember those whose mothers are no longer with us, especially those who have lost their mothers just recently. We remember especially all those affected by this pandemic, which now is all of us but some more than others. You might want to use this short prayer to help pray in love for those who so desperately feel the need for love at this time.

May we who are merely inconvenienced remember those whose lives are at stake.

May we who have no risk factors remember those most vulnerable.

May we who have the luxury of working from home remember those who must choose between preserving their health and making their rent.

May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close remember those who have no options.

May we who have to cancel our trips remember those who have no safe place to go.

May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market remember those who have no margin at all.

May we who settle in for a quarantine at home remember those who have no home.

As fear grips our country, let us choose love.

During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other, let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbours.   Amen.

Simon Aley, Ordinand.

See wellandfosse.org for much more information, including contact details for

The Very Rev Christopher Armstrong and the churchwardens

Coronavirus and Our Churches

Coronavirus and Our Churches

We are in difficult times as a community and the wardens and I want to share with you the resources of our church for it is at such times of national emergency and challenge that people fall back on old certainties often overlooked.

  1. Following government guidance and instructions from our archbishops, there will be no public worship in our churches until further notice. And as from 23 March, we have now been told to close the churches, even for private prayer which is sad but necessary. 
  2. At times of crisis The Church and its members are specifically called to witness to the continuing presence and power of God through prayer and action. Awareness of our neighbours’ needs is written into our national DNA but it is primarily a faith activity: “Love God and your neighbour as yourself” (Luke 10.27). Please remember in your prayers those in authority who have to make difficult decisions on our behalf and those who sacrifice their own well-being to help others either professionally or domestically.
  3. Many folk will be worried about themselves, their loved ones and the future of our lives both communally and individually. Please use your wardens, PCC members and myself to discuss anything which is on your mind. Small issues usually mask greater issues which affect us all. No concern will be dismissed; there will be a way through. Hope will prevail.

Christopher Armstrong. 01572 748634.

Churchwarden names and phone numbers are shown on the CONTACT page

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!”

AMEN

Message from the Priest in Charge – Christopher Armstrong

Message from the Priest in Charge – Christopher Armstrong

Coronavirus and Our Churches.

We are in difficult times as a community and the wardens and I want to share with you the resources of our church for it is at such times of national emergency and challenge that people fall back on old certainties often overlooked.

  1. Following government guidance and instructions from our archbishops, there will be no public worship in our churches until further notice.

 

  1. However, our churches are open for business…prayer! Please use this special place – set aside for worship and prayer – at your leisure. Prayer resources are already available in the church and specific ‘prayers in hard times’ will be available soon for you to use in church or take away. Please respect others who might be using the church in the same way, giving them ‘social distance’. The Lent Blog on the Benefice Website also offers thoughts and prayers.

 

  1. At times of crisis The Church and its members are specifically called to witness to the continuing presence and power of God through prayer and action. Awareness of our neighbours’ needs is written into our national DNA but it is primarily a faith activity: “Love God and your neighbour as yourself” (Luke 10.27). Please remember in your prayers those in authority who have to make difficult decisions on our behalf and those who sacrifice their own well-being to help others either professionally or domestically.

 

  1. Many folk will be worried about themselves, their loved ones and the future of our lives both communally and individually. Please use your wardens, PCC members and myself to discuss anything which is on your mind. Small issues usually mask greater issues which affect us all. No concern will be dismissed; there will be a way through. Hope will prevail.

 

Christopher Armstrong.

01572 748634.

 

Wednesday 18 March 2020.

the lent blog: land and plants

the lent blog: land and plants

Julia Harbage writes

My garden anchors me in the here and now.  A tiny piece of the world which is mine to throw myself into body and soul in all weathers.

I opened my eyes to gardening when I turned 28, newly married with a new-build house. A patch of unloved grass, a scrappy hawthorn tree and a fence held the promise of a lush, mature garden in my mind’s eye. But the work involved to make this happen was daunting. So I tuned in to a television series ‘The Victorian Kitchen Garden’ hosted by Harry Dobson, with its cheerful piano and clarinet theme tune.  Each week I dutifully took notes. It was a revelation and took me back to the girl who wandered round her Granny’s garden, delighting in the electric yellow of the broom and rainbow borders of pom pom dahlias.  Finding that person again has been a very comforting experience of my life.

I’m still a rookie gardener.  I make it up as I go along.  I’ve killed many undeserving plants; I’ve had to apologise to ones I’ve planted in the wrong place.  And I’ve completely failed to nurture plants that I’m told ‘any fool can grow’, like sweet peas.  But I can grow hydrangeas, Michaelmas daisies and oleanders.  Also lupins and camellias.  Roses seem to like me too. I used to mind the weeds but now I keep those that are pretty and which are good for pollinating insects.

Gardening has taught me to ‘grow where I’m planted’ and to make the most of any house I’ve lived in.  It has given me much to think about and it has slowed me down.  It’s the only activity I can still do when I’m worried, angry or sad.  Tending a garden is a meditative and humbling experience. It’s often a triumph of hope over expectation. You can’t force anything; everything has its time and you just have to wait.

Apart from the chill of December and January, when all seems to have stopped, I garden in all weathers, enjoying the company of my friend the robin. I carry on gardening when my whole body aches and I can’t weed another bed; dig another hole or prune another climber.  Nothing makes me happier than being in my garden with the sun on my back and a cup of tea in my hand.

My garden connects me with what is outside myself like few other things can and that to my mind is the secret of happiness.  Time in my garden is my time with God and the joy of nature, in all her seasons.  It’s like being handed endless gifts that delight and awe me daily, which I count as true blessings.

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices. Sunday 15th March 2020

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices. Sunday 15th March 2020

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices.

 Sunday 15th March 2020:  Lent III

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

Remember also in your prayers our sheep farmers who are working towards the end of lambing.

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, www.wellandfosse.org

If you have now received your stewardship form, please consider prayerfully how you might respond.  We hope our campaign can be completed by Easter Day.

 

We have received a letter from Bishop Donald regarding temporary guidance for hygiene concerning the current covid-19 coronavirus outbreak. These will be lifted when life returns to normal.

  • Those giving out books or papers as people enter church, must have hygienically clean hands, in the same way as the ministers of Communion.
  • Greetings at the door, at the peace, and after the service, should not involve touching or very close contact. The peace can be shared with a nod, a smile or with appropriate words. This will be easier if people stay in their places rather than crowding into narrow spaces.
  • The wine will not be offered at Holy Communion, but all the benefits of Communion are received when only bread is shared.

Please pray for all those affected in any way by this outbreak.

MORCOTT:

We thank the Rev Roy Seden for taking today’s service while Christopher is away. Thanks to those who attended church in Barrowden last Sunday to support the Williams family as their twins were baptised.

SOUTH LUFFENHAM:

  • Next Sunday – Mothering Sunday Holy Communion 9.30am.
  • Thank you to everyone who helped with, or supported, the lunch on Friday.
  • This coming Friday 30th March 7.30 – ‘Mr Keith’ community event in the village hall. £11.
  • Church Springclean and Churchyard Tidy April Monday 6th April 2pm.

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

CHURCH SERVICES: SUNDAY  15TH MARCH 2020

CHURCH SERVICES: SUNDAY  15TH MARCH 2020

All are Welcome at any of our Services

across the Benefice this Sunday Lent 3

9.30 am South Luffenham Church 9.30 am Tixover Church
Morning Worship (AR) Holy communion BCP  (PJ)
11.00am Barrowden Church Morning Worship (AR)
11.00am Morcott Holy Communion (RS)

Readings:  Exodus 17. 1-7  John 4. 5 – 42  BCP   Num. 22. 21-31  Luke 11. 14 -28

CA = The Very Reverend Christopher Armstrong, RS = Roy Seden

the lent blog: water

the lent blog: water

Simon Aley, our Ordinand, writes: 

Monday – Here is a drawing of the cosmos of Genesis 1 from Nahum Sarna’s book Genesis: The Heritage of Biblical Israel with the dome of the firmament on top and if you look carefully the pillars of the sky and the earth curve inward to form a dome below. Some say it is almost egg shaped – the cosmos in an egg form representing life, and note the storehouses in the waters above the firmament for snow, hail and wind and the fountains that bring water up from the waters under the earth descending to the waters of the nether earth. A far cry from our modern day understanding of this planet and universe.

How do you relate to this world view? Do we find it naïve? And yet when we think of heaven, do we not automatically look upwards imagining somewhere beyond the rain clouds? What cannot be ignored is the importance of water. Half of the features in this conception are water-related and it shows how water is central to life as the trees and the birds demonstrate. A few fishes might have been nice too! Many other creation stories evolved in old testament times including the Babylonian Enuma Elish, often with dramatic tales of warring gods. In Genesis the whole creation is formed by God alone. No battles or histrionics and on the second day God created the waters – He just did it and it was good.

Lake Bunyonyi

Tuesday     This photo is from my recent trip to Uganda and is of Lake Bunyonyi in south west Uganda. Bunyonyi means “little birds” because so many species of little birds like canaries, weaver birds and sun birds inhabit the shore of the lake. Larger waterfowl are rarely found here as the lake is so deep and has hardly any fish for them to feed on. It is a huge crater lake with many small islands, some of which have been home, hospital and security for people with leprosy while others are used as a safe haven for orphaned children such as little Isaiah who I met on one of the islands. The land is rich and fertile and long canoes made of hollowed tree trunks ferry produce over the lake to shoreside markets. Perhaps not grain here as the psalmist reflects but bananas, matoke (plantain), vegetables, tea and reeds to roof homes and now bring tourists seeking relaxation and peace in this busy landlocked country. And around the lake people quarry rock by hand from the hills that surround this lake but need to be careful and sparing. If ever Lake Bunyonyi was to be breached through over quarrying it would instantly flood and drown the town and inhabitants of Kabale and surrounding villages. God not only waters the earth – He holds it in place and we need to take care of the containers He has provided.

Wednesday     Rivers and bodies of water often form boundaries, as between Rutland and Northamptonshire, and even nations. Uganda is separated by the River Gatuna from its smaller neighbour, Rwanda and I crossed there to get into Uganda even though the border remains closed to commercial traffic. While I was in Uganda the two presidents Museveni (Uganda) and Kagame (Rwanda) met on the bridge over the Gatuna (you can just see the bridge barrier in the background where I had crossed a few days before) to discuss terms for the re-opening which involves freedom for political prisoners on both sides.

The border remains closed but a further meeting is imminent and people are praying that the border will re-open soon and free many from the poverty on both sides generated by this closure, which has remained closed as much by personal jealousies between the two political leaders, once good friends than any practical necessity. Do our relationships ever become similarly strained with harmful consequences?

Elsewhere rivers are used for baptism as this picture shows, freeing us from the slavery of sin as our sins are symbolically washed away in the waters of baptism.

Note from today’s reading that straightway after being baptised the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus like a dove (Mark 1:10). Both the principal sacraments of the Church of England use water – if you had not seen how water is used in Communion – then watch carefully next time you are at a service. Both have a cleansing act to them and both free the recipient of the water to serve God more fully.

Thursday  This plastic bottle from Uganda is both a source of pollution and health. The Rwenzori are the mountains above Kassese in Western Uganda and the source of most mineral water in the country. Millions of bottles are produced and litter lakes, streams, towns  and countryside. But …. fill them up with water from dirty water sources that many Ugandans use and leave them out in the sun and most of the harmful organisms in the water are killed off and sometimes passing poor children call out asking for these empty bottles to enable them to do this and make what they drink more potable.

The water is described as “Marah” meaning bitter and has resonance with the Passover or seder meal which we will celebrate in Barrowden in Holy Week (to which all are welcome) and includes marah, bitter herbs reminding the Jewish people of their suffering in exile. It also reminds us of the suffering we too endure for our faith. Pollution can be toxic and is harmful – our taste buds can help us recognise unpleasant or bitter taste, but we have to take care. Suffering is often associated with bitterness but sometimes also sweetness – hence bitter-sweet is a term often used. Our polluted waters are now a hot topic for debate and action. How are we as churches and Christians responding to this hot topic?

Friday   OK this is much nearer home. In our Benefice, this is the River Welland at Duddington Bridge and the water is roaring and filling the arches of the bridge with all the rain we have had. In East Africa this is the dry season (these countries have just two seasons: wet and dry) and now is harvest time, and yet torrential rains have fallen in western Uganda and Rwanda, while Kampala and to the north east of Kampala they are experiencing extreme heat and locust invasions. In Rwanda, the rice fields at the bottom of the 80-mile-long gorge from the capital, Kigali have all flooded destroying this year’s crop.

The Psalmist in Psalm 69 uses the imagery of water and flooding as a metaphor of lived experience, being overwhelmed, suffering and feeling unable to cope. The water is rising up to the neck and while the text does not admit it the implication is clear they cannot swim and fear drowning. Uganda has a lot of water for a land-locked country but few have learned to swim, few have learned coping strategies when they feel they are drowning under pressure. Lent is a time of preparation – so what coping strategies are we prepared to learn this Lent when we feel we too are drowning? As our farmers once again have to move livestock to higher land because of floods. What measures are we taking for the spiritual floods that can too easily overcome us?

Weekend   These three Ugandans are standing in front of a large water tank in the picture on the left; built locally with money from Afrinspire, the charity I was with in Uganda.  Afrinspire have built 79 water tanks and protected 47 water springs and while I was there 3 new water tanks were blessed at a Roman Catholic primary school, St Augustine’s in Rubaaga in the Isingero District of Western Ankole saving children walking several kilometres up and down steep slopes to find an often dirty water source at the expense of their education. Rubaaga sits at the top of a high veld on the Rift and so any rainfall quickly falls away leaving the land parched. You can see how the guttering on the adjacent building collects any rainwater and feeds it into the tank. It can cost as little as £2 per person, depending on location and population to provide clean water for up to 20 years through projects such as these as well as teach local people a new trade. Without them it is a long and often dangerous trek to find water.

One local farm owner I met admitted he only knew he had a water spring on his land by following local cattle who knew the location of a spring and then he could start to improve the water quality there. Christ’s encounter with the woman at the well reminds us of just how vulnerable some people are when water dries up as does their dignity and hope for living. Christ offers us the living water of the Holy Spirit to drink and with that we will never thirst again spiritually. These projects help provide water to communities so that they never thirst again physically.

THE WELLAND-FOSSE BENEFICE: PRAYERS AND NOTICES SUNDAY MARCH 8TH 2020

THE WELLAND-FOSSE BENEFICE: PRAYERS AND NOTICES SUNDAY MARCH 8TH 2020

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices.

 Sunday 8th March 2020:  Lent II

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

Pray too for the departed.

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.

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

BARROWDEN:

  • Thanks to all who contributed and came to our Lent lunch which made over £370 for 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.

 

SOUTH LUFFENHAM:

  • Next Sunday 9.30am Morning Praise.
  • This Friday – 13th March Lent Lunch 12-1.30 in the Village Hall – soup, quiche and baked potatoes!
  • ‘Still Time’ every Monday 5.30-6pm in Church. Why not try joining us during Lent?
  • Mr Keith’ community event in the village hall.  Friday 20th March 7.30pm £11.
  • Advance notice of church spring-clean and churchyard tidy on Monday 6th April from 2pm.

 

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

CHURCH SERVICES: SUNDAY  8TH MARCH 2020

CHURCH SERVICES: SUNDAY  8TH MARCH 2020

All are Welcome at  our Services

in the Benefice this Sunday Lent 2

9.30 am South Luffenham Church Family Service  (CA)
11.00 am Barrowden Church Family communion with Baptism (CA)

Readings:  Gen. 12 1-4a  John 3. 1-17

CA = The Very Reverend Christopher Armstrong, AR=Mrs Ann Robinson, Reader