Paxtonvic’s Blog

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Tuesday in Holy Week

To be sure, the gospel writers do not agree word for word on the chronology of the last days of Jesus’ life and what took place exactly.  For instance they disagree as to whose home Jesus wa sin when Mary bathed his feet in expensive perfume. But here are a few thoughts for the day – The Tuesday in Holy Week.


O God, by the passion of your blessed Son you made an instrument of shameful death to be for us the means of life: Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Matthew 21 v 33-46

Feeling safe somewhere – feeling that we have a home, is one of the most important aspects of human need along with food and water and the company of other human beings. When people become displaced through war, political unrest or natural disaster not only do they lose a roof over their heads, they loose that sense of security that comes from having somewhere safe to live. Maybe its easy to take our homes for granted and although it can be good to get away, it is always good as many of you will probably agree with me, to come back home.

Our Lord famously once said  “Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have a nest but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” . He will have grown up in Nazareth we imagine is a secure household – but we know very little about where he lived the years of his young adult hood – and once he began his public ministry he became nomadic – travelling and staying with friends sometimes – no doubt on occasion sleeping in the great outdoors.

It must therefore have been of much comfort to him to have the friendship of Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus during those last days of his life.

The final week of Christ’s life, at once the most tragic and yet the most triumphal part of  his life, was spent in Bethany and Jerusalem. On the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday mornings he travelled from Bethany to Jerusalem returning each night after a day of frenetic activity in the city. Bethany, means house of the poor and whilst the three siblings might have been poor in a material sense they were certainly rich in their generosity towards Jesus. On the Monday of Holy Week we read how Mary had lavished Jesus with the expensive perfume – worth a whole years salary and wiped his feet with her hair. Judas – and probably the other disciples bitterly criticized Mary for that act of kindness – but Jesus was the only one who praised her – reminding them all that they wouldn’t have him with them for much longer.

How her kindness – indeed that of the whole household, must have sustained him in the coming days.

After his triumphal entry into Jerusalem on what we know as Palm Sunday he retired to Bethany just two miles from Jerusalem. Many people staying there, arriving for the Passover Festival in  the nearby city.  On the Monday in Jerusalem he drives out the traders who were buying and selling in the Court of the Gentiles – more controversy.

One reason why so many people had waved those palm branches at Jesus could have been that the word about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead had heightened the interest in him. This miracle worker – surely – many were now thinking – surely he could be the Messiah?  As the streets of Jerusalem are cleared of palms from two days earlier and preparations made for the Passover –Jesus is once again preaching in the temple.. With people beginning to hail him as the messiah – the Jewish leaders are feeling more and more uneasy about him.

Back to the city on the Tuesday – the day after Mary’s extravagant act of love, he is questioned by the Jewish leaders – and it is during this interrogation that he utters the severest condemnation of the Scribes, Pharisees and Saducees – the leaders and teachers of the Jewish faith. He does this condemnation partly in parables – we heard the parable of the vineyard  and its owner whose servants were harshly treated by the tenants of the vineyard – his son being killed in the parable. It was obvious Jesus was talking about himself and how he would be treated by the religious aunthorities of the day.

“ When the chief priests and Pharisees heard his parables they saw he was referring to them – they wanted to arrest Jesus but were afraid of the people who looked on Jesus as a prophet”

It wont be long before we read  ” Now the Passover and Unleavened bread were two days away – and the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to seize him away by stealth and kill him”

Jesus already knows what is happening and is prepared for a confrontation.  The Old Testament has prophesied it in the book of the prophet Isaiah fromChapter 53

3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

The story continues tomorrow – the Wednesday in Holy Week – a story of bitter betrayal.

Mary with ointment

Jan van Scorel (1495, Schoorl – 1562, Utrecht)

March 30, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Celebration at Great Paxton

The new ringers floor  and tower arch and bells being rung. the new upper tower screen blends well with the old rood screen which has been in the lower part of the tower arch for many years.

Mary Weir drinks the first cup of tea served from the new facilities ( well, almost!)

Bishop David talking with staff from the school.

Our architect Julian on the left, me in the middle and contractor Glenn on the right. Happy to see all the work completed at Great Paxton.

Daffodils in the sunlight in Great Paxton Churchyard.

Thank you to everyone who came along to make this such a happy afternoon. Now we look forward to using the new facilities in imaginative ways.

March 28, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Have you put the clocks forward UK dwellers??


Well done, but it does feel very early!

Beautiful spring morning in Little Paxton.

March 28, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Thoughts on Holy Week

And do we yet understand

Lord Jesus

as the years go by

and we hear the story again?

Can a poor man on a donkey

dying like a slave


We like successes so much

the kind you feel and touch

and put your hands on

right away.

What success

can anyone find

in a cross?

Or is there success

in faithfulness?

When you can say:

” Your will be done!”

” Father, forgive them.”

Like the two from Emmaus

we hope for easy gain.

Come walk at our side,

and tell us what matters most

O Lord.

March 27, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Well, one day maybe I might be a grandma ( help!) but in the meantime here is the sweetest little baby…..

Not all babes are so easy going at a baptism….

And here is a swan at Paxton Pits – thanks to Pauline for the photo:

Do click on the photo to get the best effect…

Tomorrow, as well as being Palm Sunday I am very excited as the new facilities at Great Paxton are being dedicated by Bishop David at a special service at 3pm.  More on that hopefully  in a day or two. Thats toilet number 5 Ive  introduced into a medieval church. Good job Im modest with it!

March 27, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Diddington Snowdrops – March 19th 2010

Thanks to Pam Dodman for this lovely picture of the snowdrops in Diddington Churchyard:

If you click on it you will get a bigger version on your screen

March 22, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Blog neglect

Ive missed blogging of late, but seen busy – ( a bit busier than usual)

Today it has struck me how incredibly brave people can be – in all sorts of ways – and when very hard things happen to thoroughly good people – how courageous the human spirit can be in coping.

Its getting near to Holy Week now – such a special time- I love the story of Mary annointing Jesus’ feet with that valuable ointment – spikenard. We had that reading last sunday.

Ive a little homily about that – but I must say many of the ideas come from the web-site.

John Chapter 12:1-8

Bethany means ‘place of the poor.’ In our Bible passage Jesus is anointed with really expensive perfume an action which might be considered totally unsuitable in a place of poor people!
Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. This house should have been a house filled with mourning and sorrow, instead it is the centre of attention as the dead man and his saviour gather to eat. The people around would clearly want to see this Lazarus who had been raised after four days. Bethany is a small village only a couple of miles from Jerusalem and it would also have been crowded with pilgrims who had come to observe Passover in Jerusalem at this time. People would also have wanted to come closer to Jesus who had this extraordinary power over death, they would have wondered what he could do for them also?
Jesus is with Mary and Martha and Lazarus, who he raised from the dead. Mary, the same Mary who had sat at the feet of Jesus as her sister Martha had been ‘distracted with much serving, is once again centre stage. Once again Martha is serving, and once again Mary is rapt with love and devotion, sitting at his feet. But now Mary springs into action. In one spontaneous, reckless and, some would say wasteful gesture of extravagance, she anoints the feet of Jesus with expensive perfume and wipes them with her hair! It’s a very sensual, a very intimate, and a very shocking scene. For a woman to let her hair down in public in this way and behave towards Jesus with such physical intimacy must have aroused considerable attention and scorn. To let down her hair and massage the feet of Jesus with perfume is quite a highly charged act in any culture, but at the time it was positively outrageous. We can all imagine how the disciples must have wanted to have a go at Mary for being such a tramp and behaving in this shameless fashion.

Remember, this was no ordinary bottle of perfume but rather one costing a years salary. Can you imagine what you would have said had you witnessed this scene of such lavish adoration? Judas beat us all to it when he complained about apparent waste, claiming that the money could instead have been given to the poor.

The biblical account tells us that Judas was not really concerned about the poor, we are told that he was a thief and helped himself to the money that the disciples shared with Jesus. This explanation discredits Judas but perhaps it also serves to demonstrate that the other disciples too, felt that it was a waste of money which would legitimately have helped ‘the poor.’

Judas challenged Mary on the grounds of extravagance, but we know from Matthew’s Gospel that all of the disciples disliked the waste of perfume being used on Jesus. Matthew in his Gospel says
When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. (Matthew 26:8)
In Mark’s Gospel too he records that it was “some who were there” who protested. (Mark 14:4), not just Judas!
Truthfully all of us would be appalled when we heard about this lewd behaviour and flagrant waste. Everybody except Jesus. Jesus defends Mary: “Leave her alone, ” he says. “She is anointing me, making preparations for my death. ”

Jesus knows how much Mary loves him, and he recognises the goodness in her devotional act of extravagant love. She loved Jesus, and she poured out her love like priceless perfume, like there was no tomorrow, without ever counting the cost. The perfume Mary poured out was worth a year’s wages, would we be prepared to pour out that kind of money on somebody we love? Would we be prepared to pour it out on Jesus?
Mary had much to be thankful to Jesus for, he had raised her dead brother Lazarus from his stinking tomb, how could she deny Jesus her best perfume? What Mary did was highly provocative, but she was highly motivated and her spontaneous act of loving gratitude could not be inhibited by social etiquette. Mary responds to the love and acceptance she found in Jesus. Her affection for Jesus is an example to us all. It is not the time to talk budgets, but to show love. What Mary did was outstanding. She gave Jesus not just words or promises about her love. She put those words into direct action. She did not consider the cost because her love was greater than financial considerations. We need so very much to learn the lesson which Jesus understood about generosity when he publicly approved of what she did. The woman’s response stands in contrast to that of the Chief Priests and Judas who will serve them in their wicked murder of Jesus. It is also a contrast to the behaviour of Peter and the disciples. In the Gospels Jesus is pictured as abandoned by his inner circle of disciples. In the end it will be a few women who are left standing near Golgotha and who will venture to the tomb. The unlikely ones in Mark and John’s world, the women, become the models.

This is a deliberately subversive passage, and reflects so much of the experience of Jesus’ ministry. Others were so good, so devout, and so busy trying to be holy that they missed the point. This action made by the woman when she breaks the perfume container open and spreads the contents over Jesus’ feet, speaks louder than a thousand words. Mark even suggests that Jesus predicted how memorable her act would be.

Jesus was surrounded by many of noble lives, high religious prestige and good moral deeds. It was none of these which attracted him, nor those who like Peter spoke strongly of their unswerving loyalty. Mary had faith in Jesus and she put that faith into an act of extravagant loving devotion. In so washing his feet her actions spoke louder than words, she showed that love which is beyond that which words can express.

All of this provoked the Jewish chief priests and we are given a glimpse of why they want to have Jesus and Lazarus put to death. Simply they are envious and greedy and do not want Jesus to take over their religious authority. Jesus was just too popular and this would have implications for them and their status in the community. There was no answer, Jesus had to go. In a short time this greed will end in the cross for Jesus.

* Note that: Mark and Matthew say that this annointing  occurred while Jesus was in Bethany relaxing at the home of Simon the Leper….. which suggests to me that study of the different  accounts in all four gospels would be rewarding… if not confusing.

*spikenard plant

March 22, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lovely reading for a funeral

I have been privileged to take rather a lot of funerals since Christmas and families often suggest readings which I havent come across before.

This one is new to new to me – its by Kahil Gibran and runs as follows:

Life and death are one, even as the
sea and river are one
In the depth of your hopes and desires
lies your silent knowledge of the beyond,
And like seeds dreaming beneath the
snow your heart dreams of spring
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden
the gate to eternity.

For what is it to die but to stand
naked in the wind and melt into the sun
And what is it to cease breathing but
to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and
expand and seek (God) unencumbered
Only when you drink from the river of
silence shall you indeed sing,
And when you have reached the mountain
top, then you shall begin to climb,
And when the earth shall claim your
limbs, then shall you truly dance.

Kahlil Gibran

Its a lovely spring morning in St Neots – so I shall do a mixture of  service preparation and a trip to a garden centre is called for later. Tonight in Little Paxton Village Hall is the Annual Benefice Race Night  ( nothing to do with sport relief I have to say!) – I shall go along and hopefully not shout too loud if any of my horses win!

Good morning!

March 19, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Cant let St Patricks day go by without a mention of that great saint of Ireland

Here  is a little homily I put together though relied heavily on a web-site by a priest called Tommy Lane – so I claim little originality here:

Homily for St Patrick’s Day – March  17th 2010.

Today many people both in Ireland and beyond its shores will be celebrating St Patrick’s Day in merry style. So a few thoughts about this saint who lived c 400 years after the life of Jesus.

Most of us would think that it was St Patrick who first brought Christianity to Ireland.  But it was here already in south and east  of Ireland before his time  probably due to traders and contacts with the continent.

But Patrick is celebrated in a special way because of his outstanding efforts and achievement in converting much of the north and west of Ireland.

There is a legend about Patrick that he rid the country of snakes – but that is highly unlikely there were any snakes in Ireland at the time. But we do have some very trustworthy writings which tell us much about his life – indeed his own writings:

His Confessions in which we see his humility and his Letter to Coroticus in which we see the strong side of Patrick.

He is thought to have been born in Banwen in Wales and when he was c 16 years of age he was taken captive.

“I did not know the true God. I was taken into captivity to Ireland with many thousands of people. We deserved this fate because we turned away from God; we neither kept his commandments nor obeyed our pastors who used to warn us about our salvation.” (Confessions §1)

While Patrick was working as a shepherd in Ireland he underwent a conversion experience. In his Confessions we read,

“The Lord there made me aware of my unbelief that I might at last advert to my sins and turn wholeheartedly to the Lord me.  He protected me and comforted me as a father would his son.”
(Confessions §1)

So when Patrick came to Ireland he became aware of the state of his soul, and converted, finding new life from God. He became a man of deep prayer.

“After I had come to Ireland I daily used to feed cattle, and I prayed frequently during the day; the love of God and the fear of Him increased more and more – so that in one day I said about a hundred prayers, and in the night nearly the same; so that I used even to remain in the woods and in the mountains; before daylight I used to rise to prayer, through snow, through frost, through rain, and I felt no harm;  , because the spirit was then fervent within me.” (Confessions §6)

While here in captivity for six years he learned Irish which would be essential for his later mission  in Ireland.

He   went to France for training as a missionary but endured a set back when he was rejected for the appointment, due to a revelation by a priest friend of a misdeed of his 30 years previously . Patrick said he came close to giving up completely (Confessions §26). But he  saw good coming out of the evil, as he says in the Confessions,

“But this was for my good for thus was I purified by the Lord, and He made me fit that I might be now what was once far from me – that I should care and labor for the salvation of others.” (Confessions §12)

He was ordained a bishop  and commissioned for the mission in Ireland by the Pope  who gave him the name Patrick, which means ‘father’ (from the Latin word “pater”) since he was to be a father to the Irish. The year 432 AD is usually said to be the year when Patrick came to Ireland.

How was Patrick able to convert Ireland so successfully so easily?

Before Patrick came to Ireland there was a strong belief  in all kinds of gods, e.g. dating back to 3,500 BC the pre-Celtic peoples of Ireland worshipped the sun with shrines. In the ancient religion wells and rivers were associated with goddesses. Patrick tapped into these pagan beliefs and taught the people the true faith about the true God.

Spreading the word of God involved politics and diplomacy. Patrick used every means possible to spread the word of God. The shamrock was the sacred plant of the Druids and a legend (some say it is true) says Patrick used it to teach the Trinity. He baptized people in wells, and many holy wells in Ireland today are called after him.

We read in Patrick’s own writings that he would have loved to return to his parents and his companions in France but he made the sacrifice of not returning for the sake of spreading the faith in Ireland. At the very end of his Confessions he admits that he did nothing, it was God who did it all.

“But I want you to know and sincerely believe that anything I achieved was not through my effort, it was the gift of God and this is my confession before I die.” (Confessions §25)

He is said to have died on March 17th 493 and is buried in the same grave as St. Brigid and St. Columba in Downpatrick in County Down.

Patrick was obviously a great man of faith who used  every means possible to   pass on his faith and spread it?  He had many trials but didn’t become bitter  through them – but a better person.  So there is much a lot we can admire and learn from  this very holy man.

Collect for St Patrick.

Almighty God,

Who in your providence chose your servant Patrick

To be your apostle to the Irish people:

Keep alive in us the fire of the faith he kindled

And strengthen us in our pilgrimage

Towards the light of everlasting life:

Thrugh Jesus Christ your Son Our Lord.


The above is based on the writings of  Tommy Lane:


And Did you know??

Bubbles in Guinness ‘go down not up’ say scientists

Bubbles in Guinness really do go down instead of up, according to a study by scientists to mark St Patrick’s Day.

Published: 1:13PM GMT 16 Mar 2010

As pubs stocked up with extra supplies of the black stuff in preparation for Ireland’s national celebrations on Wednesday, scientists offered an explanation for why the famous Irish brew behaves so oddly.

Pour just about any other pint of beer, and the bubbles can be seen to obey the normal laws of physics. Filled with buoyant gas, they rise to the surface and form a frothy head.

But Guinness, in the best Irish tradition, does things differently. The bubbles in a freshly poured pint appear to be cascading down the side of the glass – yet the creamy top which is the drink’s trademark remains.

Members of the Royal Society of Chemistry set out to investigate the puzzle over the course of one lunchtime.

Scientists used a super-fast camera that could zoom in and magnify the bubbles 10 times.

The study showed that the more visible outlying bubbles in a pint of Guinness did move downwards, as a result of circulation flow and drag.

At the centre of the glass, the bubbles were free to rise rapidly, pulling the surrounding liquid with them and setting up a circulating current.

Flowing outwards from the surface, the frothy ”head”, the current hit the glass edge and was pushed down. Bubbles held back by dragging on the side of the glass were caught in the circulation and forced to go with the flow – the wrong way, for a bubble.

Dr Andrew Alexander, senior lecturer in chemical physics at the University of Edinburgh, who led the researchers, said: ”I’d wanted to try and capture the bubbles going down as I had obviously wondered whether it really did happen, having drunk a few Guinness during my time at university, or whether it was an optical illusion created by the waves in the drink that don’t contain any bubbles. Nobody had carried out the experiment before.

”To capture the image, we had a camera which uses 4,500 frames a second and a zoom lens of times 10. When we saw the bubbles really were going down, I was immeasurably happy.

”We then filmed it as a colleague pointed out that people might have said all we did was turn the photos upside down. But it’s true. The circulation cells in the glass provide the same effect like you see in a tornado.”

A spokesman for the RSC, based in Piccadilly, London, said: ”Guinness is good for this experiment as the bubbles are small, due to being released at high pressure by the widget and therefore easily pushed around.

”The gas in the bubbles is also important. In lager beers, the gas is carbon dioxide which is more easily dissolved into the liquid. The gas in Guinness bubbles is nitrogen – not so easily dissolved and therefore not prone to grow larger.

”Finally, the contrast between the dark liquid and the light cream bubbles make the bubbles much easier to see. We’re pleased to have finally solved this mystery in time for St Patrick’s Day when many people will no doubt be enjoying a pint or two.”

Telegraph online

March 16, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How devastating fire can be

Every day we may see our parish church and just accept that it is there. On Monday the parish church at Westry near March was  severely burnt leaving only the walls standing – a fire started by arsonists. Its hard to imagine how upsetting this is for the people of the church and local area – and the news has greatly saddened people far beyond the village too.

Its a chilling remonder to all who have care of pairsh churches to make sure that insurances are comprehensive – but even financial compensation cant make up for the loss  and shock which an incident like this causes. I wonder what could make someone want to cause so much destruction?

March 16, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment