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A Sermon on ” Approaching God in Stillness peached by Rev Jane Keiller at Eynesbury Church 26/2/2012

On Sunday February 25th the first of our St Neots Deanery Evensongs was held  at St Marys Church in Eynesbury.  The sermon was preached by Rev Jane Keiller who is Chaplain at Ridley Hall. The theme was ” Approaching God through stillness”

Jane has kindly agreed to her sermon being reproduced on this blog and I hope that those reading it will find it a useful addition to their Lenten reflections.

At the bottom of the  text, I will list the forthcoming  St Neots Deanery Evensongs and the themes.

Anyone will be most welcome to join us.

St Neot’s Deanery

St Mary’s Eynesbury

February 26th 2012

Approaching God in Stillness: Psalm 46; 1 Kings 19:9-13a; Matthew 6:6-13

Lord, prayer is your gift to us.

This Lenten time, teach us to pray.


There were once three brothers who lived with their father. After he had died, they wondered about their future. The eldest said, “I’m off to give health to the world.” The second said, “I’m off to spread education round the world.” And the third said, “I’m staying here.”

A few years passed and the eldest brother came back saying, “I am exhausted and dis-eased.” The second came back too and said, “I am weary and confused.” And the third one said, “I’m going to get some water from the river.”

He came back with a bowl full of water. It was dark and murky, but he asked his brothers to sit around it and wait. Gradually the water settled, and the mud fell to the bottom. In fact the water became so clear that the brothers could see their faces reflected in it. The peace of the stillness enveloped them.

“You see,” said the youngest brother, “It is only when you are still enough to know your own faces, that you can hear what God wants of you. Only then can you act in God’s power.” (1)

We are thinking tonight at the beginning of this Lent series on prayer about coming to God in stillness. As the psalmist tells us to listen to God’s invitation – “Be still and know that I am God.” But it can be easier said than done. I am reminded of something I discovered quite recently, the Chinese word for ‘busy’ is made up of two characters. The first means ‘heart’ or ‘mind’, the other means ‘lost’.

We live in a world where everything happens very fast and all the time. E-mail and mobile phones make it almost impossible for us to “get away from it all”; 24 hour shopping and the internet pressurise us to fit more and more into our lives. It is all too easy to understand the logic of those Chinese characters and to recognise how murky is the water of our minds.

So let’s take some time now

to hear again God’s invitation to come to him in stillness

to consider what happens when we pray in this way and then finally

to think how we might go about it.

So first of all the invitation

I am struck by the promises in scripture where God offers his people rest:

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel:

‘In returning and rest you shall be saved;

in quietness and trust shall be your strength.’ (Isaiah 30:15)


Thus says the Lord:

‘Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths,

where the good way lies; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls,’ (Jeremiah 6:16)

They remind me of Jesus’ invitation, to all who are weary and carrying heavy burdens, to come to him for rest. (Matthew 11:28) Perhaps our Old Testament passage gives us the clue. Elijah, exhausted, afraid and alone is told that the Lord is about to meet him in a special way. But although he is treated to the dramas of a mighty wind, an earthquake and fire it is the sound of sheer silence that causes him to cover his head. It is in the silence that God speaks to Elijah, it is in the silence that his fears are allayed and he learns what he must do next. Hear is peace – maybe not the kind of peace that we might long for at the end of a long day – but certainly peace of mind. Peace – peace with God, peace in our hearts.

And perhaps that is the greatest gift for us when we pray in stillness For when we are quiet we too can listen and God is endlessly communicating. For some of us the scriptures will be the place we turn to listen to him, and of course he makes himself known in the Eucharist and in creation, but he also speaks through that still small voice, that inner knowing.

One writer describes it like this:

God comes to us precisely in and through our thoughts, perceptions and experiences, and we can approach our conscious life only through them, for they are the substance of our lives. We are therefore to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2) God’s gracious incursions into our soul can make our thoughts his thoughts. He will help us learn to distinguish when the thought is ours alone and when it is also his. (Dallas Willard, Hearing God, (London, Harper Collins, 1999, p. 93)

I read an example of this recently. A widower used to cook his supper and then take it to eat in front of the television. One day he decided he would sit at the table and he laid two places and lit a candle in the other place. He found himself talking to Jesus about his day. Then the idea came into his head to invite a neighbour for supper – also a widower; they scarcely knew each other. But the neighbour was delighted and told his host; “You asking me round has been an answered prayer.”

God wants to communicate with us and when we are still, we are more likely to hear his voice.

So how do we let the murky water of our own lives settle? It is so easy to be endlessly preoccupied. However, it has been said the ‘the path of God leads through the very middle of my most daily routine.’ (Sue Monk Kidd, God’s Joyful Surprise (Hodder & Stoughton, 1999), p 117)  How can we help ourselves to find that place of stillness, where we can listen? Where we can hear God in the silence?

The little leaflet you were given when you came in with Some Helps for Stillness might be a start. Spiritual teachers down the centuries have taught that there are some simple tools that can help lead us into place of stillness. Our bodies, minds and spirits can all be used in this way. They are with us always and can become means of settling and focus so that we can be open to God’s presence and less distracted.

Let me also mention the elderly lady Metropolitan Anthony Bloom describes as using her knitting to help fend off distractions when she prayed. Or the missionary – John Colman – imprisoned in Iran who described how every morning he would stand, holding his hands like a cup and say simply “Lord, whatever happens to me today I will receive it as from you.” In the silence of his isolation, his hands made his prayer of submission and self-offering.

Silence can of course be uncomfortable. The American pastor Steve Smith (in his book, Embracing Soul Care) describes what happened when he left 5 minutes of silence in a Sunday service

For many it was difficult. For some, it seemed like forever.

After the service a woman said to me angrily, “I don’t like it when you make us be still and quiet.”

I asked, “Why is that?”

“When I am quiet and still, I begin to have bad thoughts.”

I couldn’t let that go, so I asked, “What bad thoughts do you have when you are still?” I was unprepared for her honest and courageous response. “When you made us be still, I started thinking of how unhappy I am and how miserable I am in my marriage.”

We can learn important things about ourselves when we come before God in the silence. Many of us find, when we try to be still, that we are distracted by anxieties or worries; things that have happened or things to come. A favourite verse of scripture can help us to concentrate.   “You are my rock and my salvation” or “Be still and know that I am God” from our psalm tonight would be ideal.

Over the years, I have found that the surest way for me of finding stillness is that ancient prayer known as The Jesus Prayer – Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God have mercy on me, a sinner. It is an amalgamation of the prayer of the Tax Collector in Jesus parable in Luke 10 and the cry of Blind Bartimaeus in Mark 10. It has a wonderful capacity to bring racing thoughts under control, to calm fears and silence inner arguments.  But it can also be a way of lifting myself before God in prayer or others who are on my heart – family, friends, people who have asked me to pray for them and also of course for the needs of the world that can so easily overwhelm.

Lord Jesus Christ Son of God have mercy on the people of Syria,

Lord Jesus Christ Son of God have mercy on that homeless man I saw this afternoon.

Lord Jesus Christ Son of God have mercy on …

Who is on your heart this evening?

What story in the news has filled you with compassion?

My preferred way of being still is sitting, but there are times when I am so agitated that I can hardly bear to keep still and walking with a holding cross in my pocket can help to settle the mud.

Perhaps this Lent we can take a few minutes each day to listen to the psalmist’s reminder  “Be still and know that I am God.” And keep in mind the words of the younger son in the story I began with, “It is only when you are still enough to know your own faces, that you can hear what God wants of you. Only then can you act in God’s power.”

(1) Wanda Nash, Simple Tools for Stillness, (Grove Spirituality Series S29) page 4

Sunday March 4th at 6pm – at Everton Church:  “ Approaching God through sport and leisure” Speaker Helen Wright from The Kings School, Ely also  “More Than Gold” Eastern Region Co-ordinator.

 Sunday March 11th at 6pm at Great Staughton. Rev’d Scott Watts Chaplain at Hinchinbrook Hospital. “Approaching God through suffering”

 Sunday March 25th at 6pm at St Marys Buckden   Father Chris Newman “Approaching   God in the Roman Catholic Tradition”

February 28, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Paxtonvic’s day off

I see that the story of the Tudor spoon reached the Church Times this week…. but it was rather oddly positioned on page 8 under the ” News” column.

A picture of the spoon is placed  down the side of the page  and leading off from the top of the spoon runs ” Human-sexulaity group invites submissions” .

Bit of stirring going on there..

Hum….. though at the bottom of the spoon it does say:

” Stirred: a spoon thought to be 15th century ( well, the Tudor dynasty beagn in 1485 but my guess is that its later than that) is among items ( well, there was only the spoonand a bit of clay pipe) found in the church tower masonry during restoration work at St James Church, Little Paxton, Cambridgeshire. It was due to be presented to St Neots museum on Wednesday”  And it was…..

My day off was taken up this morning by having a colonoscopy at Addenbrooks Hospital. I have nothing but praise for the whole process and if anyone stumbles across this blog and is due to have such a procedure I should like to reassure them that there isnt anything to worry about.

As my old grandfather Will used to say in connection with his decorating business, good preparation is the secret of success. Very true when it comes to getting ready to have a colonoscopy.

I was given a pack of something that promised to be tasty ( ” Fleet Phosphate”  )  It claimed  to be ginger and lemon flavour, but it wasnt all that pleasant and by the time youve had four sachets of the stuff with copious amounts of water and no food for 24 hours it is true you arent feeling your best. But it did give a new meaning to the concept of purging at the beginning of Lent.

However, once at Addenbrooks nice and early it wasnt long before I was robed in glorious apparel and waiting for a surgeon to fetch me from a waiting room area.  I aimlessly watched Joan Collins on a TV screen and pretended to be ultra cool whilst listening to two other ladies talking about their colonoscopy experiences.

As it turned out I need not have worried at all. Surgeon AJ was charming and before I knew it was watching the screen and pictures of my innerds which Im delighted to say are in good order. Some pain killer injection perhaps helped me not feel too much discomfort and I did have some sedation but I was fully awake all the way through.

Apart from being sleepy in the afternoon I feel fine now and the first piece of toast afterwards was divine!

If anyone has any concerns about changed bowel movements etc please do go and see your GP. It might well be nothing, but a colonoscopy can detect signs of cancer and it can be dealt with very effectively if caught early.

So, having had my gall bladder removed ( huge improvement ) and a colonoscopy I can now have some time out hopefully  from medical things.

We are very lucky to have such a wonderful health service. Let us hope and pray and become as informed as we can be about the proposed changes to the NHS.

This advert for a ” colonoscopy kit at home” has got to be a joke, please!!

February 24, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The story of the wooden tudor spoon found in Little Paxton Church tower

Here is a picture taken yesterday at St Neots Musuem when the new curator Liz Davies was given a tudor spoon for safe keeping, found in Little Paxton Tower during the building work last year.

It was late autumn when one of Baker of Danbury’s workmen, Maurice Avery found the spoon whilst preparing a hole high up in the tower to receive a new ring beam. It had been buried for many years and only came to light by chance. Little Paxton church council thought it best to lodge the spoon and also a small part of a clay pipe, with the local museum so other people can see it.

Fortunately we were able to have an expert opinion on the spoon and why it might have been hidden in the tower. The following words are from an e-mail sent by Bethan Holdridge from the Norwich Strangers’ Hall Museum.

” To me this spoon looks mid to late sixteenth century. I have attached a picture of a spoon found on the Mary Rose to show the similarities. The clay pipe may be the best object to help to date the concealing (if it has a small bowl it is an early pipe) because it is a more disposable object. An assumption cannot be made that the spoon and pipe are contemparies. The person possibly bringing an old spoon along to conceal and adding the remnants of his pipe alongside.
It is a difficult query to answer as to why they were concealed in the church tower. All I can do is ponder like the experts, because in truth no-one really knows why our predecessors concealed objects (like pipes, spoons, shoes, cats…) within walls and under floors of buildings. The theory put forward is that it is a superstition, or folklore, of some sort, that it protected the building’s inhabitants from harm. The spoon and pipe being placed in a church may have been one of the workmen trying to ensure a bit of protection or good luck for himself or his family, a bit of religion and folklore mixed up. Maybe their being placed in an inaccessible area secured or heightened the protection a bit. It could even be that the person believed that their proximity to the bell would help ward off evil spirits as it was believed by some that the noise of church bells tolling would do just that. Or, it could just be, simply, that whoever placed them just wanted to leave some token of themselves in the building they’ve worked on, knowing it’ll be in place for hundreds of years, and nothing more than that. As to why there was a spoon in particular placed. Well, the harvests were pretty good during the 1500s (although there were a couple of bad ones late on) so it may’ve been some protection against starvation or requesting of God a good harvest although this would be more likely if there’d been a succession of failed harvests. Importantly in this case, spoons were very personal objects (as I suppose were clay pipes). Up until about the 1600s, everybody had their own personal spoons that they would take about with them, cutlery not being commonly provided when you went to dine with anyone. Spoons were often given as Christening presents because a good quality spoon was a very convenient gift for a person. The close personal attachment of the spoon to the person may have had the effect upon the person who placed it within a religious building that they were encouraging some sort of divine provenance. The spoon, likewise, may have belonged to a dearly departed and the person who placed it saw it as help for them in purgatory or gaining access to heaven. Whether the spoon was new, or old and already worm eaten when interred, can also form part of any other theories you may have. Plus, if you can find any local history that may have encouraged people to feel a need to try and control their own destiny at this time…. I wish I could be more specific but the above is what has been mooted by those who have made studies of concealed objects plus some of my own musings. 
Thank you for the pictures of the graffiti too. Very interesting, especially the circular ones. I have seen these elsewhere and it had been proposed that they are mass-sticks (a type of sun dial) although it has also been postulated that they are superstition marks, once again to keep evil spirits at bay. These are found near entrances to buildings:doors, windows, fireplaces. Although in this case, you would have thought a church a strong enough charm to keep evil spirits from entering! I wonder if these can be dated to around the same time as the spoon and pipe were concealed?”
Here is a picture of a Tudor wooden spoon at Norwich museum.
Fascinating stuff…. I wonder who it was who buried it there, and why?
We shall never know.

February 23, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sermon for The Transfiguration and memories of Evensong at Church Church Cathedral

If you have never heard Christ Church Cathedral choir sing Purcell’s Magnificat in G Minor, why not try it now?

It’s sublime and here is the you-tube link: :

In this version, it is conduced by Simon Preston who was organist at Christ Church when I was a youngster enjoying Evensong there myself… as you will discover should you wish to read the sermon I preached at Buckden last night.

We sang the Purcell in G  ( Mag and Nunc) and it was a huge privilege to be asked to sing with the choir under the direction of Chris Dell.

                                 Transfiguration  – February 2012.

                           A sermon preached at St Mary’s Buckden.

Thank you for inviting me to be with you at your splendid choral evensong.  Such a service takes me back to a time in the late 1960’s when as a young girl I would attend evensong at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford after school. Quite voluntarily I would add.  I fell in love with English choral music from an early age; the otherworldliness of it all fascinated me.  Why I was so attracted to it, I’m not sure. But I know I felt at home there and wanted one day  to be a priest like the Precentor who sang  “ Oh Lord, open thou our lips” I can still hear him sing. And the reply from the choir “ And our hearts shall show forth thy praise” .

I would leave and go to the old Brew House in Christ Church where we lived as my father was a lodge porter at the college.

Often when I got home he was still on duty and maybe my Mum was there  tired having worked all day up in the college Great Hall, the dining hall. I would go up to my big bedroom and get on with my homework. But the sounds, the atmosphere, the simplicity yet grandeur of the evensong lingered,  It was a glimpse into another world. A glimpse beyond the routine stuff of being at school and in a family home where life wasn’t always easy.

It was, incidentally, at Christ Church college that Charles Dodgson, known by his pseudonym of Lewis Carroll lived and worked for most of his adult life from 1850 until he died in 1898.

He was a mathematician but had many other skills, including story telling. His famous “ Alice’s Adventures Underground” began life  in 1864 – better known to us as “ Alice in wonderland” . This story were inspired by the hours he would spend with the Dean Liddell’s children, one of them being Alice Liddell. He would tell them stories as he took them out on rowing expeditions and one such story, about a little girl who escaped into a fantasy world found much favour. It was published in 1865.

As I gazed up at the portrait of Charles Dodgson in the Great Hall at Christ Church  as a youngster, I would think about Alice and how she slipped  into a colourful world of mystery. These early experiences in a somewhat unusual environment for a young person made a deep impression on me.

No wonder when I was a bit older I loved ‘The Lion the witch and the wardrobe.’  by C.S. Lewis, another Oxford man. A wonderful story of three children and their adventure in the magical land of Narnia. It is a children’s book but also very grown up. It causes us to question whether or not there is another world beyond this material world.

From time to time newspapers come up with surveys about peoples’ religious beliefs and invariably they show that in European countries there is a good  proportion of people believing in a world beyond this one but who don’t latch onto organized faith and ritual as most Christian groups offer it.

 In 2004 a survey was carried out by James Beckford Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick and his results published under “ Why Britain doesn’t go to church”

 He wrote that   “Fewer and fewer Britons go to church but interest in spirituality appears to be growing – whether it is in astrology or yoga, New Age thinking or native religions. (Medieval churches used to dominated the landscape just as Christian ideas used to dominate our lives.

In today’s world – in everything from economic affairs and personal morality to political, legal and cultural ideas – modern liberal Britain has new inspirations and new icons. And traditional religion, it seems, is only for the few)

A large and growing number of people profess very few beliefs conforming to Christian orthodoxy in Britain. Even fewer participate in the activities of Christian  organisations.

Does this herald the end of religion or the death of God? No, it means that the major Christian churches are losing their former power – more rapidly in some places than others – and that competition is intensifying among the suppliers of would-be alternatives and replacements.

The race is on to re-package ‘spirituality’ and ‘religion’ for a generation of consumers who do not see themselves as church members; and if organised religion continues to fail to meet their needs, then others will provide.

(Even though religion is not the most important institution or factor in social life it continues to be ‘used’ in many forms.

At the time of Princess Diana’s death, millions wanted to lay flowers or sign books of condolences. In tragedy and disaster, religion is still a major source of symbols, sentiments and ceremonies.)

I would back up this view from my ministerial wanderings week by week. I meet many people, not least through visiting at key times of transition – birth, marriages and death – who genuinely want some God input at these precious times but don’t feel linked into churchiness for what ever reason.

Recently on a funeral visit, I talked with the husband of the lady who had died and he was clear from the  outset that although he and his wife had been baptised when young,  he didn’t go to church and didn’t want a religious service. And yet, a little later on in the meeting, he was just as clear that he wanted the Lords Prayer and The Lords My Shepherd in the service.

Here is a huge challenge for us – to offer symbols, sentiments and ceremonies that people can relate to and feel part of without compromising the essentials of what we believe and the traditions of Church which have served us well in past centuries.

Many people are keen to find something which speaks to them of a window into a different world, something that gives purpose and perspective to their lives and makes sense of the bad things that happen to good people.

Something which places our earthly pilgrimage in time and space within a wider context of meaning which both affirms this world and invites us to look beyond it for ultimate truth and salvation.

What does our gospel reading, Jesus’ transfiguration, have to tell us today in this quest for meaning and assurance?  The event has indeed been described ‘a window into a different world.’

This episode can remind us that there is a spiritual realm, a place beyond our own finite time. It reminds us that when we die we go to meet with God and exist in his presence.

It is interesting to note that in this story of the transfiguration, we hear of Moses and Elijah, figures from the ancient history of the Jewish people presented as very much alive to God and in God.

Jesus had spoken to his disciples of impending death and suffering and they were afraid.

Initially, when the disciples saw Moses and Elijah we can imagine their amazement and disbelief at what they were seeing ;  two great pillars of the Jewish faith, men who it was believed had been spared death in the normal way now talking with Jesus on a mountain top.

Although this transfiguration moment wasn’t something they could prolong, something which they could  hold onto in time, they could hold it in their hearts and draw courage  from it. How they would need that courage and conviction that God was with them as they journeyed with Jesus towards his final confrontations  in Jerusalem.

I love this Transfiguration story.

For a moment the cloak which divides our material world from the spiritual realm is drawn back for the disciples and they are able to receive a glimpse of  eternity.

Such moments appear in Old Testament stories: Moses on the mountain top receiving the 10 commandments from God ; Moses and the burning bush. Jacob and his vision of a stairway to heaven – angels ascending and descending  between heaven and earth. And the OT reading tonight of  Elijah and the chariot of fire which  swept him up to heaven.

The NT is full of the reality of another world touching earth, not least in appearances of  angels and ultimately of course in the person of Jesus, God with us, Emmanuel, we sing at Christmas.

Throughout the ages many Christians have spoken of having experienced the reality of God’s presence is a manner which is extraordinary and convincing.

Whether such experiences come to people who are very much into church or people who have nothing to do with organized religion – it is good to listen and be prepared to accept that God may be working his purposes out in ways that don’t always fit our notions of what it means to be religious.

And so to finish with a mention of the new initiative which our two bishops are sharing with us these coming months of “  Imagining the future”.  It’s not an exercise in fantasy or an attempt to boost morale as stats keep coming at us telling us less and less people are coming to church. It’s a wish to promote conversations.

Conversations between God and ourselves, a seeking of his will and calling. Conversations in prayer which can lead us to be more open to God reaching out to touch our lives at the deepest places.

Conversations between people in their parishes and between parishes and within Deaneries.  Conversations with our bishops and archdeacons.

Most of all, conversations with the ordinary people, men women and children with whom we spend our days. Children as many of you will agree, sometimes have the most wise and profound things to tell us.

Our bishops encourage us to listen in Lent… listen with our ears and hearts and minds to the movement of God in our lives.

May we listen to other people’s stories for they will have much to teach us as we respond to the glory of God shining from them

May we listen out for ideas about how the church can become more relevant and meaningful in ways that gently lead people to open new windows of experience which let God’s light into their lives.

May God bless you all in your Lenten listening and Lenten conversations as you together imagine the future for St Marys,  Buckden and the people who live in this delightful village. May all of our listening and talking be done against the backdrop of the revealed glory of God and the glorious hope of the Easter resurrection of Jesus Christ.



February 20, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Thoughts on St Valentine

St Valentine – 14th February.

I couldn’t let this week go by without making mention of St  Valentine who in the BCP lectionary is listed as being a martyr at Rome, and who it is thought died c 269 AD.

 If there was such a man as Valentine, I cant imagine what he would make of the commercial business which  flourishes at this time of year, quickly to be supplanted after February 14th by Mothers Day “ merchandise.


Who was he? Well we shall probably never really know as there will always be legend surrounding these early Christian Saints. There is an extra problem with Valentine because early Christian times there were several St Valetines about.  But here is one version of the life of Valentine of Rome that I rather like


It is thought that Valentine of Rome he lived  200 years or so after Christ, a priest who lived under Cladius 11,  a cruel emperor. Cladius wanted to raise a mighty army of young men from Rome and thus forbade marriage which of course might deter young men from wanting to fight.


Valentine, however, was not prepared to abide by this rule and used to conduct marriages in secret until he was found out and imprisoned. He became very close to the jailor’s daughter, restored her sight and this converted her father.   On the night before he was executed, so the story goes, he wrote a letter to her expressing his affection. It was on February 14th c 269 that he was killed.   Some think the custom of exchanging cards on that arose in his honour. Others simply that it had been observed that birds paired up around mid February. Others think there was  a Roman Feast at that time all tied up with fertility rights and Christian priests wanted to suppress it and thus substituted Valetine’s  Feast day instead. St Valentine’s day was certainly celebrated in England in 1477.


He has extensive patronage : and not surprisingly he is regarded by some as the patron saint of affianced couples, greeting cards manufacturers, lovers and happy marriages. Quite why he is the patron saint of bee keepers I’m not sure.


Other “romantic  ” traditions have become attached to this feast, including pinning bay leaves to your pillow on Valentine’s Eve so that you will see the person you are closest too in your dreams.


Whatever the truth of Valentine’s life, as with many of the early Christians, they lived their lives in complete faith in Jesus Christ and were prepared to die for that faith. Even when Valentine was in the direst of circumstances, he was trying to help and heal people and tell others about Christ.

We remember today the faith of all those who gave their lives in the service of Christ, and whilst we are not called to do that in such dramatic circumstances, we ask for strength to carry out the work He would have us do in the places where we live and work. Amen.

** Don’t forget the bay leaves!

February 13, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How to manage without a minister…

It’s always lovely when someone responds to paxtonvic blog and I learn about life far away from here.

Here are a few lines from Edgar in South Australia:


Found, lost, found again (Rejoice with me…) I found your blog a while ago, then lost it; now I’ve found it again. 

Our church in Northern South Australia is a very small church with about 30 people.

We are part of the Presbyterian Church of South Australia. We do not have a Minister but the week to week running of the church is carried out by the Elders with visits from our Interim-Moderator . We are a small community and unlike our city churches (Adelaide) we are, through God’s Good Grace, managing fairly well. We have the belief that if God didn’t want us here, we wouldn’t be here. I would like to continue reading, if that’s ok.

Thanks for your kind words, Edgar.

May  your church flourish!

February 13, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

To pray or not to pray

How odd.

Paraphrasing a Daily Mail report:

“As many of you will have read  prayers had been said at council meetings in  Bideford since the town was  awarded a charter by Elizabeth 1 in 1573

But the tradition that has endured though civil war, the industrial revolution and two world wars may be  succumbing  to the march of political correctness.

Town councillors in Bideford, North Devon, have been told that their prayers could fall foul of the Race Relations Act.

They have also been warned that they might attract an action under the Human Rights Act.

Many councillors are outraged by the advice from the National Association of Local Councils and claim it is yet another attempt to remove Christian traditions from public life.

But the National Association said the practice, which is observed at many town halls, was merely an “old custom” which might upset councillors and members of the public of other religions.

“This situation is proof of a disturbing tendency to try to use spurious legal arguments under the Human Rights Act, and equality legislation, to eliminate the Christian faith from the fabric of our public life,” said local Tory MP Geoffrey Cox.

The member for Torridge and West Devon, who is a QC, added: “I do not believe that there is any serious risk of a meritorious action under the Human Rights Act, or the Race Discrimination Act.

“The advice is quite simply misleading and wrong.”

He has written to Local Government Secretary Hazel Blears demanding “urgent clarification” for town and parish councils to know how to conduct their meetings without breaking the law.

Town clerk George McLauchlan had asked the National Association of Local Councils for advice on the matter two months ago after Lib Dem councillor Clive Bone put forward a motion to scrap the prayers.

Read more:–avoid-human-rights-court-case.html#ixzz1mHnyyYgR
And yet, by contrast at the glitzy and glamorous Grammy Awards this weekend, what do we find?
Host L L Cool J opened the event with a prayer for the late Whitney Houston. ” The only thing that feels right is to begin with a prayer for a woman who we loved – for our fallen sister, Whitmey Houston”
 Singer Stevie Wonder spoke ” To Whitney up in heaven, we all love you”.
The article on BBC news which quoted these sentiments added a report of a Los Angelos Baptist preacher ” What made her different was she was born and bred in the bosom of the black church”
Strange how such a show biz setting full of wealthy people should have no hesitation in expressing religious sentiments ( I like to think they were genuine) and an English parish council has to be on its guard.
May Whitney rest in peace and may some sense prevail over this council matter.

February 13, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rainbow light

Gorgeous rainbow over the nature reserve at the back of our house.

Click on the picture to see a bigger image

The light as it caught the trees was lovely as is my  daughter Adele who is 24 years old today and is celebrating in Zurich.

Adele is a photographer in Coventry and takes some wonderful pictures prefering 35mm cameras rather than digital. I still remember asking one of the nurses on the maternity ward at Rugby hospital for a book of baby names after Adele was born to check out the name.

Though I had  a friend called Adele Cochrane at St Clements School in Boscombe in the early 60’s and had always liked the name.It seemed right for Adele.

Id love to make contact with her…. so if by any chance Adele Cochrane comes across paxtonvic do get in touch.

February 13, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

About time too….

Where has Paxtonvic been?  Well, my computer is working so slowly ( it needs some expert to defrag it?)  Ive put off blogging… but with an antiques programme on  BBC 2 to fill in the minutes whilst computer makes its mind up,  I’m taking my time to blog my “fearless” pictures.

Ive been very brave:


On January 21st at our Open Tower Day, I actually went up to the belfry floor and saw Little Paxton’s bells in situ along with the repaired clock. I was so pleased with myself, having braved two flights of spiral stairs and it was fascinating being up there.


Ken Heley is the master tower tour man and he gave us a demonstration of how the old clock used to be wound up manually.


Here is a view of some of the bells looking upwards from the belfry floor.


Close up of the clock mechanism.


Paxtonvic transfixed by her history lesson.

I marvelled at the skills of the craftsmen who worked in such a small space to introduce the new frame and six bells.

I learnt too that  if you are frightened of doing something its best just to take a deep breath and do it……..( though it did take me several months to get up the tower!)

We hope to have more tower open days when the church reopens in September after re-ordering.

February 13, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment