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Vicar's Letter for this month

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Dear Friends,

I am writing this month’s letter, the day after Bible Sunday – 25th October. Whether you celebrated with us in church, or on zoom, or maybe at another on-line or broadcast service, I hope Bible Sunday may have challenged or inspired you to regular, or further, Bible reading.

I wonder if any of you challenged yourself to join others for Sober October this year, keeping off the alcohol for the whole month. Well done if you did!

So how about Bible November or a Bible Advent? Could we all aim to spend this month and next making more time for reading our Bibles? Do consider this – especially if your Bible is gathering dust on some forgotten shelf at home! As we possibly find ourselves heading for the second tier of Covid restrictions, or a circuit breaker (like the people of Wales have now begun) could one positive thing coming out of this be having more time for Bible reading? I hope so, even though we would all prefer it not to be in these circumstances.

So, for those not joining us for Sunday services at the moment, and a reminder for those who were there on Sunday, here are some ideas to get you started on regular or extended Bible reading; some requiring a minimum time commitment, whilst others requiring more….

Starting to read the Bible from start to finish is not the best way to begin regular Bible reading! You may well find you stop somewhere around the Old Testament book of Leviticus! However, if that is what you want to do – by all means, have a go. I know several church members who have done this. There are also books you can buy which will set Bible readings for each day, enabling you to achieve this goal. Look out for ‘The Bible in one Year’!

If you don’t know how or where to start with regular Bible reading, I would recommend you kick off by reading one of the gospels – Mark is the shortest. You could then move on to some of the Old Testament books – Genesis, Exodus, one of the prophets; and one or two of the letters in the New Testament. Treat yourself to some Bible reading notes to help you have greater understanding of what you are reading. The staff in Quench, our local Christian bookshop are always happy to help with recommendations. You might try reading a psalm each day and discover that wonderful treasure trove.

If you have young children – how about including a Bible story as part of their regular bedtime routine? It is a lovely way to encourage them into a discipline of regular Bible reading. Do let me know how it goes!

One very quick and simple thing you could do is to read the Bible readings in Bleatings for next Sunday. See it as part of your preparation for worship. You could re-read the readings from Sunday during the week. Reflect on how they may ‘speak into’ your week, and whatever may be happening.

Better still, join us for a 4 session Bible Study ‘Living is Christ, dying is gain’ via zoom, running in November – exploring St Paul’s Letter to the Philippians. I am hoping we will have enough people signed up to run a daytime and an evening group, but otherwise there will just be one group. The course has been written by Bishop Steven – our Diocesan Bishop, who is a great Biblical scholar. He has written it to reflect on how this letter that Paul wrote from prison can speak to us in the challenges we are facing with Covid. Do join us!

If you haven’t time to join a group, you could buy a booklet (£2 each – available from me, or order your own from the Diocese) to use on your own at home. You can also listen to Bishop Steven’s input via a podcast on the Diocesan website: https://blogs.oxford.anglican.org/podcast/ along with many other reflections. Do have a look and listen to a few!

November is almost upon us, the great month of remembering. We begin on Sunday 1st November with All Saints Day, which will be an All Age celebration for those joining us at church or on zoom. At All Saints, we remember all those men and women down the ages who have tried  to follow Jesus faithfully, amidst the challenges of their own times; some of them we know about, many we don’t. All Saints is a day to thank God for their witness and example.

The 2nd of November is All Souls Day; a time to remember all those who have died, particularly our own loved ones. This year we are holding our annual Memorial Service later than usual – during Advent. This will give more time to reflect on how we can best offer this service, amidst the current Covid safety measures. It is likely that the service will be offered at church and live streamed for those unable to come. This year the service will have added poignancy, as we remember the many who have been bereaved this year, and all those who have been unable to attend the funerals of family members or friends. More details will be available shortly, and on the church website.

However, there will be an Evening Communion service on All Souls Day at 8pm, via zoom, at which we will read the names of any loved ones you would like remembered. The list will be kept and used again at the special Memorial Service in Advent. Please email any names to the Church Office, or ring me/email me at home before 2nd November, please.

Then, there will be Remembrance Sunday and Remembrance Day, when we remember all those who have died in the horror and brutality of war. Do join us on Sunday 8th November, when we will keep our special Act of Remembrance and the two minutes silence at 11 o’clock.

Wishing you all every blessing in this month of remembering.

With my love and prayers,

Joan