May has arrived with regular lawn-mowing and the scent of wallflowers. A thrush has nested right outside my kitchen window, and affords me pleasure and entertainment as she brings beakfuls of worms and insects to her brood. My greenhouse is bursting with trays of young plants (some of them for the Little Bytham Plant Sale) and despite the frost of February, the six clematis I planted last year have all survived. At the end of March they looked completely dead, but now they are galloping away. Only my Passion Flower, which looked green and healthy throughout the winter, has succumbed.
And while life in the garden is busy, it’s even busier in our churches. Sunday 17th is Rogation Sunday, when we ask God’s blessing on the land and the forthcoming harvest. In earlier times, congregations walked the boundaries of their parish on Rogation Day, and may are reviving the custom. Originally it was to teach the children where those boundaries lay, but nowadays it’s more of a Spring thanksgiving. We have a lovely and rather quaint prayer for this day, written by Lancelot Andrewes in the C16th:
Thou God of providence, grant to farmers and keepers of cattle good seasons; to the fleet and fishers fair weather; to tradesmen not to overreach one another; to mechanics to pursue their business lawfully, even down to the meanest workman, even down to the poor, for Christ’s sake.
Maybe we should add a clause for bankers.
May also brings two great feasts; Ascension Day on 21st, when we celebrate Jesus’ return to live with God the Father, his earthly ministry and resurrection now accomplished. Then on 31st we celebrate Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came to the disciples in tongues of flame, and the early church was born.
On Sunday 24th, during our regular 10.30 service at Castle Bytham, we shall welcome Jack Wiles into the family of the church when he is baptised. We have a number of baptisms over the coming months, and it is lovely to see these little ones in church. On 30th May, Catherine Young and John Clifford are to be married at Castle Bytham, so we have much to celebrate.
May also brings Christian Aid Week. This organisation does a great deal to relieve suffering in the less developed areas of the world, and to promote self-help schemes. We are holding a coffee morning on 29th. to raise money for this worthy cause – you can read the details elsewhere in this edition.
I am often asked about the times of baptisms. Ideally, they should form part of the regular service in the church in question. For Little Bytham, Careby and Creeton, this is not practical, owing to the times of services, but at Castle Bytham we have a 10.30 service once a month, which is a good time. They are held during the service because we are bringing the child into the family of the church and into its worship. That is why they are always held on Sundays. At the three smaller churches, I will hold them on a Sunday afternoon or late morning, but the ideal remains the regular Sunday service.
Many of you sent shoe boxes at Christmas to Zimbabwe, for the children in the orphanage which we support. I am pleased to say that it looks as though they all arrived safely and intact. Please start collecting items for the next dispatch. In April, Lesley Marshall, who runs the orphanage, was home on holiday and came to see us, bringing lots of photos of the children. Derek Cox has made a CD of the photos. If anyone would like to borrow it, let me know. Rose Bakker is writing elsewhere in this edition about the orphanage, with further ideas on how we can help them. Life in Zimbabwe is a little easier in that there is more in the shops, but goods have to be purchased in $US, which is not always easy, and for the very poor, impossible. The country remains very tense, however, and its political future uncertain. Our Passover Supper made a healthy profit, thanks to the generosity of those who provided the excellent food, and of the Village Hall committee and we were able to send this to the orphanage.
I said last month that I would list the churchwardens and other officers, elected at our four Annual Parochial meetings. I am so grateful to them for all that they do to ensure that our churches and churchyards are well kept and our services properly carried out. Many rural churches have no-one to take on these roles, and very quickly look sad and neglected when this is the case. So, our officers for 2009-2010 are:
Church Wardens : Sheila Robinson and David Smith
Secretary : James Rees
Treasurer : David Smith
Church Wardens : Jonathan Hill and Hillary Lewthwaite
Secretary : Hillary Lewthwaite
Treasurer : Susie Hill
Church Wardens : Andrew Hoyle and Charles Smith
Secretary : Marjorie Bradshaw
Treasurer : Margaret Creasey
Church Wardens : Christopher Samler and Anne Garbutt
Secretary : Margaret King
Treasurer : Christopher Samler
I am pleased to say that Castle Bytham church is now open during the day, thanks to a team of kind people who lock and unlock it each day. We have had an increased number of visitors as a result, several of them seeking their ancestors who came from the village. Do call in the church when you are out and about. The more casual visitors it has, the safer it is. And if you would be willing to take a turn in unlocking and unlocking it, however occasionally, please speak to Shirley Grayson 410208
I know that plans for the Midsummer fair are well under way. We shall be holding another Songs of Praise at Castle Bytham. Last year’s proved extremely popular, so do come along to rest your feet and join in the singing. Dogs and children are especially welcome.
With every good wish
Added : 19/05/09 : MG