My dear friends,
You will be pleased to know that I am toasty warm in Church at the moment- I have managed to hack into the system controlling the heating and I have made clogs out of Dutch cheese rind and I am sat in front of a wheel of Port Salut pretending that it is the sun. I have never been warmer- although the butter is as solid as the frosty earth that Wenceslas trod on and I am worried about the side-effects of sunburn because the cheese is so bright. Still, a small price to pay. I hope that you are warm enough too, and that you have perfected the defrosting of your car. Lots to look forward to! Here we go!
This Sunday we are keeping the Conversion of Paul at St Paul’s at 9.30. There are also services at 10 and 11 as usual, a baptism at 12.30 and then the first Evensong and Benediction of the year at 6.15 at St Paul’s- led by the choir, it is always a relaxing and peaceful end to the weekend and a bold statement of God’s attitude of love to the world.
Another fortnight has passed and the next Churchyard Working Party is on Saturday 20th Jan 2024 from 9-4. If you would like to help please come along anytime between 9 and 4. This coming week end we will need to clear up any fallen branches as well as reinstate the tree survey and prepare the birdboxes for use this Spring. This is the last weekend we can do this. I will arrange someway we can get the tripod ladder out of the NorthTranscept.so we can use it to access the birdboxes. Looking forward to seeing you on Saturday.
Just a reminder that our next deanery green gathering to be at St Pauls Parish rooms in Wokingham on Sunday 21st January 2024 at 2pm (until about 4pm). I will be sharing a little bit about Churches Count on Nature which is held annually in June. Do please also come willing to share anything that you have been doing in your parishes to further the green agenda. It is a time to be inspired, to share and to encourage.
Also just to mention that we are looking to launch a Repair Cafe in Wokingham – if anyone is interested in finding out more or being involved, or can share some wisdom, please come along on Thursday 18th Jan at 11am to All Saints Church where a group is meeting to further the planning of this!
Candlemas will be on the 28th of Jan this year- at St Paul’s everyone is invited to bring along a candle which can be placed on the altar as a way of representing our individual character and lives and the combined light of Christ at work in us and, through us, in the world. Please bring a candle with you on the 28th, and please put your name on a label underneath it if you would like the candle back. It is always a beautiful sight to see so many varied and different candles representing the whole Church.
St Nick’s are hosting a Taize Service at 3pm on the 11th of Feb- do put it in your diary- as well as Ash Wednesday, which is on the 14th. There will be services at 10.30 in the morning and 8pm.
The 11th of Feb is going to be a busy day- we collect for the Foodbank every Feb so that our gifts and donations arrive at a different time to everyone else’s to stagger when the things arrive and refresh things some time after Harvest. Please can you bring things along that morning at both St Paul’s and St Nick’s? This is the current list of things they need especially…
- Long Life Milk
- Hot Dogs
- Tinned Fruit
- Tinned Peas
- Tinned Potatoes
- Tea bags – 40s or 80s only
- Female Deodorant
- Shaving Foam
Next Parish Quiet Day, open to everyone is on Sat the 24th of Feb at Finch Church Hall- do put it in your diary and do come along as part of your keeping of Lent.
Announcements and Notices
The PCC voted on the blessing of same-sex relationships on Monday night and decided unanimously to support their use during the main Sunday services at St Paul’s or St Nick’s, to allow the clergy to work through the best way of using them and also to look forward to the day when we are allowed to offer standalone services for the blessing of same-sex relationships.
If anyone would like to find out more, please speak to a PCC member or the Rector- and if anyone has any comments or concerns, or would like to book such a blessing, please speak to the Rector as well.
The PCC also approved the purchase of the Revised English Hymnal, which is the successor to the NEH we use at St Paul’s. It is a major and exciting decision and we are looking for people to purchase these books, perhaps as a way of remembering a loved one or giving thanks for the life of the Church. Here is an introduction to the resource: reh.hymnsam.co.uk
Songs of Praise – Sunday 11th February 6.15pm
Would you like to choose your favourite hymn, reading or poem for a Songs of Praise evening on 11th February? Is there a hymn, reading or poem that has a special significance for you? If you would be willing to say a few words about why the item is special, that would be even better. We would love to include them in this special service which is being held to raise funds for new hymnbooks. Please email or phone Louise in the office with your choices by Sunday 4th February at the latest. If your item is chosen, we ask that you make a suggested donation of £20 to the fundraising.
Please do come along and join in the singing that evening. Refreshments in church afterwards.
Louise Turner and Lesley Ruddock
And here is the order form for people to fill in
Other bits and bobs and things and other things
Still collecting crochet hooks and wool for The Lounge at The Holt- still open to new offers of help in basically any area of Church life. What is it that you keep thinking you would like to find out more about? What job would you be excited to do? What vital gap could you fill?
An update from one of our Tithings groups which made Bertie a bit sad- I am sure you will invite him next time- he does have cinema vouchers to spend from Christmas… Hello Bertie,
Bertie, Sorry we didn’t invite you to join us, but 5 of the walking group went to Showcase Cinema on Monday morning to see “One Life” an interesting film about Sir Nicholas Winton who saved 669 children from Prague, in WW11. We didn’t walk there, but enjoyed the fellowship with friends .
Cara is recommending this book at the moment, and it looks awesomely good…
And here is the School Prayer for St Cecilia’s Primary, written by the Rector and the School together:
Generous God (by the leader)
Thank you (In the language of your choice)
We thank you that we are a family of people where everybody belongs.
We thank you that our school is a place of safety, friendship and learning.
Like Cecilia, help us to be kind and creative.
Like Cecilia, help us to persevere and to stand up for what we believe in.
Help us to encourage each other and build each other up every single day.
Nadia Bolz-Weber has written this letter from Love to herself. It is a beautiful and true piece of writing, and one we could all copy, writing down what Love says to us…
Dear Love, what would you have me know today?
Nadia? Is that you? It’s so nice to hear from you.
I guess first I want you to know that you can check in more, baby girl. I mean, I’m not saying this to shame you of course (that’s never my vibe), just to remind you that the distance between us never changes, to remind you that I am always here, as close as your next breath.
I want you to know that I forgive you for all the times you gave torn little pieces of your heart to people, and institutions, and ideologies, and ambitions, and elimination diets that could never love you back. In fact, I love you so much that I went and got all those little shards back for you. So when your mind wanders to the past and all those times your heart was hungry and a tiny bit foolish, and you start feeling hurt and angry and ashamed all over again, remember that no one got to keep the parts of yourself you mistakenly thought they were worthy of. I went back and got every piece of sweetness back. So I guess what I am saying is, never forget that you are whole. And it would mean the world to me if you could also maybe forgive yourself for all that stuff. Really, sweet pea. It’s over. And we’ve moved on, you and I.
I want you to know that you can stop trying to earn what is already yours: your dignity, your beauty, your lovability.
I want you to know that you will feel better after that apology that you still owe someone for something stupid that happened last week. Baby girl, I promise it won’t cost you what you think it will. Your ego wants to convince you that you are never at fault (or always at fault — she’s kind of a switch hitter that way) but it’s okay. Go say sorry. I am big and I got you.
I want you to know that every time you set a standard for yourself that is higher than you would have set for literally any other person you know, that’s not a commitment to “excellence.” It’s pride. And not the kind that I have for you (and I have so much, and we’ll get to that in a sec, honey). It’s the kind of pride that keeps you being an asshole to yourself. It’s the thing in you that is terrified of satisfaction, of trusting that anything is “enough.” Meanwhile I’m here just bursting with pride, shouting “GOOD JOB, baby girl!” at the little things that you forget to notice — look at you not saying the snarky thing you know you will regret later, look at you learning from your previous miscalculations, look at you loving yourself a little more each year, look at you buying toilet paper BEFORE you run out, look at how unbothered you can be by shit that DOESN’T REALLY MATTER that you used to get worked up about. I, Love, have got pompoms in my hands, baby — just turn your head ever so slightly from your unmeetable standards, and in the corner of your eye you will find me cheering.
I want you to know that I very rarely hang out with your ego. I mean, she’s okay, but she’s a little manipulative, you know? She will try to tell you that you will finally feel loved and whole IF you get all the attention you crave, and IF you achieve more, and IF you beat your body into submission, and IF everyone treats you exactly the way you think they should, IF IF IF. That’s her word, baby. That’s not mine. That’s how you can tell us apart. There are no if-then propositions with me. I’m more Wizard of Oz than that. I’m because because because because because. Because you are already worthy of love, there’s nothing you can do to earn it. Because I, Love, am woven throughout all things, you do not have to muster up warm feelings toward any of those people you don’t like. I’ve got them covered. Because I am stronger than fear, you can relax.
So that’s what I’ve got for you today, sweetie.
You are whole. You are loved.
And let’s talk more real soon.
I adore you.
(And tell Liz she looks amazing with short hair!)