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Ruth’s December Diary Article November 29, 2019

Posted by nicholastufton in The Diary Monthly letter.
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The first time in one hundred years we have gone to the polls in December. As this year we vote in the colder, darker days of December, maybe we will be more conscious of the plight of the homeless, the refugee, those dependent on charities to help them. Recently a homegroup conversation turned to the Church’s concern for the homeless – many of them seen on the streets of Cambridge and other big towns and cities. What can we do? How can we help? We know that the churches and schools in our three villages recently sent two car boots full of food to Jimmy’s night shelter to feed those who live on the streets. But what else can we do?

We discovered Cambridge Street Aid, a charity started in 2016, which has raised over £60,000 to provide funds for grants for homeless people. Each grant helps somebody off the streets and into accommodation. Much of the money is raised through direct giving points around the city centre – which means that giving in this way benefits those who are homeless in more permanent and effective ways than handing out cash on the streets. The charity’s contactless giving points are at the Grand Arcade, the Co-Ops in Mill Road, Chesterton Road and Burwell and in the City Council buildings and the reception area of the Guildhall.

Our discussion and discovery was inspired by a story which Jesus told. A king commended those who had fed him when he was hungry, clothed him when he was naked, and visited him when he was sick or in prison. Puzzled, the people asked the king when they had done these things. He answered, “Whenever you did it for any of my people, however unimportant they may seem, you did it for me.” (Matthew 25.35-40)

As we remember the Christmas story, of Jesus born in a stable because there was no room for him in the inn, maybe we can remember those for whom there has been little room in society, those who have found themselves cold and hungry on our city streets. And if you would like to join one of our homegroups for further discussion and friendship there is room for you too!

Ruth

Ruth’s article in the November Diary October 25, 2019

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There are many children who are afraid of the dark. I recently read about Jacob Starke* who loved the dark, though that’s not how the story begins! To begin with, he was afraid. Darkness really sets in with November as the clocks go back and the evenings start earlier. Darkness is not always physical but for many it is a sense of mental darkness, whether it is the darkness of bereavement, of painful memories or mental illness.

There is a greater awareness and sensitivity to the impact of these dark times in our lives and the need for others to be kind and gentle. It is often only through accepting the dark times that we can progress towards the light. At other times we will rage against it. This darkness is not to be minimalised or underestimated.

In November, the Church offers the chance to remember the light which has shone in those we call saints. On 1st November we remember the great saints, whose stories have travelled down through history, and on 2nd we remember those who have been a light in our lives but whose story is known only to their family and friends.

We shall keep both of these on Sunday 3rd November – remembering the great saints in the morning and in the afternoon, lighting candles in the darkness, hearing of Jesus, the light of the world, allowing ourselves time to grieve and remember.

In the story where I began, Jacob Sparke is shown how the dark is a place to encounter deep space, where seeds can germinate and a sign for the birds to migrate. Jacob eventually loves the dark, exploring the stars with his telescope.

*Jacob Starke loves the Dark by Peta Rainford pub. Dogpigeon Books.

Some darkness we can never love but we are not alone. Psalm 139 contains these words: “If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night,’ even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you”.

God is in the darkness and the light, and when we are afraid there is a beautiful prayer asking for God’s protection:

Visit this place, O Lord, we pray and drive far from it all snares of the enemy;

let your holy angels dwell with us to preserve us in peace;

and let your blessing be upon us always

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Ruth

Ruth Pyke’s article in the October Diary September 18, 2019

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Baptisms, weddings and funerals – rites of passage, times of grief and times of rejoicing. Prayers for the nation in times of disaster, prayers of gratitude at the end of hostilities and annually at the bringing in of the harvest. Christmas carol services and visits by our schools. All of these take place in the churches of our villages.

Each of these churches is open every day as a place to reflect, a place to pray, a place to ask ‘Why?’ They are places set apart for each member of the community and visitors to find moments of quiet in our otherwise rushed and sometimes frightening lives.

Our churches are timeless buildings standing firm through the years – but look closely and you will see they have changed. At one time there would have been no rails around the altar, the walls would have been brightly decorated with pictures or with coloured painting around the pillars; pulpits have come and sometimes gone, windows have changed through the years. In mediaeval times the nave of a church was a much busier place where sacred and secular met. In this tradition the Cathedral in St Albans will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landings with a spectacular son-et-lumière.

Our churches host teas and book sales, craft fairs and markets as well as the regular Sunday services and celebrations of life and death. BUT to do this our buildings need upkeep and improvement. All three of our active village churches have works which need doing – the tower at Reed is being restored, as is the tower at Barkway. At Barley there are plans to provide good disabled access, a servery and accessible toilet. All of this costs money and we are asking for your help, for your village church.

Please consider any way in which you can help – whether it is a donation, a fundraiser, with specialist skills in grant applications or in any other way.

We need your help so that baptisms, weddings and funerals can continue for hundreds of years still to come, prayers and praises can be offered and our churches continue as places of hospitality and welcome to the whole community.

Ruth

 

 

 

 

Ruth’s September Article September 1, 2019

Posted by nicholastufton in The Diary Monthly letter.
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“We are pilgrims on a journey, fellow travellers on the road

We are here to help each other walk the mile and bear the load.” Richard Gillard

Words from a popular contemporary hymn using the imagery of a journey; a concept common to those of faith and none. Buddhism has the path to enlightenment, the Jewish Passover marks a historic journey from slavery to freedom, and pilgrimage is a feature of many lives whether or not people would call themselves religious.

One of the great Christian walking pilgrimages is to Compostela in Spain; and for every Muslim a pilgrimage to Mecca is a must at least once in a lifetime.  These physical pilgrimages are a link back to the Middle Ages, to Chaucer and the many pilgrimage sites throughout Europe. But not every pilgrimage involves a physical journey.

Alongside the physical journeys there are other journeys in which we are each engaged. The inward spiritual journey, the journey of our lives and our emotional development from infancy to old age. On each there are milestones, places and times of great significance. September marks some of those milestones – and you are invited to each of them.

On September 8th at 10.30am at the United Benefice service in Reed we will “Bless the Backpacks” of all those going back to school in September – teachers and children alike – so come along and bring your schoolbag!

September 10th at 7.30pm at Barley marks another milestone when several young people and adults will be confirmed by the Bishop of Hertford. This will mark a point where each of them will publicly affirm their own baptismal promises.

Then on 29th September at the United Benefice service in Barkway we will continue our exploration of whether we seek permission to admit children to communion around the age of 7 years old.  This too could offer a significant milestone on our journey as a church.

So September is a month of milestones, and on September 26th I celebrate a personal milestone since it will be 20 years since I was ordained a priest, which has been the deepest privilege, the most unexpected gift and the most wonderful joy.

On this pilgrimage of life we are here to walk together – through milestones and through the ordinary days, through laughter and through tears.

“We are here to help each other walk the mile and bear the load.”

Ruth

Ruth Pyke’s article in the August Diary July 24, 2019

Posted by nicholastufton in The Diary Monthly letter.
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Eva Kor, a survivor of Auschwitz, died recently at the age of 85. She and her twin sister had been subjected to terrible medical experiments conducted on them at the hands of the Nazis. Even when she was made ill she clung to life in order to save her twin sister from being killed in the name of further experiments. It is a powerful story.

But more powerful still was her lifelong determination to forgive – to allow herself the inner healing which this brings.

Anti-Semitism has resurfaced in our mainstream news and racial tension is never far away in our contemporary world. We are aware of the current plight of the Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.

Eva Kor’s programme of forgiveness and education will never exonerate the evils which men and women can inflict upon each other, but they do show us a way to rebuild society in the wake of such horror. The book of Deuteronomy shared by both Jews and Christians reminds us that God “is not partial and takes no bribe, he executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and loves the strangers, providing them with food and clothing.” And if this is God’s way of welcome then it is expected of his people as well. The words follow on, “You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Deuteronomy 10. 17

Barley once played its own small part in welcoming the stranger when The Reverend James Parkes lived in the village, working and campaigning against anti-Semitism, rescuing Jewish refugees and speaking out during the Holocaust. He contributed to the founding of the Council of Christians and Jews and worked for tolerance between those of all faiths and none. Parkes’ work, some of which was pioneered in Barley, formed the foundation for the Parkes Institute, now part of the University of Southampton.

During November an exhibition of the work of James Parkes will be held in Barley Church, courtesy of the Parkes Institute. It will form a focus for our Remembrance Day service with a lecture during the week of the exhibition.

As we look at the world today, whether on the international stage or in our own lives, Eva Kor’s message of the healing we can find through the power of forgiveness, and the willingness to welcome the stranger are powerful reminders of a way forward to build strong and settled communities.

Ruth

Ruth’s sermon on Children and Communion July 23, 2019

Posted by nicholastufton in Sermons, Uncategorized.
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We are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.

The Christian church began with inclusivity. Quoting from the prophet Joel on the morning of Pentecost, Peter recognised that this extraordinary phenomenon of wind, fire and language was the promised Spirit of God which was meant for everyone- young and old, men and women, slaves and freemen, of every culture and nation.

However, church doctrine has worked itself out, with whatever divisions that have torn it apart in its 2000 year history, it began with inclusivity. All are welcome.

As a benefice we are looking at ways in which this welcome is worked out- through the use of our buildings and the provision that they make for comfort and hospitality; through communication keeping those on the edge included in our news; through invitation to special events.

And this year particularly we are looking at including our children in Communion. Much research has been done into the theology and history of children receiving communion – certainly in the early church whole households were baptised together – the jailer in Acts and also Cornelius’ household. It would seem unlikely that they were excluded from the earliest agape, meals when the early church met to break bread. In some earliest frescoes in the catacombs in Rome there are clear pictures of adults and children gathered around the table sharing in bread and wine. One shows a child reaching out for their share of the food. The first Christians were Jews and children had played a central part in the celebration of Passover and other festivals.

John’s gospel, along with texts from Corinthians and Acts all show how important the breaking of bread and sharing in the Eucharist was, both to bind the church together as well as to incorporate it into Christ’s very body- which is the church.

A family gathered around a meal together both expresses their unity as a family and further strengthens it. The food shared expresses their culture and provides nourishment appropriate for health and growth. As they gather around the table, they learn language, conversation, values and their place in the family.

Indeed, by the 3rd Century Cyprian described infants receiving bread and wine from birth, and Saint Augustine wrote, “They are infants, but they receive His sacraments. They are infants, but they share in His table, in order to have life in themselves. The Apostolic Constitutions of the 4th. century instructed that children should receive communion after the various orders of clergy and before the adults.

Which is where the Eastern Orthodox church remains. Children still receive- in age appropriate ways. From the moment of their baptism wine is administered on a spoon. Their need for Communion and their right to communion is unquestioned.  Their baptism makes them full members of the church.

But as the church divided into East and West the western church began to see baptism, confirmation and communion as separate events. The scarcity and distance of bishops to confirm was a factor along with the Reformation emphasis on understanding and instruction which further divided those who were considered suitable for communion and those who weren’t. The Book of Common Prayer declared that, “ There shall be none admitted to the Holy Communion until such time as he be confirmed or ready and desirous to be confirmed”. This allows anyone wanting to be confirmed to receive before confirmation but it also linked confirmation and communion firmly together- which of course is still important.

By the 19th century confirmation had become the entry point for communion after a period of instruction and understanding and Anglicans accepted this as the norm.

But think back to the Eastern Orthodox and baptism as the beginning of full membership and actually we are the same- baptism admits us to full membership of the church.

Immediately before baptism those present affirm with the infant the faith of the church- it is into the church that we are baptised. Immediately after baptism this prayer is used:

May God, who has received you by baptism

into his Church,

pour upon you the riches of his grace,

that within the company of Christ’s pilgrim people

you may daily be renewed by his anointing Spirit,

and come to the inheritance of the saints in glory.

The moment when we share the peace and welcome the newly baptised reminds us of our reading  from Romans which started this sermon, 

We welcome you into the fellowship of faith;

we are children of the same heavenly Father;

we welcome you.

We are all one in Christ Jesus.

We belong to him through faith,

heirs of the promise of the Spirit of peace

And what of the church today in the 21st century. It has always held true to its core beliefs, but it has also changed and adapted as society has changed.

Pentecost was all about change and renewal. It still is. Wind, fire, and language all effect change and enable change- whether we are talking about physics or theology.

The spirit of God living in us enables us to change and renew, to look at the world around us and see families increasingly doing things together, families which are less divided along traditional age and gender roles, places where learning develops through experience.

As a church we have the chance to reflect this year on what it means to be the family of God in this place, what sort of family we are- how we learn, how we encourage others, how we share together. I’m sure you will have many questions – please do ask them either over coffee or at any other time. Write them down or phone me or ask me to visit.

Discuss it with others in your congregations and with your PCC members. There is more to say about the process by which we eventually make the decision whether or not to apply to the Bishop for permission to admit children to communion before confirmation. There is more to be said about the nature of Communion but this is for another occasion.

This year gives us a chance to explore baptism, confirmation and communion. It gives us opportunity to explore what it means to be children of God, heirs of a kingdom where we can find peace and confidence.

Ruth Pyke

July Service times in the Benefice July 1, 2019

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Sunday 7th July
9.00am   Reed  Parish Communion (said)
10.30am   Barley   Parish Communion
10.30am   Barkway   First Sunday Service

Sunday 14th July
10.30am    Barkway  United Benefice Holy Communion

Sunday 21st July
10.30am  Reed Parish Communion
10.30am Barley   Morning Worship (Patronal)
6.00pm  Barkway BCP Evensong (Patronal)
(Patronal Festivals Mary Magdalene & Margaret of Antioch)

Thursday 25th July
9.00am Reed      Eucharist for St James the Apostle
11.00am Barley   Holy Communion – Margaret House

Sunday 28th July
9.00am Barley   Parish Communion
10.30am Barkway  Parish Communion
10.30am   Reed  Morning Worship

Sunday 4th August
9.00am  Reed  Parish Communion (said)
10.30am Barley Parish Communion
10.30am    Barkway  First Sunday Service

Morning prayer 9.00am: Barkway (Tuesday), Barley (Wednesday), Reed (Thursday)

Our churches are always open during the day and you are welcome to drop in for personal prayer at any time. 

www.barkwaychurch.co.uk     www.barleychurch.co.uk     www.reedchurch.co.uk

Sonia’s article in the July Diary June 27, 2019

Posted by nicholastufton in The Diary Monthly letter.
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The times are out of joint

First, we’ve had the almost-driest spring on record, now the almost-wettest summer. Brexit politics are cleaving countries, communities and even families, with unknown long-term consequences. Our two major political parties are fragmented, and the economy is fragile. High streets are hollowing and our social services struggle. Uncertainty surrounds us. Not catastrophic, imminent doom, but enough to leave many of us unsettled, and that’s before we start stressing over climate change.

Having recently commemorated the 75th anniversary of D-Day, many will have heard the hymn ‘Abide with me’, one line of which goes, ‘Change and decay in all around I see’ followed by ‘O thou who changest not, abide with me.’

God, unchanging, ever constant, loving, who will accompany us through all the changing scenes of life, in trouble and in joy. It’s not that bad stuff doesn’t happen to good people. It’s just that in order to cope, we need to have some constants in our lives. Family, relationships, home and occupation, all can offer these, but each is limited and may not be as constant as we hope.

Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’ Engaging with Jesus by asking for his help is no cop-out. We may experience it through the kindness of others, a lightening of our heavy heart, a more peaceful night’s sleep. He is that constant and ever fixed mark who has promised that if we engage with him, he will never abandon us, even if all around is crumbling.

If you’d like to explore how you might do this I, or our Rector Ruth Pyke (01763 848756) would be happy to chat.

Many blessings

Sonia

(07747 844265)

Safeguarding details June 27, 2019

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Please click on the link below:

Promoting-A-Safer-Church-Poster-A3 save 1

Our United Benefice is proud to be a part of the Diocese of St. Albans in the Church of England, whose Archbishops, Bishops, clergy and leaders are absolutely committed to safeguarding as an integral part of the life and ministry of the Church.

Safeguarding means the action the Church takes to promote a safer culture. This means we will promote the welfare of children, young people and adults, work to prevent abuse from occurring, seek to protect those that are at risk of being abused and respond well to those that have been abused. We will take care to identify where a person may present a risk to others, and offer support to them whilst taking steps to mitigate such risks.

The Church of England affirms the ‘Whole Church’ approach to safeguarding. This approach encompasses a commitment to consistent policy and practice across all Church bodies, Church Officers and that everyone associated with the Church, who comes into contact with children, young people and adults, has a role to play.

The Church will take appropriate steps to maintain a safer environment for all and to practice fully and positively Christ’s Ministry towards children, young people and adults; to respond sensitively and compassionately to their needs in order to help keep them safe from harm.

Although safeguarding is the responsibility of everyone here at St Mary’s; Donna Stratton is our designated Safeguarding Lead and can be contacted about any safeguarding matter on 07932677934. You can also speak to our Rector, The Revd Canon Ruth Pyke, on 01763 848756 or leave an email via ruthpyke56@gmail.com

Two very useful links:

More information on the Church of England’s National Safeguarding can be found here: www.churchofengland.org/safeguarding

More information about Safeguarding in the Diocese of St. Albans can be found here: https://www.stalbans.anglican.org/diocese/safeguarding

Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Historic Churches Bike’n Hike June 27, 2019

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Last year’s event was held on 8th September and it raised around £101,000 in a single day.  The star fund raiser in our area was Reed, who raised £1,683.

The idea is that people are sponsored to walk or cycle to visit as many churches as possible during the day. Half of the money raised is retained by the Trust to help fund repairs to churches and the other half comes straight back to the churches in our Benefice (Barkway, Barley, Reed and Buckland). The event takes place nationwide on the second Saturday in September so that in 2019, it was held on Saturday 14th September between 9.00am and 5.00pm on a lovely warm September day.

For further details, please contact:

Nicholas Tufton Tel: 848888 (Barkway)        Sophia Wrangham Tel: 848699 (Barley)        

Karin Weston Tel: 271912 (Buckland)               Liz Jakeman  Tel: 848398 (Reed)

There is the link to the Trust’s web site: http://www.bedshertshct.org.uk/