‘God is our hope and strength, a very present help in trouble’ (Psalm 46)
The global outbreak of COVID-19 is having an unprecedented impact on our way of life, and the Church is no exception. Following advice from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, public services at St Ippolyts Church and St Mary’s Churches in Great and Little Wymondley on Sundays and on all other days of the week are suspended until further notice.
This does not, however, mean that our churches are closed: far from it. No matter what happens, the church continues in each of us: our calling is always to worship our Lord Jesus Christ who is forever faithful, and to love and serve each other. This crisis calls us to model a different way of being the church and we are putting the following in place to enable us to do that:
I will continue to celebrate the Eucharist on Sunday mornings, on behalf of the Benefice, at 9.15am in St Ippolyts church, joined by either Revd Paul Lanham, our Reader Howell Davies or Lay Leader of Worship Doug Richardson, as they are able; to pray for our parish and for its people, for our world, and for the sick and the departed. The celebration of the Eucharist is the most powerful form of prayer and is at the heart of our life as a church; it will continue even though it is not open for others to attend. If you have any specific prayer requests please let me know.
At 9.15am each Sunday the bell of the church will be rung as it always is as a call to prayer. At some point between 9.15am and 10.15am, if you can, please stop what you are doing and pray, perhaps by using the prayer booklet (mentioned below) and by offering your own prayers, so that as a church we continue to worship together.
In addition to Sundays, I will also continue to say Morning and Evening Prayer on behalf of the parishes each day but again these services will not be open to others to attend.
A short booklet with prayers for use at home, the weekly readings, and worship resources for use with children will be circulated in due course. I am also looking into ways to make some sermons/reflections available via the website, e-mail and social media.
Use of the church building
Although we cannot congregate together, St Ippolyts Church and St Mary’s Church, Great Wymondley will be open for private prayer each day as usual. Practicalities in locking and unlocking prohibit this at St Mary’s, Little Wymondley. Obviously people will be expected to observe proper hygiene and social distancing. If you are not self-isolating, please do make good use of our wonderful church buildings for prayer and reflection.
Keeping in touch
I will aim to make available readings, reflections, prayer resources and regular updates as we respond to this changing situation through e-mail and by posting on our website and social media. If you are not on our e-mail list or are unable to access a computer then please let me know.
All three parishes in the Benefice have a remarkable church family and I know that we will show the love of God by caring for one another at this extremely challenging time, and that we will also find strength in God our Father who loves us more than we can imagine and who sustains us in all our difficulties.
As your parish priest and your friend I am always available for a conversation or pastoral support – please do not hesitate to contact me by e-mail or on the number below. I greatly look forward to the time when we can once more gather together for worship, but for now I end with a prayer that I hope will bring some comfort and hope at this time.
Keep us, good Lord,
under the shadow of your mercy in this time of uncertainty and distress.
Sustain and support the anxious and fearful,
and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may rejoice in your comfort
knowing that nothing can separate us from your love
in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
With my love and prayers,
THOMAS PATRICK VEASEY - 7th February 1927 - 6th January 2020
Always known and will be remembered as Pat Veasey of Gosmore Cross. As I write this “Cross” does not seem to be the word that accurately describes a very patient man who never seemed to become annoyed, lose his temper nor was ever heard to swear. He was indeed a Gentleman.
Pat was a family man and was never happier than when he was with his family, at home and in his garden. A garden for Pat was one that could supply an abundant amount of fruit and vegetables for the family.
Born in Buntingford, on 7.2.27 (very proud of that) a Hertfordshire man through and through, Pat‟s early education was with a family governess before Prep school followed by Haileybury where he excelled in Maths and Chemistry. Lawn tennis parties, billiards, table tennis and later croquet were sports that Pat enjoyed at home. He did explain that at rugby football he made an art of moving away from the ball while appearing to run towards it! Many weekends Pat would cycle from Haileybury to his home in Buntingford
a distance of about 14 miles, where the family played all kinds of board and card games - much more enjoyable than school.
From school in 1945 Pat was called up for National Service and joined the Royal Signals. The army sent him to Oxford before posting him to Palestine where his natural ability to make and mend was honed in a difficult environment. During this time he was Mentioned in Despatches.
Joining Wayne Kerr in Surrey, he quickly made his name as a very bright electronics engineer. English Electric, subsequently British Aerospace, called and he became a key specialist involved with missiles and especially with guidance systems, suddenly finding himself on 24 hour call out during the Falklands War. While working at the forefront of the ever expanding and developing electronics industry the company patented some of Pat‟s designs. Pat was given early retirement in 1989.
While all this was going on Pat married Jennifer in 1955. The family soon increased with the arrivals of Susan, John, Charles and Jane. Family holidays in the Isle of Wight and cruising on the canals were particularly cherished with memories of packing the garden spade ready to build “proper sandcastles” on the beach in the Isle of Wight. When cruising, the family were organised from 6am. and ready to open locks in advance so that few other canal boats could pass them or travel further in the allotted 7 days. He had a love of steam trains, building model railways (“0” and “00” gauge) and taking amateur cine films.
Pat was very much a make and mend character and if he did not initially have the knowledge he would research the subject, understand it and then put into practice what he had read. Helping with the hog roast for the 900th anniversary, supplying a Christmas tree each year and joining the panels together for the pew cushions were just a few of the things he did to support the church. Pat was elected to the Parish Council in April 1990 and served as an effective and committed Chairman from May 2000 until he retired in May 2007 at the age of 80.
Pat, a man of many interests and accomplishments, it has been a pleasure to know you. You leave us with very happy memories - not forgetting the rhubarb passed over the hedge - thank you.
FROM DARKNESS INTO LIGHT
I made a rare visit to London at the start of February for a travel exhibition at Olympia. As a country bumpkin I usually avoid the place like the plague but you don't waste free tickets to such an event so off we went on the train for the day. You pass through seven tunnels between here and Kings Cross (excluding the final ones into the terminus) and in each case you explode from darkness into light; at least in these days of electric trains there isn't the choking pollution of the steam era but the contrast is very noticeable.
March is about a transition from darkness to light. Winter is finally coming to an end, having dragged its weary length interminably over the past four months. Spring flowers may have softened the blow this year by arriving early but the darkness and cold have only just started to relent. Now spring is imminent, that season of rebirth after the apparent death of the winter months. Time to have the mower serviced, to prune the roses, to see green shoots on trees, to witness reawakening, to do the garden again. For me spring is the most wonderful season of the year, with the promise of summer ahead with all that that stands for -
I am very much a summer person rather than a winter one.
For the Christian Church, March marks the season of Lent, a transition from the Christmas to the Easter season. Most people associate Lent with giving things up and nothing but good can come from that (as long as it doesn't include giving up church attendance!). But this is a time of preparation, of looking ahead to Holy Week and on to Easter. We prepare ourselves spiritually for the tragedy that is the trial and death of Jesus Christ the Son of God, that darkest day in all history. But three days later darkness turns to light in Christ rising again to conquer death, bringing light and hope to all as they contemplate the end of their own lives or mourn those they love. The Church mirrors the season of the year in its theme of darkness becoming light, apparent death leading to rebirth - so this is very much a springtime season for it. This month we look forward to the events that lead up to that tragedy that is Holy Week. As spring reaches its climax next month darkness leads to light - in both the natural and in the spiritual sense.
Very best wishes, Paul Lanham