Welcome to Two Valleys
BENEFICE CHURCH SERVICES FOR SUNDAY 9th AUGUST ~ 9th Sunday after Trinity
|6:00pm||Zoom||Evening Prayer (BCP)|
I hope that you will join us for Sunday worship BUT ONLY if you feel able to. It would be a great help, however, if you are coming to a service that you let the Churchwarden or Ministry Team know. This will assist in the preparation of the building.
The Prime Minister has outlined plans to make face coverings mandatory in Places of Worship from 8th August. The National Church will study detailed government regulations and guidance once they are available and will update its guidance accordingly. In the meantime, we continue to strongly advise that face coverings should be worn by all those attending a place of worship, including ministers, worshippers, staff, volunteers, contractors and visitors, where there may be other people present; remembering that they are mainly intended to protect other people, not the wearer, from coronavirus (COVID-19) and that they are not a replacement for physical distancing and regular hand washing.
Please check with the Church noticeboard for any changes.
Please follow the COVID-19 advice found on the Church noticeboard.
Rev’dJonathan Plows, Rector
Church Services Sunday 16th August ~ 10th Sunday after Trinity
10:00am Berwick St James Matins (BCP)
10:30am Wylye Matins (BCP)
11.00am Stapleford Holy Communion
6:00pm Zoom Evening Prayer (BCP)
OAK APPLE DAY
OAK APPLE DAY 2020 - LOCKDOWN STYLE
For two years running, Oak Apple day had valiantly gone ahead in soggy, chilly conditions, testing organisers, stall-holders and participants to the limit. This year was testing in a different and unexpected way. May 29th dawned bright and warm, with the Oak Apple bell taken round the village in the early hours to remind us of what day it was. But there the similarity with the usual celebrations ended. It would have been the perfect day for processing, dancing, the fête and field events, but these were sadly not possible with the social-distancing restrictions.
However, the Oak Apple Committee made sure that the day was marked, and importantly, that our rights to collect fallen wood from Grovely were renewed.
The Chair, Tom Brannan, and our Rector, Jonathan Plows, met at 9:00am at St Giles Church where Jonathan blessed the village, the rights of the villagers as laid out in the Charter and the day of celebrations.
Jonathan then went to meet the Very Reverend Nicolas Papadopulos, Dean of the cathedral, at the cathedral’s West door and ensured those rights were secured for another year concluding with the Grovely shout echoing across the Cathedral Close. Missing were the procession behind the banner and the dancing Nitch ladies.
But all was not lost - in the afternoon, Theo Lewis took up the accordion and played the traditional music, and villagers set up socially-distanced tea tables to give a resounding shout at 2:00pm.
Meanwhile, many found themselves living next door to new neighbours, some strikingly attired in everything from elegant evening wear to hospital uniforms, home guard camouflage to football kit; others with interesting names like Goldie Lockdown and Worzel Gummidge, or professions, including certain politicians, and an airport check-in for flights (crows only). Imaginations looking to let off creative steam had found an outlet and over 20 households entered the scarecrow competition. In a way that we could not have foreseen, Oak Apple day 2020 will certainly be one to remember.
This Sunday was originally so called because of the words in the Prayer Book gospel for the day: "Whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give to you". (The Latin is 'Rogare' - to ask.) In the strictly biblical context, the chief thing to ask for is the spirit of God to enable us to be true children of God.
By the 17th century, the old Roman festival of 'Terminalia", or "boundaries", had been adapted by the church and served a practical purpose. In days before Ordnance Survey maps, there were not always clear lines of demarcation between the parishes, especially where there were open field systems. During the procession, boys were bumped on prominent marks and boundary stones, or rolled in briars and ditches, or thrown in the pond to ensure they never forgot the boundaries. The Victorians made it more civilised by beating objects rather than people, in the context of a service and procession.
In the Western Church, processions to bless the crops and to include "beating the bounds", developed from the o1d Roman rites of "Robigalia" ("robigo": Latin for "rust" or "mould"), when prayers would be offered to the deity for crops to be spared from mildew.
These rogation themes of blessing the fields and beating the bounds were commended in the 1630s by the poet George Herbert, that epitome of English country parsons. He said that processions should be encouraged for four reasons:
1 A Blessing of God for the fruits of the field.
2 Justice in the preservation of bounds.
3 Charity in loving, walking and neighbourly accompanying one another with reconciling of differences at the time if there be any.
4 Mercie, in relieving the poor by a liberal distribution of largesse, which at the time is or ought to be used.
Today the emphasis has shifted. A blessing on growing crops in fields and gardens, and on young lambs and calves remain. In the agricultural cycle, the main themes are seed sowing and the tending of the young plants and animals. This does not pre-suppose that all sowing takes place around Rogation. Sowing is done all the year round, as is the birth and rearing of the young, but it is convenient to fix on one particular festival as the time to remember these before God in a public way.
Rogation takes place in the springtime, when there is a renewing of the earth. In this country, it follows Easter, the season of resurrection. Renewal and resurrection therefore are also underlying themes of this occasion.
Walking Wishford’s parish boundary for Rogationtide
In celebration of Rogation Sunday, Rosemary and Laurence gathered a small group of people from Great Wishford to walk the ca. 12 mile parish boundary over three gloriously sunny days, suitably socially distanced along public footpaths. This is also known as beating the parish bounds, but we left the beating bit out.
The first day, we followed the river from Stoford bridge down to the sewage works, then across the railway and up to the south eastern end of Grovely woods, along the southern boundary, then cutting north to the top of Hadden Hill, with views across to lines of beech trees dissecting crop-filled fields. We returned down the hill past the farm and into the village. The 4 miles included a delightfully shady walk along a track where, just a few weeks previously, bluebells had abounded.
The second walk of about 3.5 to 4 miles took us back up Hadden Hill, continuing into the woods before turning right near the top at the intersection with a tractor track. We continued, accompanied by the sound of a cuckoo and melodious birdsong, until a convenient rest stop where the track met Grovely road. Crossing the road, we walked to the top of Ebsbury Hill, before descending past the cemetery and into the village.
Rosemary and Laurence determinedly undertook the longest and trickiest section of 6.5 miles on their own. This took them up Ebsbury Hill around the edge of the woods going north to the Paskin Monument, continuing around the wood’s edge, before doubling back towards Grovely Castle. A footpath took them back down the small valley to the railway bridge. Under the bridge, they followed the road to the fisherman’s access road, down to the river and then took the footpath back via Manor Farm to Stoford Bridge. Rosemary describes their encounters with nature on that walk. “We saw a big dog fox running only 20 yards in front of us, a couple of buck fallow deer with a full set antlers, Red Kites being harassed by crows, and Skylarks all over the place, in full song!
Concentrating on where to place our feet, we came across a whole host of gorgeous, pink, wild orchids and lots of wild flowers whose identity we do not know. At the top of Grovely Castle hill fort, the views are as good as from the Paskin Memorial.”
During the walks, there were moments of quiet reflection on the wonders of God’s creation and on how lucky we are to live in this beautiful place.
Not a single cow, bull or calf was encountered on any of the walks, much to the relief of yours truly!
Grateful thanks to Rosemary and Laurence for researching, pre-walking! and leading the walks.
St Mary's Wylye decorated Lychgate May 2020
Berwick St James supports the N.H.S.
CONNECTING DURING SELF-ISOLATION: THE WYLYE AND TILL VALLEY BENEFICE SHARES A ‘QUIET DAY AT HOME’
The measures we are having to take in order to help slow down the spread of Covid 19 mean we need to start looking at doing things differently, more creatively. These difficult times provide both challenges and opportunities - the one ultimately making us stronger and more resilient; the other opening fresh approaches to both routine and special activities. When our Quiet Day at the Langford Lakes had to be cancelled, we were invited by our priest-in charge Jonathan Plows to set up our own Quiet Day at home on 31 March, using material he provided. We were 21 altogether, using a mix of media, from print-outs to pdf, you-tube to crayons.
The theme was ‘Thin Places’, drawing on Celtic Christianity’s tradition of seeking to experience God more directly, usually in a physical place where the boundary between heaven and earth is especially thin and the divine can be sensed more readily. Throughout life, we are drawn to places that bring calm or inspiration, sanctuary or distraction. Wherever those places are, they effect some kind of positive change in us - they transform us, so that when we leave them, we feel all the better for having been there.
"Jesus took with him Peter and James and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun......" (Matthew 17: 1-2)
After Morning Prayer, the day followed a repeated pattern of reflection, Bible readings, prayer and activity, ending in a (socially-distanced) walk. We explored Biblical stories of locations where heaven and earth met, Eden and Sinai for example, Celtic thin places, such as Iona and Lindisfarne, and those with which we are more regularly familiar - churches and cathedrals. As the day progressed, it felt like we were creating our own thin places, our own intimacy with God, connected both with the divine and those travelling with us, "content with living the questions, without having to know all the answers" (to quote Buechner).
Perhaps our current greatly restricted circumstances might be seen as a chance to discover our own thin places, to be transformed and inspired by them. For although we do not know what lies ahead, we are fairly sure that life will not be the same. A poem by Jenny Bridgman called 'Thin Places' ends in a verse that sums up both life in general and the unprecedented times we are experiencing:
"We do not leave unchanged
If change is to become ourselves.
Ahead: a thousand moments of transfiguration,
Each one a death - and resurrection - in itself,
As we are both transformed and transform,
Sacred moment by sacred moment."
May the world come through all this lastingly transformed for the better.
Here are some images and comments from the day
“I found the resources really helpful to dip in and out of. I did a colouring-in of one of the Celtic crosses - such a joyous experience as I had just found my old school Caran D'Ache crayons and it was so wonderful to sharpen them and enjoy being simply in the moment listening to some of the Celtic music you suggested at the same time.”
“I had a wonderful walk seeing new buds of growth and spectacular blossom and spring flowers. The Celtic traditions work for me in so many ways - the poetry of the language used in so much material. God in Nature speaks in glimpses when you least expect.”
“The best bit for me was the Richard Rohr piece. I then found the next youtube clip was a video from a talk to the National Shrine in the US (Be still and know that I am God) and then onto a lecture at the CAC talking about contemplation - which to me sounded like carrying your own Thin Place with you so that you could 'reset' yourself in the Thinness. It was this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPb3Z51gLcY”
Easter at Stapleford
Easter at Steeple Langford
Easter at St Giles, Great Wishford
SAFEGUARDING IN THE WYLYE AND TILL VALLEY BENEFICE
The Wylye and Till Valley Benefice takes its responsibilities surrounding the safeguarding of children, young people and adults who may be at risk very seriously and works in partnership with the Diocese of Salisbury to ensure that we work in accordance with best practice at all times.
Who to contact if you have a Safeguarding concern:
- Rev'd Jonathan Plows: Priest-in-Charge of the nine churches of the Benefice - email@example.com or 01722 331647
- Mrs Heather Bland*: Salisbury Diocese Safeguarding Adviser (Wiltshire & Dorset) - firstname.lastname@example.org 01722 411922 or 07500 411922
- Gill Brasher: Contact for Berwick St James - email@example.com
- Appointment pending for the Contact for Great Wishford, Stapleford, South Newton and Winterbourne Stoke. Please contact one of the others in this list.
- Richard Hewitt: Contact for Stockton and Wylye - firstname.lastname@example.org
- Neal Fox, Gill Leake: Contacts for Steeple Langford, Hanging Langford and Little Langford - email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
*Heather works at Church House, Salisbury 9am to 5pm Mondays to Wednesdays and 9am to 1pm on Thursdays. Heather is available Monday to Thursday 8am to 9pm for urgent safeguarding discussions via 07500 664800.