February 2021 - Rector's Ramblings

Andrew Doye pictureMid-January! And, I have to reflect seven weeks on from when I last composed my Ramblings .. we have shared a very strange Christmas.

Painful?   Poignant?   Gentle?   Restrained?   Lonely?   Uncluttered?   Holy?   

You pick your own words; and in fact our individual experiences will have been quite different, very much our personal path.   What did your wrapping paper reveal?   I hope that for as many as possible it was a ‘good’ Christmas.  I know that was so, for some.   Sadly, I also know it was really tough for others.

As churches we have had to find new ways these past months; but at no point was that going to be more evident, perhaps, than at Christmas. I thank dearly those here in this parish who have allowed us to offer and celebrate something of immense worth and value. To our musicians and singers, meeting all the challenges; to those who care for our buildings and their grounds, and decorate them to celebrate Christ’s birth; to those who designed and delivered our delightful nativity production; to those who determined that they would join in and en-joy what was on offer; and to those who reached out with care and affection to others; well done, and thank you. A strange, and yet memorable, Christmas.

Carol Services were pruned down to allow only what we considered to be safe numbers. People had to book in advance! One of those services, at Woodmancote, went wholly online. Our parish choir was split - adults; and children - to maintain the necessary distancing. Well done therefore to each (sub-) choir for maintaining such excellent standards, under Stewart’s leadership, that we held one Advent Carols event, and three Christmas Carols live events, to such excellent effect. And no Midnight Service this year; but a full turn-out at 6pm on Christmas Eve to enjoy that holy hour of expectation and fulfilment.

Well done. Thank you. And especially for being a praying people of this parish through Christmas 2020.

So, into 2021 and the world’s continuing travail. We don’t presume easy fixes in the months ahead. Even if we place great personal faith in vaccines and our local heroes’ capacity to deliver them, there is a whole world in need of such resource; and a whole world longing to recover from its sufferings.

Do you remember those fine things that were said back last April? Maybe there is some possibility of learning through these bleak and unwelcome events? Maybe we can discover fresh simplicity, deep fellow-feeling, kindness and vulnerability; and all, to lasting effect.

I think some of those fine sentiments have blown away a bit in the sands of ten months’ hardship. But maybe, just maybe, Christmas has put us back in touch with some of those better instincts.

No, we don’t need to whoop it up to feel our lives worthwhile. No, we don’t need to spend vast sums or feed our appetites to excess. No, in human relationships, depth and kindness may matter more than a simple tally of numbers around our life’s Christmas tree. Maybe we have found our voice, newly, to say ‘thank you; that’s kind; that matters’. And maybe we have realised again our blessings and our indebtedness to other people.

Maybe Christmas, in its reduced state, can have served to interpret kindly for us the worth and wonder of our shared world.

Best wishes, then, for the year ahead. Let us love, with the love of God: with that love we have glimpsed again in Christ and one another, despite and through the modest trappings, … this ‘strangest’ of Christmasses.

Andrew Doye                


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