By the time you read this we shall be approaching Advent, that time of waiting and preparation for the coming of Christ, and my favourite season of the church year with its air of expectation about our readings. In ‘normal’ times I would be making sure we sang all my favourite Advent hymns, but we will have to make do with recorded ones instead. I particu- larly like the Advent collect: Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness and to put on the of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility; that on the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
St Paul, writing to the Romans said We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. How appropriate for these difficult times.
As I sit typing this I can see a pair of squirrels burying walnuts in my garden; instinctive squirrel behaviour as they store food for the winter, though not, I suspect, with much regard for other squirrels. The Christian life means not thinking only about our needs but being aware of others’ difficulties. Paul says that trials can lead to growth of character. His words take on new meaning if we can think only of our own troubles and situations as many are doing currently.
At the end of our time of trouble and fear, what will we have to show for it? The self -reliant squirrels will have a feast awaiting them. Will we discover that, for us, Advent has been a time of growth?
But before Advent we have much else going on; 1st November is All Saints, when we give thanks for the holy people who have been an example of Christian living—and on 2nd All Souls when we give thanks for those we have known who have gone before us into that light. On All Saints day we shall remember them by name at Ryhall. If you would like me to include any names Email email@example.com or text 07946237223. You are of course welcome to attend, subject to social distancing rules.
Because of the limit on numbers we are unable to have our usual Remembrance Day service, at which we had 150+ last year. Instead we will have a short Act of Remembrance in the churchyard where we will observe the silence and hear the names of our war dead, laying wreaths to commemorate them. This will last about 15 minutes.
This will be Carol Urry’s final year as poppy organiser and I should like to thank her for the wonderful work she has done over the years.
It was with sadness that I conducted the funeral of two long-standing church members in October. Dennis Chappell attended Essendine church for many years, though latterly had lived in a care home in St Albans, near his family.
Edie Fordham was well-known in Ryhall, where she and her husband Fred once ran a shop and newspaper delivery business. Until illness struck she was a regular worshipper at Ryhall. She will be greatly missed, not least for her lovely smile. May they rest in peace.
And finally, thank you to Andy and Fi of Church Farm, Essendine, for allowing us to use a marquee in their vineyard, watched by their cattle, to celebrate Harvest. We could not have seated the sizeable congregation in the Church, and it was a lovely occasion in a beautiful setting.
Rev Jo’s Letter