Bishop Cherry is very pleased to announce that Sarah Rosser has been offered the post of assistant curate in the Heart of Monmouthshire Ministry Area under the supervision of the Revd. Kevin Hasler as her Training Incumbent.
Sarah will be ordained Deacon in June this year at the Cathedral and will be living in the Vicarage in Raglan.
Kevin and Sally are looking forward to welcoming Sarah in June and envisage her exercising her new ministry across the churches of the Ministry Area. Some of you already know Sarah and the Bishop hopes everyone will welcome her and her husband Glyn to their new life in Raglan.
This is great news as it means that along with the replacement for Rev’d John Collier (following his retirement) we will have four stipendiary clergy in the new Ministry Area alongside our splendid team of other priests and ministry leaders.
Another busy day draws to a close – a service, four meetings, and my booster vaccination, not a bad day at all! Just emails and a quick desk tidy before I call it a day. How are you?
Not much to tell you this week, I’m not sure why, perhaps I am in that lull between Christmas and Lent? Which reminds me that I need to think about a Lenten activity, although I don’t think I can come up with anything as amazing as the Lent in a Bag that we did last year! With Christmas well and truly behind us I am noticing that many of our churchyards still have wreaths on their graves. We don’t have any means of disposing of them so if you have placed one on a grave and it is now past its best it would be ever so helpful if you could take it home and pop it in your home bin. Thank you 🙂
Looking beyond Lent and Easter, I wonder whether anyone has any burning desire to mark Rogationtide this year? Historically it was celebrated by walking the parish boundary and praying en route. I must confess to not really being willing to walk quite that far given how many parishes we are, but if any of you have a good idea or an old tradition you would like to revisit please drop me a line.
Finally can I ask for your prayers for all those who are struggling at the moment. Everywhere I turn I see people who are unwell, bereaved, anxious, lonely, or feeling lost. The Christian message of love and inclusion, and that we are not alone continues to be just out of the reach of some, and prayer is so important as an encouragement. You might be surprised to know that many people who never set foot in our churches will ask me to pray for them and want me to – people are seeking and searching, even if they can’t quite say so. Thank you.
And that , I think, is that. I hope you have a good evening and look forward to hearing from you if you have any bright ideas. Oh and don’t forget Compline!
Lots to tell you about this week so I’ll get straight on with it and save you from my wittering!
There are two services with the bishop coming up and I would like to encourage you to come to them both.
The first is on Sunday 30th January, it is a fifth Sunday, and the bishop will be presiding and preaching at Raglan church at 10.30am. It promises to be a lovely occasion as we recognise the bishop’s second anniversary of being with us. If you would like to come but need a lift please let me know.
The second service is one for those wishing to be confirmed. It is in the church in Usk on February 20th at 3pm. Again the bishop will be presiding and preaching as well as confirming our confirmands. Confirmation is an opportunity for those who have been baptised (christened) to reaffirm their christening promises for themselves and is also a sign of full membership to the Christian community. If you have not been confirmed and would like to explore whether it might be right for you, it’s not too late, please just drop me a line and we can have a chat. It would be wonderful if as many people as possible came to support those who are being confirmed. It is a celebratory service and it is important that we support one another in our faith journeys. So please do come 🙂
As I am sure you are aware, Bill Savage has been formally recommended to train for ordination and this will begin in earnest in July this year. Between now and then Bill has been offered an opportunity to have a placement in Newport to experience a different ministry context and to prepare him for his training. You may well see him around and about but he will not be on our rota between now and July.
\When Bill does return to us he will be an Ordinand in the Church in Wales, and will be doing all his training placements with us, alongside his academic learning. This will include an intensive week – Summer School – and several weekends of more concentrated learning. Training for the priesthood is not a gentle or easy path, and Bill will be undertaking new and different responsibilities over the coming two years. I know that he would be very grateful for your prayers as he begins this next stage of his ministry – it is a very different thing to be a willing and capable lay minister, and to be brave enough to offer yourself for ordination. It is not taken lightly and the selection process and training are gruelling and rigorous.
Please also pray for Lynne who is a faithful support throughout. She will continue to be part of St. Mary’s choir thankfully. Whilst we will temporarily miss Bill’s contribution to our worship and pastoral team, I am sure that when he returns in the summer there will be much that he will want to do and share. Exciting times are ahead!
My final thing to tell you about is that Family Church in St. Mary’s Usk will be holding a special service on Sunday 6th February at 4pm. We will be having a Christingle Service and would especially like to invite any children or grandchildren who you know. If you are interested please can you let Carol know on 01291 672293 so that we can be sure to have enough oranges!
And that is probably enough! Please don’t forget Compline on Sunday evening. It really has become a lovely way to end the weekend and I’m sure my sleep is better for it too. “The Lord Almighty grant us a quiet night and a perfect end. Amen”
The wise men have officially arrived to greet Jesus, their gifts have been given, and the twelve days of Christmas are over. Personally I don’t hold with all the stuff about needing to get your decorations down before twelfth night, some say it’s ok to leave them until Candlemas – 2nd February – I hope to have mine back in the loft before then!!
So how are you?
With the latest round of restrictions and Covid changes I sense a deep weariness, accompanied by anxiety. I am worried about many of you. I think we need to be aware that even if we aren’t feeling like this, many are, and there is a greater need than ever for us to all take care of one another. In order to do that, we need to take care of ourselves first though. That will probably look different for each one of us, but if you think you need to slow down, put something down, or step back from something for a little while, in order to recharge and take care of yourself and your family, please do so.
The other possibility is that you fancy a change, or need to change something. Again, think carefully, and if there’s anything I can help with, please let me know. We will get through this, and I really do want us to get through it together. I’m reminded of the passage from Ecclesiastes chapter 3. Why not go and look it up?
During the next few weeks we will be holding the remaining PCCs in order to sign the resolution for the bishop, ready for the new ministry area. Kevin and I are meeting regularly to talk about the remaining tasks before the bishop formally creates the Heart of Monmouthshire MA, and to look at what we need to do going forward. I know there are still lots of questions and I will always do my best to answer them, please keep asking.
Prayer requests – please can I ask for your prayers for our local schools? The current Covid guidance means that the schools have had to implement more cautious approaches which is disappointing for the children and the staff. In addition, levels of staff absence are resulting in additional pressure on those who are able to work. I know that all the schools in the diocese are very glad of our prayers for them.
Finally a couple of points of communication – Compline restarts this Sunday at 8pm. (I’ve encountered a little misery in my household as it clashes with Call the Midwife which we watch together, but I’ve told them that Compline waits for no one!)
Also Just five Minutes will restart on Monday for those of you who seek it out.
And I think perhaps that is enough for today. Please let me know if you have anything you think I can help with and please be assured of my prayers, always.
Hello lovely people, is it too early to wish you a Merry Christmas?
I ask because there are some in the Christian world who are very firm that Christmas doesn’t start until midnight mass, everything else before it is very firmly Advent. Whilst I understand the liturgical seasons, and agree with the principle, I can’t help feeling that it is just another bah humbug thing that sets Christians apart in a way that isn’t helpful.Why would we want to grumpy about this – Advent is a season of waiting, anticipation, preparing. As Christians we might have some ideas about what that looks like, but let’s be under no illusions – those who don’t believe in the coming of Christ still buy into the concept of a feast and festival, and prepare for it with great joy and anticipation. It’s all about looking for what we have in common isn’t it? Let’s rejoice that most of the UK is acknowledging Christmas in some way and see that as a starting point for a conversation or two that might help us to find more in common with each other, than we have differences?
If I’m a bit preachy for you, it’s because this has been on my mind for weeks but it hasn’t been possible to make it work for a sermon!!
What else do I need to tell you?
There is no midweek healing service in Usk between Christmas and New Year.
Just Five Minutes is taking a break until 10th January
Compline will be back on Sunday 9th January (the room remains open if people want to make their own arrangements)
Two more things – thank you to all of you who have worked so hard this season to make our church buildings beautiful and welcoming. Thank you too for the warmth of your welcome to all those who have come for our special services – it is that welcome that often affects peoples decisions about coming to church more often. Also thank you for coping with the Covid changes and for being sensible about attendance. Masks, checking we are infection free with lateral flow tests, and keeping our hands clean are still our best defence (with vaccination of course).
Finally, thank you. Just thank you for being you, for being part of our church life, and for rising to every challenge, for being prayerful people, and for being simply the best bunch of people I could wish to minister alongside. Thank you.
Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a peaceful New Year. I will be taking a break between Christmas and the New Year so won’t be responding to emails, but if you have a pastoral need please leave a message on my answerphone and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
I must confess to being a little panicked this evening as I think about how close Christmas is and how much there still is to do! I suspect I’m not alone. Most of the services are fully prepared now, just a few details to tidy up – the real work to be done is at home – tonight we will decorate the tree, and that just leaves the food shop, wrapping all the presents, writing a few cards, sending a carefully handwritten letter to my grandma, and celebrating Will’s birthday (Sunday)! All whilst working, I can’t imagine why I’m a little anxious!!
Actually, perhaps you’ve realised this too – it all gets done, it always does, and there’s nothing to worry about. The trick is to start with the things that can’t be compromised, delegate, and then don’t worry about what doesn’t get done.
And of course, in all that is the birth of a baby sent to turn the world upside down with a message of love and inclusivity. I know that is a story that we will hear in our churches over the coming weeks, and I also know that we are very aware of the true meaning of Christmas, but all the same, I need to be reminded, and perhaps you do too, to pause occasionally and just rest in that good news. It really does make everything easier when we do!
Can I just let you know about some changes to the services on Christmas Day – Llanbadoc are no longer having a service and Coed-y-Paen will be having a service of Morning Prayer, not Holy Eucharist.
At the moment there are no changes in the Covid guidelines but I would urge caution and care in attending services, health and wellbeing have to be the most important considerations so please don’t worry if we don’t see you at a service. Although you are of course very welcome!! Finally can I just let you know that there will be no Compline this Sunday as there are Carol Services happening, and Compline is going to take a break over the coming weeks, returning on Sunday 9th January 8pm on Zoom.
I am sat in one of our local pubs as I write this, in a welcome break before an evening meeting. Gammon and chips will be placed in front of me very shortly and I must confess to enjoying the peace and quiet, knowing that Will is holding the fort at home, and I can pick anything from the menu and not have to clear up afterwards!!
It’s a funny old week – I sense a slow rise in tension and anxiety around Covid-19 and how we should be behaving and protecting ourselves. It’s such a difficult time because we have so many expectations about our Christmas preparations, but we don’t want to compromise the festival itself! As of today there is no change in the Church in Wales guidelines but I would urge you to do what is right for you as individuals, and please don’t feel under any pressure to be in church if it doesn’t feel comfortable to do so. If you have a responsibility that you don’t feel able to honour I completely understand but just ask that you let me know so that I can come up with a plan.
We have seen the start of our special services specifically for Christmas this week, with our inaugural service designed with those who have dementia in mind. It was fantastic to see about forty people in the church for this short, relaxed service, and it is certainly something we will be doing next year. Thank you to everyone who made it happen!
Thank you too to those of you who have begun to take part in our Advent celebration of what it means to be a kind community, and how that is what church is. I’ve seen some lovely comments and acts of kindness recorded by every age of person. Do please keep writing on those walls, it’s not a one time only opportunity. I am constantly amazed by how much good will there is around, and how much people do fro each other without a second thought.
And perhaps that’s enough for now. Please, if you can, remember in your prayers all the activities hat will be happening over the next two weeks, and especially pray for all those who will be coming to church for the first time in a while. These people are not visitors, but are irregular attenders, and my prayer for them is that something in the service encourages them and invites them to return and explore their faith and relationship with God.