May 2014
Ascension Day
Picture, Ascension Day Lunch
Forty days after Easter, the church celebrates the return of Jesus to heaven, traditionally called 'Ascension Day' as the early church thought of heaven as being above the earth, so they thought Jesus must have 'risen up' to go there. For the last forty days, the Bible tells us that Jesus appeared to many followers as evidence that he had returned from the dead after his horrific crucifixion before he was 'taken up' in a cloud. We usually have a united Holy Communion Service for our 9 parishes to celebrate this Festival, held in the garden of one of our Associate Priests, with a light lunch for all afterwards. This year the date fell on May 29th, but unfortunately the weather was very wet so we held the Service in the nearby village hall, attended by 35 parishioners. (Return to top)

However, we had the usual lunch and fellowship together afterwards as the photo shows. This comprised a choice of homemade tomato or broad bean soup, followed by a substantial buffet including various chocolate and rice crispy mini-cakes. (Return to top)
Rogation Sunday
Picture, Congregation on the Village Green
At Rogationtide the church asks God's blessing on the fields and crops for the coming season. Traditionally congregations would have gone out to the fields to hold a short Service of blessing, but as it had been raining hard and the ground was soft, we limited ourselves this year to the village green in front of the church! On May 18th therefore the Service started in the usual way in church with praise of God and confession of our wrong-doing (sin), but before it continued with a passage from the Bible, we all went out to the village green where we looked in turn to the four points of the compass as we asked for a blessing. (Return to top)

Looking to the West we remembered thunderstorms and darkness before asking God to bring good out of the suffering and darkness in our lives. To the North we thought of the cold winds and waiting for something better and asked God to bless all who work on the land and live by the seasons and that we might live in hope of better things. (Return to top)

To the East we thought of the rising sun and new beginnings so asked a blessing on the brokenness in our lives that we might be renewed, and to the South we remembered the warm wind that promotes growth and asked that both this year's crops and our own lives might be fruitful. (Return to top)
Family Service - 'Body Building'
Picture, Junior Choir
The readings this month were about the early church gathering and worshipping together, so we had a theme of 'Body Building' - or more specifically building the body of Christ. We followed our usual 'All-Age' Family Service format but the first reading was given as a dramatic presentation by the 'Fun Club' (Junior Church) who marched in from the back of the church as a platoon of soldiers to the tune 'Colonel Bogey' played by our organist, Bob May. (Return to top)

They dramatised St Paul's 1st Letter to the Corinthians, where he says we're all essential parts of the Body of Christ so can't all be eyes, ears, legs, etc. They were marshalled by their 'Sergeant Major Brain' - who called out each of them in turn as the eyes, ears, legs, etc to check they were ready to start the activities of the day, and then they retired again to the same march tune. The appointed second reading from the Acts of the Apostles was more traditionally read, we learnt how the early church met together, to worship and support each other. (Return to top)

The short sermon pointed out the significances of the two reading and the fact that, having been built into the Body of Christ in church, we need to go out into the world again to share what we've learnt with those we meet in our daily life. The choir sang a modern anthem highlighting the theme still further and the last hymn was 'Colours of Day', which reminded us of the need to share our faith when we 'go down into the city and into the park'.
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Men's Breakfast
Picture, Men at Breakfast
We had our latest Men's Breakfast on Saturday 11th May, when our guest speaker was the V. Rev. Stephen Lake, the Dean of Gloucester Cathedral. This month we had to meet in Rosies' Garden Centre as John and Linda, 'Mine Hosts' at the Beauchamp Arms Pub, were on holiday so we couldn't meet there as usual. (Return to top)

After a full English Breakfast, Stephen told us briefly a little of his background - he came to Gloucester two years ago from St Albans Cathedral where he was 'second in command' - before he went on to introduce the Cathedral's new strategy 'Project Pilgrim'. There are three phases to the project - they were waiting to hear in 10 days time if their grant application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for £4.5 million has been granted towards the full cost of Phase 1, some £6million. The intention is to reach out better to the diocese, and especially to the city of Gloucester. To that end they're working closely with the City Council as part of the city's renovation plans. (Return to top)

Gloucester Cathedral goes back over 1,000 years, it began as a monastery before it became a cathedral in the 1500s but fortunately the fabric of the building is generally in good order. Stephen is in charge of some 50 staff and a turnover of £2.2 million a year. They get around 300,000 visitors a year but the average donation is only 50p per person - you need a lot of 50p to make £2.2million, never-the-less he's determined they won't introduce an entry charge. (Return to top)

Phase 1 includes a new entrance porch to let in more light to make the building more welcome, to provide a new stone font just inside the door (they're one of only 8 English cathedrals to have their own stonemasons' yard), and improvements to access for the disabled, especially to the Lady Chapel. The main part of this phase will be to replace the current car-park immediately outside the cathedral with an open 'piazza' as a public meeting place for open-air Services, cathedral & civic events and markets. They're negotiating with the city council to have subsidised or free car-parking in return in the council's car parks. (Return to top)

The whole emphasis is on making the building better suited to the 21st century and a better integration between the cathedral and city events. Phases 2 and 3 will include a new shop and cafe to improve the visitor experience further and disabled access to every part of the building. In addition to all this, they're maintaining their active worship and music activities, including taking on a new director of choral singing to encourage their own junior choir before going out to support and advise parish junior singers. (Return to top)