Monday, October 26, 2015

Conkers

This autumn I have found conkers have renewed my joy of creation. There is nothing humble about a conker and yet their familiarity perhaps makes us forget their awe and wonder - perhaps reflecting our wider ability to take our world for granted. 

It all started in early September when I found a solitary conker in our cul de sac where there is a large horse chestnut tree. I picked it up and thought about it being the first of many to come. I then noticed its outer green spikey shell was also on the floor and I picked up the three parts and put them around the conker. I was somehow touched by the beauty and intricacy  - the protection the spikes offered to predators who would steel the conkers, the way that the shell split open to let the seed - which is what a conker is - lest we forget - escape. Such balance such beauty. 

Then as days went on I would see more conkers each day and how each one was unique - slightly different from each other. I cherished even more when I would find a conker still attached  to part of the shell - beauty and beast in one picture. 

One day latter in September, on a windy day there was a deluge of conkers as the tree released its cargo of potential progeny. Again I was struck by the fact that without the wind many of the conkers would be left on the tree. I found one such brown wrinkled and gnarled example, sheltered from the wind by the wall - the green spikey outside had become a dried out brown with a blackened conker peaking through. 

There are also conker trees at St Katherines Loversall, and while I was down there I noticed the squirrels gathering up and hiding as many conkers as they could. They buried many - and I thought if the squirrel forgets a conker,  I bet that it may germinate and grow into a tree itself. Again I was struck by how creation interacts and is interdependent.  

Of course as we focus on the conkers it is easy to forget that in spring time the conker tree is full of delicate white flowers with a touch of pink! The little flowers forming a cone pointing upwards. These become the seeds - the conkers. Now like all seeds their many purpose is to die so that a new plant grows. and as jesus says: 

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24)

If the conker is planted in the garden, what happens? At first nothing; but then it takes in moisture from the soil and starts to swell up. Finally the old shell cannot contain the new growth, it splits open and the new life emerges.

When we die to ourselves and live for God and are obedient to him, not only does he bless us and guide our lives but he also blesses others through us – something of his beauty shines through us. Each of us has met people whose lives inspire us. We see God at work in them. God can use us in the same way. He wants to make your life fruitful. Will you let him? It is the principle of the buried grain. Only by burying our obsession with ourselves can we hope to live a full and fruitful life.


Alun

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Candles, clocks and funeral biers and oh yes HARVEST!

During the weekend of the 12th and 13th September we had a great celebration of all the work that has been done done to St John the Baptist Church building.  Many thanks to all who made it such a great success. 

One problem we faced as we came to the end of the project was, What to do with the old weights from the clock? 

In 1898 a clock was placed in the first floor chamber of the Church Tower to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. 

In 1965, to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth 11, the Parish Council gave an electric time­piece to by-pass the original weight-driven works and connected it to the hands of the existing dials. The weights have thus been in church since 1965 gathering dust and generally getting in the way. But now we have found a new use for them.

The weights can be found on the village funeral bier in the south porch. They form a series of ledges on which tea-lights can be put. There are some prayer cards and an invitation to light a candle and make a prayer. A seven day candle and a taper is provided to light the candles. We are considering whether to open to the south porch during the day so that it is always available for prayer and a moment of reflection. Is this something would like to see happen?

The funeral bier is from the early 20th century which for many years was used to transport coffins in the village.The south porch itself has a 15th century front but on each side of the porch inside are 13th century arches. The door into church is very high and may indicate it was originally saxon. The wall above the door appears to have been strengthened in norman times which may indicate it was originally saxon.

Wadworth Harvest festival takes place at 9am on the 11th October in St John the Baptist church with its newly upgraded facilities. During the following week pupils from Wadworth school on Thursday, and Wilsic school on Friday will be joining us in church for their Harvest celebration. Also in St John the Baptist, we will be having a Messy church on Saturday 17th October at 10am which is a great event for all the family, young and old. 

Earlier in the month on the 4th October we continue with our monthly evening service “Something Different” , which is for those who are seeking something different from a church service. We start at 6:30 with home made Cakes and drinks and then move into a period of praising God. The theme “The World’s Beauty”  is linked into a secular song and this month it is “The Corn is as high as an elephants eye” from Oklahoma. We finish with some more praise and some prayers. Individual prayers for healing are available at the end of the service. 

So come and help us celebrate Harvest and the abundance and beauty of God’s creation



Alun