A LETTER FROM YOUR VICAR

A LETTER FROM YOUR VICAR

 
My dear Friends,
 
As we travel around the country, I am sure that we all notice that so many villages as well as towns and cities have a Parish Church. It almost makes the village seem quintessentially English. In the smaller places, the School may have been disbanded, the Shop and Post Office closed through lack of trade and the Pub has been turned into private a house or the landlord is struggling to make ends meet.
 
In our two parishes, that is the case in the Affpuddle parish, though we are fortunate in having a thriving and beautiful Village Hall in Briantspuddle and it is always great to hear of – and sometimes to participate in - all that goes on there. In Bere Regis, being somewhat larger in population, we are lucky to have various facilities by way of a beautiful new School, two Pubs, a well-stocked Shop, a Post Office, Sports Club, a Hair-dressing Salon and various meeting venues, including both the Drax (Village) Hall and the Scout Hut. We also have two other places of Christian worship (apart from the Parish Church) in the Congregational Chapel in Butt Lane and the Methodist Church in Bere Heath. We need to support all of these places, as well as all the various local clubs for people of a great range of ages. It would be foolish of me to name just a few of these!
 
In both parishes we are also fortunate in having two very beautiful old churches. Both are included in a highly-acclaimed book by Simon Jenkins ‘England’s Thousand Best Churches’. I wonder how many people living here still have not visited them. They are quite different from each other, as are the parishes, but each has something wonderful to see.
 
Why do we have these churches and what are they for? Why do we keep them in as good repair as we can? Why do we have them open each day? Well, they are certainly there for visitors to come and admire but that is surely not all. Our churches are primarily here for you. They are here for you for those special occasions of christenings, weddings and funerals. They are here for you visit, and perhaps admire at what has lasted in such beauty for so many centuries, or simply to sit still in quiet prayer or thought. They are here too for you to join in any of the great range of services on offer. I can only encourage you to find the great joy in worshipping our God who has created us and loves us so wonderfully.....hey! Give it a try!
 
We also, of course, have responsibilities in keeping our churches in good order and recently our concern – as so many of you know – as been replacing the lead on our roof in Bere Regis church. The work will begin in mid-October with the erection of the scaffolding. The work will take several months. During this time we will be holding service in the beautiful new School Hall, but more details about that and other matters in the October Magazine.
 
All residents of Bere Regis Parish will be receiving a letter from me very soon and a leaflet about our ‘final push’ for the £15,000 still required. You will notice at the end that it is my hope and prayer that you will find the church as a place of worship, to be your special place too!
 
May God truly bless all we undertake. 
 
Your loving Priest and Friend,
 
 
Charles
 

A Letter from Bob Naylor

 
It’s been a funny old year…………..
Almost a year ago, the 4th October 2016 to be precise, I needed surgery to sort a
problem with an enlarged prostate gland. During the pre-op scans and tests, another
more serious problem emerged. “This isn’t what you wanted to hear” said my surgeon,
“but you have a malignant tumour on your prostate” Some words stay with you as clearly
and vividly as if they were spoken yesterday.
The operation on my prostate was a success and I was subsequently referred to
University College Hospital in London, for radiotherapy treatment which would hopefully
rid me of the tumour. 8 weeks of treatment. Every day. It began in April of this year and
finished in mid June. I have just had my first session with the Doctors since the treatment
finished. They’re happy about me, I’m feeling good, and most importantly, all my blood
test results are looking fine and the numbers are just what they should be.
It’s been quite a journey, still is, and will be for a time yet, and I wanted to write about for
a variety of reasons. First of all because Charles suggested that I may like to. Then to feel
that my experience may offer encouragement to those who perhaps are in a similar
position. Thirdly to flag up signs of hope and positivity in a world which so often seems to
be an ongoing saga of doom and gloom. Fourthly to praise the work of the much
maligned NHS and the people who work within it, and finally to emphasise yet again the
healing power of this wonderful and faithful God of ours, and how we, his children, can be
powerful disciples of Christ to those in need, when we really take our Christian faith
seriously.
 
I’ve learned so much on this journey. At the very beginning, if I’d have been given the
choice to travel or not to travel, then the answer is blindingly obvious. “I’ll pass on that
one thank you very much.” And yet, looking back, I’m grateful for the experience, and feel
very privileged and humbled by the encounters I’ve had along the way.
That word “cancer” is the most horrible of words. In fact it took me a good while before I
could actually say the “C” word, preferring less blunt and challenging words such as
“tumour” or “a bit of a problem down there” The “C” word itself produced instant
emotions of fear, vulnerability and a sense of stunned disbelief— “this can’t be happening
to me”. But it was, and it took a while before my sense of balance was restored.
The balance was restored by the love and support of family and friends, and by my doing
what I always do in times of trouble. I flee to God. And God, family, friends, and the
wonderfully capable and caring medical staff in whose hands I was placed, between
them, they all gave me the hope and confidence that in time we would nail this cancer.
The first time I sat in the UCLH MacMillan Centre, I just couldn’t get over how many
people were in there alongside and around me. All being treated for various types and
degrees of cancer. And in a strange way it was very comforting. It wasn’t just me and I
wasn’t on my own here. And as my daily treatment was given, I became part of a band of
brothers, all in the same boat, all developing a black humour about the situation we found
ourselves in, but all cheerfully facing the future as best we could, knowing that we were in
the best possible place and hands, and all determined to win. It was quite inspiring.
My first consultation set the positive scene. My consultant—-with surely the most
unfortunate name for a doctor, Professor Payne—was warm, friendly, re-assuring and
positive. “We’ll be with you every step of the way”; “This is treatable”; “Just ask if there’s
anything at all, we’re here for you”. And throughout the whole time of my contact with
those within the NHS, those who have cared for me, those who have had any sort of
responsibility for me, I have been impressed, touched and reassured by professionals
who are skilled at their jobs, love their jobs, and bring compassion, understanding and a
desire to treat those in their care with dignity. The NHS is much criticised and consistently
on the receiving end of cheap shots. Sometimes I’m sure there are justifications for this.
What I want to say is that those working within it, those working for me and my health,
whether doctors, nurses or radiographers, were skilled and dedicated people, working
within the constraints which we all know so well, but never shirking from going the extra
mile for me. And this in turn, has moved me to look at myself, and to think again about
how I relate and respond to the people I meet in my life. The great commandment to love
God and love my neighbour, a commandment which I’ve always tried to obey, however
imperfectly at times, has taken on a whole new significant meaning for me. We followers
of Jesus could perhaps all do well to look at ourselves in the light of his commandment, a
little more often than we do, and act upon what we find in that looking.
You would expect a Priest to talk about the presence and influence of faith in God as he
experienced what he did. And talk about him I will. I just cannot begin to realise how
people with no faith and belief, no spirituality about their lives, begin to get their heads
around a diagnosis such as the one that was given to me. A loving wife and family were
there for me instantly and I badly needed them. Most of all I needed the hands of my
Heavenly Father, my loving and caring God, firmly clasped around me. And that, I believe,
is what I have had. The combination of God’s healing power and love, allied to wonderful
medical treatment, has brought me to where I am today. And I thank my God for that. At
the centre of “the God thing” have been the prayers of so many people. I have been
overwhelmed and humbled by the messages of support and the knowledge that so many
people have been regularly praying for me. And that has been part and parcel of my
treatment, and I’m glad to say, still is. A priest friend of mine, now long gone, once said to
me “If you trust all that you are and all that you have to God, he will never, ever let you
down”. I say a joyful “Amen” to that and recommend his words to you.
You wouldn’t think it sometimes, judging by the nature of the news we are subjected to
every day, but we live in a wonderful world, and the world is full of wonderful people. This
last year has powerfully reminded me of that, and has renewed my faith in God, in
goodness, and in the really important things of life. Many of us keep a sheet of paper
close by to our phones with emergency numbers on it. GP, electricity faults, you know the
sort of thing. I’ve never seen God’s name on such a list!! And yet he is so often called
upon in emergencies only.
 
I’ve learned that it’s often a dangerous practice to give advice and as far as possible I shy
away from doing it. Having said that I immediately offer you a piece……..
“Please don’t keep Jesus’ phone number under “Emergencies Only”!
Practice involving him in everything you do. Try this prayer, “ Lord, please walk with me
today. May your presence within me touch the hearts of those I meet today, either through
the words I say, the prayers I pray, the life I live, or the very person that I am.”
Learn to walk with God at the centre of all you do. Imagine him entering every door just
ahead of you. Don’t wait for the storm to call for help. I’d rather be guided by a lighthouse
than saved by a lifeboat!
 
Revd. Bob Naylor
 

 

Could this be speaking to you?

 
I am delighted to say that I have someone who has signalled a real interest in being confirmed and have two who were confirmed some time ago who would like to attend a refresher course. 
We are also thinking about the possibility starting a group, using one of the available courses, Alpha, Christianity Explored or Emmaus.  This could be helpful to those who have been church members for years or for those who do not know anything about Christianity but would like to. I have used the Emmaus course in the past and found it very helpful but, no doubt, so are the others. We will adapt timings to suit the people who are interested.  Well, are you interested in either of these possibilities? then let me know!  
 
Charles