Vicar

Writing from the Rectory – March 2024
‘How is the date of Mothering Sunday determined?’
This was one of the questions at our recent All Saints’ Church Quiz Night. It was interesting to note that half the room were unclear on the origins and why the date moves every year. In fact, it is linked to Easter and so moves with the lunar calendar.
Easter is considered the most important ‘moveable feast’ in the Christian calendar. Whilst Christmas is exciting and we anticipate the birth of Christ, Easter was always the purpose for His coming to earth. Whilst we grieve all the havoc that humanity can wreak on Good Friday, on Easter Sunday we celebrate the ultimate gift of release from this and a relationship with our creator God through Jesus rising again.
Historically, that first Easter took place around the time of the Jewish Passover – the first full moon following the vernal equinox. The Christian calendar therefore follows this pattern and so Easter Day is always celebrated on the first Sunday following the Pascal full moon, or the first full moon after the spring equinox (March 21).
But what does this all have to do with Mothering Sunday?
Mothering Sunday is placed as the fourth Sunday after the start of Lent and falls this year on March 10th. While it can be a day of many different emotions - positive, sorrowful, full of hurt or perhaps anticipation – it dates back to a time when servants were permitted this Sunday off to return to their mother’s church. They would often collect flowers from hedgerows on the way to take as gifts and we are permitted to relax any rules around Lent fasting for the day. There is also a connection with Galatians 4:26, which reminds us that as Christians we are liberated and have a spiritual home with God. Perhaps this Mothering Sunday we can reclaim those origins and return to a church or attend as usual, remembering this freedom we now have offered to us in Christ.
If you would like to know more about the reason for Christmas, Easter and more – do consider joining our Alpha course which will be starting up after Easter on a Wednesday evening at Eden’s Project on Gainsborough Street. There will be more details in the next issue!
And if you would like to form a team for the next All Saints’ Quiz Night, it is on March 23rd at 6:15pm. Please contact Dave on 372352 for more details.
Vicar's February letter: 
Writing from the Rectory – February 2024
My daughter watches a great number of Disney classics, and it strikes me that in storytelling it’s remarkable how often the plot relies on finding a hero prepared to sacrifice themselves to save the day.  At the beginning of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ the master of the mansion refuses to help an old lady, who then casts a spell on him that can only be broken by love. He is given a rose as a timer – when it dies, he will remain forever as a beast. As the man-turned-beast behaves increasingly inhumanely, so the servants-turned-furniture become less alive. By contrast the heroine, Belle, sees beyond appearances and comes to love the inner person.
Just before the last rose petal falls and condemns the beast forever, so a further selfless act saves the heroine’s father from the wolves. Everyone lives happily ever after except for the narcissistic Gaston, whose bullying and manipulative behaviour become his downfall. He embodies evil and suffering.
We have permission to recover the joy and satisfaction of happy endings brought about by love because that is the hope in the bible, our shared story of God’s rescue plan for the world. Even the simplest fable or children’s story can be recast as an allegory of the greatest love story ever told, the creator and his created, God and humanity reunited through love.
February is the month of St Valentine, when romantic love is diarised and expected. Yet the word ‘love’ in English is used to describe many different concepts. We might say we love Easter eggs and yet also say we love our grandparents or football. The kind of love that Belle shows is by taking the place of her imprisoned father. The kind of love we are called to embrace is that which loves mercy, does justice and walks humbly with God.
The servants Lumiere and Cogsworth long to be human again and delight in the chance to serve, offering a spectacular banquet to Belle. Their fate however lies in the realisation of the romantic love of Valentine’s Day. Crucially it is only made possible by another kind of love; the love which serves others and not self. God one day promises us a banquet, a feast, as we are fully reunited with Him.
You may not be blessed with romantic love this Valentine’s but by loving others you will, yourself, find your own heart strangely warmed too.
Lenten Blessings
Rev’d Andrew
The Vision Day 2023
Our vision day last year was a time of great fellowship for the benefice, and we established our two key aims to build on, namely children’s work and closer benefice cooperation. This year we meet again with an away day, on Sat 27 January at Newton Green Village Hall, to talk about the steps we have taken in these areas and how to build further. There have been plenty of exciting developments! It would be great to see everyone come together again, as before, in fellowship and planning for the future so please try to join us if you are able.
As you know, we have been awarded a large grant, and this is your chance to shape and direct how that money is allocated, and spent, over the next three years for each of the four areas or trellises – two for All Saints' and two for St Gregory's. A contributory factor in being awarded the £100k was the large and representative turnout at the away day last year, which Hilary from the diocese commented upon, so let's keep up the momentum!

There will be tea and coffee from 9:30 am and we start at 10 am with a time of worship. We will finish by 3.30 pm at the latest. Donations of £5 are invited. Claire would appreciate help with catering so do be in touch with her if you can help... she is still keen to receive offers of crumble, but do let her know if you can help in any way...parishsecretary@stgregspcc.uk or 07956 456126.

We give thanks to God for the amazing blessing of the grant award and opportunity it affords to grow younger* as a benefice. This project may or may not result in greater Sunday morning attendance in church, but our primary focus must always be to listen and follow where God leads us in building the kingdom of heaven here on earth, wherever and whenever that is.Extract from St. Gregorys Newsletter

Success with our Grant Application!

Those of you unable to attend church in person over the past couple of weeks might not have heard the great news that we have been awarded the full sum applied for to enhance and expand our children’s work across St Gregory’s and All Saints’ churches.

This is fantastic news and we will be talking more about what this looks like at our joint Vision Day in January. If you recall, the plan is to build a trellis, if you like, of four strands

- a) a sensory space in a room in All Saints Hall which will allow the development of both work with children with additional needs and Toddler Church to grow there. We can then expand Causeway also, to include children.

b) A robed choir at St Gregory’s, with a Director of Music, medals etc and the opportunity to feed the children attending.

c) Start work on an application to lower the tombs in the south transept and to consider a larger space - a garden room- in order to allow the Junior Church to expand.

d) Invest time, people and money in school connections work such as Christmas Through The Keyhole and similar projects whilst also supporting the work of others such as Open The Book.

*The Growing Younger Programme aim is to embed growing younger (0-25 year olds) in the diocese. Such a focus will be one way of growing younger congregations so they more accurately reflect the age profile of the population.
This programme includes:
To embed the importance of growing disciples amongst 0-25 year olds in all diocesan activities.
To view everything through the lens of children and young people.
To create beacon areas to achieve significant growth in numbers of 0-25-year-old disciples in areas where there is a high children and young person population – largely market towns.
To make resources to support growth in numbers of 0-25 year old disciples accessible to anyone.
To provide ideas, information and support to areas or groups that seek it, to support their long-term success and development of discipleship.
To facilitate five youth-focused expressions of church to be developed from secondary schools.