Hope and Vaclav Havel
“Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out”
I was introduced to this quotation, from the former Czech president and philosopher, Vaclav Havel, a few days ago by our rector, the Rev Mike Harris. It seems particularly appropriate for our current situation, where we seem torn between the good news that vaccines are now being deployed and the bad news that Covid is raging and for thousands, the vaccine will be too late. Havel is perhaps best remembered as the man who led the peoples of Czechoslovakia from freedom from Russia and who also managed the peaceful division of the country into the Czech republic and Slovakia. As far as I know, he did not identify strongly with any established faith but he had a strong “spirituality”; a sense that it was not enough just to deal with a person’s material needs.
Talk of hope can seem very inadequate; a blind faith that the worse will not happen when it is obvious that it might. The Jews of the Old Testament knew this very well; their history was littered with disasters. And yet, whilst they sometimes raged against God, they had hope that whatever befell them, God was still with them. This was the hope that was shown in the life and especially the death of Jesus; abandoned by even God on the cross but paradoxically trusting that God was still with him. So the Christian hope cannot be wishful thinking; Jesus did die. Instead it is that no matter how hopeless the situation, the love of God can never be excluded. In his own way, I think Vaclav Havel understood this; it is something we can usefully remember in our current hopelessness.
Rev David Poyner
The door of Billingsley Church is currently decorated by a wreath. The wreath is a common Christmas decoration. The Wikipedia take on wreaths is that they originated in the ancient world, with connections to mythology and also as something that could be placed on the head of a victor, either in a sports competition such as the Olympic Games or a soldier after a battle. They were adopted by the Christian Church, although Wikipedia seems to think that the association with Advent and Christmas did not happen until the 16th century. The wreath is made of evergreens, representing everlasting life (or at least, the hope of life in the darkness of winter); the circle of the wreath was used to symbolise the eternity of God. The wreath is also used a base for candles, with one lit for each of the four Sundays of Advent. Although I can’t find much on the internet, I wonder if there is also a connection between a holly wreath and the crown of thorns pushed onto Jesus’s head at the crucifixion?
I’m sure all this is true, but I have to say none of this was what I thought when I saw the wreath on the church door. Instead, I was struck by its simple beauty; a flash of rich green against the light oak of the door. And also the way it seemed to invite me to open the door, to see what was inside the church. It was as though it was calling me in, calling me to hope. Perhaps that is not such a bad message in this of all Christmases, when we celebrate God coming into our world, to invite us to join him in his world.
Rev David Poyner
ST MARY’S CHARITY SHOP
Well, just as we were getting organised to open our new shop, we are in lockdown again! We had received some items and managed to sort those ready and made appointments for more to be received at the parish hall, but unfortunately, we have had to come to a full stop. Roy Adlington has very kindly been kitting the shop out, so at least when we can, it will be ready for us to fill up and open with all the safety measures in place! We do hope this won’t be too long and will keep everyone informed as soon as we can start receiving donations again. This will be on Tuesday afternoons and Thursday mornings (subject to change) at the rear of the parish hall.
WATCH THIS SPACE!
AT LAST WE CAN OPEN OUR CHARITY SHOP!
Following a meeting with our lovely volunteers this morning, we are pleased to let everyone know that our nice new shop in Coronation Street will open at 10.00am on Friday morning January 8th 2021!
To enable us to open safely, any donations have to be isolated for 48 hours, so we will have to put a system in place for accepting your items. We will be receiving donations at
THE PARISH HALL (back entrance) from Tuesday 29th December
Tuesday afternoons 2-4pm and Thursday mornings 10.00am – 12noon BY APPOINTMENT ONLY Please ring 01746 861722 to make an appointment.
Due to the smaller space, we cannot accept any electrical goods or large furniture at the moment.
We hope this will only be short term but PLEASE DO NOT leave items outside the shop.
For the time being and due to restrictions, we will only open on Friday morning 10 – 12, Friday afternoon 2 -4 and Saturday morning 10 – 12. We can only admit 2 people in the shop at any time, socially distanced and would ask all our customers to adhere to Government guidelines. We should like to thank everyone for their patience and support and look forward to welcoming you back.