Photograph of St. Mary’s Church, Ditchingham
For further details click: St. Mary’s Church
Rev’d Chris Hutton (Rector)
Tel: 01986 895423 ~ email: email@example.com
The Church Office, School Road, Earsham NR35 2TF
Mon, Wed & Fri 10am ~ 2.00pm
Tel: 01986 894494 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
~ SERVICES IN OUR PARISH CHURCHES ~
BROOME CHURCH WARDENS DETAILS
Jenny Edmonds 01986 892906 / Roger Tuffley ~ 01508 518977
DITCHINGHAM CHURCH WARDENS DETAILS
Sally Ellson ~ 01986 892687
HEDENHAM CHURCH WARDENS DETAILS
Hannah Morris ~ 01508 482794 / Rosie Sethia ~ 01508 482522
Church Thoughts for July 2020
Sadly, as I write, our church buildings remain locked. While they can be opened for private prayer, there is no clarity when they will be able to open for public services. The earliest that church services might be able to resume is 4th July, but that would be with social distancing and likely other conditions. In some European countries, those wishing to attend must register for a ticket in advance.
These extraordinary times give us an opportunity to reflect on our church buildings. Sometimes they are a headache to those of us who have to worry about heating and maintaining them. The location and facilities are not necessarily ideal. Why they didn’t install loos, kitchens, a range of rooms, 21st Century audio-visual systems and Wi-Fi in the 13th Century I just don’t know!
Yet I think we should be very grateful for our church buildings. There is something wonderful to be able to meet and pray where our forefathers have for generations or for centuries. Our iconic church buildings are intended to make a public statement that Jesus Christ is Lord and the Christian faith is not actually meant to be something merely private and domestic. It is open to all and should have its public manifestations. We pray that “the church” might be at the heart of and transform our communities. Our buildings are a sign of that intent. At their best, our church buildings can remind us that our faith is always ancient and modern.
Of course we mustn’t make idols of them. They are not magic means of getting in touch with the divine. Even in Old Testament times when God had promised to be especially present in the Jerusalem Temple to bless his people, he warned them to remember that he is the creator of heaven and earth who fills all things. Of course he does not live in temples made by human hands. He isn’t limited or confined to so called “sacred spaces”. People will sometimes say that they can commune with God as well on a hillside or beach as in a church building. True enough. But this does risk missing something and that is that we need one another. We need community.
The Bible’s word for church does not refers to a building but to a gathering or assembly of people, a congregation and the Bible warns us not to neglect meeting together. We need one another to encourage and help one another. The church is a body of many different parts, all of which are valuable and necessary. God in his wisdom has given us all different gifts which we are to use together for the common good – for the health of the whole body. At the moment, we can’t meet together as we would like to, but the phone and internet have helped us to continue to minister to one another. Imperfect as it is, we are able to gather together on a Sunday on YouTube.
But let’s give thanks for our church buildings and pray that we are able to get back into them soon and safely. Ask God to give us his wisdom and help (including financial resources!) that our buildings would be good servants of the gospel in these parishes for present and future generations. But let’s above all pray for one another at this time, for our fellowship in Jesus Christ, which does not depend on a building.
Revd Chris Hutton (Rector)
Church Thoughts for June 2020
There is a meme going round on the internet which says:
“Until further notice, the days of the week are now called Thisday, Thatday, Otherday, Someday, Yesterday, Today, Nextday.” To which I would add, Binday and Clappingday. As we come into June, in this never ending lockdown, it seems that it may not be keeping busy that’s the problem for some of us as we decorate those rooms that we have been meaning to do for years, make the garden has look neater than its ever looked, and for those who are parents and key workers and those working from home while trying to get their children to do their home school work it has never been busier.
For many the problem is finding some sense of rhythm, keeping the shape of the week. We no longer have classes, coffee mornings, volunteering sessions, baby and toddler groups, choir practices, weekly or daily shopping trips to punctuate our lives and give them shape. Parents have to find ways of establishing lesson times without the familiar routines of school drop off and collection. None of us have to get ready for church on Sundays. We can just watch the online service in our underwear! Our lives have lost all sense of rhythm and future planning.
However, in all the uncertainty about the future and unfamiliar patterns in the present some things are constant. The seasons advance – daffodils give way to tulips, blossom to leaves, primroses to bluebells – just as they always have. And God’s time remains constant. We often say that God’s time isn’t the same as our time, and that’s a helpful idea just now, when we need something bigger than us, someone infinitely trustworthy, to cling to for reassurance and hope, a steady light to guide us from beginning to end.
It is worth remembering what the writer to Hebrews says: he is the same yesterday, and today, and forever (Heb 13v8). That means that during the good times, as well as the bad times that God and Jesus never changes. The story of the bible is the account of how God looked after his people in the past, looks after us now whatever we are facing and will look after the future. So as we live with the lack of rhythm in our lives and an unknown future, we remember one constant, God never changes.
May God bless us all, each day, each hour, each minute.
Church Thoughts – April 2020
As we celebrate Easter during this difficult month, I would like to tell you the traditional Easter story of The Three Trees.
Once upon a mountain top, three little trees stood and dreamed of what they wanted to become when they grew up. They were discussing their hopes and dreams when the first tree said “Someday I hope to be a treasure chest. I could be filled with gold, silver and precious gems. I could be decorated with intricate carving and everyone would see the beauty.” Then the second tree said “Someday I will be a mighty ship. I will take kings and queens across the waters and sail to the corners of the world. Everyone will feel safe in me because of the strength of my hull.” Finally the third tree said. “I want to grow to be the tallest and straightest tree in the forest. People will see me on top of the hill and look up to my branches, and think of the heavens and God and how close to them I am reaching. I will be the greatest tree of all time and people will always remember me.”
After a few years of hoping that their dreams would come true, a group of woodsmen came upon the trees. When one came to the first tree he said, “This looks like a strong tree, I think I should be able to sell the wood to a carpenter.” and he began cutting it down. The tree was happy, because he knew that the carpenter would make him into a treasure chest. At the second tree a woodsman said, “This looks like a strong tree, I should be able to sell it to the shipyard.” The second tree was happy because he knew he was on his way to becoming a mighty ship. When the woodsmen came upon the third tree, the tree was frightened because he knew that if they cut him down his dreams would not come true. One of the woodsman said, “I don’t need anything special from my tree so I’ll take this one” and he cut it down.
When the first tree arrived at the carpenters, he was made into a feed box for animals. He was then placed in a barn and filled with hay. This was not at all what he had hoped for. The second tree was cut and made into a small fishing boat. His dreams of being a mighty ship and carrying kings had come to an end. The third tree was cut into large pieces and left alone in the dark.
The years went by, and the trees forgot about their dreams. Then one day, a man and women came to the barn. She gave birth and they placed the baby in the hay in the feed box that was made from the first tree. The man wished that he could have made a crib for the baby, but this manger would have to do. The tree could feel the importance of this event and knew that he held the greatest treasure of all time.
Years later, a group of men got in the fishing boat made from the second tree. One of them was tired and went to sleep. While they were out on the water, a great storm arose and the tree didn’t think it was strong enough to keep the men safe. The men woke the sleeping man, and he stood and said “peace” and the storm stopped. At this time, the tree knew that he carried the king of kings.
A few years later, a carpenter came to the store yard where the third tree was, lying in planks. “Maybe now I will be useful” the tree thought. But the carpenter made it into a coarse cross. And the tree knew that this was the kind of cross soldiers used to put criminals, really bad people, to death. Sure enough the tree was carried up to the top of a hill and a man was put on it, and left to die.
This should have been absolutely the worst day of the third tree’s life. Except for one thing. The man on the cross was Jesus, the Son of God-dying for the sins of the world. On Easter Sunday morning when Jesus rose from the dead, the third tree knew for certain that God’s love had changed everything.
God’s love in sending Jesus had made the first tree beautiful, as the baby Jesus had lain in that feeding box. This same Jesus had calmed the storm on the lake and made the second tree a strong and useful fishing boat. And every time people thought of the third tree, made into that cross at Calvary, they would think of God and see His Love in action for the entire world.
Revd Chris Hutton (Rector)
PRAYERS FOR OUR PARISHES
This month includes Holy Week, each day bringing Jesus nearer the cross – adulation on Palm Sunday; then the Last Supper, betrayal, torture, crucifixion. BUT – He rose again! Easter!
“Father God help us realise the enormity of the events of Holy Week, to realise our part in it all (due to our sinful humanity), to repent, and accept your forgiveness. Jesus forgave his crucifiers – hence us too.
Then at Easter may we celebrate our own salvation, praying for resurrection of your church, each of us, our country, for your healing hand to preserve us from the coronavirus. We worship praise and honour your Holy name, in thanksgiving for the spiritual freedom bought though the blood of the cross. Alleluia!”
Church Thoughts – March 2020
As the mornings and evening get lighter, one thing we will miss will be seeing the night sky or a clear dark winters evening. Like many people I find the night sky to be inspirational as it holds a certain wonder and awe. You can see so much in the night sky in our Benefice. When we use to live in Crawley in West Sussex the wonder of the night sky were often lost in light pollution or the flashing lights from aircraft from Gatwick would muddle with the stars.
Since we have been living here, we are often taken with the beauty of the nights and the wonder and awe it inspires in our family, whether it’s the large red moons, or the planets, or the twinkling suns millions of light years away. We drive home and see them sitting proudly over our villages. It makes us all marvel at creation.
The Bible also marvels at creation not just here on Earth, but also our wider universe. King David wrote poems and songs to celebrate this. ‘When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,’ he wrote in Psalm 8.
The Psalm goes on to say how ‘God, made it with your fingers!’ This implies something intricate and detailed, something that took thought and time. Something that is smaller than its maker. If the Milky Way galaxy in which our Earth resides was the size of North America, our solar system would be a coffee cup, the Earth would be a speck of dust inside the cup. The universe is tiny to God!
As a Christian I take comfort in this, that in creating this vast universe he took time to be intricate and make our world, to fill it with wonders. We are part of those wonders, created to have a place at his side. So, the next time you look up at night, and marvel at the vastness of the sky, or drive through our lanes and see spring arriving. Do not forget to stop and marvel at yourself, created to be a wonder just like the universe.
Revd Chris Hutton (Rector)
PRAYERS FOR OUR PARISHES
We can use the time during Lent to journey with Jesus both personally and corporately. As we progress, we can share his experiences more and more deeply, together with his healing love, his forgiveness (as well as the miraculous signs)
Father God, we pray to experience Jesus’ love, his very presence in our lives. It’s your precious gift of inner peace and tranquillity (shalom) that transcends all under standing> As we take on board your love for us, we are reminded of Jesus’ sacrificial life of love, even though torture and the cross. Yes still he forgave: “Father forgive them they don’t know not what they’re doing”. Help us think on these things.
Church Thoughts – February 2020
As I write this we are in the middle of January and the memories of Christmas and New Year seems an age away. But as we recover from celebrating Jesus as a Baby, let us take a moment to remind ourselves that just like every other human being Jesus Christ didn’t continue his life as a baby but had a childhood just the same as did you and I and everybody else who’s ever lived.
Many of us can and do remember significant moments from our childhoods; family celebrations, dramatic weather, schooling and they can and do reveal glimpses of the adults they will become. Jesus Christ does exactly the same. In the one incident from his childhood the Gospels record (Luke 2:41-51) it’s clear that the child Jesus is both someone extremely special and also very aware of his destiny.
The adult Christ, although he never commits sin, is in every respect a fully formed human being. There are glimpses of his humanity as when he tells the apostles faced with 5000 hungry people and a catering crisis “he has compassion on them”. At the death of Lazarus we get the shortest verse in the bible “Jesus wept”.
One of our failings as Christians is that we’re more than somewhat prone to emphasising Christ’s divinity at the expense of his humanity. The whole point of the Incarnation is that Jesus Christ was both fully divine and fully human and as such he’s just as human as we are. Knowing what it is to be hungry, to mourn and to laugh. So let’s be inspired by the very humanity of Christ and see in his life the pattern and the model for what ours and everybody else can and should become. It is only if we really engage with Christ’s humanity will Lent, which starts on 26th February, and Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection have their true meaning.
Revd Chris Hutton (Rector)
PRAYERS FOR OUR PARISHES
Jesus often said: “Peace be with you”. The Hebrew word shalom conveys the concept of absolute peace, harmony and contentment in everything – human relationships and activities, and the natural world, including a meaningful relationship with God. “Father God, we lack peace because we fail to address the necessities and issues of life for so many, and your creation. Forgive our failings, our wrong priorities. Inspire us to regain Jesus’ peace (shalom), personally, corporately, in life, within ourselves and with you. Lord Jesus, our presence, the presence of God in our lives can be experienced and offers us a peace that is beyond measure, a precious gift that surpasses all understanding. Praise the Lord”