REPORTS FROM THE CHURCHES
Everyone in the parish was very sad to hear the news that Revd Roger and Mrs Donaldson have suffered the loss of their beloved son, Rohan. Our deepest sympathy goes to them and all their family at this intensely sad time. Our thoughts and prayers are very much with them.
St David’s, Llanddewi
It was a pleasure to welcome our church family and friends to Llanddewi on St David’s Day (with singing) and to later enjoy the coffee morning at Burry Farm, without compulsory wearing of face masks. We are grateful to all who came to support us on these occasions, including Revd Roger, whose active contribution at both was particularly appreciated. We will celebrate on Easter Day, Sunday 17 April, in addition to our regular Sunday services. Mid-week Communion services also led by Revd Roger are planned for Wednesdays April 6th and 27th.
Is Easter still relevant? A book being used for our parish Lent course points to the answer. Here are some quotes from Living His Story by Hannah Steele:
‘The Christian story requires us to step into an unbelievable account… one where God has stepped in and shown us a new way to live, a whole new framework. It is a big step to take, because it challenges the realities we thought we knew – that we are on our own, that life is finite and even that the dead stay dead. The story of Jesus is not just a dead tale, but one which is ongoing… we encounter the vibrant, living Christ with whom we have a relationship.’ (Foreword by Archbishop Welby).
‘We have a problem that we cannot talk our way out of or fix by ourselves…The events of Good Friday announce to us that while we may be more sinful than we even realize, we are loved more than we could dare to hope or imagine.’
‘The primary words from the first ever witness were “I have seen the Lord”. To bear witness to the gospel is to proclaim loud and clear that Jesus is alive, that death has been defeated and that our deepest fear has been met with resurrection and new life. Christian witness stands or falls on an event in history. The gospel is good news about an event that actually happened; it is not merely a record of spiritual teachings or rules for life. To announce that the final enemy has been defeated and that there is one who has risen from the grave is not a matter purely for personal piety but is of public importance.’ The resurrection of Jesus is is of such earth-shattering consequence that it can’t possibly be irrelevant.
St Illtyd’s, Oxwich
Having only had a service on Zoom last year, it was lovely to have a live service for The World Day of Prayer at the beginning of March, this year.
It took place in Port Eynon Church and was prepared by the women of Wales, England and Northern Ireland. We had the benefit of Mary Attwell accompanying the hymns, for which we were very grateful. The church provided several other helpers including a couple of men whose help was much appreciated. We were glad to see a few more men in the congregation too for although the service is prepared by women, the word ‘Women’ has now been dropped from the title and everyone is welcome.
It is wonderful to think of these services taking place on the same day all over the world with praise being sung in numerous countries.
Locally in SW and NW Gower, it is an opportunity for church and chapel to meet and enthusiastic members from almost all of them are becoming friends.
Thanks to all who helped in so many different ways to make the service a success. Thanks too to the 40 strong congregation for continuing to support after the break for Covid. Long may this annual event continue to bring the Christians of Gower together. Next year the service will be prepared for us by the people of Taiwan.
Judging by the enthusiasm for last week’s service I am sure that Easter and the resurrection of our Lord is still extremely relevant to the many people of the churches of Gower and will be celebrated in the usual joyous way.
St Andrew’s, Penrice
The recent storms have taken a toll on the graveyard as several trees shed their branches and lots of pieces of wood have fallen, but despite that the primroses and daffodils are in full bloom which certainly make a pretty picture, especially on a sunny day.
The World Day of Prayer service, held at Port Eynon, particularly remembered and prayed for the people of Ukraine at this dreadful time for their country. Thank you to the congregation of St. Cattwg’s for their hospitality, to Mary Attwell for, as always, her lovely music and of course to Rosemary Wigley and her team for their hard work in organizing such a successful event.
The theme this month is ‘Is Easter still relevant in the 21st Century?’ As secularism takes more of a hold in the world it would appear that Easter has become more a celebration of holidays, chocolate and Easter bunnies. Nothing wrong with any of that but to Christians it must also still mean the end of Lent, the horror of Holy Week and Good Friday and then the celebration and glory of Easter Day. So, yes, I would say that Easter is more relevant than ever in these very troubled times.
In view of the worsening situation developing in Ukraine, Cathy Dorran plans to hold a bric-a-brac sale in Horton Hall on Saturday 23rd April. Please look out anything that would sell, but she has particularly stressed no clothing. All the money made will be donated to Ukraine. By the end of March we hope to have emerged fully from Covid and all it has involved and be free of masks and other limitations. The Easter Day Service at St. Andrew’s will be at 8.30am and will be conducted by Revd Roger Donaldson. Angela Barnett
St Cattwg’s, Port Eynon
Our AGM was held after the service on February 20th, more timely than last year’s meeting in July. Everybody agreed to continue in their previous positions.
Caffi Cattwg is drawing in customers from other villages as well as passers-by. On March 1st, coincidentally both St. David’s Day and Shrove Tuesday, there was a wonderful lunch party for about 35 guests and helpers. We started with a few songs from the Llanddewi with Knelston W.I. and Friends Choir, some in English, some in Welsh, then Madeleine Gill sang her own delightful song about St. David. Lastly, a recently formed recorder group played more English and Welsh airs to great acclaim.
Lunch was delicious – cawl, followed by pancakes and then Welsh cakes and coffee. All cooked by local experts and much appreciated. Mary Attwell master-minded the whole occasion, the first large gathering for most of us since Covid restrictions lifted. Everybody enjoyed themselves and applauded the pancake tossing contest, in which not one pancake hit either the roof or the floor.
St. Cattwg’s played host to the World Day of Prayer on March 4th. The theme was the feeling of exclusion suffered by many, for reasons of race, colour, sex, religion and other divisive characteristics, illustrated by readings and the retelling of various women’s experiences. The service had extra poignancy in the light of events in Ukraine, where so many are being dispossessed. Attendance numbered about forty, who stayed for tea and chat afterwards.
‘Is Easter still relevant in the 21st Century?’ The short answer is ‘Yes, Easter will always be relevant’ and never more so than during the present Ukraine crisis, echoing the oppression of the Holy Land by the Romans in Jesus’ day. However, aspects of its celebration have become less and less relevant, as we all can see: it has become just another Bank Holiday; it requires chocolate eggs; rabbits are somehow involved.
The Easter holiday weekend is great but few remember what it is really about. The chief significance is that Christ’s death on the cross gave us all a promise of immortality so those who face death can do so with equanimity. It gave the nearly-vanquished a hope of ultimate victory, all sinners forgiveness and a chance to atone, and the poor and needy the prospect of being valued.
Even unbelievers can appreciate Christ’s sacrifice and see the confidence it inspires in Christians. Society can be strengthened by Christian people advertising and demonstrating their ethos.
The rabbits? They were originally hares, the companion animal of the goddess Eostre after whom the celebration is named. The eggs,
originally real ones hand-painted – they symbolise new life. The chocolate? No idea.
St George’s, Reynoldston
The Parish Ash Wednesday Service was particularly moving, leading us into the season of Lent – a time for reflection, self-examination and change – and at the same time praying for the people of Ukraine and hoping so much for peace. During the service we were invited to write a prayer wish on a piece of paper which was then burnt. The ash was later used to mark the cross on our foreheads. To quote from the service sheet, ‘The ashes we receive in this service are symbols of our sorrow and our mortality: we receive them gladly, as they can lead to change and healing. The laying on of hands for wholeness and healing remind us that God will not allow sorrow and mortality to be the last word, that we are forgiven, and set free to live life to the full.ʼ
We are delighted that Helena Wilkinson is now well enough to participate in the Worship Leaders Services with Sheila Williams, having sadly lost the contribution of three of the original Service Leaders in the past few years – the late James Hutson and now Peter Craddock and Jenny Cooper who are unwell. We look forward to welcoming the rest of the Parish to the Good Friday Service at 3pm. The Choir is rehearsing music appropriate for the day.
Earlier on Good Friday, Reynoldston will be the location of the Walk of Witness for all the members and colleagues of Ministry Area churches and the Methodist Chapels of Gower. Leading with the Cross, the mini- pilgrimage will walk through the story of Good Friday with narrations, prayers and hymns, led by local clergy, at five points on the route through the village: –
10 am Lower Green: Revd Peter Brookes
St George’s: Revd Justin Davies
Robin’s Lane: Revd Andy Walker
Reynoldston Chapel: Revd Mick Ellor
Upper Green : Revd Tim Ardouin
At this point those wishing to continue will walk at the side of the road, carrying the Cross to the top of Cefn Bryn.
For the future – a date for your diaries. On Friday 6th May there will be a church fund-raising Quiz in Reynoldston Hall. Always fun and good refreshments!
St Mary the Virgin, Rhossili
The united Parish service at St Mary’s on 13 March was an amazing occasion in every way. Fifty people came together in this little church on a sea-bright breezy morning and poured out their souls for Ukraine – singing at the tops of their voices, praying earnestly for peace and help for the bombed and displaced, and joining in the sacrament of Holy Communion. Two wedding couples, a 75th birthday, visitors, children even, the old faithfuls, the choir, and Justin’s thought- provoking sermon with timeless relevant readings made this a community event of some distinction.
The prayer pool at the Lady Altar continues to be an important place for visitors to this church, and prayer requests are read out on Sundays. This week a shocking insight about bullying caused us all to pause in our thoughts. This was personal, as are so many requests, but just now there is also a global need: the driftwood tree, made by Roger Button, is an invitation to hang prayers for Ukraine on its branches, and it is already weighed down.
A wedding on Easter Day in Rhossili Church is a time to lift our hearts, and we are delighted that Tom and Verity will at last be married here, after postponing their special day since before the Covid pandemic. Bells will be rung, harp and organ music will sound, and people will laugh and be happy – how we all need that. Congratulations to the lovely couple as they start their married life. Caroline Johnson