REPORTS FROM THE CHURCHES
St David’s, Llanddewi
Repairs to St David’s roof have been completed. Tiles and coping stones were removed and replaced. We are grateful that Philip was willing to do this, despite being exposed to bitter wind.
We were able to gather for live worship held on Sunday 11 April. The day was cold but sunny, and the sun shone through the low east windows, across the altar and down the aisle, which added to the sense of joy at gathering in St David’s in the Easter season. Justin marked Prince Philip’s death in prayers for him, for the Queen and for the Royal family.
Spectacular displays of spring flowers are evident all around us. Bulbs absorb nourishment from leaves after flowering, ready for next season. Then they rest in the earth through the winter, and wait until they sense the right time to emerge and send forth new blooms. Similarly, we have been experiencing a winter of relative inactivity, waiting, trying to prepare for and to know the right time and the right way to emerge into a new season of Christian worship and service.
When Jesus spoke of the lilies of the field he was probably referring to the crown anemone, whose dry rhizomes send forth new leaves and brilliantly coloured flowers at the onset of winter rains. Relating lilies to Solomon’s robe implies flowers of exceptional colours, like the robes of the most glorious of all the kings of Israel. Jesus is teaching not only about the beauty of God’s creation and his care of it, but even more about his generous care of people. He knows what we need, and we are to trust him to provide what we need physically and spiritually each day. We can trust him when we pray “Give us this day our daily bread”. May we give glory to our Father as we receive from him all that we need , and trust him lead us forward to fulfil his purposes for us.
We send sincere sympathy to Collette Robinson, following the death of Robbie. Collette faithfully attended St David’s when they lived in Llanddewi. We hold Valerie and Alan and their family in our prayers.
St Illtyd’s, Oxwich
Flowers are one of my most favourite things so this month’s quote has particular resonance for me. Jesus uses this story to teach us about worry. He tells us that we should not worry about what we should eat, drink or how we should clothe ourselves. Then there follows the wonderful example of the ‘ lilies of the field’. ‘They do not labour nor spin and not even what we should eat, drink or how we should clothe ourselves. Then there follows the wonderful example of the ‘ lilies of the field’. ‘They do not labour nor spin and not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these’. If God cloths the lilies of the field, how much more will, he clothe and care for us. We need not worry about any of these provisions.
Nothing brings me nearer to God than beautiful scenery or a spectacular garden. God’s lilies are depicted in the Bolton Priory Church of St. Mary and St. Cuthbert in Warfedale , Yorkshire. This is one of my favourite places in Britain. The church nestles in a valley with the river Wharfe rushing by. Nearby, amidst fields and woods, are the ruins of the 12th century Bolton Abbey. The Priory Church has been reconstructed from the ruins of the nave of the Abbey. Inside and behind the alter is a large carving, with some coloured decoration showing several plants, flowers and trees of the Bible. Every alternate eight foot illustration is of the lilies of the field. This is a place to visit if we ever need reminding, of God’s wonderful creation and his care for us all through the story of the lilies of the field.
God loves us and knows what we need though not necessarily what we desire. As he cares for the natural world he will also care for us so that worrying is a futile occupation.
St Andrew’s, Penrice
Palm Sunday was celebrated in traditional style with a service in Church and the distribution of palms and was the first service in St. Andrew’s since early March 2020. It was a real joy to meet fellow members of the congregation and although suitably masked, sanitized and spaced we all enjoyed the fellowship of the service. Our thanks to the Rev. Justin for taking the service. Many of us, sadly, felt the absence of Phyllis Edwards who was at the last Service but whose ashes are now with those of her husband, George in the churchyard.
We are grateful to the regular members of the congregation who have contributed throughout the pandemic to church funds as without services or fund raising events our funds are sadly depleted.
The churchyard is looking particularly good this year with a mass of primroses and daffodils, much enjoyed by visitors on their way to or from Millwood.
The theme this month is ‘lilies of the field’ which is an excerpt from ‘The Sermon on the Mount’. Jesus often spoke to the disciples using simple everyday items as examples to illustrate his point and at this time the area around Galilee would have been covered in wild flowers and maybe the ‘red Turks-cap lily which he could have pointed to as he spoke. Jesus reminds us that although materialistic things may bring pleasure they are short lived and he is urging us to place our trust in him and not worry or be anxious about the irrelevances of possessions, a hard challenge for us who live in such a consumerist, greedy world.
St Cattwg’s, Port Eynon
On Easter Sunday, we had the great pleasure of attending a live Communion service in the church; the bells were rung and the church was decorated with seasonal flowers. The service was successfully live streamed to dozens of worshippers elsewhere.
The funeral of Nova Hearne, late of the Boarlands, took place on April 7th. The church was still full of Easter flowers and Nova’s coffin was heaped with roses. It was a beautiful and moving service, with heartfelt tributes to Nova from her family and a message read from Nova herself, thanking everyone for love and friendship. The service was successfully live streamed to many watchers, including Nova’s relations in Australia, as covid regulations prevented there being many attendees.
We continue to pray for Paul Carman, gravely ill in hospital. Eleanor Sullivan is still having treatment and is coping well.
By the time this goes to print, we will have had another live streamed Holy Communion in church, which will be a pleasure.
This month’s reflection concerns ‘the lilies of the field’, just at the time when flowers of every colour are emerging in fields, hedgerows and gardens. God has amazing colours in his paint-box and has applied them with brilliance which we cannot emulate.
Some scholars suggest that the lilies of the Bible were really a species of anemone, which we know come in regal colours of red and purple. Apart from day-lilies and certain genetically altered modern varieties, we are most familiar with the purity of white lilies, often associated with the Virgin Mary rather than the pomp of Solomon. Whatever the flowers referred to in Matthew Chapter 6 were, it is true that they seem to bud, bloom into colour and gently fade without any input from us or effort from themselves, whether in hidden places or full view in our gardens; in the latter, most of us do interfere by watering, weeding, feeding and pruning, yet the flowers would still bloom without us.
Likewise, wild animals and birds, adequately clothed in fur and feathers, fend for themselves by relying on what God and nature provide. We, meanwhile, work and spend and purchase more and more clothes and other accoutrements with little thought for the drain on the earth’s resources, and demand exotic foodstuffs coming from the ends of the earth, often destroying, in their cultivation and transport, the resources of poorer people and the fragile balance of Earth’s climate. We preen in front of a looking glass, but stay exactly the same – except perhaps getting stouter and lazier. Thankfully, there is now a movement towards recycling and making better use of the multitude of wonderful resources provided by God. We pray that everyone throughout the world will learn to appreciate what we already have and to share it fairly, while thanking God for his generosity.
St George’s, Reynoldston
Lilies of the field, this month’s theme, are frequently mentioned in the Bible, in both the Old and New Testament. In the Christian faith we have recently celebrated Easter when we usually decorate our churches with lilies, reminding us of rebirth and hope through the Resurrection. More widely in the world, the simple fragrant white flower represents purity and has many other meanings – humility, fruitfulness and sweetness to name just a few. This year particularly after the darkness of a winter, heightened by the suffering and impact of Covid on our lives and society, the flowers and fresh green of the countryside have been especially needed and are uplifting. The first lilies of the valley in our gardens this Spring are a special treat.
The Reynoldston church members are looking forward to St George’s being open again for Eucharist, especially on Pentecost. We were very pleased that Helena Wilkinson was able to take part in St George’s contribution to a recent Zoom Service and is now participating in the worship at Nicholaston House again. It is also good to hear that Robin Cooper is making good progress after his recent operation. Carley – Lloyd Davies is hoping to move to Three Cliffs Nursing Home which will be so good for her to see again a beautiful part of her beloved Gower. Our thoughts and prayers are with her and Paul as well as with Cindy Williams who is unwell and staying with her daughter in Devon.
St Mary the Virgin, Rhossili
Over Easter and since, hoards of visitors have enjoyed time and space and beautiful weather at Rhossili following the lifting of lockdown and travel restrictions. Although St Mary’s was not able to open for contemplation, an Easter Tree positioned in the churchyard, made by Roger from driftwood on our beaches, became a focal point for thoughts, prayers and memories. It is festooned with ribbons tied on by passers by; and many driftwood crosses – tokens of comfort and peace – were taken away by those in need.
Last month, after a short illness, Jenny Venables passed away just two and a half years after husband Peter died. She had continued to live in Rhossili with gentle loving support from her family, always wanting to stay in her own home, even though it meant very few visitors during this last year of pandemic. Jenny was Lay Chair of our Church Committee, always an excellent host for our meetings. We remember her past active participation in the life of the church from flower rota to friendship over many, many years, and our thoughts and prayers are for her children Cameron, Tim and Emma at this sad time. There will be a family memorial service for Jenny at St Mary’s in May.
Though our regular congregation is now very small, we look forward to re-opening St Mary’s for services and for visitors. Already there are weddings and a baptism in the coming weeks, renewing the life of the church, and helping us focus on the future meaning of God and Christianity in our Parish, our village and our lives.