REPORTS FROM THE CHURCHES
St David’s, Llandewi
We greatly appreciated the worship led by Anne and David Pope last month, including their singing of the hymns, and the opportunity to chat with them afterwards.
Justin presided over our service of Holy Communion this month, when we were again pleased to welcome visitors: it has been a joy and encouragement that each of our services has been shared in this way since we were able to open. We had hoped that this month we would all be allowed to sing, thereby sharing in a more corporate expression of worship, however this was not to be, given the rise in Covid infection. Instead the words of two worship songs were available for contemplation while their tunes were played, before the service started. Our next service will be Holy Communion led by Justin, on 22 August at 8.30am.
In the Parish, we are trying to discern how best to meet for worship, to encourage each other, and share the gospel with others: we are challenged to re-think what purpose we serve and how to achieve it, to recognise our call to go out, and as well as to consider where, when and how to meet in the ways and places we are used to.
How best to cope with pressure? ‘Drifting with God in the summer’ speaks of resting, of relaxing, with God: enjoying the sunshine, the peace, place and companionship; having conversations with God, listening to him and allowing him to make the pace, quietly moving on, going somewhere, trusting. Gentle movement causes sparkles in the water, reflecting the water’s meeting with the sun.
Our life’s journey is personal, but it is undergirded and worked out by love: that means working in relationship with God and with others. To drift with God in the company of others who are ready to listen, learn, talk and pray, brings shared blessings that ripple out and on.
It’s so tempting to keep busy, striving to achieve our own agendas, however well meant, at the risk of missing God’s word of beauty, truth and wisdom, and his purpose for us, his church and his world.
St Illtyd’s, Oxwich
A little normality returned to St. Illtyd’s recently when Mathilde Casagnet and Luke Player were married on Sunday, July 4th. It was necessarily a small gathering, adhering to Covid restrictions. The pity was that none of the French bride’s family could be present though there is to be a second celebration in France. We wish them every happiness.
We always wonder why so many couples want to make their vows in St. Illtyd’s and have come to the conclusion that they are drawn to a building that has long been a place of Christian worship – in fact since the 6th century. Then of course there is the wonderful situation of the church set in ancient woodland so near to the sea.
Members of the regular congregation have experienced the walk through the trees, alongside the sea, in many different weathers. We have enjoyed the calm sea of summer with the sunshine illuminating the ancient walls of the church. Alternatively, we have experienced howling gales, causing us to be soaked as the waves crash against the sea wall and over the path.
Nothing is more moving than walking away from the church in silence after the stripping of the altar on Maundy Thursday. The proximity of the sea and the brooding nature of the huge trees creates a very solemn atmosphere.
One of the best places to be ‘Drifting with God in the summer’ would be relaxing on Oxwich beach in the sunshine and observing the church from afar. It is here that our numerous summer visitors will be free from their workaday lives and the anxieties of home and are able to relax with their families. May they also glimpse the church through the trees and be aware of its spiritual significance.
Rivers, lakes and canals can all bring us a feeling of peace and tranquillity, the gentle ripples of the water taking us to the peace of God.
A recent communication from the Botanic Garden of Wales depicts the recently restored landscape of lakes, cascades and waterfalls. It suggests that the purpose of this restoration is for our enjoyment and wellbeing. It is illustrated with a photograph of the calmest of lakes and a beautiful bridge. The caption alongside states, ‘The great outdoors – good for the soul or for you Welsh speakers, “Yr awry agored – Yn dda i’r enaid”’.
We all feel more relaxed when the sun is shining, the air is warm on our faces and it is in this situation that we are more easily able to communicate with our God and to feel his presence. This is not to say that these are the only conditions in which we can feel God near. We must discipline ourselves to have this connection when conditions are not so perfect. Experiencing a time of daily contemplation will enable us to achieve a close connection with our Lord and the likelihood is that a tranquil lake, a trickling stream or even a garden water feature will enable us to feel a spiritual connection to the eternal kingdom. We should take time in our busy lives to leave the chores, rid ourselves of anxieties and experience ‘ the peace which passes all understanding’.
In Praise of God’s Glory, written at Lindisfarne.
Sunlight dappling through the trees, reflects your glory,
clouds scudding across the sky,
show your majesty,
waves lapping on the shore, sing
birds swooping overhead, display
breezes caressing our faces, tell of
and all things echo your greatness
St Andrew’s, Penrice
The summer seems to be going by so quickly as already we are nearly into August. It is a great joy that services can now be started again in church on a regular basis, and although Zoom undoubtedly has great merit fellowship of meeting together is very stimulating. Although our congregation is small and most of the time without music we are glad to be able to resume a definite routine of services and meet on a regular basis at 8.30am on Sunday mornings. Sadly, there will be no Gower Show this year but how much it will be enjoyed next year when hopefully it will be on again after a two year enforced break. We look forward to welcoming the Rev Sue Waite in August and also to the new House for Duty Priest and his wife when they arrive later in the month. It will be a relief for the clergy to have more assistance after valiantly meeting the individual needs of each church during the lockdown period.
It has been a sad and anxious time for many families as there seems to be much illness and bereavement locally. Our thoughts are with everyone who is troubled in some way at this time. The theme this month is ‘Drifting with God in the summer’. The word to drift means meander which conjures up a picture of being by a slow river on a warm summer’s day but I don’t think that is what Justin had in mind. Sometimes some of us may feel there is little chance to drift as we lurch from crisis to crisis in our daily lives but these distractions can cause a drift in spiritual growth, as can laziness or a change in routine, such as lockdown. Maybe this is an opportunity as life resumes normality for us all to monitor our own faith.
St Cattwg’s, Port Eynon
Many congratulations to newly-weds Rachel Hughes and Simon Jones, inevitably with a restricted guest list. We wish them all happiness in future.
It was good to hear of the appointment of a new House-for-Duty priest to the Gower Ministry Area, who will lighten the load on Rev. Justin’s shoulders and enable more of the churches to have live services. We were encouraged to join in singing the hymns from behind our masks on June 27th, a great pleasure after such a long silence. On July 11th we celebrated Sea Sunday, again with live music.
What to say about ‘Drifting with God in the summer’? Is this being wind-blown like a feather, or being ‘a drifter’, which can mean someone homeless or a layabout? Or, are we in a boat steered by God?
The feather analogy suggests being at the mercy of gales and storms, undirected and aimless. That is also the situation of ‘the drifter’, unable to decide on a course in life and lacking a place to call home. He or she may settle temporarily for one place, one job, one creed, and then drift off again, unsatisfied and unhappy. God is with him, but he continues unaware of the help and advice there for the asking.
I think the most comforting picture is oneself in a boat on a gentle stream, with God firmly in charge of the oars or the rudder. Perhaps God won’t mind just steering while we relax; it is good to be at peace in his presence. God knows that everybody has had a tiring and challenging year and is in need of rest. We know from the Bible that God – and Jesus through the power of God – can calm storms; even when our mindless drifting takes us out to sea and things become rough, God will be there to rescue us. At some point, we may have to take up the oars or man the sails again for ourselves,
but for a while, let’s be tranquil and put our entire trust in God.
After a year or two, a pair of swallows has returned to nest in the church porch – a welcome event, there being so few swallows these days.
St George’s, Reynoldston
We have enjoyed good attendances. On one occasion St George’s was full (with social distancing, of course) and that was very uplifting, especially as we were able to sing in spite of our masks. We hope that singing will soon be restored again.
We were pleased that Sarah Bygate and Craig Archard were able to have their very pretty wedding here with as many family and friends as allowed. Sarah’s family have lived in the village many years. We wish Sarah and Craig every blessing and happiness in their married life.
The other occasion was sadder but was a moving funeral for Sylvia Seagrove. She and her husband Chris had lived here just five years but had been active in the Gower Players. Our condolences go to Chris and all their families.
Plans are now being made for a unique event later in July. In our churchyard is a Commonwealth Grave Commission headstone marking the burial place of Lieutenant Colonel R E Benson of Fairy Hill who was killed on 29th September 1914. He was the first senior officer to be killed in the First World War and in the early months it was possible for the bodies of the fallen to be repatriated home. Colonel Benson had been a member of the Drapers’ Livery Company, the third in order of precedence of the twelve Great Livery Companies in the City of London. Founded in 1361 to promote trade in cloth, the Company has evolved into today’s role as a grant-giving body to charities. On 21st July thirteen current members of the Company are visiting to hold a short memorial service and to lay a wreath on his grave.
St Mary’s, Rhossili
At last a glimmer of light at the end of a very long tunnel. Sunday 18th July saw the first service at St Mary’s since March last year, with Peter Davies doing the honours leading us in Morning Prayer. Which brings me to mention that our next service at St Mary’s will be on Sunday 15th August with Justin – a United Parish annual service for St Mary the Virgin. Previously this has been a packed out event with the parish choir, and coffee and cake to follow. I don’t think we can expect the choir this time, but perhaps we could rally round to provide cake and drinks in the churchyard if the weather is kind to us. With a small congregation we are looking for support from other churches in the parish and the possibility of some visitors to swell our ranks.
The regular Zoom services continue to be very well supported, as well as the online service from St Cattwg’s.
There are many visitors eager to visit St Mary’s, and whenever the doors are open, for whatever reason, there have been several people wanting to look around. It has been very much please come inside; due to current restrictions you can look but not touch or sit down. We had a planned visit from Bishopston School representatives wanting to photograph the Edgar Evans memorial. They offered to make the production available to the church when it is completed.
Roger has ordered a new front gate. This should be in place by the time this magazine arrives at your door. The church car park continues to be full – always a good sign.