Parish Church of St. Peter & St. Paul – May 2020

Nether Heyford Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul

Dear Friends,

We received a couple of interesting cards last Christmas. One, from my training incumbent and his family, included a seed from one of the Christmas trees in their garden, with the invitation to plant it in the spring. The other card, from our daughter, Sarah, included a little sheet of paper, full of wildflower seeds, with similar instructions regarding planting. A few weeks ago, we planted both in little plastic plant pots, and placed them on the kitchen windowsill, where they would catch the morning sunshine, and we would be reminded to water them. We did this, and we checked for shoots every day, having faith that in the darkness, under the soil, the miracle of growth was taking place.

After Christmas, the next big Christian festival is Easter, and we have just had the most unusual and unexpected of Easter weekends. Our church buildings are closed, and we are unable to gather physically, but the Church remains alive and well. In our isolation, we are finding new ways to worship together on-line, new ways to pray for and care for our communities. With time to reflect, I frequently find myself wondering what new things might grow and emerge from the darkness of these days of crisis, not just for the Church, but for our society as a whole. We are already seeing a strengthening of community spirit. We are finding new ways to keep in touch with family, friends and neighbours. There is greater appreciation for workers in the NHS and other public services. We are seeing nature recover, with cleaner air one of the benefits of the greatly reduced levels of air and road travel. What can we do to keep these good things alive and growing as we come out of these difficult times?

At Easter, we celebrate Jesus rising from death to new life. The Gospels tell us that Jesus appeared to his disciples and filled them with his peace. But this is not the peace of the ‘old normal’, this is a new and different and exciting peace, because Jesus is risen from the dead. This is a peace full of the promise of life transformed. In the days after Easter, back on our kitchen windowsill, shoots appeared in the plant pot containing the wildflower seeds. Underground, in the darkness, the miracle of growth occurs, and new life bursts forth. At Easter we celebrate, and we remember that Jesus defeated death, that he came through suffering and darkness to bring new life, joy, peace and hope.

This present darkness will pass. New life hope and joy will emerge. Hold on!

With every prayer and blessing in these uncertain times,
Stephen 01327 344436 Mobile 07511 544375

Parish Church of St. Peter & St. Paul – Services – April 2020

nether-heyford-parish-church-april2020

Services for April 2020

Following instructions from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, all public worship in this church – on Sunday and in mid week – has been suspended for the foreseeable future, to facilitate social distancing.

Whilst we cannot meet at present, the Church is still here to offer our prayer and care.

If we can help you in any way, please contact us on: 01327 344436

The Streets we shall be praying for during April are: Bugbrooke Rd and Wakefield Way in Heyford, Bliss Lane and the Nursery, Meadow Farm Close and Brington Rd in Flore, Main St in Church Stowe and Manor Farm, The Old Coach House and Manor Cottage in Brockhall.

Rev Stephen Burrow (Tel. 01327 344436)

Parish Church of St. Peter & St. Paul – April 2020

Nether Heyford Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul

Dear Friends,

We are living in unprecedented and unpredictable times. Following the spread of the coronavirus, the Archbishops of the Church of England have suspended all public worship in our churches. We are not permitted to gather to worship either on a Sunday or during the week, and our bells will not ring, in order that we safeguard the wellbeing of our communities. We will endeavour to open some of our churches in order to provide space for peace and quiet, for private prayer and reflection, or to leave things for the local food banks. St James’ Church in Upper Stowe is always open. Once the roof repairs are completed at Heyford Church, it will be open during daylight hours. Flore Church will open for an hour at 10:00AM on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. If you choose to visit, please remember the need for social distancing at all times.

Our church buildings have stood for many years, through plague and pestilence, famine and war. Their walls are soaked in the prayers of countless generations. They are a reminder that God is always with us, through all the storms and uncertainties of life. But they are not the Church. The Church, its people, the Christian community is still ‘open for business’ and ready to help and support our villages in whatever way we can. Our bishops have encouraged us to seek new ways to pray, and to find ways to offer practical care and support for people. If we have to isolate or shield ourselves, we will pray for you, fervently and frequently. We will pray for our villages, our nation and our world. We will pray for the leaders of our community, at institutional, local, regional and national levels.

If we are able to get out and about, we are ready to help and support you in whatever way we can and many of our church members have already signed up to help their communities support the isolated and the vulnerable. If you need prayer, if you need spiritual support, if you just want someone different to talk to, please give me a ring on one of the numbers below. We have set up a Benefice Facebook page at www.facebook.com/HS9FB. If you are able, please visit that page for information, prayers and encouragement. We are also developing ways we can reach those who don’t use social media and will let you know how that is going as the days and weeks progress.

I’d like to leave you with some words from St Paul’s Letter to the Church in Philippi,
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you
need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace,
which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and
minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:6-7, NLT)

With every prayer and blessing in these uncertain times,
Stephen 01327 344436 Mobile 07511 544375

Parish Church of St. Peter & St. Paul – Services – March 2020

Nether-Heyford-Parish-Church-March2020

Midweek Services Midweek Communions are held weekly on Wednesdays, 9.30am at Heyford (not Wednesday 4th March) and Thursdays, 10am at Flore – all welcome.

The Streets we shall be praying for during March are: Close Rd, The Pound and The Peak in Heyford, The Avenue and The Glebe in Flore, The Old Dairy Farm in Upper Stowe and the outlying farms around Stowe and the Mews Houses in Brockhall.

Rev Stephen Burrow (Tel. 01327 344436)

Parish Church of St. Peter & St. Paul – March 2020

Nether Heyford Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul

Dear Friends,

My wife Deborah and I have had a worrying time of late, as concerns for our family have added to existing anxieties on several levels. On the global scale, the coronavirus and climate change are extremely concerning; at work, I worry about how we’ll pay for the various church repairs needed, whilst at a lower level, I worry about the state of the Rectory garden. There seems to be a lot of anxiety and worry about, and much seems to have been written about it. One commentator suggests that ‘anxiety is the new base line in the symphony of life’, whilst another writes ‘Worry is like a rocking chair; it gives you something to do but doesn’t get you anywhere.’

There’s a story told about a young man, a newly qualified accountant, who applies for a job with a local small business. He’s interviewed by the business owner, a very anxious man, who tells the applicant; ‘I worry about a lot of things, but I don’t want to worry about money. Your job will be to take all my money worries off my back.’ ‘I see’, says the young man. ‘How much does the job pay?’ ‘I’ll start you on £100,000’, replies the owner. ‘£100,000!’ exclaims the accountant. ‘How can such a small business afford a salary like that?’ ‘That,’ says the owner, ‘is your first worry’.

Another story that might be a little more helpful. J Arthur Rank, the British industrialist, film maker, and devout Methodist, decided to do all his worrying on one day of the week. He chose Wednesdays. When anything happened to cause him anxiety or stress, he wrote it down, and put it in his worry box. Then he forgot about it until the following Wednesday. The interesting thing is that on the following Wednesday when he opened his worry box, he found that most of the things that had disturbed him during the past six days were already sorted out. It would have been useless to worry about them!

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says “do not worry about your life…” (Matthew 6:25-34). Jesus points us to the vastness of God’s gifts, to the wonder of creation, and reminds us that God takes care of all that. And if God takes care of the flowers of the field, and the tiny birds of the air, how could he forget all of us? Jesus reminds us that when we trust God, somehow, things always work out in the end. Jesus urges us to hand over to God the anxieties that rob our lives of peace and joy. Similarly, the Apostle Peter writes, ‘Cast all your anxiety on [God], because he cares for you’. I trust and pray that as we do that, rather like J Arthur Rank and his worry box, when we go back to those things, we’ll find that God has sorted them out for us!

Yours in Christ,

Please note that work repairing the roof over the South Aisle of Heyford Church is
due to start at the end of February, and last 4-6 weeks. As a result, services in
Heyford Church may be relocated to the Church Rooms across the road.

Stephen – 01327 344436

Parish Church of St. Peter & St. Paul – February 2020

Nether Heyford Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul

Dear Friends.

Once again, I am writing February’s letter on the eve of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This year, material for this week of prayer – prepared by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland – is based on the story of St Paul’s shipwreck on the island of Malta. Found in Chapters 27 and 28 of the Acts of the Apostles, this is a story of peril and fear, rescue and hope. St Paul and his fellow travellers, which include the ship’s crew, and the soldiers sent to guard the apostle, found themselves battered by storms, shipwrecked and washed up on the beach. To this day, tourists to the island are taken to the spot where St Paul is thought to have come ashore, bringing with him the Gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. The Church in Malta still celebrates this event, as the arrival of the Christian faith on their tiny island, reminding us that Christianity is not just a spiritual thing, it is rooted in real events in human history.

Back in the original story, the survivors of the shipwreck were eventually rescued and aided by local people; “Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. The islanders showed us unusual kindness.” (Acts 28:1-2) ‘Unusual kindness’ strikes me as a strange phrase. Kindness is not unusual. It’s shown as much today as it was in St Paul’s day. What’s unusual was that this kindness was shown to strangers and foreigners, and battered, bedraggled ones at that.

It’s easy to show kindness to people we know and like. Much harder to show kindness to people we don’t know, or don’t like. I suspect we all have work to do there! But Jesus calls his followers to show ‘unusual kindness’ telling us to love even our enemies. Such kindness sees beyond our differences and divisions and recognises our common humanity. Of course, whatever our faith, we can all show kindness; to our friends and families, and to the strangers we meet as we journey through life. We demonstrate unusual kindness by valuing and welcoming all people. We demonstrate unusual kindness by giving without counting the cost. We demonstrate unusual kindness as we love and serve others, without expecting anything in return.

At the start of this new decade, I pray that we might all aspire to show ‘unusual kindness’ to the people we meet. I pray that we might acknowledge our common humanity, build one another up, and strengthen our communities.

With every blessing,

Stephen – 01327 344436