Seven Churches in South Oxfordshire

From the Rector: Tuesday 21st May 2024

In the blood

Dear friends,

It is something we all take for granted – that our blood flows. Yet when we are cut, if all is working as it should, it clots as cells knit themselves together on exposure to oxygen. But day by day, as we breathe,  our blood nevertheless carries this same oxygen round our vital organs and, wonderfully, removes carbon dioxide in a delicate balance of chemical processes. This balance being that of the haemoglobin molecules in the red blood cells being able to “drop” oxygen, and “collect” carbon dioxide, moving from arteries to veins. Our heart pumps it, our kidneys filter it, our lungs recycle it. We overlook and underestimate the astonishing complexity of our blood. The infected blood scandal report published yesterday highlighted a distressing confluence of factors which led to the deaths of thousands, and the ruining of the health of many thousands more. Blood has been monetized and commercialized, and people who thought they understood everything should have known better. Screening processes worked for the conditions we knew, but did not take into account the as yet undiscovered, or misunderstood, which slipped through. The salesmen conveniently forgot to mention the limits to the production processes, the purchasers saw only a bargain, and believed the guarantees, and then as now there was nobody in political oversight who actually understood anything about science and was able in consequence to ask anything sensible. Those of us who were in science in the 1980’s heard then that companies were paying money for blood donations in the USA, and were not screening those who came forward. Most of us gave blood ourselves, freely, and did not see the need for this rapacious commercialization, to the extent that the blood of someone who was either sick themselves, or with a history of self abuse could somehow be declared completely risk free. As today, the cultures of the UK and the USA remain distinct, blood donation being a tragic case in point. The poisoning of the blood of thousands of people is a corporate sin, where multi-institutional failures over two generations have left a trail of devastation and hubris, as good intentions (healing, health, and well being) have been subverted and perverted. There will be individuals who made choices for the worse as part of this sorry tale, but the judgements of blame have to sit far more widely than that.

Worship Services for Sunday 26th May

9.30am Holy Communion at St John’s Stoke Row with Revd John Blair

11am Holy Communion at St Peter and Paul, Checkendon with Rev Dr James Leach

Midweek zoom service: Wednesday Evensong at 5.00pm  410 935 129

Hardening off

Your prayers this week are asked for Checkendon School as they face a visit from a Church Inspector on Friday, who will be looking at provision in RE and Worship, and assessing the ethos of the school against its vision and values. Lets pray that the inspection will be helpful and useful for both staff and governors in their leadership. Don’t forget that it will soon be CheckFest on Friday the 8th June at 6pm – do join us for some great music and a wonderful community get together on the school field. Tickets are £12 on the gate, but you are asked pleased to buy online here. You are also invited to the school’s Pentecost Service, tomorrow, at 1.30pm in Church, followed by maypole dancing on the village green and playground afterwards.

It is half term next week, so all Oxfordshire schools will be on leave, as will I, so there won’t be one of these notes next Tuesday. There’s plenty in the garden demanding time and attention right now – courgettes are hardening off, desperate to come out of their pots, as are half of the climbing beans. Germination rates this year have been poor, even for new seed in pots indoors, so I am having to have a second round. Building work needs to get underway – the bean frames, and, importantly, the strawberry defences against Mr Squirrel and his team – the annual contest is about to begin. To arms!

Lastly, when you are next wondering about the joys and perils of “seniority”, why not take some comfort and inspiration from this clematis, putting on a splendid display by the front door. It is very old, (I planted it early in the noughties) and has changed with age, becoming something of a radical. The variant is “General Sikorski” which I challenge you to look up on the web, and compare and contrast with the image below. Like St Paul, it has learned the secret of contentment (2 Phil 4:10-14) in its situation, finding that magnificence in white and green is somehow more apposite that the expected blue. “I can do all things through him who stengthens me.”

May the joy of the Lord be your strength, whatever your day may bring.

Your Rector, Canon Kevin


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