Seven Churches in South Oxfordshire

From the Rector: Tuesday 9th January 2024

High Water

Dear friends,

The level of the Thames begins to fall, as a vast volume of storm water moves through and away from our area. Some recording stations have monitored levels almost a metre above the normal peak. Flood plain fields are awash, and riverside properties in Wallingford have flooded. Only the bird life rejoices, as their aquatic habitat is suddenly enlarged. The raw power of this weight of water on the move is something awesome to behold, albeit from a safe distance. Lock-keepers worry about the pressures on their gates, and environmental protection agents are glued to their guages, or hurrying about in vans. One wonders what the boat owners do with their craft in such times, and if there are enough safe harbours. It seems an age from the balmy summer days poddling along the riverbank, or mooring up at Henley to take in the culture and show off one’s brassware.

Up here in the woods, now the surface water recedes, we can see the damage to our beloved trees, taken and shaken by the wind, some to their end. On my walk, there is one majestic and mature beech right by the road which has literally been broken like a match stick, and thrown down, the trunk at the break point being shattered into pieces. One long splinter, larger than a Henley eight, lays like an up turned canoe on the forest floor, while the shattered stump of the tree, perhaps thirty feet tall, will remain as terrible reminder of the force that ended its life.

In my youth, I was lucky enough to take part in a “mountain leadership” training course. Not quite as tough as the SAS, but it did involve several nights high altitude camping out in February snow somewhere in the Lake District. The key “take away” for me was “respect the mountain.” (If you didn’t it could kill you). The challenge for us all today, by extension, is what “respect for the earth” looks like.

Worship Services for Sunday 14th January

9.30am Morning Prayer at St John’s Stoke Row with Canon Kevin Davies

11am Holy Communion at St Peter and Paul, Checkendon with Revd Romey Poston

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

An Epiphany

The word means “revealing” in the sense of “a revelation”. “She had an epiphany”. When we use the word in this way, we usually mean that some kind of lightbulb moment was experienced, and (importantly) she was changed afterwards, whether in attitude, or in actions. The month of January coincides, give or take, with the Christian season of “The epiphany”, when we take time to unpack how things are changed by the coming of Jesus. The epiphany in this Christian sense being the unveiling of the identity of Jesus, to both the people of Israel, and then the whole world. Sometimes we see small glimmers of God’s truth, which change us graciously and imperceptibly on the inside. Sometimes, however, “the voice of the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon” and like St Paul we are unhorsed, blinded, and left amidst the splintered wreckage, dependent upon friends and allies, and awaiting the visit of a modern day Ananias who will point us towards the light again. (Psalm 29, Acts 9)

In this cold weather, please don’t forget the Wallingford food bank donation basket just inside the church door, and any elderly neighbours. Thank you!

Revd Kevin




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