Seven Churches in South Oxfordshire

From the Rector: Tuesday 31st October 2023

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Dear friends

Sometimes its hard when going through the affairs and effects of a loved one. Not just for the poignancy and emotion, but for simple practical reasons. What is to be remembered, and what forgotten, or laid aside? Old photographs tell a story, but they speak someone else’s language, and you only know a proportion of the words. Deciding what to keep, and how to keep it, is complicated, and usually takes longer than expected. There is an attachment, but how much can we or should we retain? Holding onto too much runs the risk of suffocating the life of the present under the burdens of the past, while doing the opposite and putting everything in the skip means that we are in danger of forgetting who we are.

This is a challenge the media conveniently ignores. For these, yesterday’s news is finished. There are only today’s crises, today’s stories. Have you noticed how the war in Ukraine seems not to matter anymore? Yet, for most of us, it is geographically closer to home than Gaza, taking a larger proportion of our taxes, and Russia is just as much an existential threat to the UK as is Iran. (Although, I will freely admit, both of these have agents acting with apparent impunity within the UK, both on and offline.) Editorial bias decides how “bad” the news is going to be on a given day; Gaza conflagration or Storm Babet/Ciaran? “News” is an economy all of its own, demanding content, content, content. It is an insatiable beast roving the globe in search of countries and peoples to devour. It delights in war and human suffering for the “output” these generate.

Old photographs tell only part of the story of the past; we cannot see behind the camera. “Who is taking that shot? What were they thinking?” The truth is that the past has gone, along with all its joys and sorrows, and only fragments come down to us, whether that be in family albums or the Pathe News Archive. Sometimes those who were before us leave the world a better place; sometimes they make a mess of it. We may be blessed by our ancestor’s wisdom, or shackled by their stupidity. God’s gift to us is the time that is today, and the challenge to choose how to live in it.  What kind of tomorrow are you hoping for? Certainly one where wisdom triumphs over foolishness, and in which truth may be distinguished from lies.

Worship Services for Sunday 5th November

9.30am Family Service at St John’s, Stoke Row with Canon Kevin Davies

11am Morning Prayer at St Peter and Paul, Checkendon with Revd Romey Poston

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

Working Party Appeal

Checkendon Church needs its seasonal clean up! Whether outside in the churchyard, or inside among the pews, there is much to do. Please join us on the morning of Saturday 18th November, between 10am and 12 noon, to give St Peter and St Paul a bit of TLC. Come equipped – inside or outside, as you choose. Everyone welcome.

Before then, the PTA of Checkendon C/E Primary warmly invite you to their annual fireworks display, on Friday 10th November at 6pm. Checkendon School could not survive without the support and hard work of many volunteers to raise funds now essential for the continued development of the school. The firework evening is by far their largest and most successful annual fundraiser. Ticket prices have been frozen since 2021 – and you can get yours here.

News from the Team: please give thanks to God that the “tenants” have finally (after a five month “overstay”) moved out of the Vicarage in Woodcote, meaning that renovations can begin ahead of the arrival of Revd David Benskin and his family, much to the delight of everyone at St Leonards. Please also pray for a successful hip replacement operation for Revd Romey Poston next week. Romey will be convalescing for at least the remainder of November, but assures me that she will be back in action well in time for Christmas. (Phew!)

Thank you all for your support and care for your churches. May the Lord Jesus give you his love, peace, and compassion for all those hidden stories,  “behind the images” that the media bring us – whether from half way round the world, or just down the road.

Your Rector, Canon Kevin Davies.

PS Don’t forget Sunday 12th November is Remembrance Sunday. At Checkendon I will be telling the story of a (very local) wartime tragedy that has only recently been recovered, after 80 years. Do join us for our parade service.



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