The Vicar Writes

Revd Liz Richardson

Revd Liz Richardson

Below you will find my monthly newsletter which also appears in the Capel & Beare Green Magazine. If you wish to receive this newsletter by email, please subscribe here.

Flowers and Ashes

Dear all Isn’t it lovely to see already the Spring flowers arriving with the snowdrops and crocuses as well as all the wonderful flowering winter shrubs, some of which have such a beautiful smell. Just last week at the Women’s breakfast held at Ockley Cricket Pavilion on the green, we had table arrangements with a winter type of honeysuckle with a wonderful scent. I am sure you gardeners will tell me what it is! The women’s breakfasts are a good thing to try to go to when you see them advertised as are the men’s ones. And they even have a mixed one!! The Women’s Breakfasts are at Ockley Cricket Pavilion and the Mens and combined men and women are at Okewood Hill Village Hall. There is an excellent breakfast included of course (!). The main event though is the always very interesting speaker who has been invited to tell those there about their work or area of interest. For example last Saturday we had a talk from a fundraiser from the Chestnut Tree House hospice in Sussex which was very informative and gave us a real feel for the wonderful work children’s hospices do. So do look out for… Read More

Travelling on - following the star!

Dear all Happy New Year! As I write this early on a very dark December morning – or is it still night(?)! it feels hard to believe that yes, another year is about to finish and we begin again and enter 2020. In one sense we begin again at the start of the year, with our usual round, the familiarity of routine, the predictability or not of the seasons as our weather patterns seem to change. Perhaps new years’ resolutions are made; ways to make our lives work better for us, for others, as our lives return to normal after the riches of the Christmas season. Yet in another sense we don’t begin again because we are travelling on into the future, into the unknown, with a whole wealth of experience to take our bearings from as we negotiate the way ahead. For most of us our lives begun a long time ago now! For some the new year will bring or has already brought about great changes. These may be exciting new things in which to engage ourselves with all sorts of new opportunities and we rejoice with you and wish you God speed! For others change will be… Read More

Starry, starry night!

Dear all I love Van Gogh’s painting ‘Starry Night’! As I look and think about it I can hear Don McLean’s haunting lyrics of ‘Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)’, written about the artist’s life and struggles with mental illness and his struggle and passion as a painter. Apparently he only sold one painting in his lifetime. Simply amazing that now he is hailed as one of the most important post- impressionist painters! The painting was inspired by the view from his asylum room whilst recovering from a breakdown. Amazing too that during his time there he produced some of his most important paintings. We have a good view of the sky out here in our dark villages sometimes don’t we? When you look up at the sky on a clear night and truly see the heavens they are inspiring aren’t they. In fact Vincent Van Gogh is quoted as saying: ’When I have a terrible need of – shall I say the word – religion. Then I go out and paint the stars’. I like it! Stars of course feature powerfully in the birth of Christ and the journey of the Magi in the telling of the story of Christmas. Always… Read More

Darkness and light

Dear all So November and winter beckons once more. November that season of bonfires and fireworks, a tradition which stemmed from the failed gunpowder plot of 1605 of Guy Fawkes and his associates to blow up parliament. Quite strange really isn’t it to celebrate or commemorate such a thing burning an effigy of Guy Fawkes (the Guy) on top of a bonfire. I used to love Bonfire night when I was a child and my father used to let fireworks off in our back garden every year. They were carefully planned of course but I am not sorry that fireworks are now more safely administered some distance away mainly in the sky and in organised displays. Who remembers those awful bangers and jumping jacks which could follow you round the garden?! It was always exciting though to see the winter garden lit up in wonderful colours as golden fountains of gunpowder transformed the remains of the old summer bedding into a magical wonderland. Personally we shall enjoy going to the wonderful display in Ockley organised by The Ockley Society each year! November is something of a season of remembrance though isn’t it. This year the Royal British Legion are encouraging… Read More

The Great Green Wall of Africa

Dear all It’s harvest time and what a lovely time of year it is with the autumn colours and those moments of golden sunshine hopefully. By the time you read this we will have celebrated our harvest thanksgiving at St Margaret’s church and about to do so at St John the Baptist in Capel! It is lovely that our local uniformed children and young people join us on this occasion and this year we are choosing as our theme a very interesting project that has begun across Africa. It is called The Great Green Wall and is an African led movement which has an epic ambition. The aim is to grow an 8,000 km natural wonder which will span the length of the Sahel, from Sengal to Djibouti. This is in order to combat desertification that is currently taking place across Africa. By 2030 the Great Green Wall will be the largest living structure on the planet, 3 times the size of the Great Barrier Reef. This means that the desert will recede and the land can be reclaimed for people and future generations to sustainably farm and support themselves which is fantastic. They say that through a combination of… Read More

Back to work!

Dear all So here we are again – another September, another start of an academic year and a return to cooler temperatures. For those of you who remember my last month’s letter my family baked in 42 degrees at Disneyland Paris and thankfully there were hoses cooling people down – myself included! Even Mickey Mouse had to go home early due to the heat and the Disney Parade was cancelled. Imagine being in one of those furry costumes? Thankfully the following day was cooler and my granddaughter got to meet Mickey Mouse and the parade was back on. Despite the heat we did enjoy ourselves – honest! Now it’s back to work, refreshed after nearly three weeks away and one of the first jobs I have been doing is sorting out my filing cabinets. After eight years of ministry here it’s time for a good sort out and de-clutter. I am sure I shall feel far more organised when I have finished. Speaking of organisation, we are busy organising some interesting and exciting events for you all to enjoy this month. I have written before about the amazing things you can achieve as a team and last month and this… Read More

A True Sabbath

Dear all There is a much loved hymn which has often been claimed to be one of the country’s favourite which is called ‘Dear Lord and Father of Mankind’ … ‘forgive our foolish ways’. It is a beautiful hymn with lovely words which are very gentle and calming. One of the lines I really like begins ‘O Sabbath rest by Galilee, O calm of hills above’ to me sounds perfect! I will be taking some time off the first part of this month of August and am looking forward at some point to some rest and relaxation. I say at some point, because the first part of the holiday involves going to Eurodisney with our grandchildren! Well they say a change is as good as a rest don’t they, despite the fact that the temperatures are once again set to soar here and in France. I am hoping Disney have installed some innovative ways of keeping their visitors cool whilst standing and waiting in the heat for the next ride. Or even perhaps there will be a welcome water spray. I like the idea of Sabbath time though and this is meant to be taken on a regular basis, not… Read More

Team Work

Dear all When you read this our annual vicarage fete will have taken place and hopefully we will have raised lots of funds for our local schools. The day itself it rather like a whirlwind when everyone arrives to set up their stalls and attractions; our lovely visitors arrive, our children dance and entertain us, yummy refreshments are prepared and eaten and if the weather is good much ice cream will be sold! Three hours later and the garden is back to normal just like magic. It’s amazing! How does this happen so quickly and so effectively? Its team work! It all begins with a wonderful team who start planning the fete earlier in the year so that on the day everything falls easily into place. Then there are teams who come the day before and set up all the gazebos etc. Then on the morning a team pick up all the tables and chairs they can lay their hands on and deliver them to the Vicarage. The same team gather them up at the end of the day and return them to hall and church! Team work is so vital isn’t it and it struck me that our villages… Read More

A joyous June!

Dear all It’s getting to that time of the year when some people’s thoughts are turning to holidays and with that in mind I would like to draw your attention to a very special sort of holiday that our parish is planning for Autumn 2020. It is some years since there was a pilgrimage to any of the Holy sites in Israel or the Mediterranean and so we have invited someone who has been leading tour groups to the Holy Land or as he puts it ‘The land of the Holy one’ for over 30 years. His name is Haydon Wilcox and he is an ordained priest in the Church of England. The pilgrimage will be 12 days in all visiting Jerusalem, Bethlehem, the Judean Desert and the region of the Dead Sea, Samaria, The Galilee and Northern Israel. The trip will be very much focussed on listening to the many different voices in The Holy Land and experiencing the diverse culture in Jerusalem. We will be experiencing contrasts between the different districts in the city, Hasidic, Arab and secular plus meeting with the Palestinian community. We shall celebrate Shabbat and learn about the issues of the Palestinian Christian Church… Read More

Extraordinary times

Dear all Writing this month’s letter just a week before we were originally due to leave Europe I am minded to wonder just how the recent weeks and months before that will be seen in the course of time. How will history view these extraordinary times, of a divided nation, parliament and government as well as our prime minister, as our nation seeks to go it alone somewhat? This time will pass as all these things do; but what I wonder will be the legacy that is left behind? We will have to wait and see…. This month we celebrate Easter and I am reminded of how things didn’t turn out as the disciples and others wished when the person they thought was going to free them from foreign occupation; someone who could perform extraordinary miracles, was put to death in the cruellest of ways alongside criminals. Where had it all gone wrong they must have wondered? As the people watching on jibed Jesus saying ‘He saved others, let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, the chosen one!’ no one could really understand or know what would happen next. Luke’s gospel tells of how two of… Read More

One year on...

March is here and I cannot believe it is now just over a year that our new united parish of Capel and Ockley has been in effect and that later this month we will be holding our first Annual Parochial Church Meeting together to review our first twelve months and set our sights to imagining the future. Just as nature around us is greening so too we are hoping that lots of new shoots and some young tender plants of church growth will begin to flourish and take root around our two communities. As I prepare to write my report for the APCM I can look back and reflect on all that we have achieved – the highs and lows, joys and challenges we have faced. Everyone has worked so hard to enable ministry to flourish in both villages and we are grateful for all the support both communities have given us. Each church has been able to hold a regular Sunday morning service three out of four Sundays in the month and then on the fourth Sunday we take turns to worship together at either Ockley or Capel. It has worked very well and for me it has been… Read More

Looking back and looking forwards

Dear all Well hello from ‘panto-land’ – three performances down and three to go. So far, so good; it seems everyone who has seen Ali Baba and the forty thieves has thoroughly enjoyed it and so too are we performers I think! I have really enjoyed how the Ockley Dramatic Society production encourages people of all ages and abilities to tread the boards and especially the children who really make the pantomime special by their acting and dancing. It has been great fun. As I write this letter I am looking forward to Candlemas next Sunday which brings to a close the season of Christmas and Epiphany. Epiphany means revelation and all the themes of our services in January are all about revelation from God about whom Jesus was and is. St Margaret’s decided to keep their Christmas tree and other festive decorations up for the whole of January in church at Ockley – something which maybe has not been done before. This is perfectly in order as many churches all over the world do the same as technically Christmas doesn’t end until the beginning of this month. I can hear some of you scream in horror at the thought!!… Read More

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