I don’t think that any of us could have envisaged that as we approach the anniversary of a year since lockdown began in England, that we would continue to be in lockdown a year later due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. We are people of faith and hope and the vaccine and recent roadmap to end lockdown brings us hope and we continue to pray for an end to this pandemic.
I write this as we are just entering Lockdown 3.0 as it seems to be known. I am not sure that any of us would have thought last summer that we would be back to this place again. We have taken the decision at St. Peter’s, that we will not be opening the church building for Sunday Services at this time to keep people safe. Our services continue online as well as the weekly mailings that are sent out.
It can be hard to wonder what we have achieved over the last weeks and months but on the last Sunday of December we did a look back at 2020 after we looked through some of our social media for the year and realised how many things had gone on. We are so very grateful to the community of Yaxley for your support, especially through the work of the Foodbank. Our amazing volunteers continued throughout last year and will carry on volunteering in this year. The community of Yaxley and our surrounding villages have been so generous in their donations that there were days that we could barely get out of the front door due to the number of donations, so thank you 😊. We were able to make more Christmas packages than other years and sadly we expect the demand to continue, and probably increase, but Foodbank is still running on Monday and Thursday afternoon from 3pm to 5pm in the church and no vouchers are needed. Like so many individuals and organisations in the village, we do not want to see anyone go hungry due to their circumstances.
You may also have been involved in Explorers, (all age activities) which launched in the summer holidays, ran again in October half term and we started again in Advent through to Epiphany. Our Explorers bags were collected by so many people, in fact 170 went during December and I loved seeing so many people out and about on the Nativity Trail. We enjoyed Christingle and singing Away in a Manger on our doorsteps and seeing your photos of your crafts and activities. Explorers will take place in February half term so look out for more information on this during the month and make sure that you join in our Explorers activities.
One of the things we are passionate about is prayer and we continue to pray for our community of Yaxley and for an end of this pandemic. If we can pray for anything for you, please let me know.
Look after yourselves and stay safe.
With every blessing
Rev Sarah – firstname.lastname@example.org 01733 248690/07498 230858
As I write this, we are drawing to the end of one of the strangest and most unexpected years (not that you need me to tell you that!) I have been thinking that this time last year Coronavirus and Wuhan were distant news articles. I do not think that any of us thought that it would come close to our shores, let alone become a worldwide Pandemic that would put us into lockdown for several months closing down much of our country. As we head towards the end of the year, it is often a time when we look back on the year that has been, and we look forward to a New Year with new chances and opportunities.
You may well be wondering what the next year has in store for us? We may be walking into the next year with quite a lot of trepidation knowing that it will not be easy. As you look back on 2020, what stands out – toilet paper? Home-schooling? Loss of job or relationship? Loss of loved one? Maybe there are equally some good things that you can look back on – More time with family? A slower pace of life, realising what is important to you?
I obviously cannot tell you what next year will bring, but I know a God who has been with me all my life and yes, even in this year. As I walk into 2021 I do so believing and trusting in a God who does know the way.
“The Gate of the Year” is the popular name given to a poem by Minnie Louise Haskins. The title that she gave it was “God Knows”.
The poem, written in 1908 and privately published in 1912, caught the public attention when King George VI quoted it in his 1939 Christmas broadcast to the British Empire. The poem may have been brought to his attention by his wife, Queen Elizabeth. (Thank you to Wikipedia)
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.
With every blessing in this New Year
Rev Sarah 01733 248690/07498 230858
Welcome to the Virtual Yaxley Nativity Trail!
We didn’t want those of you who weren’t able to get out and walk the trail to miss out, so have moved the trail online!
You’ll see some photos of the stops along the way and be able to access the audio of the children telling the Christmas Story.
Below is the audio in full.
Thank you to everyone who made this trail possible!
You will have heard or seen the news headlines at some point this year saying “Christmas is cancelled” I can assure you it is not! Christmas took place over 2000 years ago in a stable in Bethlehem when God came to earth in the form of Jesus. This has been the strangest year ever for all of us in different ways and our celebration of Christmas may also be strange and probably different. However, the message of the angels was one of peace and joy:
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.” Luke Chapter 2.
Matthew’s Gospel Chapter 1 tells us this:
“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means, “God is with us.”
Jesus, Emmanuel is God with us on earth. In all that may be strange and different this year, God came and walked on earth with us. In this season that may be different, in this time when we could be fearful, we can remember that Christmas cannot be cancelled and God walking the earth changed everything for all time.
May you know the blessings of Emmanuel in this Christmas season.
Happy Christmas from St. Peter’s Church, Yaxley. Please do join us throughout December with our Explorers activities and in our services, which will be online on St. Peter’s, Yaxley YouTube Page. There will be a service in person on Christmas Eve for our Midnight service (starting 11.30pm) and Christmas morning at 10.00am IF Coronavirus restriction allow. We will need people to book in for services in church so please do contact the Parish Office on 07939 449255 or by email. Do follow our Facebook pages – St. Peter’s Church, Yaxley and/or Community of St. Peter’s Church, Yaxley for more information.
I am writing this from The Holy Island of Lindisfarne, a tidal Island off the North East Coast of England. It is cut off from the mainland twice a day when the North Sea covers the causeway. It is a place that I love to come to with so much nature and beauty but there is also such a rhythm to this place as everything is dependent on the tides.
I am writing this at the start of October and so it is difficult to know what the rules and regulations will be by November. I am in a part of the world that has been quite badly hit by Coronavirus, the island that I love looks a little bit different at the moment, but the rhythms of the tides don’t change. The island is known as being a particularly important place for early Christianity after Irish monks settled here in the 7th Century and took the Christian Gospel from here to many places around the country. I love sitting and looking out to a small Island known as St Cuthbert’s Island and if you get the tides right you can walk out to it but you have to be careful not to get stuck as the tide comes in (which nearly happened on one occasion!) In all that has gone on in this year, sitting and watching the tides and the sunsets, reminds me of the constants that we do have in this world that some things will never change and the Bible tells us that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever – Hebrews 13:8. With all that is going on in the world, it can be hard to remember this. But God is unchanging even through the rocky road that 2020 has been.
God is unchanging, but we have had a few changes in the life of our church:
We re-opened St. Peter’s Church building for worship on the 4th October and plan to hold a 9.30am Service of Holy Communion in person every Sunday. You will however need to book in as such, as we can only get a certain amount of people in the building safely. If you would like to attend a service, please email me or call 01733 248690/07498 230858 or contact Laura by email or on 07939 449255. Our 11am service continues online on our St. Peter’s Church, Yaxley, YouTube Channel.
As the nights become darker earlier, we have stopped our open church on a Thursday evening for private prayer. We have also decided to postpone Alpha until 2021, but will let you know dates.
As we live in a changing world with an unchanging God, may you know His comfort, peace and presence with you in this month.
With every blessing Rev Sarah
Update 02.11.2020: Due to a second lockdown, the church building will be closed for services, from Thursday 5th November, until further notice.
Over last weekend, it seemed to go from summer to autumn literally overnight. I had to go searching for jeans and warmer cardigans and on some days, I managed to resist the urge to turn on the central heating, on other days, not quite so much!!! As I write this, schools are returning and my goodness what a lot of thought and effort has gone into our schools re-opening this term – well done to all those who work in our schools and to our families as well. I found myself the other evening singing the song autumn days by Estelle White, which we used to sing in school. It talks about all of the lovely things that we think about in autumn which is one of my favourite seasons – grass being jewelled, swallow curving in the sky, shoes so comfy that they’re worn out and battered and the taste of apple pie. It made me smile a few years ago in previous parishes, when a school sang this at their Harvest Festival – it brought back many memories and it was funny to think that the song was passing down the generations.
The chorus to the song says: “So I mustn’t forget. No, I mustn’t forget. To say a great big thank you I mustn’t forget.” As we go into October, we will be celebrating our Harvest Festival. I have loved seeing the pictures that people have taken in Yaxley across the fields, of sunflowers, combine harvesters and amazing views of nature. This year, our Harvest Festival will be different due to our ongoing Covid 19 situation but we will still gather most likely through the wonders of YouTube to give thanks for all that God has given us.
I have heard so many people saying this year, in all that we have individually and collectively gone through that they have learnt about the things that are important to them. They have learnt that we don’t need so much stuff, they have learnt that what we value is our relationships with each other in our families and with our friends. That we value and want to care for our planet and we want it to be able to live, breathe and continue for those that have just started school this term and for many generations beyond.
As we go into this month, let us remember to say thank you to each other for the little things, the big things and everything in between. Come and join us for our Harvest on the 4th October at 11am as we give thanks for the work of our farmers, our produce packers, for distribution networks and workers and for our God who created the beautiful world we live in and those we get to share our lives with.
With every blessing for this coming month. Rev Sarah.
We have just completed our annual stocktake and I thought it would be a good time to provide an update on your local foodbank.
Firstly, I would like to start with a round of thanks. It hasn’t been an easy time, with some of our volunteers having to temporarily drop off the rota because of age and health shielding concerns. We haven’t forgotten you and would like to welcome you back as soon as is feasible. The remaining volunteers have done a wonderful job continuing to provide a service to those in food crisis since the lockdown in March. Our way of working has had to change in that we are no longer allowed to welcome clients into the building or offer refreshments but we hope the warmth in our welcome remains. We have also developed new patterns of working in the store, which, looking on the bright side, seem to be more efficient than before.
I would also like to thank those groups and individuals who so generously donated to our supplies and to our cash reserves. This has not only enabled us to more than manage the increase in demand, but also to improve the healthy eating options in our provision for clients. Since May we have been issuing £10 Fruit and Veg vouchers that can be redeemed through Kemps, the local Yaxley greengrocer in addition to our standard food parcels. This gives our clients the option to choose fresh produce of their choice to help feed themselves and their families whilst supporting a local small business.
There are specific thanks to the Yaxley Parish Council who continue to support us in many ways and also the East of England Co-operative and Yaxley Co-operative store who support us in food donations. Last Christmas, we were able to donate new toys to the children of the families we support through our Christmas parcels scheme due to the enormous generosity of the East of England Co-operative and their regional customers.
Coming back to our stocktake, the following figures may be of interest to some:
Stock Donated 11,396Kg
Stock Given Out 10103Kg
Food Parcels Issued 243
As you would expect, this is a significant increase of about 25% in both donations and parcels issued on the 2019 figures despite the fact that the summer holiday period was quieter than usual due to the school meal voucher scheme decision. We also expect the coming months to increase demand further as the jobs market starts to tighten significantly. Since lockdown in March we have ceased to request vouchers as we understand that these are not easy to obtain from many of our current voucher holders. Although it is helpful if clients come with a voucher, we do not turn away those in need.
Again, I would like to offer our enormous thanks to all those who have supported us in the past year and we look forward to continuing to help the vulnerable in our community this autumn and beyond into 2021. If you know someone who is in food need, please do not hesitate to encourage them to get in touch with us via email or on the foodbank telephone, 07579825798
Chris & Sue Grant
September is often a month for returning. Students and school and college staff go back or start school or university, people go back to work after a summer break and the church tends to step up a gear after a quieter month. Things will have been very different for us this year and some people will notice very little difference as August slips into September and as Summer starts to turn to Autumn. Things will no doubt continue to be bumpy for some time to come, but I wonder what returning looks like for you in this season?
Last night my husband and I watched a vlog of someone who we enjoy watching their videos and they were talking about their personal struggles over the last few months with mental health, with big plans being cancelled, with their work changing continuously. One of the biggest things seemed to be the lack of being able to see and hold family and for many of us that will have been a big loss. Everyone I speak to at present longs to return to some kind of normality, but we don’t quite know what that will look like anymore. For me returning in August means a trip to see my Mum and then some time on retreat – something that had been cancelled earlier in the year so as I write this, I am looking forward to returning to these places.
As I was thinking about returning and how September would normally look, the story of the prodigal son came into my mind. It is a story that Jesus told to teach people and it can be found in the Bible in Luke 15. The prodigal son wants everything of the best in the here and now and asks his Father to give him his share of the inheritance and he goes off and lives a high life only to lose it all. After he has done some hard labour, her realises that he could return to his Father and offer to be a servant for him as they were living in a much better way than he was. The Bible says this:
So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and put his arms around him and kissed him.
I love the picture of this scene and many artists have tried to capture this. The story goes on that the Father welcomed his son home and gave a great party as what had been lost was now found.
This is a picture for us as well today. We might feel that something is missing in our lives, we might have turned to prayer during these days of coronavirus hoping that there is something bigger than us out there – and there is – a God who loves and cares about each one of us, and longs for us to return to Him and he is always there with arms open wide.
If you have been thinking more about why are we here and what is going on, then we will be running an online Alpha course shortly so look out for more information on this and join us to explore different questions through videos and discussion.
I hope that as we move into a new month, you will know the open arms of a God who is always waiting for you and for me to share our lives with him.
With every blessing
Rev Sarah – email@example.com 01733 248690/07498 230858
I hope that you are all keeping safe as we move into a new month, a time that has always been for holidays and breaks from some of the normal routines. Maybe you are hoping to have a break this month, maybe you are not able to get away this month or perhaps this is the furthest thing from your mind in these times.
I don’t think we will know what “normal” will look like for some time. For us as a church in Yaxley, we are working out what we are able to do in this season. We know that there are many things that we cannot do in terms of our services, singing or being together. However, St. Peter’s Church is now open on a Thursday evening for people to come in for their own private prayer between 7pm and 9pm. We have social distancing and hygiene measures in place. Anyone is welcome to come and use the church building on a Thursday evening for prayer.
At this time, our services continue to be online on our St. Peter’s, Yaxley YouTube Channel and we continue to plan as to how and when we can open the church building for worship.
Every summer St. Peter’s runs a Holiday Club. We are sadly unable to run this in 2020 in person due to Covid 19, but we are organising some activities for you to do at home or around the village and we are hoping that you will be an Explorer during the summer holiday as we look at creation. Activity packs will be available to collect from the church porch from Monday 27th July and these will have craft material and other items for different activities that will take place throughout July and August.
Each week there will be new challenges for you to undertake as you explore your home, garden and our village of Yaxley and perhaps you will find out more about our creation story in the Bible. We will put out the activities every week on our Facebook Pages – St. Peter’s, Yaxley and the Community of St. Peter’s Facebook Group so have a look every week and see some different challenges.
Please share the results of your challenges with us on Facebook or email photos to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You don’t have to be a child to take part – all ages very welcome 😊
In this month, I pray that you are able to get some rest and relaxation after a strange few months, and we look forward to sharing our explorations with you this summer.
With every blessing, Rev Sarah (Vicar of St. Peter’s, Yaxley)