Beards are fashionable; two priests serving culturally mixed parishes in East London have grown beards; the Bishop of London has commended them for reaching out to the culture of the majority of their parishioners, pointing out that in some cultures a beard is seen as a mark of holiness. But not every newspaper that ran the story last month explained that his original article in the Church Times was a learned discussion of the Church’s changing attitudes to beards through the ages.
From the Vicarage
I told you last November about how I gave up peanut butter, ice cream and everything else that’s fun in an attempt to stay healthy. Now I have a problem: Lent begins on 10th February. Try as I might, I can’t think of anything to give up – there’s nothing left that I would really miss!
Dear Friends, You may have noticed that the world didn’t collide with another planet in 2012, although a couple of years before some websites had forecast that it would. Cleverly – and controversially – this turned out to be publicity for the film 2012, which tells a tale of how, microwaved by the sun, the Earth begins to disintegrate. A feast of special effects follows, and eventually a bunch of boffins who have foreseen these events build a modern Noah’s Ark and save the day.
With shorter and colder days November arrives, bringing with it first All Saints Day and then Remembrance Sunday – both occasions when we remember those who are no longer with us. In church, the Bible readings begin to focus our attention on our eternal home.
I recently decided to leave my collar at home, find a cathedral and spend a couple of days praying, reading, and generally recharging my batteries. I chose Chelmsford - not too far away, and with the railway station, Cathedral and pleasant riverside walks all near each other.
In the Bible the book of Genesis tells us that in the beginning God’s real reason for making animals was nothing to do with Man exploiting them, but just so that the Man (OK, humankind) - would not be alone. No wonder that so many of us value the companionship of a pet.
From the vicarage
Last month we marked the centenary of the outbreak of World War I. At St Anthony’s, Alkham, there was a very moving Lights Out service on 4th August, followed by other events held in the village over the following weekend.
Fortunately for us, most can now only imagine what it must have been like to sit in a trench, praying for shells to fall somewhere else – but an eventful trip to the Holy Land during July gave me some idea of how it must have been.