From the Rector - October 2018

Dear Friends,

October; a turning of the year. Very definitely the end of summer, the start of Autumn. Even the university students have started back again, and schools’ half-term is coming soon. The weather might be anything — wet and windy, hot and sunny, cool and grey — but regardless, the leaves have started to turn colour, and the days are shortening fast.

We are in the time of year when we celebrate Harvest. Some have recently celebrated, and some are yet to do so.

Harvest seems to be something that occurs each year. It just sort of happens, does it not? It does not need any work or effort and all rolls along quite smoothly. Indeed, in some kinds of farming there is not even anything to harvest at a particular time of the year. Do cows milk themselves; do beef, sheep and pigs just eat; is that is all there is to it?

If such a statement is absurd in farming terms, why do we assume that Church finances occur in a similar way? Perhaps it is one of those things — it does not directly affect us unless something goes wrong and when it does go wrong we will take some interest. Such an approach can work but it is does not lead to long term growth or a sense of confidence. God will provide; indeed He has provided. The provision is with us and it is us that need harvesting.

Like an agricultural harvest, we will have been affected by outside factors. Jobs may have changed (and in some cases may not be there any longer); retirement may have occurred or full time study concluded and the world of work entered. All of these are key things that may prompt a personal giving review.

But, what about the many of us where there has not been a major change? As with a long established apple orchard, we still produce fruit even if no major changes in the shape of the tree have occurred. We still have a harvest and we need to look at what it is. We then look at how we offer part of this back to God.

We sing in the harvest hymn that all good gifts around us are sent from heaven above. We are then exhorted to ”thank the Lord, O thank the Lord, for all his love”. The tune enables us to concentrate on the word ’’all’’. When we review our giving, this year, let's concentrate on the word ‘all’ when looking at what God has given us. Our response can then reflect that giving to us.

Yours,

Richard


From the Rector - September 2018

Dear Friends,

September is effectively the start of a New Year for many people. It is always a busy month with every group and committee in churches, schools and many other organisations wanting to hold meetings so that they can make a ‘good start’.

Looking through the pages of this website (and the recent edition of the ‘Parish News’), you will read of all the things we are planning to do in the Benefice over the coming months. it can make you dizzy reading about it all... and thinking about Christmas — well that will immediately set you in a spin!

So what is it with all this ‘busyness’? Why are we planning all these activities? And who are they for? As is so often the case, simple enough questions don't lead to simple answers. Is all this for the benefit of the congregations within our Benefice...? Well, yes! We will enjoy taking part in all the things that are planned for the coming months, whether it be a Harvest Festival, a Christmas Carol Service, Messy Church, Bible Study... But we are not planning these things just for our own benefit. We are planning them for the benefit of friends and neighbours, and members of the Benefice who we don't even know — yet. We are seeking to invite people into the Church fellowship. Why? Because our church is something that we value; it is important to us and helps us in our lives, and so we want others to benefit from that, just as we do. We want to travel with other people on a shared journey of discovery, and the sharing of that journey with other people in our church is one of the most important things that we as a church can do.

So the question you should ask yourself as you read through the events of the coming months is not really: ‘Do I want to come to that?’ It is rather: ‘Who am I going to invite to come with me to this or that event?’ By approaching things from this angle we start to engage in a fundamental activity of the Church — mission.

For the eagle-eyed among you will have noticed Messy Church and Bible Study in my list above! Starting in September I will host a bible study in the Rectory - “The Text This Week" — on Thursdays at 7:30pm, during term-time. Everyone is welcome and you don't have to commit to attending each week. The idea is that we will explore the text for the coming Sunday (over a glass of wine or cup of tea...) - not only will it help you understand and dissect the readings, but it will support my sermon prep!

Also, following an incredibly successful Children’s Activity Week, Anna & l have decided that now's the time to explore “Messy Church”. This will be held on the 4th Saturday of the month (except December & August) in Semley School Hall. We will need volunteers for this please... it doesn't need to be a monthly commitment if enough come forward —— but people to make refreshments and support activities would be very welcome! Please speak to Anna or myself for more details.

Yours,

Richard


From the Rector - August 2018

Dear Friends,

You may have noticed I have been growing a beard; it started as an ‘Advent beard’ but I embraced a challenge to grow it long by two Children at Semley School (much to Anna’s disdain... although she assured me she got used to it!). It was ultimately a bit of fun, but it also reminded me that some challenges are sought, and some are thrust upon us. Some are welcome and others we would prefer not to face.

I reminded the children of this in an assembly just before cutting my facial locks off in front of them (to the noise of pleasing gasps!)

Generally, in Western society we are money rich and time poor. That is as true for the church as it is for the rest of society. As Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us, there is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven.

Each and every one of us are subject to times and changes over which we have little or no control.We all change; how we look changes; we grow older. When we are young we grow taller and many of us as we grow into our later mature years have started to become smaller. We can spend huge sums of money in an attempt to prevent or disguise these changes, but the plain and simple fact is that we and the world we live in, is constantly changing.

In Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, Solomon explains how we can understand time and the times. It is a beautiful passage that I often read at funerals. Why? Not because (as some think) it’s a depressing passage because it stresses the power of God and the helplessness of man, but because this passage is an extraordinarily beautiful summary of the optimistic view of the Christian life.

We cannot control time - we cannot control the seasons - no matter what our skills, efforts or riches. So, they say, this is a counsel of despair. It would be, if it were teaching that everything is futile. But this is not the case.

There are times and seasons.There are rhythms. and there is a rhythm to life. We instinctively know this and our life demonstrates it. We all have our biorhythms. One of the problems with modern life is that we like to think we can change these - that we can live 24/7 lives, 365 days a year - with all our gadgets and artificial stimulants enabling us to overcome the natural rhythms and times. But ignoring the rhythms and seasons never works. It only results in burnout.

The 14 couplets in this Ecclesiastes poem cover every range of human activity; the two most momentous events in our life - birth and death, creative and destructive activities, human emotions, friendship and hatred, possessions and our resolutions concerning them...

I take great comfort from the fact that our times are in God’s hands. It is not fate. And that there is a time for everything. You may be going through a hard time right now, but that will change.

You may be going through a spiritual springtime - it will turn to summer and perhaps to winter, before it turns to spring and summer again.

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born. and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war; and a time of peace.

Yours,

Richard


Assistant Curate Placement

m otto s

 

The Reverend Melanie Otto, Assistant Curate in the Westbury Team, will be joining us for a two-week rural placement starting on 8th July 2018.

Please join us for tea & cake at the Rectory on Sunday 8th July 2018 between 3.00 pm and 5.00 pm as we welcome Melanie to the Benefice.

 


From the Rector - June 2018

Dear Friends,

To go on a pilgrimage is to walk purposefully to something which has meaning for you, a search for spiritual or perhaps moral significance. It provides the opportunity to step out of the non-stop busyness of our lives, to seek a time of quiet and reflection. It is a time of simply being rather than always doing.

Often, people go on pilgrimage when they are at a crossroads in their lives. or when undergoing a change in their life's direction or relationships. Others may be in search of a deeper spirituality, healing and forgiveness. Or it may be that pilgrimage marks a special birthday, retirement or other occasion for giving thanks. It‘s also a great adventure with the chance to meet new people and see new places.

  • Christians walk to Santiago de Compostela (something I am longing to do if you'd like to join me!)
  • Every 10 years, the little town of Oberammergau puts on it’s world famous Passion Play (Put this in your diary for 2020 as I hope to take a group from the Benefice with me)
  • The Holy Land acts as a focal point for Christians

In this and my previous Parishes, we go on Pilgrimages and indeed, have one coming up in August to Walsingham. I have also, fairly recently, returned from a Diocesan led pilgrimage to Montserrat in Spain.

The area offered spectacular mountain views of Catalonia with The Benedictine Monastery in Montserrat, located at the top of a 4000 foot mountain... home to about 80 monks. Next door to this is the home of the revered La Moreneta (or Black Virgin). a beautiful 12th-century Romanesque carving which is about a metre in height She has the child Jesus on her lap and in her outstretched hand is a globe, a symbol of the cosmos (you can admire our own miniature La Moreneta - when you visit The Rectory next - on our hail table. who is, incidentally dark in colour due to the changes in the varnish with the passage of time!).

How La Moreneta came to be in Montserrat may be linked to a local legend which tells of the sighting of a vision by some shepherd boys in the year 880.

On a Saturday evening as the sun was setting over Montserrat, the boys saw a bright light shining down from the sky and it was accompanied by beautiful music. The following Saturday they returned with their parents and the same vision came to them again. On the following four Saturdays the Rector of Olesa went with them and everyone saw the vision. According to this legend, the statue of the Black Madonna was discovered in a cave where the light shone.

To be a pilgrim is to be a wanderer on an unbroken journey with a purpose.

We are pilgrims on journey.
Fellow travellers on the road.
We are here to help each other
Walk the mile and bear the load.

I will hold the Christ-light for you
In the night time of your fear.
I will hold my hand out to you;
Speak the peace you long to hear.

I will weep when you are weeping.
When you laugh, I’ll laugh with you.
I will share your joy and sorrow
Till we’ve seen this journey through.

When we sing to God in heaven,
We shall find such harmony
Born of all we’ve known together
Of Christ’s love and agony.

Brother, sister, let me serve you.
Let me be as Christ to you.
Pray that I might have the grace
To let you be my servant, too.

Yours,

Richard


From the Rector - May 2018

Dear Friends,

As I write this letter, we have just returned from a wonderful holiday in Malta. We were blessed with glorious weather and enjoyed much of what the country has to offer.

We stayed in St Paul’s Bay and prior to our holiday. I was unaware that St Paul has an additional feast day on February 10th: ”The Feast of the Shipwreck of St Paul"! I think this gives Paul an edge over Peter in the feast day stakes.They share one feast day, as co-founders of the Church in Rome. Peter also has the Chair of St Peter. Paul has the feast of his conversion and the feast of his Maltese shipwreck!

According to the sources (that is, the Acts of the Apostles), in the year 59, after two years in a Caesarean prison, St Paul exercised his right as a Roman citizen to “appeal unto Caesar." But Paul's voyage to Rome was prolonged by a shipwreck off the coast of Malta, just off St Paul's Bay which probably went by a different name back then! While the ship was mended, Paul worked many miracles and effectively founded the Church in Malta.

We attended the church of St Paul‘s Shipwreck in St Paul's Bay on our first weekend. The church was packed; so much so, that we - along with at least a dozen others - were stood on the steps outside for the service. As you’ll (probably) be aware, the state religion in Malta is Roman Catholic, with 98% of the population adhering to Roman Catholicism. l attended the service wearing my clerical shirt - but imagine my joy when I was invited into the sanctuary - despite highlighting to them that l was an Anglican Priest.

This links me to Christian Aid Week - 13th to 19th May 2018 - which, this year urges you to #StandTogether. Everyone is equal in the sight of God. Yet we live in a world where poverty persists.

This year the organisation is highlighting the plight of the millions of people displaced around the world, but who remain within their own countries.Today, more than 40 million people are internally displaced by conflict, accounting for approximately two thirds of those who find themselves forced from their homes. A further 24 million were displaced by disasters in 2016 alone.Yet, because they haven't crossed a border. the public rarely hear about them.

Despite the huge number of people affected. situations of internal displacement receive almost no political attention, funding or support. In Haiti, thousands of people regularly experience some of the worst natural disasters on earth. The country is one of the poorest in the world,and a high number of its inhabitants live in precarious houses or have been uprooted from their homes entirely, making them especially vulnerable when another disaster strikes. More than seven years on from the devastating earthquake in Port-au-Prince in 2010, an estimated 38,000 people are still displaced.

In November 2016, Hurricane Matthew wreaked yet more havoc across the southern coast of the country, killing 546 people and destroying homes, businesses and infrastructure. Up to 90% of some areas were destroyed. Vilia was left homeless by the earthquake in 20|0 and her mother was killed. Bereaved and homeless, for Vilia, her husband and their seven children, life became a struggle. They didn’t even have a safe place to sleep. Christian Aid’s local partner, KORAL, helps local people prepare for disasters. In the aftermath of the earthquake, it reached out to Vilia and built her and her family a new home, that was safe, stable and strong enough to stand up to natural disasters.

Ahead of Hurricane Matthew, KORAL was able to warn local communities, helping to evacuate around 5,000 families and saving many lives. In the immediate aftermath Christian Aid and KORAL distributed urgently-needed shelter materials, hygiene products such as soap, food seeds and cash, so people could buy other items that they really needed. Disaster-resistant homes were built, giving people safe, secure places to live. Of the dozens
built before the hurricane hit, only one lost its roof in the disaster, and Vilia's home was able to shelter 54 people over several days following the hurricane.

Christian Aid Week unites thousands of churches every year to raise money to support our global neighbours in need, who are often suffering through no fault of their own. Just £25 could buy a hygiene kit to prevent disease after a disaster; £5 could buy a jar of seeds so someone like Vilia can grow beans to feed her family; and £210 could pay to train a local builder in Haiti to build safe, secure hurricane-resistant homes.

This Christian Aid Week, people can help to change the lives of people displaced due to disasters or conflict by donating online at www.caweek.org or calling 08080 006 006.

Please do support Christian Aid this month and let us #StandTogether as a united Christian family.

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as l have loved you, you also should love one another" - John 13: 34

Yours,

Richard


From the Rector - April 2018

Dear Friends,

A child once asked me if Jesus carries scars on his body, now that he is risen from the dead at Easter? What a great question that is!

A rugby-playing friend once told me that following a major tendon repair, his surgeon explained that that the repaired tendon was stronger than the original. The scar tissue would remind him he was stronger, better, faster now!

But while we all carry scars of one kind or another, how should we think of the damage we receive as human beings, even death, and what can our faith tell us?

I offer the following story as an illustration, remembering that Mary was one who grieved at the foot of the cross:

Someone on the internet wrote the following heart-rending plea:

“My friend just died and I don’t know what to do.”

A lot of people responded. Then there was one old man’s incredible comment that stood out from the rest that might just change how you think about death and dying. Here it is:

“Alright, here goes. l’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people l’ve known and loved did not.

l’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, work colleagues, grandparents, mum, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbours, and a host of others. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents.

I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody l love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter". I don’t want it to be something that just passes.

My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that l can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who
can’t see.

As for grief, you'll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you're drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it's some physical thing. Maybe it's a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating.

For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.

In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function.

You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a motorway service station, the smell of a cup of coffee or hot chocolate. It can be just about anything...and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.

Somewhere down the line, and it's different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at Gatwick Airport You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you'll come out.

Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you'll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you're lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.”

Perhaps a good way of understanding Easter is to see Jesus’ love for us providing ‘scar tissue’ for our wounds and injuries? So that while the above story might provide a means of coping, an attractive means too, we as Christ-lovers have more than just a means to cope - we have triumph over death and dying.

The Easter season is a time when Christians rejoice in the knowledge that their risen Lord has overcome death and in so doing brought forgiveness to the world. Yet, for many, Easter is simply a holiday period and a time for giving chocolate eggs and enjoying the beginning of Spring (hopefully).

The Easter message resonates down the centuries and can bring a special meaning to all those who are feeling at their most vulnerable in these difficult times.

The truth of the resurrection for Christians is a message of hope and it is one that we are called to share with our friends and neighbours wherever they are. I wish you all a happy and joyful Easter.

Yours,

Richard


From the Rector - February 2018

Dear Friends,

Almost two years ago now the Benefice undertook the exercise of reviewing the service schedule. As part of this we discussed forming a “roving choir” to sing on a near weekly basis going around four of our churches for the 9.30 am Eucharist and the other two on other occasions. That initial group was made up of representatives appointed by each PCC with The Ven. John Holliman and myself. The group included Churchwardens, including Bob Thackray who had put in an incredible amount of work, both in advance and after the meeting, how we might arrange the schedule so different services were available across the Benefice so that our churches weren’t competing with the same services at the same time. Bob is also no stranger to the musical world, being involved in choirs and having been the Headteacher of two Cathedral schools. Michael Hockney, the Director of the Benefice Choir was also there. The Benefice Choir sings for five services a year (plus occasional extras) and they, of course, will continue. Other members (at least according to my memory and I apologise if it fails me and I miss some people) included Suzanne Sandford, David Webster, Caro Morgan, Annie Meston, Freddie Yorke, Sarah Jones, Andrew Vaughan, Evis Holliman, Simon (and or Juliet Cooper!) and Simon Franklin (and quite possibly Tony Gowers and Christopher Sykes).

The idea of a roving choir with a choir director then went through PCCs and the Benefice Council for approval then advertising, interview etc. What I am trying to say is that this idea is coming to fruition afier a lot of hard work and time by many people in the Benefice. I want to say thank you to them for their continuing support.

I hope you will also support the new choir.

I am not much of a singer. I do enjoy singing in a choir, not that I can be much part of this one because I tend to be up front. I would encourage people to have a go! Children are very welcome as long as they can read well.

One of the starting points for this Venture was that speaking to people around the parishes it became clear to me just how many people’s first contact with church was being involved in choirs in their youth. Most of the churches in the Benefice at one time had their own choir. I began to wonder what we had lost by not having a regular choir. It, to my mind, is a clear detriment to the worship of God and to our experience of that worship. I also began to question what the loss would be not only to future congregations but also how that might impoverish future generations in their lack of experience of church life and the beauty and diversity of church music.

“He who sings prays twice”
St Augustine

“Be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Ephesians 5: 18b - 20

Yours,

Richard


From the Rector - January 2018

Dear Friends,

As the New Year begins, it is traditional to take up a New Year’s resolution. Attendance at a gym, quitting smoking, reading the Bible cover-to-cover, or not eating chocolate ever again! Whatever it is, I wish you well with your resolve. But if we are honest, we know that so often the New Year resolution has not lasted until the end of January. I would like to suggest that instead of resolving to do something drastic, that we each resolve to do very small things, every day.

It is tempting to wonder if doing small things can really be worth it. What difference can that little thing make? What difference can one person make? Surely it's only a drop in the ocean, so it will not be noticeable. I cannot do much about the big problems in the world, so why should my little actions make a difference? But, the ocean is made up of lots of little tiny drops. And what is more, God works through very small things. I believe that in the same way that God’s weakness is stronger than human strength and God can somehow be more powerfully at work in small things done in faith, than in huge, great big, grand gestures.

So if we hear a simple, trusting prayer of a young child, we can know that God is at work. And God will be in the small things we can do each and every day. Whether it is giving a smile to a stranger in the street, or in the prayer for a relative, that only God hears you say. And God is in the helping hand offered to a neighbour in difficulty, or in the kind word to a stranger that nobody else hears you say.

So as we prepare for all that God has in store for us in 2018 and beyond and for inevitable changes in our church, I suggest we remember some words from the poem ‘God knows’ by Minnie Louise Haskins:

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.

Yours,

Richard


From the Rector - December 2017

Christmas NativityDear Friends,

During December, we journey through Advent, which, for Christians is a time of reflecition, prayer and preparation. We then come to the heart of what we are anticipating, the heart of the hopeful story.

‘The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light’, Isaiah promises. What brought on the light in darkness? The answer comes in those immortal words: ‘For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; And the government (the authority) will be upon his shoulder’.

What startling and wondrous images these are! First, we are given the image of the deep darkness of ignorance; then we are given the image of the great light of an announcement. St Luke permeates his story with light. ‘The glory of the Lord shone round about them’, he says and surely the only way we can picture glory is through light. ‘And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest’. Is there a more beautiful picture painted in so few words?

Imagine being one of the shepherds, trembling with fear; this fear is the awe we feel in the presence of something that is beyond our senses and our capacity for understanding. This awe should fill us in our Advent preparation and throughout our celebrations. For what happened in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago was then and remains now beyond our understanding. ‘For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and his name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’.

A child, a little baby? Who can explain the Incarnation of God? Enter into this realm of awe; you are in great company. You are in the company of the angels, of all the saints and of the souls who have gone before us. We welcome the awe with the humility of poor shepherds being confronted with glory. We hear the great announcement and ask for grace to believe. We fall on our knees with gratitude.

Let us together go and look for the child Jesus, God become man and worship him!

We look forward to welcoming you to our worship over the upcoming festive period.

Yours,

Richard


From the Rector - November 2017

Dear Friends,

As I write, the leaves on the trees are turning to yellow and gold, the days are getting shorter and there is a chill in the air. The days can seem gloomy and it’s perhaps natural that our thoughts turn towards endings. The year itself is coming to an end; however we all know that the year will begin again and whilst we have the harshness of winter to face, we also have the hope of springtime.

The arrival of November signals the beginning of a series of festivities; be it Bonfire night and fireworks or Advent Carols. We move from the quiet sadness and grief of All Souls and Remembrance Sunday, into a time when we remember that we DO have hope - not just for Christmas coming, but for the assurance of eternal life in heaven.

Our Development Project for Donhead St Andrew Church is making excellent progress and you will notice that our last service there is on Sunday 10th December in order to allow time to prepare the building for works to commence. The traditional service of Nine Lessons & Carols will be held at Donhead St Mary, and there will be services across the Benefice during the Christmas period. Gift Aid envelopes for Donhead St Andrew will be available should you wish to continue your giving during this period.

I’d like to share a story with you...

A Father and Daughter were saying goodbye at an airport. Her plane had been called. I was sitting nearby and heard him say ‘I wish you enough’. They kissed goodbye and she added ‘I wish you enough too’. Then she left to board her plane. As he watched her go. he was crying. I asked him if there was anything I could do. He shook his head, but smiled and thanked me. ‘I am saying goodbye to my daughter forever. I am old and I have an illness that will soon take its toll. My daughter lives a long way away. She has work to do and so have I. We both know that when she returns it will be for my funeral’. I said ‘I heard you say “I wish you enough"; what did you mean?‘ He smiled again, ‘It’s a saying in our family, passed down through generations. I don't quite know where it came from, but it's precious to us’. Then he closed his eyes a moment and spoke it from memory.

I wish you enough sun to keep your outlook bright.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit strong.
I wish you enough pain to make life’s joys precious.
I wish you enough luck to satisfy your needs.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate what you keep.
I wish enough 'Hellos' to get you through the final ‘Good-bye‘.

As Christians we are not untouched by death. but we also have the hope of springtime: the springtime of the eternal life to come.

My friends, I wish you enough.

Yours ever,

Richard