The Rector writes…

  1. First I must thank all those who contributed to a most moving Remembrance Sunday in all our churches last Sunday. At the Abbey the United Service of Remembrance attracted its usual “standing-room only” congregation. The sermon, by Major General Sir Robert Corbett KCVO, CB, has been printed and is on the Abbey website. And reports from all our other churches indicate a corresponding level of support from our communities and beyond.


  1. Next Sunday, 26 November – the Feast of Christ the King – is Toy Sunday throughout the Benefice. This is the day on which all five of our churches welcome gifts of toys, books and games for children and young people who would otherwise have a lean time of it at Christmas. The recipients will be the same as last year: the Mother & Toddler Group at the RendezVous here in Sherborne; the North  Dorset Women’s Refuge, the Yeovil Women’s Refuge and the more recently opened West Dorset Women’s Refuge. Everything now depends on gathering a wonderful array of gifts.


All toys, books and games must be new and also unwrapped (except for their original packaging, of course). Please may we have a broad spread of gifts, ranging from those suitable for very young children through to teenagers? If you are unable to be at church on 26 November, please bring your gifts to the Parish Office at any time. Very many thanks.


  1. Advent begins on Sunday 3 December. As always our 5.00 pm Advent Carol Service at the Abbey makes a wonderful entry into this season of preparation for Christmas.


The Abbey Shop and the bookstall in the Abbey offer some excellent Advent reading. First is Unearthly beauty: Through Advent with the saints. It is by Magdalen Smith, who is Director of Ordinands in the Chester Diocese. She has a background in the visual arts and an obvious eye for spotting holiness in unexpected places. It is a delight, at the discounted price of £6.95.


Then there are three books all from the Anglican Evangelical tradition. Two are by Tom Wright, former Bishop of Durham and now Professor of the New Testament at St Andrew’s University. Advent for Everyone: a journey through Matthew was published in 2016 and Advent for Everyone: a journey with the apostles is just


out. As Archbishop Rowan Williams writes, “Tom Wright is, as always, brilliant at distilling immense scholarship into vivid, clear and accessible form”. There is a passage and a meditation on it for every day in Advent.  Both at the discounted price of £6.95.


Then there is the Archbishop of York’s Advent Book for 2017, In touch with God, by Michael and Rosemary Green. Michael Green has been a giant in the Anglican Evangelical Firmament since I was nobbut a lad, and he and his wife have together written a series of 25 meditations, all but two from the Old Testament, on Advent themes. Highly recommended at the discounted price of £5.95, not least for those of you who would like to make a better connection with the Old Testament.


Finally, there is our regular little book of Daily Reflections for Advent & Christmas, written this year by Mary Poust. It offers a daily reading, reflection, meditation and prayer from Advent Sunday to 8 January, all for just £1.50. You can’t get better value than that!


The Shop is also carrying a wide variety of Advent calendars, Christmas cards and items which would make wonderful Christmas gifts – not to mention 2018 Parish diaries. There is the CD of Carols from Sherborne Abbey, and the new Abbey umbrellas, amongst many other items.  Do visit the Shop to explore.


  1. Advent Sunday is also the town’s ‘Festive Shopping Sunday’. Despite having resisted Sunday trading when legislation was first mooted to make it possible on today’s scale, I now find it hard to begrudge our hard-pressed retailers the opportunity to boost their sales. So once again we are entering into the spirit of the occasion with three short Shoppers’ Carol Services in the Abbey, each lasting no more than twenty minutes. Members of the Yeovil and Sherborne branch of the Gideons have kindly agreed to be present, and will give copies of the New Testament to any who would like to take them. The services will be held at 1.30, 2.30 and 3.30 pm. Please note that the Abbey Shop will be open from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm on Festive Shopping Sunday. There will be 20% off ALL marked prices in the Shop for this day only.


Because Advent Sunday falls so late this year, the annual Christingle Service will be held at 5.00 pm on Sunday 10 December. The collection will go to the work of the Children’s Society.


  1. Please also make a note of Sherborne Christmas, the Christmas Concert which is the Abbey’s gift to the town, to be held this year on Monday 11 December. Started seven years ago and hugely popular, the concert brings together the Abbey Choir, Sherborne Town Band, the Sherborne Young Singers and the Gryphon School Cantabile Choir. It begins at 7.30 pm. Admission is free, and no tickets are required. There will be a retiring collection to be divided between St Margaret’s Hospice, Yeovil and the Joseph Weld Hospice in Dorchester. Do bring family, friends and neighbours.


  1. The Christmas Day Lunch in the Digby Memorial Church Hall will be held again this year under the auspices of Sherborne Churches Together (SCT). The Lunch has been extremely popular in recent years, with many people accepting the invitation to be guests and others to be volunteer helpers.


Last year the Parish Office struggled with all the details, requests and demands that came in by telephone and email, with folk wanting to register dietary, transport, wheelchair and other requirements. So this year SCT has produced a form which can be collected from and returned to the Parish Office, on which people can indicate their particular requirements and also find contact details for the organisers. This is a much simpler system which means that the Parish Office will only be the source of forms and the receiver of completed forms. The latter will go straight to the organisers. The Lunch will be held on Christmas Day from 1.00 pm to 3.30 pm.


7. Finally, results are in from the Ride & Stride event held throughout the county in support of the Dorset Historic Churches Trust. This year Sherborne came second in the list of receipts, making £2008. The tiny parish of Seaborough in the Axe Valley, with a population of about 60, raised the amazing sum of £2667. Well done them! And in our own Benefice, thanks to Riders & Strides from Longburton (£307) and Lillington (£100) as well as all who took part on behalf of the Abbey. Each parish has received a cheque for half their amount raised, so thanks also to all who contributed so generously.