The Rector writes…

  1. Today is the Feast of the Baptism of Christ, but in the Abbey we will also hold the very English observance of Plough Sunday. At the Parish Eucharist the plough will be blessed as our way of invoking God’s blessing on the ploughing, sowing and growing which remain the essential work of arable farmers if we are to enjoy a good harvest. Technology changes, the climate changes and the old rhythms have to change as well – but still our farms and farmers need God’s blessing, and they need our prayers. 2018 was a difficult year for them all, not least because of the long drought which has led to a great shortage of winter feed. The small grassland farmers of our own area are still struggling to make a decent living – and for British agriculture no-one knows what exactly ‘Brexit’ will mean. I see that I said much the same last year. Are we any further forward? Whatever the answer to that highly-charged question we will be praying for all who work on the land.
  2. Now that things are getting back to normal after Christmas and the New Year, you may like to consider a spring break in Latvia with an opportunity to meet our friends at our sister church of St Saviour’s, Riga. This is being organised and led by The Reverend Guntars Reboks, and will be from 23 to 29 May this year. The flight from Gatwick will reach Riga at 2.05 on the Thursday afternoon, for a four-night stay, and then on the Monday there will be a drive to the pretty town of Talsi for a two-night stay. The return flight to Gatwick is due to arrive at 4.40 on the Wednesday afternoon. The cost will be £1,325 per person sharing a twin or double room on a half-board basis. Some single rooms are available at a supplementary cost of £295. Brochures are now available from the Parish Office, and booking forms should be returned, with deposit, to Guntars c/o the Parish Office.
  3. One of our part-time Vergers, Rosemary Mortimer, has indicated to me that she would like to retire from her role with effect from 31 March. I am always sorry to lose a valued member of staff, and Rosemary is exactly that. But she has decided that it is time for a new chapter in her life, and that the commute from Martock to Sherborne several times a week should not be part of it. That I entirely understand! Rosemary also insists that she wants no presentation, or any fuss, when she leaves. That is characteristic of her, and of course I will respect her wishes, though she will certainly leave with my thanks and those of many of us ringing in her ears. Meanwhile, I will be discussing with the Head Verger and others how we should move forward. We may find it possible to make up Rosemary’s hours within the existing team, but equally we may need to look for a new part-time Verger. If anyone reading this wants to express an interest in the latter option, then by all means contact me confidentially. All our Vergers need to be communicant members of the Church of England, or a Church in communion with it, and comfortable with the Abbey’s ethos, spirituality and churchmanship.
  4. Next Sunday, 20 January, sees the first Short Abbey Service (SAS) of the year, led by The Reverend Lesley McCreadie. After something of a blip in the first half of last year, SAS numbers soared in the second half. The aim of the service, which begins at 11.15 am and lasts for no more than half an hour, is to be short, and accessible to all ages, with a specific “child-friendly” bias. It has indeed proved popular with all ages! It is best gossiped about all over town, and if you can invite families near you, that is even better.