January 2021

The Parish Magazine of Hanwood and Cruckton

Welcome to the new year magazine. The continuing pandemic means that we continue to reproduce articles from Longden and Annscroft, with thanks, and are limited to being online only.

From the Rectory

Emma and I looked after her mother over Christmas, taking on the role of her living in carers, to give them a break. So on the 28th of December we travelled down to her mother’s house and stayed there till the 1st of January. She lives in the countryside just south of Hereford and Emma and I were able to go for some lovely walks. One day we went up the local hill and it was gently snowing at the top. It was really beautiful.

When we got back to the house, I parked the car, shook out the towels on the back seat of the car where the dogs had been lying and picked up our wet gloves, hats, dog leads, etc and walked to the house. As I put things down in the porch, I realised that I did not have my car key. So I traced my steps back to the car searching left and right to see where I had dropped them.

No sign of them. Now this was a fairly hefty key fob with our front door key on the ring as well. On a level gravel driveway it should have been easy to see. So I thought maybe I had dropped them in the porch. I checked where I had hung up the dog leads just inside the door, I looked on the wooden slatted bench underneath. No sign. I picked up all the wellington and walking boots that were underneath the bench and shook them upside down. Still no sign of the keys.

I went back to the car and carefully looked inside the car. Maybe I had put them on the seat? Maybe I had dropped them down the side of the seat? Maybe they were in the boot of the car? No sign. Then I began to think outside of the box. Maybe when I shook the towels out I had shaken the keys out? So I extended my search beyond the immediate surroundings of the car and tried to imagine how far the key fob would travel.

Still no sign. I went back to the porch and began to look in other parts of the porch. Maybe they had fallen down behind a box? I spent about two hours looking for the keys, looking even in places where it was really unlikely that they would be. I even wondered whether one of the dogs had picked them up and run away with them - very unlikely! I began to question my actions and had to reassure myself. Yes, I had had the keys. They had disappeared in the short distance from the car to the house. No further.

The next day I still could not find the keys. On the third day (was this becoming something resembling scripture?) I woke and after praying again for guidance I decided to look again in the porch. Imagine my delight and surprise when I found the keys in one of the wellington boots. This particular boot had a strap on it and the keys had got caught and did not come out when shaken. Only by looking inside did I see the keys. Alleluia, praise God. What was lost, was found.

We all lose things and spend hours looking for them. It does not matter how hard we look for, if we are looking in the wrong place we will not find our lost item. The same can apply to our search for God. We yearn to know God’s love, to feel Holy Spirit in us, to receive God’s guidance and peace. But too often we look in the wrong places, especially when we are feeling stressed or low, sorry for ourselves, perhaps lonely or bereft. Our tendency is to busy ourselves, turning over every stone in an attempt to find peace. The busyness becomes more frantic and we try even more absurd ways of finding comfort - another chocolate, another drink, some retail therapy. All of these have their benefits but they are temporary. They do not go to the root of our situation. What we need is to engage with God. Just as my keys had not gone far, so God has not gone far. In fact he is very close. All we have to do is be still and allow ourselves to feel his presence with us.

So in this month, as we start a new year, I encourage you to seek out ways to go deeper with God, to make time to be still and talk with God. Go back to those actions you know work for you or start new ones! Listen to hymns and worship songs, listen to Premier Christian radio, or UCB 1 or 2 - they are all good. Read your bible each day - there are many bible notes you can use online or can buy - expect God to speak to you through the verses you read. Join a bible study course - the Deanery is currently running one on a Tuesday evening on zoom. Cultivate the habit of being still in God’s presence, of recognising that he is near, that you have not lost him and he has not lost you. For you are very precious to him.

May this year, despite the challenges, be a year of fruitfulness and blessings, of deepening your trust in God, of truly finding him. Amen.

Rev’d Graham Phillips


Renewal of Covenant January 2021

Sheila's last communion

January 2021 Bible Study
from Graham Earney

Muheza Link

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Christian Aid