'Parish Magazine'

At present St. Giles does not produce its own regular parish magazine; instead, all the information that would normally go into a printed monthly magazine is in these pages on 'A Church Near You'.  We do receive articles, including monthly messages from our Rector for her parishioners, and from the Diocese, so these are set out below.   

Contents of this page:

    - The Rector's Message for December, 1.12.20

    -  A Comforting Prayer, 5.11.20

    -  Unlocking Opportunities, 25.10.20

    -  Mothering Sunday - our first experience of worship in lockdown, 22.3.20

    -  Open Letter from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, 17.3.20

    -  An Astonishing Find - contributed by Liz Woodall

    -  From the Diocese: A Christian Response to Brexit


1st December 2020 - The Rector's Message for December

Dear Friends,

Never before, in my lifetime anyway, has a year been so full of uncertainties as 2020 has been.  When I wrote last month’s magazine article, I had no idea that we would once again be in lockdown and that the Churches would once again be closed for worship services, even though thankfully this time they have been able to remain open for private prayer.  Each magazine article I have written this year has had me wondering if what I’ve written about will be turned on it’s head by the time it has been printed and read.   And the uncertainty is not just on a local basis, but a national and pretty much world-wide basis.  It is hard to plan anything not knowing whether those plans will be able to come to fruition or not.  

I have a favourite Bible verse from the Old Testament book of Jeremiah, chapter 29 verse 11, that says;
     “I know the plans I have for you”, says the Lord. “They are plans for good . . . . to give you a future and a hope.”

It is a verse that I have found myself reading again and again this year.  It is a verse that gives me hope and strengthens my faith in a God who holds us in the palm of His hand.  In the midst of all the uncertainty, however, there are things that are certain.  Life does go on, season does follow season, even if the weather in that particular season is unpredictable.  Babies are born, birthdays happen, even if they can’t be celebrated in quite the same way, and sadly people die.  

In the last few weeks we have lost several members of our local communities, and our ways of mourning those deaths has had to change, but we are still grateful for them and for all they have contributed to our lives.  In Ashford Carbonel we have sadly had to say goodbye to Chris Parry and Colin Hogg both of whom were very involved in Church and village life, in Ludford to Lemuel Jones and in Knowbury to Karen Cox and to many other people during the past year.  Chris Parry will have been known by many people outside the village, and although I have only known her for a relatively short space of time, I have greatly admired her courageous battle against cancer and her determination, even in the last few weeks, to get as much out of life as she possibly could. 

We have all had to learn how to do things differently, whether it has been welcoming a new member of the family, or saying goodbye to a loved one, and in some ways those times have been more poignant because of the changes we have had to make.  Festivals have had to happen differently; Mothering Sunday, Easter, Fathers' Day, Harvest, Remembrance - but they have happened in some way, and the same will be true of Advent and Christmas.

Advent Sunday this year fell on November 29th and we would usually mark this with a Christmas Tree Festival at Caynham, followed by a Christingle service and a Patronal Festival for St Andrew’s Day at Ashford Bowdler, but sadly none of those things could happen this year.  That doesn’t stop us marking Advent though, and over the last couple of years many people have done this by doing a ‘reverse Advent Calendar’; such as putting something into a box for the Food Bank.  This year that will be needed more than ever - and please do remember, if you can, to include some treats as well.

At the moment plans are in place for each of the Churches in our Benefice that are currently open to have a service on Christmas Day: Ashford Bowdler (11.15am), Ashford Carbonel (9.30am), Ludford (11.15am) and Richards Castle (10am).  There will also be a Celebration of Christmas Service at Richards Castle on Sunday 20th December at 4pm, and a "Carol Service" (even if we can’t sing) at Ashford Carbonel Church on Christmas Eve at 8pm.

The important thing, however, even if our plans have to change; even if we have to celebrate Christmas in a completely different way to the way that we normally do, is to remember the true gift of Christmas - that God gave his only Son, born as a human baby into the mess of our human world, the gift of love that means whatever goes on in the world around us, Christmas - the birth of Christ - can never be cancelled.  Let us all welcome the Christ Child this Christmas.

With my love and prayers,




5th November 2020 - A Comforting Prayer during these challenging times

Ever present God,
Be with us in our isolation,
Be close to us in our distancing,
Be healing in our sickness,
Be wisdom in our confusion,
Be all that is familiar when all is unfamiliar;
That as the doors re-open
We may, with the zeal of Pentecost
Inhabit our communities
And speak of your goodness
To an emerging world.
For Jesus’ sake, Amen

From the Benefice Office


25th October 2020 - Unlocking Opportunities

Today’s gospel reading was the giving of the two new commandments by Christ. It prompted some thinking on the question of “loving thy neighbour as thyself”.

In the last few days the media have picked up on the story of Paul Harvey, an 80-year-old retired music teacher who, despite dementia, improvises lovely tunes on the piano. After seeing pieces about him on the BBC News website and in the press, this morning I heard him featured on Radio 4’s ‘Broadcasting House’*. Prompted by just four music notes suggested by his son Nick, this wonderful man had composed a short piece for World Alzheimers Day (21st September) which the BBC then arranged to have fully orchestrated, and it was played by the BBC Philharmonic on the programme. The son confirmed that as a result of the recent publicity, a recording of “Four Notes - Paul's Tune” is being released on 1st November on the major streaming platforms – proceeds to be given to Alzheimer’s Society and Music for Dementia. The whole episode has been an amazing experience for such a gentle man; a serendipitous taste of fame to brighten all our lives as well as his own declining years.

It struck me that Mr. Harvey’s “discovery” is another example of something unexpected but delightful and heart-warming that has grown out of the restrictions laid on us this year. The void left by the absence of professional sport and much of the entertainment and leisure industry has allowed some extraordinary people to be lifted out of obscurity for doing things that undoubtedly make the world a better place.

Captain Sir Tom Moore springs immediately to mind. A simple challenge that would not have got further than his local newspaper before the pandemic, caught the public attention and generated a truly staggering series of consequences. After raising a phenomenal amount of money for the nation’s favourite good cause, plaudits and honours were heaped upon him. With the courtesy and dignity of an earlier age that the 21st Century has quite lost sight of, this modest retired officer proved to be a truly superb role model for all of us. The fame did not go to his head; he did not behave like “a celebrity”; he has not used the many opportunities offered to him for his own gain.

Someone who already had a degree of celebrity, but who clearly has a much more highly-developed social conscience (born of his own childhood experience) than most of his fellow professional sportsmen is the footballer Marcus Rashford. He made very astute use of the media vacuum during lockdown to promote his heartfelt campaign for school-age children to get at least one proper meal every day, even if their own families cannot afford to pay for it. This young man has exhibited many of the same qualities as Sir Tom, and the way he has kept the momentum going, ramping up pressure on the political classes whilst recruiting enthusiastic support from businesses, volunteers and medical professionals, is wholly admirable. He has a degree of politeness rarely seen nowadays amongst the politicians he is lobbying; and his important message has not been obscured by his own conduct, which has been low-key and exemplary.

These are just three instances of life being enriched in ways that would not have happened before March 2020. These three people’s efforts would never have been noticed through the deafening noise, garish glitz and suffocating superficiality that has constituted much of the nation’s leisure for several decades. These are “influencers” in whose selfless footsteps I, for one, would be proud to follow.

Liz Woodall

* If you would like to listen, here is a LINK


22nd March 2020 - Mothering Sunday in lockdown

At 11.15am today we embarked on St. Giles congregation's first experience of worshipping "at home but together". Equipped with the specially-adapted order of service, the pewsheet with the readings and collect, Bible, and notes for intercessions, we settled in a quiet place in our own home and went through the service, knowing that our friends were doing the same. There was much comfort, and an amazing feeling of solidarity in going through the familiar words at the familiar time, if not in the usual place.

The first reading was the story of Moses' adoption by the pharaoh's daughter. The epistle was 2 Corinthians 1, 3-7 and was remarkably apt for these dark and difficult times:

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the all-merciful Father, the God whose consolation never fails us! He comforts us in all our troubles, so that we in turn may be able to comfort others in any trouble of theirs, and to share with them the consolation we ourselves receive from God. As Christ's cup of suffering overflows, and we suffer with him, so also through Christ our consolation overflows. If distress be our lot, it is the price we pay for your consolation, for your salvation; if our lot be consolation, it is to help us to bring you comfort, and strength to face with fortitude the same sufferings we now endure. And our hope for youis firmly grounded; for we know that if you have part in the suffering, you have part also in the divine consolation."

Anyone who would like to join in this form of worship at home in future is welcome to contact us so that they can receive the details beforehand.

Meanwhile, the church was open as usual today, and there was an invitation to call in and pick up posies for mothers. We were very glad to find that quite a few people did so.

Liz Woodall


17th March 2020 - An Open Letter from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York

This pastoral letter follows on from the announcement of the suspension of all public worship for the duration of the virus crisis.  It is too long to set out on this page, but here is a LINK.


An Astonishing Find - contributed by Liz Woodall

Among the papers of my late mother, Averil Norton (a Lay Reader in these parishes), I found the poem below.  It records an astonishing piece of foresight by a woman who lived 850 years ago.  How did she come to foretell in such detail the climate change catastrophe that is now a very real and imminent threat to our world?  (The piece was written in verse, but due to the fixed formatting of the ACNY web page, I have had to set it out here as a piece of prose.)  It gives us much to think about this Lent. 

Hildegard of Bingen (lived 1098-1179) - also known as Saint Hildegard and the Sibyl of the Rhine; a German Benedictine abbess, writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, visionary, and polymath.

"Now in the peoples who were meant to live in green nature there is no more life; there is only shrivelling and barrenness.  The winds are burdened by the dreadful fumes of evil.  Selfishness prevails.  Thunderstorms menace the people; the air belches out the uncleanness of mankind.  There pours forth an unnatural and loathsome darkness that withers the green trees and wizens the fruit that was meant to serve as food for the peoples of the Earth.  Sometimes the layers of the air are full; full of a fog that is the source of barrenness and destruction, that destroys and damages the Earth, making it incapable of sustaining humanity."

Hildegard saw the roots of this destructiveness in the sins of the human heart:

“Mankind should value honesty and keep to truth. Those that love lies not only to themselves do injury, but to others as well. And they are driven on to greater and ever greater dishonesty. Their lies are hard and black. They do not understand the greenness of justice. They are dry, totally without tenderness and goodness, or the light of virtue.”

But she foresaw that God would intervene in the world:

“As often as the elements of our world are violated by ill-treatment, God will act to cleanse them. God will cleanse them through the sufferings, through the hardships of mankind.”


31.1.20 - From Hereford Diocese

A Christian response to Brexit

There is an important role at this time for practical expressions of love and hope by communities and individuals. Here are 12 steps we can take. Don't be limited by this checklist and don't underestimate what we can achieve together.

1. Give extra support to the food banks in your area.

2. Watch out for the lonely, the anxious and the vulnerable.

3. Reach out to EU nationals in your neighbourhood and workplace.

4. Make sure people have access to good advice on migration and travel, debt and financial support.

5. Remember the needs of our children and young people.

6. Support the statutory services.

7. Think about the needs of particular groups in your area.

8. Work together with other churches, faith communities and charities.

9. Invite the community together.

10. Watch over other faith and minority ethnic communities.

11. Encourage truthful and honest debate.

12. Pray in public worship and private prayer.

"But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare." - Jeremiah 29.7