Vicar’s blog


Fr Guy Writes

From Our December 2023 magazine

Dear Friends,

There can be a feeling that with Christmas coming every year and the story being known so well, that there’s nothing new to be said or discovered. This I believe to be a serious error. We should always be looking afresh at our faith and making new discoveries. Sometimes we can do this by taking a different slant, looking for something different, or approaching it in a different way.

The themes of generosity and remembering can be sought and found in the Christmas story. The unspeakable generosity of God in freely giving his  Son  to  redeem the world, the generosity of Mary and Joseph in saying ‘yes’ to their part in God’s plan, the generosity of the Wise Men and the Shepherds in their gift-giving to the Christ-child, the generosity of the hospitality shown. And the theme of remembering is also readily to be found; not perhaps initially, or even as events were happening, but in the piecing together of the story, in the reflection of what it all might  mean,  both then and now. The referring back to the Jewish scriptures, the pondering of Mary in her heart, the putting of two and two together of Joseph, the shepherds and the Wise Men.

So, as we ‘revisit’, to greater or lesser extent, the world-changing story of the birth of Jesus, what should we expect? I suggest that in order to enter  fully  into  the  drama,  the  only  thing we should expect is the unexpected! Just as the original participants were surprised, amazed, perplexed,  awe-struck,  fearful  and  bewildered  by  events  as  they unfurled, so should we be open, as they were, to new possibilities and truths. As we remember again the story of God’s Incarnation, let us take time  to  consider our response. The participants in the original story responded with generosity and faith to their part in God’s great plan. How do we respond to God’s part for us in his great plans today?

What does Christmas really mean to us? Is it just a story, so familiar to us that it has lost its impact? Or is it a story that we look at afresh in our remembering each and every year, eagerly seeking new insights and new messages for us here and now? Are we prepared, like the original participants, to let ourselves be changed forever by those events more than two thousand years ago? That, I believe, is the challenge to us all; our response, and the implications of that response. How thankful do we really feel? How generous will we be as a result of our gratitude? Is our  memory  of  the  events  a  passive  acknowledgement  of what happened, or does it fire and inspire us to do new things for God?

I pray that this may be for all of us a blessed, meaning-filled, life-changing Christmas, and that our excitement, joy and sense of wonder may be shared by all those whom we joyfully welcome to St. John’s at this special time of year, when heaven and earth are joined, and when we welcome once again the Christ-child into our lives, our families, our work and our hearts.

With expectation,


From Our October 2023 magazine

Dear Friends,

As we celebrate and share in Harvest Thanksgivings at church  and elsewhere in our community. It is vitally important that we take time, formally, once a year, to reflect on all God’s goodness to us and to thank him for all his many blessings to us. We are so blessed in so many ways, and there is a real danger that we just take it all for granted.

Nowadays, even in a place like Midsomer Norton, most of us have lost the vitality of the link between Harvest and survival/prosperity in the year ahead. Maybe that is why we have also lost some of that sense of living gratitude for what we have. I well remember during my years in farming the feelings of exhaustion, relief and gratitude as we brought the Harvest home, knowing that its success or otherwise could make or break us the following year.

Farming,  of  course  is  never  about the ‘one-off’ or short-termism. Planning, preparation and sheer hard-graft all have vital parts to play in maximising the potential for a good return. After that though we really do have to leave it to God, praying that he will take our planning, our preparation and our work and will multiply them and bless them, so that our harvest will yield plenty for us and for others.

Harvest is a time for each and every one of us, to be encouraged first to ‘count  our  blessings’,  to  give  thanks  for  them  and  then  to  think seriously  and  prayerfully  about  what our response as Christians, as followers  of  Christ,  should be. How do we use the money, time and talents that have been given to us? Does our gratitude overflow and make us generous in our giving? How does what we give to God through the work of his church compare to other things we spend our money on? A loaf of bread, a pint of beer, a meal out, a weekend away? It is said that a quick look at our bank statements shows what we value and find important in life!

What would a stranger looking at ours conclude about our lives, our priorities and our beliefs? It’s a question worth asking. There should be a clear match between what we say we value and believe and where our money goes!

Now I know as well as anyone that not everyone has limitless incomes and that times are hard. But we can be too cautious in our giving! Part of our calling as Christians is to give sacrificially, to make (sometimes hard)  choices  about  where we spend our money. To go without something we’d like, so that others may have what they need. This is an  important  part  of  our  calling to live in faith. Living in faith also encourages us not to be anxious about our lives. What we have and don’t have can so easily take over our lives. Jesus tells us not to worry, to  leave  it  to  our  heavenly  Father  who  does  and  will  provide  generously for us.

God gives us everything we need in extravagant abundance.  Let us give in the same way!

Yours in Christ, Guy


From Our July 2023 magazine

Dear Friends,

Following our Annual Parochial Church meeting at the end of April, several people have asked if I would submit the ‘remarks’ I made at the meeting to Church Alive. So here we go………

At  our  A.P.C.M.  we  look  back on the last year, reviewing   our   finances  and  receiving  various  reports.  We  rightly  thank  all  those  who  have  contributed to the life of our worshipping community, often doing those things we so easily take for granted.

My thanks to Philip, Kate, Fr. Jim, and Fr. Tony. To Hilary and Beth our churchwardens. To all PCC members. To Ann our Parish Safeguarding Officer. To Margaret and Geoff, and choir members. To our serving team. To the sacristy team. To the Sidespeople   team.   To   those   who  read,  and  who  lead  intercessions. For those who ring our bells. To the cleaning team. To our flower arrangers and decorators. To those who draw up the rotas! To those who produce the pew sheet and ‘Church Alive’ and update our website. To those who care for our closed and open churchyards. To the Social Committee and those  on  the Coffee and Tea Rota. To the groups offering companionship and support. To Liz and  Carolyn  who  manage  the  Church  Hall.   To those who give so generously of their time or treasure. And to those who faithfully pray for us all.

Whilst  it is  good  to  take stock and look back, we also ought to look forward. So, with that in mind, I would like to make some observations.

It is good to see this sacred space, this Parish Church being open for the community beyond our worshipping community. I believe this Parish Church is a community resource open to everyone. It is good that we have been able to offer this space to the Trio Paradis Friday lunchtime concerts, while the Town Hall is being refurbished. It is a real pleasure to be hosting the Wednesday lunchtime series of concerts again.

We have welcomed back the Midsomer Choral Society and the Mendip Male Voice Choir, and have hosted services for the Probus Club and Rotary Club.   In  offering  this  space  for  these  concerts  and  services  we are encouraging many more people beyond our worshipping community to come in and enjoy this space.

It  is good to hear our bells rung on a Sunday again. An important witness to the community at large – that the church is here and alive, and they are calling  us  to  prayer  and  worship. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of ringers from local towers, particularly Chilcompton,  Farmborough  and Corston. It is pleasing to see the nucleus of our own band of ringers and learners forming, with our tower captain Robert Perry.

We  are  all  called  to witness to our faith in our day to day lives. When possible, Philip and I have visited those in need or who have asked us to visit them. It has been a privilege to lead services for Age Concern at the Orchard Centre, where day care is offered to vulnerable adults. I also attend the first half hour of Town Council meetings, where I am invited to give a short reflection before business begins. These are opportunities to meet people where they are and share the story of Jesus.

With Philip’s past school experience and his eagerness to engage with our schools. I believe we are now building good relationships with four schools in our community.

We are all called to care for God’s creation. I am really encouraged by our flower arrangers, who despite the difficulties and having to look  again   at   how   they   do   things,   are  creating  wonderful  arrangements without the  use  of  oasis,  which  is  so  damaging  to  the  environment.   I  am  encouraged when we use china and glass for our hospitality, rather than paper  or  plastic.   We  are now recycling the metal  from  used  votive  candles.  Small steps perhaps, but steps forward in recycling what we can. We are also looking at the amount we print, and the paper used, which both  helps with the environmental impact and monitoring our costs of paper and ink.

The  National  Church  is  promoting Environmental Awards’ schemes to encourage Parishes to strive for bronze, silver or even gold! It would be good for St John’s to be one of the parishes working towards these in our Diocese to help us fulfil our stewardship responsibilities.

The natural environment in our care is also important, and I am heartened by the willingness of those who help maintain our closed and open churchyards, in finding ways of setting aside areas to ‘grow wilder’ and encourage natural diversity. It is also encouraging that offers of help from the wider community to maintain our churchyards have been forthcoming and gladly received.

These are challenging times for the Church; nationally, at Diocesan level, at Deanery level, and for every Parish and Benefice. The Diocesan financial situation we are facing is difficult. More resources and advice for parishes will be available in the autumn, so please do keep an eye on the Diocesan website. We have already been working with Kate Mayo, Archdeaconry Giving  adviser,  about  contactless giving and QR codes to enable those visiting us to give, even if they have no cash. I hope we will shortly join the Parish Giving Scheme, which our Diocese will be promoting, which saves treasurers  a  lot  of  work,  because  the  scheme  claims  the gift aid on donations monthly, allowing Parishes a regular income and cash flow. Can I encourage you all to consider your level of generosity and if at all possible direct debit your regular giving through the Parish Giving Scheme once it is up and running. I am about to change my internet provider to Truespeed, and this broadband provider is offering churches free internet access, which I hope we can take forward and benefit from.

It has been good to see study groups increasing steadily in size. Our most recent Lent Group provided us with an opportunity to think about the place of the Eucharist at the heart of our faith and our life together. It is good, too, to see participation in worship increasing again, especially on feast days and special occasions. Numbers of families coming for Christenings and weddings are encouraging, and our funeral ministry is building well. These occasional offices, as they are known, are important ways for us to connect  with  our  wider  community  and  show  them  God’s love and welcome.

With the observations I have made, I am confident we have the green shoots of emerging hope. With that hope in mind, we step forward into God’s future as  a  modern  catholic  worshipping  community  seeking  to  be inclusive, intergenerational, diverse, caring for creation, and striving to worship God in the beauty of holiness.

Yours in Christ, Guy



From Our May 2023 magazine

Dear Friends,

On May 18th, this year, the Church marks the Feast of the Ascension, when Christians remember the time when  Jesus  left  the  world  for  the  last time and returned to his Father in heaven. It is an important Feast, one which can be overlooked falling as it does on a Thursday, marking the end of the Easter Season.

Here is the account of Christ’s Ascension from the Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament. Perhaps you would like to imagine the scene, which took place at the top of a mountain (Acts 1:9-11).

As (the apostles) were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up towards heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them.

They  said,  “Men  of  Galilee,  why do you stand looking up towards heaven?

This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Now, I don’t know what you pictured. Romantic, swirly mists, a fantasy film style interpretation with dramatic special effects and rousing music or perhaps a science-fiction scenario with not quite this-world landscape and not quite human people.

Whichever one you saw, it can be a useful way to get into scenes from the Bible; to imagine yourself there, either as a detached observer or as an active participant, one of the apostles, perhaps. How might you feel? How might they have felt? What might they have done in response to what  they  saw?  What  might  we  do  in  response  to what we have experienced? Does it remind us of similar feelings we may have had in other totally different situations? Can we take what we have felt and use it to help us in our everyday life?

Feelings of fear, amazement, wonder, terror, confusion strike us often as  human  beings  at  the  most unexpected times and in the most unexpected places.

Perhaps we can learn something from those apostles, whose reaction to  the  mystery  was not paralysing fear, great sadness, nor just shrugging it off. It inspired them to wonder, to think, to pray and to worship God, reassured by the words of angels.

In moments of extreme panic in difficult, unexpected situations, it can be difficult to hear angels and God can feel far away. Perhaps next time you feel like that you can picture Christ’s Ascension on the mountain,  and be inspired by the apostles, who gained strength, comfort, and even joy, from their experience.

Yours in Christ, Guy

From our March 2023 magazine

Dear Friends,

I write this reflection, a week after the devastating earthquake  across  Southern  Turkey and Northern Syria. Thousands of lives lost, and buildings brought to rubble and dust. Those who survived are grieving the loss of loved ones, of their homes, possessions, and security. They are also having to endure freezing night temperatures in make shift shelters.

Despite the contorted re-enforced concrete there are glimpses of hope. Signs of life hours after the quake. Neighbour looking out for neighbour. Rescue teams from around the world meeting the immediate need. Emergency health care being offered where possible. Millions of pounds being raised within hours. There is some light amid the darkness.

Closer to home, it is wonderful to see people helping each other out, looking after family members, friends and neighbours. It is also good to help within our wider community, so I am delighted that we, as a church community, are able to support our local foodbank. It is good to see a steady flow of food and other items coming in week by week to help those  who  need  support in our local community. May our generous response  last  as  long  as  the  need!  It’s a good example of how our individual efforts, which wouldn’t make much difference on their own, can be joined to something bigger and make a real difference.

By the time you read this, we shall be into Lent, when I hope that some of us will have joined our Lent group. This is an opportunity, alongside whatever else we may offer to God in terms of self-denial or discipline, to  take  on  the  chance  to meet with other members of our church community  to  study  scripture,  pray  and  talk about the ways our Christian  faith can be a source of blessing, not just to us, but to each other, and the wider world. It will provide us with the opportunity to work out together how our faith shapes our decisions and our lives, so that we can allow our faith to determine and dictate our actions.

It may lead us to ‘take on’ something within the church or our wider community, even something apparently small, which can have a big impact on others. These small acts of kindness can have a huge effect on both giver and receiver, and we should all try hard to encourage one another in all that is good. That is how the kingdom is grown and God is glorified.

This mutual working out of God’s purpose in our lives, this grappling with  how  to  be  more  effective  witnesses  to  God’s  love  in our community    and   the   wider   world,   this   mutual   respect   and   encouragement  for  each  other  in  our  quest  to serve God and neighbour better is at the heart of our Christian life together. We have much to learn from each other, and much to offer each other in our Christian discipleship, if we can be encouraged to share. There is much to be gained by being open to other ideas and ways of doing things. We are all pilgrims on the same journey. Let us travel together in love and peace, supporting and encouraging each other along the way as best we can, hearts open to God’s Spirit and each other, until we all reach our heavenly Father.

What better way to keep a holy Lent!

Yours in Christ, Guy

From our January 2023 magazine

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year to you all, and I hope you all had a joyful Christmas.

No sooner are we into the New Year, than we find ourselves having reached the twelfth day of Christmas and then the Feast of the Epiphany. What a wonderful feast the Epiphany is; intriguing foreign astrologers, following a star, and offering precious gifts to a baby of humble birth laid in a manager. The Epiphany is rich in symbolism and meaning, when all our  senses  can  be  awakened  as  we come to worship God, and not forgetting the poignant hymns that are sung.

One  obvious  and important theme is the offering of gifts, of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. The first is a royal gift: the child is ‘born king’. The second is a priestly gift: frankincense was offered in the Temple at the altar of incense. Myrrh sounds a note of future suffering, because it was used to anoint the dead. King, priest, prophet: gifts foretelling the future of Mary and Joseph’s child. These gifts given in adoration show an outpouring of unconditional generosity in response to God’s generosity and love as revealed in the Christ Child.

An important question for us all, is how do we as a community of faith and as individuals respond to God’s overwhelming and generous love to us.   Will  we  respond  as  the  Magi from the East did with open and generous hearts? What we offer, whether in time, talents or treasure will shine like the star and show our commitment to God and our faith in Him.

I fully appreciate that currently we are facing a cost of living crisis and overwhelming energy costs. As a Community of Faith, we face the same rising  bills  and  so  your  P.C.C.  is  keeping  a close eye on our church finances.

Now  the  outlook  isn’t  bleak, but we need to be aware of possible problems ahead. If we carry on as we are, and don’t look again at our stewardship  and giving, then the pot from which we can balance our accounts will become empty!

I am very aware that these times of economic constraint are difficult for many  and  as  we  venture  into  a  new  year, we will access our own situation and make decisions in the light of our commitments. May I ask you to consider your response to God’s overwhelming generosity to us , as revealed at the Epiphany, with open minds and generous hearts, just as the Magi have shown.

I leave you with a possible new year’s resolution; to reflect upon God’s generosity and pray that we will respond in some way.

Yours in Christ,


From our November 2022 magazine

Dear Friends,

There’s no mistaking that autumn has arrived; nights are drawing in fast and winter approaches once again. As leaves fall from the trees and plants die back, it seems  to  fit  the  natural  cycle  that we spend time remembering and reflecting on all the bounty that we have enjoyed over the fruitful, ‘growing’ months.

November is, of course, a month for remembering. We begin as we mean to go on by remembering and giving thanks for all the saints, all those who have gone ahead of us in faith and whose stories cheer and inspire us, on All Saints’ Day on the 1st. On the 2nd we will remember with love and gratitude the Faithful departed, recognising that we are all able to share worship of God, whether in this life or the next. We recall the deeds of Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators on the 5th, and give thanks that we live in more peaceful times in our country’s history and that the flashes and bangs are fireworks to enjoy, rather than gunpowder. On the 11th we will observe with the whole nation a period of silent reflection to mark the signing of the Armistice Treaty to signal the beginning of the end of the First World War. On that occasion and again on Sunday 13th we will respectfully remember those who have given their lives in the service of their country, praying for their families, and pledging ourselves anew to the cause of peace. We will pray too for those serving in the Armed Forces, especially for those in combat, for those who support them, and those who watch and wait at home for their safe return.

All  this  remembering  is,  of  course,  in  addition to the weekly act of remembrance in which we all share each and every communion service, when we commemorate the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ,  finding  in  our  sharing of bread and wine encouragement and renewal on our own journeys of faith.

And in this season of remembering there is no harm in remembering our   own   baptism  into  the  Christian  faith,  our  own  personal  commitment to Christ, and our promise to encourage one another in the faith.

Don’t forget, remembering can be a form of prayer.

Yours in Christ, Guy

From our September 2022 magazine

During this month of September, we intend having a ‘Gift Day’. When we reflect on the many blessings of life, give thanks for the gift of faith, and for the worshipping community here at St. John’s. Can I encourage you to reflect and pray on how you may respond, whether as a one off gift or a possible increase to your regular giving.

I am very aware that we all face a cost of living crisis, with inflation reaching 10% and the cost of energy going through the roof! This will affect every household, business, and church. But if we look at the bigger picture,  if  we  look  around  God’s  world, we are still relatively rich compared to many regions of our shared world.

How do we use the money, time and talents that have been given to us? Does our gratitude overflow and make us generous in our giving? How does what we give to God through the work of his church compare to other things we spend our money on? A loaf of bread, a pint of beer, a meal out, a weekend away? It is said that a quick look at our bank statements shows what we value and find important in life! What would a stranger looking at ours conclude about our lives, our priorities and our beliefs?  It’s  a  question  worth asking. There should be a clear match between what we say we value and believe and where our money goes!

Now I know as well as anyone that not everyone has limitless incomes and that times are hard. But we can be too cautious in our giving! Part of our calling as Christians is to give sacrificially, to make (sometimes hard) choices about where we spend our money. To go without something we’d like, so that others may have what they need. This is an important part of our calling to live in faith. Living in faith also encourages us not to be anxious about our lives. What we have and don’t have can so easily take over our lives. Jesus tells us not to worry, to leave it to our heavenly Father who does and will provide generously for us.

Many times I have heard people say that if God wants us to do more, he’d better provide the resources! What they are missing is that God does provide the resources – he gives them to us, and we give them back to him. I remember driving Bishop Bill Westwood back from a Confirmation in Rutland a long time ago. He asked me to detour through  a  neighbouring parish, saying that he had had a delegation insisting that they couldn’t possibly pay their parish share and repairs to the church. As we drove through the village, past huge, well-cared for homes, set in immaculately-tended large plots of land, I was only too aware of the blood pressure of my passenger rising to danger point! Knowing him well, I said nothing; just kept driving slowly as we passed more modest housing now, some even slightly scruffy. We both knew  that the delegation had not come from this end of the village. Indeed,  there  was  a  stall outside a particularly tatty house selling marmalade for the church roof. We stopped and bought a jar each! As I got back into the car clutching the two pots, Bishop Bill pondered sadly to himself, “Why can’t they see that God’s given them everything that they need? They just won’t let go of it!”

God gives us everything we need in extravagant abundance. Let us give in the same way!

Yours in Christ, Guy

From our June 2022 magazine

Dear Friends,

From the Gospel according to Matthew: “It will not be so among you;  but whoever wishes to great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Matt. 20: 26-28 NRSV)

We begin June celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. What a remarkable lifetime of service. A constant presence in our lives, and the life of our nations, and the Commonwealth for seventy years. Our Queen has witnessed many changes in her reign, both throughout our nations and throughout God’s world. Like all of us, the Queen has enjoyed good times, she has endured dark times, and has carried the grief of loved ones who have died with dignity.

What has become clearer over the years is our Queen’s Christian faith and the inspiration she takes from the life and teachings of Jesus. She said the following in her Christmas message 2002:

I know just how much I rely on my faith to guide me through good times and the bad. Each day is a new beginning. I know that the only way to live my life is to try to do what is right, to take the long view, to give of my best in all that day brings, and to put my trust in God… I draw strength from the message of hope in the Christian gospel.”

A Christian pilgrim following the ‘way’ serving the God she trusts and loves.

At the end of June, we will be celebrating with Philip his ordination to the priesthood. It has been a real joy to journey with Philip this last year. The worshipping community here has been open to Philip’s ministry among us and has appreciated all that he brings. At the heart of Philip’s Christian discipleship is service.

Service  of  God  and service of others. And it is faith, service, and commitment, that has brought Philip to this point in his vocation.

We pray for Philip, and for those who will be ordained with him at Bath Abbey on Saturday 25th June. May God guide, strengthen, and inspire them to follow Jesus in love and service for all people and all creation.

Monarch and Deacon, two examples of Christian service, which I hope inspire us all to follow and share in our service to God, to each other, and to strangers.

A prayer for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee:

Gracious God, we give you thanks for the reign of your servant Elizabeth our Queen,

and for the example of loving and faithful service which she has shown among us.

Help us to follow her example of dedication and to commit our lives to you and to one another,

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

With thankfulness for them both, Guy


From our March 2022 magazine

Dear Friends,

Ash  Wednesday  marks  the beginning of the holy season of Lent, when we are encouraged to prepare for the Passion, Death and Resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. The worship on Ash Wednesday has a real solemn sense that runs right through it.

The signing of Ash accompanied with the words ‘Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. Turn away from  sin  and be faithful to Christ’; words that remind us of our own mortality, not to frighten or depress us, but to remind us (and reassure us)  of  our  own limitations and of our need of God. For me there is a tangible sense of ‘clearing the decks’, of getting back to what is real and important, of denying self and going deeper with God. This all happens, not with the dark clouds of foreboding and a chill in the air, but in the light of truth which is revealed in the Gospels, that God loves us all and invites us all to enter into a deeper relationship with Him.

It is this invitation to all from God that is echoed in the introduction to our worship on Ash Wednesday by the Church;

‘Brothers and sisters in Christ, since early days Christians have observed with great devotion the time of our Lord’s passion and resurrection and prepared for this by a season of penitence and fasting.

By  carefully  keeping  these  days,  Christians  take to heart the call to repentance and the assurance of forgiveness proclaimed in the gospel, and so grow in faith and in devotion to our Lord.

I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting and self-denial; and by the reading and meditating on God’s Holy Word.’

As we begin our journey through Lent and onward into Passiontide and Holy Week, may I invite you all to make that journey with Christ.

This journey isn’t an easy one, it will require self-denial and adjusting our compass towards Christ. One way to journey more deeply with Christ is to make more time for prayer and reflection, and enter more deeply the mystery of Christ’s suffering. Another way would be to read and  meditate  on God’s Holy word, perhaps read slowly one of the Gospel accounts of Christ’s passion and imagine being there. You could journey  with  others on our Lent course as we explore ‘living and learning well together’. Or come and worship God who invites us to share in the mystery of his love, which is expressed in the Upper Room, on the Cross and in an empty tomb.

For the reality is that, if we never descend to the depths, we can never be raised; if we never experience the dark, we will not recognise and appreciate the light; and if we do not empty ourselves, God cannot fill us with His love and forgiveness. Easter joy can only truly be felt when we  understand  something  of the enormity of the love the sacrifice involved, and make a heartfelt response.

As Archbishop Justin Welby summed up the Christian faith, our faith, at Prince George’s Baptism,

For you Jesus Christ came into the world

For you he lived and showed God’s love

For you he suffered the darkness of Calvary

and cried at the last “It is accomplished!”

For you he triumphed over death

and rose to new life

For you he reigns at God’s right hand.

All this he did for you.


God’s  invitation  is  for  all.  How are we going to respond this Lent, Passiontide and Holy Week?

Yours in Christ, Guy.


From our January 2022 magazine

Dear Friends,

So we turn to face a New Year.  A new start, a fresh beginning; put the past behind us and face the future with hope.  But  for  many  of  us  it isn’t that straight forward. The past year will have had its ups and downs; health problems, financial difficulties, the death of loved ones, or the arrival of new life in a baby, the good news of successful treatment, entering calmer waters of stable finances, and all overshadowed by COVID 19. Whatever sort of year we have experienced in 2021, it comes with us into 2022.

As I write the world feels bleak and dark. Yes, it is winter and daylight is minimal. However, this sense of bleakness and darkness suffuses many of the problems we find throughout God’s world. The Omicron variant of the Coronavirus is spreading at a vast rate, putting further pressure on health  care  systems.   Climate  change  which  effects  the  poor and marginalised far more than those of us in the (so called) developed world, and how we cut our carbon emissions. The mass movement of people seeking refuge and safety, and how we welcome those who seek a better future.

However dark God’s world may seem there is always a thread of light, the  light  of  hope. It is the light of hope and love, which we have just celebrated at Christmas, that we are called to shine into the world’s dark places and problems.

We often associate darkness with all that is negative, painful and deathly, but the Bible depicts darkness as a source of enrichment.

At  the  beginning  of creation, “the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2). Again the Prophet Isaiah refers to darkness and light, “I will give you the treasures of darkness and the riches hidden in secret places, so that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who call you by your name.” (Isaiah 45:3). And  from  the  Gospel  according  to John, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it” (John 1:5). There is a thread of light, God’s light at work in the darkness.

As  we  face  a  New  Year,  the  nations of our world have serious problems and questions to confront, as do we. But we are called to face them in the ‘light’ of the Incarnation, in the ‘light’ of the Epiphany star which revealed the ‘light of Christ’ born for all.

It is in that light, in that hope that we can welcome a new day, a new year and step into God’s future.

Happy New Year,


From our November 2021 magazine

Dear Friends,

Remember, remember the 5th November, gunpowder, treason and plot.

November is the month for remembering.  From the 1st,  when we  recall and celebrate the lives of all the Saints,  living  and  departed,  to  the  30th,  when we celebrate  the call of Andrew, to become an Apostle Of  Christ.  On  All  Souls’  Day  (2nd)  we commemorate  the  Faithful  Departed; on the 5th we remember Guy Fawkes. Then come Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday, when we remember all those who gave their lives in war and conflict, past and present, in the hope that we may live in peace.

It is right that we should remember, because it makes sense of who and where we are in the present. As Christians we constantly remember the redeeming work of God, achieved through His Son, Jesus Christ. It is in the mystery of the Holy Eucharist, when we “do this in remembrance of me”, that past, present and future become one in sacrament.

As  I  say,  it  is  right  and proper to remember, but we should do this remembering in a positive way.

Not harking back to old times, not raking over the past to open again old wounds and resentments, not returning to things which should be left with God.   All  our  remembering, personal and corporate, should be exposed to the searching love and light of God, who is God of all time and eternity, who is judge of all and knows all the secrets of our hearts. It is only when we remember in God’s light that we can make any sense of what has past, offer it to the present and so look to the future.

When we remember in the pure searching light of God and hold our memories before him, we will then find the wisdom and strength to let go of past hurts and failings and perhaps encounter healing of those things which prevent us from being the people God would have us be.

It is when we allow God to search and cleanse our hearts and souls, that we as disciples of Christ today, and a community of faith today, can embrace the present and look forward to God’s future

In this month of remembering we will recall the lives of loved ones we have known with sadness and joy and the lives of those not known to us at all. And, in this remembering, we will carry the gifts of the past into the future. It is by remembering what Christ has won for us that we can step into the future with hope and confidence.

With hope in God’s future ,


From our October 2021 magazine

Dear Friends,

Harvest Thanksgiving is a relatively modern service in the church calendar, but one which seems to transport  many  back to childhood, back even to a bygone era of working horses, of haywains, of fields of labourers stacking sheaves.

I have a real soft-spot for Harvest Thanksgivings, after 8 years working on the land there is still farming in the blood-stream. That sense of achievement, a job well done, when all was safely gathered in, a wonderful, warm feeling at the end of a long hot day carting straw. And then to Church to thank God. The smell of fresh bread and autumn fruits, of straw and incense, of hops and damp air. The colours and imaginative arrangements, the gifts laid before the altar, all part of our thanksgiving.

Perhaps this power to be transported back in time is, in some part at least, due to the sights, colours and smells. As human beings, made in the image of God, we have been blessed with five senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch, and there is nothing like a harvest thanksgiving to awaken, and to encourage us to use, all five. The rich colours of autumn, the sheer physical beauty of fruit, the different textures, the scrunching of leaves, the crunching of apples, the autumnal fragrances – fruit, grains, even that indefinable damp, misty smell of an early morning. The slight chill of the air at dawn and dusk, the spikiness of many seed cases, the exquisite  smoothness  of the fruit they conceal. The sheer delight of picking fruit and eating it, apples, blackberries, autumn raspberries. And the timing too is so perfect – a feast just before the harshness of winter. I could go on (and on!), but I won’t. We can hopefully all relate to the beauty and joy of the harvest. I hope you will allow this season of autumn to awaken all your senses.

As a Christian, I believe all this thanksgiving is meaningless and empty, if our hearts and lives don’t show our gratitude to God. How we care for Creation – the planet and environment, for each other and the stranger. Whether our giving is generous and heartfelt will reflect our true thankfulness to God.

With thanksgiving, Guy


From the August 2021 magazine

Dear Friends,

As   we   have  reached the end of an extraordinary academic   year  for  teachers,  children and young people alike, and enter the month of August, our minds naturally turn to summer holidays. I imagine most of us will holiday in the British Isles, rather than risk the complex hurdles you face if going abroad! And as we cautiously emerge out of COVID 19 restrictions on all our lives, we all need a break, we would welcome a holiday if at all possible!

Holidays are important times for each of us, whether we holiday alone, with family or with friends. They are times when we can leave aside our every day routines, when the ordinary chores of life can be abandoned for a while, and even our concerns can be laid down for a day or two. Holidays are times, hopefully, when we can find some rest from the pressures of life, when we can slow down and take time to see God’s world anew, listen to the natural world and each other, savour and taste the food we eat without rush, just enjoy the company of God’s world and each other.

In resting, in slowing down, in paying attention to the world around us and our fellow human beings, we will begin to be refreshed in body, mind and soul. Some of us will find this slowing down difficult (we are all different,  thank  God)  but  a  change can allow us to see the world differently, and that may make all the difference, and allow the batteries to be recharged.

However we take our holidays, it is when we find rest and are refreshed, that we can then reflect on life with its many blessings and sorrows, ups and downs. As we reflect on our lives, at work, at home, in the current pandemic and with God, we may begin to see where some adjustment ought, or even needs, to be made to enable us to live more balanced lives.

Where do our priorities lie? Where should they lie? This is equally true of our physical and emotional needs as well as our spiritual needs. And  what  is  true  for  us  as individuals, is equally true for us as members of the body of Christ. It is when we find time to reflect, to look on things with fresh eyes, that we can discern what is to be laid down, enabling us to do something new. We may indeed lead active and full lives, but to make them fulfilling lives will need a positive change from our old ways to new enriching ways of being and doing as God’s people and as God’s church.

Wherever you take your holiday, whether by the sea or climbing mountains, camping or luxury hotel, staying with friends or family, I hope  and pray that you may find rest and refreshment, which may allow you to reflect on life and all that our loving God would want for you, and for us all at St. John the Baptist.

As  I  write  this, I am also very aware that some of you, for various reasons will be unable to take a holiday. I pray that God will sustain and support you this and every day, and maybe these summer days will offer the opportunity for a moment’s rest to reflect.

Yours in Christ,


June 2021

Dear Friends,

As we emerge from the COVID 19 restrictions placed on our lives and give thanks for the continuing rollout  of  the  vaccine  programme,  we  can tentatively begin to look to the future with hope.

As Government restrictions and guidelines are eased and things are opening up, we perceive the time is right to look at the worship we offer on a Sunday. Following conversations with Carol and Beth, your churchwardens, the Standing Committee of your Parochial Church Council, and with the support of the PCC, we feel that we can reinstate the Said Holy Eucharist at 8.00 am every Sunday. We also feel the time is right to move the 9.30 am Parish Eucharist back half an hour so that our worship begins at 10.00 am on a Sunday morning.

There are various reasons for introducing this change. Firstly, research shows that the optimum time for a Sunday service is 10.00 am; this change  may  help  us  as  we  seek  to encourage young families and children  to join our worshipping community. The parish where I was previously  Incumbent  introduced  this change and we began to see families and children attend far more regularly. Secondly, within your Parish Profile the Parish Questionnaire asked, “if you could change one thing?” A number of responses clearly indicated that they would like a later service time. And thirdly, the time between the end of the 8.00 am Said Eucharist and the beginning of the 9.30 am Parish Eucharist leaves very  little  time  for  the Priest to prepare or to gather their thoughts before the next act of worship. From experience I know that an extra half an hour between two acts of worship makes a prayerful difference.

With this modest change in time, it is my hope and prayer, that this will help and encourage us to “open up” and become more accessible to young families and children. It may also help us in our outreach to the wider community and in our desire to be inclusive and open to all.

There is also the opportunity to offer different kinds of worship on a weekday or Sunday evenings as we explore together ways in which we may broaden the range of our worship of God, and so attract more people to journey with us as we share the story of God’s love for us and for the world.

Sunday Worship

8.00 am Said Eucharist.

10.00am Parish Eucharist.

It is hoped that this new pattern of worship on a Sunday morning will   begin   on  Sunday  4th  July  2021,  as  long  as  Government  restrictions continue to be lifted.

With hope and prayer,



Fr Guy Writes

April 2021

Dear Friends,

Like many, last Saturday afternoon (17th April), I sat and watched H.R.H. Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral from Windsor Castle and St. George’s Chapel.  I found the music, the procession and the service moving, dignified and fitting, in accordance with the Duke’s wishes.

For the eight days of mourning since his death much has be written, heard, and seen recalling Prince Philip’s long and distinguished life. A life of  service,  anchored by faith. His interests and passions were wide ranging;  from  environmental  conservation  to  young people, from supporting  our  Armed  Forces  to  carriage racing, from encouraging interfaith dialogue and understanding to innovation in engineering. He has been rightly praised for his unfailing support and unstinting loyalty to the Queen and his commitment to their family.

What I hadn’t appreciated was Prince Philip’s strong commitment to the Christian faith. In an article published in the Church Times on 16th April 2021, The Rt. Rev’d Graham James, former Bishop of Norwich, wrote this; “He (Prince Philip) may have been baptised in the Greek Orthodox Church, but he seemed more at home at matins than high mass. I think sermons  were  more  important  to  him  than sacraments. His was a cerebral faith, and, in that sense, he was a son of the Enlightenment. But he did have a sacramental understanding of creation. His book Survival or Extinction, written with Michael Mann, was an early contribution to developing a Christian theology of the environment, one in which the earth was understood as a means of grace given by a Creator God, and which should not be exploited, but demand good stewardship.”

In this Easter season, when we give thanks for our Easter faith and the gift of eternal life, we give thanks for Prince Philip and for his example of Christian service.

We pray for Her Majesty the Queen as she faces the rest of her reign with a “huge void” instead of her “rock”, and for all members of the Royal Family at this time.

I end  with  the  words  that  begin  the  Russian  Contakion  of  the Departed which were sung at Prince Philip’s funeral.

Give rest, O Christ, to your servant with your saints: where sorrow and pain are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting.

With Easter hope,



February 2021

Dear Friends,

At the beginning of February, we celebrate the Feast of Candlemas, marking the end of Epiphanytide. By the middle of February we will be in the penitential season of Lent. Ash Wednesday is 17th February this year.

Candlemas is traditionally a festival of light, marking the end of the whole Advent – Christmas – Epiphany season, when the light of Christ shining into the darkened world is a predominant theme. It has a bittersweet feel to it; there is a sense that Candlemas is a bridge between a season of anticipation, joy and revelation and the more sombre message of Lent, which shortly follows. As we read in Luke’s Gospel, like Simeon in the Temple, it points both back (to the joy of the birth) and forward (to a time of testing). We have to leave the manger and turn to face the Cross.

But before we do move on, I would like to reflect on the Epiphany theme of gifts. At the Feast of the Epiphany we consider the wonderful gift God has given to us, the gift of Love found in a baby, the gift of God’s own son Jesus. And having received such an unconditional gift, how or what should be our response? Surely, we give thanks, heartfelt thanks for a wondrous gift and a humble acceptance that anything that we say or do in return cannot compare to the mystery of God’s love. All we have to offer in return is our time, talents and treasure or as Christina Rossetti puts it: ‘What can I give him, poor as I am? if I were a shepherd I would bring a lamb; if I were a wise man I would do my part; yet what I can I give him, give my heart.’

As Christians we are called to respond to God’s gift to us in all that we do and say, in our worship, in our prayer, in our daily lives, and as we respond to God’s gift of love we ourselves become open hearted and can share with joy God’s love to all we meet and help build up God’s Kingdom here in this place at this time.

As we journey through another national lockdown, it is up to us to share God’s  love  and  light with those around us in our daily lives (socially distanced of course!). And it is up to us to recognise and acknowledge God’s love and light we see revealed in the many acts of kindness and care we receive from others and our NHS. Despite the darkness of a worldwide  pandemic  the  light  of  God’s  love  can  be seen in our community,  in our companionship one for another, in our generous giving  of  time,  support  and  help,  and  in  listening  to  each  other informing our prayer and reflection on all that God has given us. God’s continues to pour out his love and light around us in all creation. It is at times like these when we can pause and look again at the many signs of God’s Kingdom around us.

At Candlemas we leave God’s love as revealed in the manger and to Simeon and Anna in the Temple, and prepare to face God’s love as shown on the Cross. We do so in the light of Jesus Christ, God’s gift of love  to  us.   May that light of love shine in us as we express our thankfulness in all that we do and say as we approach the Holy Season of Lent.

Yours in Christ,




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