A message for Lent 2021 - to the school staff, children and parents/ carers from Reverend Gary Crellin - Vicar of Powick, Callow End, Guarlford and Madresfield - The Old Hills Malvern Parishes
Monday 22nd February 2021
Welcome back after a somewhat different and wet half term break in what is proving to be a challenging year on all levels. That said, the evenings are getting lighter, the snowdrops and daffodils are out ( and crocuses too) and the covid19 vaccination programme is well underway. There is hope - and hope is a very Christian concept, in fact it’s central to our faith. Welcome to Lent 2021 too - Lent started on Wednesday 17th February, Ash Wednesday. I am so sorry not to have been with you in school for our pancake day races which would have happened in some form I am sure on Shrove Tuesday, if you were in school! I enjoyed my pancakes and I hope you did too. For more information on Lent, pop over to my YouTube channel for some videos I have uploaded for use by the schools. They need more views and likes! Look up Old Hills Malvern Churches on YouTube for regular collective worship and explanatory videos.
The entire world has been through a difficult, if not devastating, year with so many affected in rich countries and poor by the pandemic. For all of us, me included, we haven’t seen family unless it’s by video screen. Enjoying holidays has been different and most of us have had to share our homes together for months on end without a break . For some of us adults, work as well as family pressures have surfaced . No wonder there is so much talk about mindfulness and mental health.
Whilst we are turning a corner with the pandemic, and maybe lockdown easing as long as we continue to abide by the rules, let’s be kind to one another. We have all been through a lot, and, as the experts remind us, this pandemic is not over yet. It has been a difficult journey, one in which we have all encountered rough seas. While some have weathered the storm in the safety of a large, sturdy ship, others have roughed the seas in dinghies and rafts. Acts of kindness, large and small, shine the light of hope through the darkness and reassure us that we are not on this journey alone.
And that is what Lent offers us in this year of continued pandemic: Hope. It is Jesus who is our hope (cf. St Paul’s letter to Timothy (1Timothy 1:1). In Jesus Christ risen, we gain strength and hope in a difficult journey. In Lent, we are invited to journey ever more closely with Christ, who is always with us. We do so through prayer, fasting, and giving to charity.
In prayer, we talk with Jesus: we pour out our heart to him, and we listen to his words of comfort. We are consoled by his presence. Fasting ( giving up things) makes our relationship with Jesus quite real and helps us be in solidarity with those who are in need. As your Vicar , I have encountered so many parents who sacrifice quietly for their children as a matter of course. They do so, not because we Christians like to suffer. Rather, when we love someone, we don’t think twice about making sacrifices for them. Likewise, it is essential that our love for Jesus not remains simply an idea, but that it be concrete, symbolically sharing what we give up with others. This can be achieved through service to others or charitable giving. Something that genuinely pleases God is when we reach out to those in need– acting in kindness and giving hope. You could be supporting a charity or doing a good deed rather than giving something up. I have been promoting litter picking around our villages as the state of our verges and open spaces are a real embarrassment, especially with the new litter lout - the disposable face mask- being dumped everywhere. Or you could give to Comic Relief. Where can I get a red nose from?
In this Lent, I hope I am encouraging you all to bring hope to others through simple gestures of kindness, “words of comfort,” and through a daily practice of prayer, fasting, and giving. As we journey with Jesus through the desert these 40 days of Lent, we do so as a community of faith, Thus, we will “journey together in hope!”
I am looking forward to Zooming into your school’s Easter assembly very soon. Meanwhile, I hope you are enjoying the Lent Activity sheet.
With my prayers for you this Lent
Reverend Gary's Pastoral Message June 2020
Among the words which we have recently heard and, perhaps, used much more frequently over the last eight weeks is the word ‘unprecedented’. How have you uttered or heard that word?
As I write this in mid-May, the day after the Prime Minister’s announcement that lockdown will, unexpectedly, be relaxed, the full ramification of this and the supplementary 50 page “project plan” are still be inwardly digested by many. Some of the issues I will have to contemplate will be unprecedented tomorrow, as they are today:
·The thought of the lack of weddings this year
·No sight of a baptism on the radar as yet
·A serious increase in the number of funerals (13 at last count since lockdown)
·What will worship look like?
·Who will return to church?
·Will I ever master Zoom or FaceTime? Has anyone used the material I produced?
What is also unprecedented is the determination being demonstrated by our village communities across Powick, Callow End, Guarlford, Madresfield and Newland - all the individuals and families working together to engage in acts of goodness, kindness and generosity which, even when at a distance, offer much-needed support to those who are vulnerable, needy and fearful. The number of people who have responded to Cllr Tom Wells’ call for volunteers is remarkable, whilst NHS, Social Care and other frontline professionals face the challenge of COVID19 head-on, day in and out, with our love and gratitude. Apparently, the Government definition of frontline workers includes “religious workers”. Not sure I would call myself that……
Loving God’s ways, and demonstrating this by loving one’s neighbour is a fundamental foundation of our faith and its practice, so I thank you for all that you are doing to help in whatever ways you are able. With lockdown supposedly easing, we must be on our guard (or use the new strap line “be alert”) to ensure that all that we are doing to isolate the vulnerable and social distance ourselves doesn’t unravel because we all decide to pile off to a garden centre, barbers or kebab van - as nice as any of those things would be.
Church buildings are still closed and likely to remain so for some time to come. The problem with the church is that we look at issues from all sorts of perspectives, but over-look what the individual church or individual wants or needs.
Opportunities for private reflection, prayer and contemplation are open to us all anytime. Use our prayer time and focus upon the precious nature of life and just how fragile it can be in the face of illness. Focus, too, upon these beautiful words from Isaiah 43:
But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
You are precious in my sight, and honoured, and I love you.
Do not fear, for I am with you;
At times of personal anxiety and in the present unprecedented circumstances, such words of comfort are vitally important for us to reflect upon and absorb. They provide us with assurance that we matter and that other people matter; and they both can and should encourage us to face challenges with personal courage and a commitment to the good of others.
Any act, however small, of kindness, generosity, compassionate service and love shown to another person in need demonstrates that we have heeded the words of Jesus from the familiar parable of the Good Samaritan, to ‘go and do likewise’.
I pray that you will feel encouraged and valued, that you will remember that you matter. I pray that you will recognise that others matter too, and that following the example of Jesus and his faithful disciples down the ages, you will be a supporter, a helper and a comforter now as well as into the villages’ future.
Keep Well and Stay Safe and Remained Blessed
Happy Church New Year! And happy Advent - as we all begin to look forward to Christmas with anticipation. It’s also time to open your first door on your Advent Calendar. Here’s mine! It’s nice and traditional- has chocolate inside but there are so many to choose from! Perfumes to building blocks (aka Lego) , Screwfix even do one ( other DIY stores are available) My other one is a Little Mix one - well, it has to be. As you get closer to Christmas make time for yourself and the real Christmas presence - born as a baby to a refugee family in a town far far away. Blessings - Rev Gary Crellin
A message from Reverend Gary - 28th June 2019
Who was St Peter? Why do you think our church is named after him?
On 30th June the Church celebrates the feast day of two great saints, Saint Peter and Saint Paul. Peter and Paul were both friends of Jesus, but their lives were very different. The church in Powick is named after St Peter. Chances are, you would have heard a few stories about Peter from Open The Book. Check to see how much you can remember of our special saint...
Peter, a fisherman in Galilee, was first named Simon but Jesus gave him the name ‘Peter’, which means ‘rock’. Jesus told Peter that he would build his Church on this rock. Jesus called Peter to leave his work as a fisherman and follow him. Peter became the leader of the twelve Apostles (the special friends of Jesus). When Jesus asked his friends who they thought he was, Peter said “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” At the Last Supper, Jesus foretold that Peter would deny him three times, before the cock crowed. That night, when Jesus was arrested, Peter was so frightened that he denied knowing Jesus – three times – and then the cock crowed, and Peter wept. After Jesus rose from the dead, he asked Peter three times “Do you love me?” When Peter replied, three times, that he did, Jesus told him “Feed my sheep”.
Peter was an important leader of the early Church. After Pentecost he was able to preach to large crowds, telling them about Jesus. He became the first Bishop of Rome: the first Pope.
Why not visit St Peters church for the church fete this coming Saturday, 29th June from 12noon to 4.30pm. Celebrate St Peter's fete! Our special church service is on Sunday 30th June from 1030am . Try looking for the fish is the church - a lot of you in school made them! Rev Gary
A MESSAGE FROM REVEREND GARY - 21st June 2019
Dear parents and carers
As well as your children being part of a delightful school, your child and the wider family of the school are part of your local churches too. You may not go to church, but you are still part of a church community through your association with this school. I am your local vicar for these important school years and hopefully beyond. I am really chuffed that so many of you come to the church assemblies and put-up with my gags, collections for charity, support your child/children in the assemblies or services but more hopefully get something from the place that has been there for centuries. In church, we pray for our schools regularly, which I hope is a comfort.
The church, like any organisation, takes some organising. Hundreds of hours of volunteering goes both into keeping our church going in our community, as well as hundreds of hours of being involved in wider community ventures by church members to keep our communities vibrant each month. I do appreciate all that the volunteers do, but we are all getting old and all have increasing pressures on our "spare" time.
In the Bible, Jesus uses this phrase - "The harvest is plenty, but the labourers are few" (Luke 10.2). It sums it up really, but I hope this appeal for help doesn't fall on deaf ears (that's another Bible saying from the Book of Jeremiah). So much to do, give thanks for and develop. But we cannot do this alone.
Perhaps over the remaining weeks of term, and the coming summer holidays, you could think - "how can I, we, help our church?" At the moment, I need a person to dip the oil tank at St Peters in Powick (why should we expect churchwardens in their 70's to do this)? Maybe, if you have AmDram in your blood, you can join our Open The Book teams (the children, your children - love the Bible stories being told in this way). For those interested in church buildings and the churchyards, I need folk to be the new wave of Churchwardens (especially at Powick and Guarlford from next April, if not before). For book keepers, accountants , retired Directors of Finance, why not come on board and be a parish treasurer? Someone, please, help the vicar with the church admin and get our website and social media presence up and running! Alternatively, can you make tea and cake, or are a good listener and be part of our fellowship and pastoral visiting teams? Please come and help.
Contact me for further information or advice. (01905 830270 , DM via Facebook "gary crellin" or via Twitter). Thank you for reading this. Best wishes - Rev Gary
What is Epiphany?
Chances are, you are all sitting at home with boxes or bags of decorations to struggle up into the loft or to find the time to put the decorations away in the garage. But should we? Really, we should keep some decorations up until early February, but that’s another story. Was that a surprise revelation to hear that ? Well, that’s what the Epiphany is all about - a little four week season just after Christmas that reveals so much. And very few people know about, I sense.
Epiphany moments - a wake up call - a revelation- that’s what happened when the Three Wise Men or Kings turned up to see Jesus. Chances are, given the distances and camel speed, they arrived when Jesus was a toddler rather than just in time for Mary to change the godly nappy. But the thing is - they arrived and by doing so we remember as Christians that Jesus was revealed to all of us - for all time. What a revelation!
Another revelation - the epiphany is a traditional time to as God’s Blessing on your homes and schools. How do we do this? Well, write the following on a piece of card and put it up near your front door:
No, this is not some algebra Or the latest maths challenge to resolve but an important message.
Put the card up somewhere and see how many people ask you what it means. Or be radical - chalk it up on the brick work!
A prayer - Loving God, bless our house, our community and our school. May we be blessed with health, happiness, goodness of heart and abiding in your will. Amen
A Message from The Reverend Gary Crellin
Welcome from YOUR Vicar
Hello, I am The Reverend Gary Crellin - I am the Vicar of two parishes that serve the communities of Powick, Callow End, Guarlford and Madresfield with Newland, in this lovely part of Worcestershire – over the rivers and in front of the hills. I am reasonably new in post, having started in June 2018, but I am really looking forward to getting known and finding out about the people and places around my parishes.
First and foremost, I am here for all people in these parishes, regardless if you go to a church or not; have a faith or struggling to believe. I would be most pleased to meet you to discuss anything that my faith and my churches can help you with. It could be a question about christenings, weddings or even handling a bereavement. You might want to pull me upon the Church’s role in society. Or you might want to find out more about Christianity. Of course, it would be good to see you in church, but as a parent of three daughters of recent school age, I know that getting to church on a Sunday morning may not be high on your list of priorities. A shame, but that’s life. But I can do something about it. I will bring church to YOU. In a way…..
My involvement with the three Church of England Schools - Powick, Madresfield and Callow End - will bring me into school, and you and your children into church. You, your child/children are part of a flourishing network of Church of England Schools delivering education and life experience to your children from a distinctive Christian (Anglican) perspective. Therefore, a vicar is going to be useful to have about. I have agreed a number of assemblies and services that will be creative and fun experiences and help you to understand and be part of the Christian values that we are going to experience and develop together, over your life time at the school. You see - I am going to be YOUR vicar for the next six years – if you go to church, or not. Enjoy!
I look forward to meeting you after assemblies, on the school gate , or around and about. Please say hello (I don’t bite). And if I can help you, or your families in any way, here are my contact details:
firstname.lastname@example.org Office - 01905 830270 Twitter - @oldhillsparish2
Best wishes and blessings to each of you
Open the Book
Each Thursday, we welcome a local church group to 'Open the Book' and re-tell a Bible story. This always involves a child- friendly interpretation, keen pupil actors chosen from across all year groups, super props and sets and a fine selection of knitted beards! Here are some of the stories they have shared with us recently...