Rev Gary’s Lent Message to our schools and families 1st March 2023
Lent is one of the most important seasons in the church's calendar. How it’s been observed
has changed over the years. To date, I haven’t seen any reference to it in the media so far.
Just because Maya Jama, Elon Musk, Gary Lineker, Stacey Dooley and Ant & Dec aren’t
tweeting about it, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t consider Lent and what that means to us.
Over the years. Lent has had a wide variety of customs associated with it. Part of the richness of
the season is this huge variety of different emphases, and so long as we do not ever restrict
ourselves to just any one of these, it can be a hugely enriching period for us to engage with.
Originally a season of preparation and prayer for those who were to be baptised on Easter
Sunday, it has always had a sense of getting ourselves prepared for the great feast of
Easter. The idea of 40 days of fasting came through later Greek and Latin influences and
helps us focus on a time of penance ( saying sorry for things we know we have done wrong)
, and sometimes fasting (or giving up something intentionally – such as food), as part of our
preparation for Easter. But it is the meaning of the English word Lent; which always inspires
me most - Spring is the season of new growth and preparation for fruitfulness. A
season for optimism and new life. With the weather we had over half term, I am sure we all
felt optimistic. And so we should throughout Lent.
Rather than giving up something for Lent, why not do something different instead? Donate
to Comic Relief (18 th March – oh, isn’t that interesting how that charity fundraiser falls in
Lent?) by all means and wear your red nose with pride , but why not donate some cash into
the Vicar’s Red Bucket for The Leprosy Mission - a disease that features in the Bible but
sadly exists still today. For about £25, a person can give given the help and treatment to be
cured. That’s not a high target for school classes to fundraise, is it?
Fast if you want, but I won’t be doing that. Yes, I’ve tried giving up chocolate and crisps – it
doesn’t work for me - but I will give something else up: carrier bags and other pieces of
pointless plastic we get given by shops. You could try litter picking, if you want to do
something to help the local environment in and around your school or home: in the middle of
Lent, there is The Great British Spring Clean (17 th March-2ndApril ) where you can do just
Don’t forget Mothering Sunday falls in the middle of Lent (19th March). There are church
services in our churches (including a special Morning Praise for families at Powick Church at
11am) with flowers for every mum or mother figure that comes. If there are any daffodils left
after Madresfield’s Daffodil Sunday of course (19th March – 2-5pm, Madresfield Court).
There are so many other opportunities to give or give up or learn something about this
Lenten season– so please do consider how you can engage with this important time of year
before the Easter celebration.
Time for Pancakes?
Getting ready for Lent
Why are pancakes so popular? Well, Shrove Tuesday is the day before the Church officially starts a period of fasting, praying , confessing our faults and collecting for good causes - a season called Lent. To literally mark the start of Lent, we have a special service called Ash Wednesday (this year - 22nd February, 1230pm at Powick Church) - and yes, I do mark worshippers with a sign of the Cross on ash on their foreheads. It doesn’t hurt but is an outward facing sign of our faith.
Back to pancakes and Shrove Tuesday - the tradition of making and eating pancakes before the start of Lent goes back to Anglo Saxon times (a special prize given to the class that can tell me the time period that we recognise as Anglo-Saxon times...). The church bell would sound out, or toll, to call all the villagers to come to church for Confession - an opportunity to say Sorry to God for all the wrong things that were done/said . At this service, they would be SHRIVEN or forgiven/absolved from their sins (sin is a difficult word to grasp, but in essence it is where we distance ourselves from God’s promises and will for us. Even simpler - a sin is that feeling inside when we know or appreciate we have done something wrong). The word Shriven gives us Shrove Tuesday. When the worshippers got home, they would eat up their last eggs and fat, and making a pancake was the easiest way to do this. For the next 47 days, they pretty well starved themselves. Fancy doing that next week?
Pancakes feature in cookery books as far back as 1439, and today's pancake races that happen up and down the country originated in Buckinghamshire. They commemorated an incident that happened in 1445 . A woman was making pancakes when she heard a shriving bell from the church calling her to confession. Afraid she would be late, she ran to the church in a panic, still in her apron and still holding the pan, tossing it as she went to stop the pancake from sticking or burning! A pancake race is commemorated at the cathedral by the Choristers and Cathedral priests - running around the cloisters. You may see it on Midlands Today, it nearly always makes the TV.
Flipping pancakes is also centuries old. a poem from Pasquils Palin in 1619 says:
'and every man and maide doe take their turne,
And tosse their pancakes up for feare they burne'
Some people have noted that the ingredients of pancakes can be used to highlight four significant things about this time of year in terms of the Christian Faith and the Church: the eggs stand for creation, flour is the staff of life, while salt keeps things wholesome, and milk stands for purity.
It's such a shame that Shrove Tuesday is bang in the middle of half term. Before the Covid pandemic, I started a Vicar’s Pancake Race with mini frying pans given to the class that won in each of our schools. Hopefully we can do this together next year. Shrove Tuesday is always 47 days before Easter Sunday and falls between 3rd February and 9th March. Let's find out more about Lent after your return from a restful and peaceful half term break. Best wishes - Rev Gary
An Advent Message of Hope for our Three Schools in the Old Hills Malvern Parishes
Dear Parents / Carers / Children and Staff of our Three Church Schools
What would you do if you opened the first door of your Advent Calendar, be it a chocolate
one, one with more exotic gifts, or even a religious one, and found nothing? Would you feel
cheated? Would you rummage around to see if it had slipped down the box or would you
cheat and open another door? Perhaps the gift will come later: you will eventually find it.
God is like that - he is waiting whilst we are rushing. This time of the year illustrates two
facets of living today - we like to rush about and we are good at waiting….
We are good at rushing - trying to cram in as much as we can into our 25 hour days - in
reality or online. Who has bought all their gifts for Christmas by now but are worried if the
post strokes or vacancies with courier firms will delay their arrival? Have we crammed the
last present onto the Santa’s Wish List before we turn our attention to where we are going
to get our Christmas Dinner from as all the turkeys are sold already?
We are good at waiting - in a car park queue for the Retail Parks, at the school gate, waiting
for a doctor’s surgery appointment line to open at 8.30am ( you’re 34th in the queue at
8.40am….) or stuck in the traffic lights on the A449 at Newland, again.
Rather than getting anxious, can we enjoy the wait? I think so. Let’s DO Advent.
God is still awaiting behind the door.
To truly enjoy Christmas, we need to have a good Advent. It is a short season that can be
made beautiful when we get into its rhythm – that of watching, waiting, listening and
looking forward to the coming of the special one – Jesus.
Every Advent is different - it is a time for new beginnings, and not surprisingly it marks the
start of the Church’s New Year. A good way to get into the rhythm of Advent is in making a
little time every day to gather as family for prayer, a reflection - just to be together in love.
Do that as you open your Advent calendar or light an Advent candle. Maybe it’s a time to
think of the difficulties we are facing as a school, village, county, planet and say, Where are
you God? Why is our life the way it is? Can it be better? Surely it can be better.
I look forward to celebrating Advent and Christmas with you either in the school or during
the Christmas Assemblies. Check the school calendar, our social media or church website
(www.oldhillsmalvern.co.uk) for further details of the Christmas services in Your Church. I
wish you all a very happy and blessed Advent as we prepare for the Feast of Christmas.
Rev Gary Advent 2022
Reverse Advent Calendar- doors open now until the 16-18th December
During the short season of Advent, perhaps you could think about donating an item to the Foodbank in order that they can use our donations for Christmas Food Bags for recipients. After meeting with Sandy at Malvern Hills Foodbank recently, it feels to me that offering to do a Reverse Advent Calendar for this good cause would be most useful and so in keeping with the Advent Season: open the door of your heart and give to those in need this coming Christmas.
These are the items that are being requested:
Boxes of Mince Pies
Selection Packs of chocolate or sweets
Christmas Puddings, large and small
Christmas Cakes, large and small or Cake Bars
Boxes of Savoury Biscuits
Packets of Christmas Biscuits
Boxes of Christmas Crackers
Tins of Ham
Tins of Fruit in Natural Juice
In terms of drop off, please bring these to a church service or the schools or drop off your donations in the Carport Bins at The Vicarage in Colletts Green. Alternatively, feel free to make your own arrangements to drop donations into the foodbank or any of the local collection points - in supermarkets, banks etc.
Closing date for the donations, so they can be compiled to make a difference, is the weekend Friday 16th December (or Sunday 18th December for church drop offs)
Every blessing and a joyous Advent to you all - Rev Gary
The Reverend Gary Crellin
Vicar of the Parishes of Powick, Guarlford & Madresfield with Newland
The Old Hills Malvern Group of Churches
On the 13th November 2022, at 10.45am, we will gather as a community in our Parish Churches in Powick and Madresfield (Callow End 3pm* and Guarlford at 9.30am) to remember those who have died in war. With our friends from the local Royal British Legion branch, we remember and give thanks for those that gave their life in war for us to enjoy peace. Although very few veterans from the Second World War remain , we have as a country been involved in many conflicts since 1945. Some remember loved ones lost more recently in the Falklands, on peacekeeping missions in Bosnia, campaigns in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria or closer to home in Northern Ireland. All are still hugely loved and deeply missed. We should also remember that war continues- not that many flying hours away in The Ukraine…….
Our three Church Schools take Remembrance seriously. For example, children at Callow End School decorate the railings of the village war memorial with poppies and poetry/ artwork which brings a real focus to our remembrance activities in that village. It’s worth stopping and looking if you pass by- its humbling and thought provoking stuff. On Remembrance Sunday , we should all pause and reflect. We honour those from these villages and parishes who gave their lives for the greater good. Whilst we also recall the horror, and the sacrifice of war.
I’d like to share a story with you. It’s called “Tusk Tusk” by David McKee
Once upon a time long long ago all the elephants in the world were black or white. They loved all creatures … But they hated each other, And each kept to their own side of the jungle.
One day the black elephants decided to kill all the white elephants. And the white ones decided to kill the black. The peace loving elephants from each side went to live deep in the darkest jungle. They were never seen again.
A battle began. It went on and on and on. Until all the elephants were asleep. For years no elephants were seen. Then one day the grandchildren of the peace loving elephants came out of the jungle. They were grey. Since then, the elephants have lived in peace. But some of the grey elephants noticed that they had different shaped ears to some of the others.
On Remembrance Sunday, we pray for peace on earth and an end to the madness & waste of war. In the Bible, the prophet Micah predicts terrible times of war for the people of Israel but then he goes on with this amazing vision – the day when peace will replace warfare and swords will be made into ploughs.
Of course, ultimate peace and justice and joy will come only at the end of time in the Kingdom of God but that doesn’t mean that we just sit and wait – it is never too soon to start cultivating the oasis of peace in the desert of our war stained world.
In the words of Mahatma Ghandi, “Peace is not something that you wish for. It is something that you make, something that you do, something that you are, something that you give away.” If we truly want to honour those who died in war, we can do no better than by building a more peaceful loving world for their children and ours. So let us be at peace to one another.
Peace begins in our families, our communities and our nation.
May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us,
that your way may be known upon earth,
your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.
Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.
The earth has yielded its increase;
God, our God, has blessed us.
May God continue to bless us;
let all the ends of the earth revere him.
On Sunday, in church, we marked Rogation Sunday. It's a very old festival. The word roger means to ask and for the church it means that we ask God's blessing upon our crops and livestock, or if you live near the coast, our fishing. There are many customs and traditions associated with this day and the three days following. In the United Kingdom, parishes were accustomed to "beating the bounds". When maps were scarce it was important that everyone in a village knew the boundaries of the parish, and once a year took the opportunity to walk them. Often young people were 'bumped' on boundary stones, thrown into streams, or dragged through hedges, to help them remember what land belonged to the village. They were then usually given some reward. Today, that would surely be a safeguarding nightmare. As church attendance has declined, parishes have got bigger to cope. That makes Beating of the Bounds a bit of a pilgrimage. My father in law took three days to walk the boundaries of his parish in Buckinghamshire so goodness knows how long it would take us to travel around the Old Hills Malvern churches if we walked it (incidentally, it's a 13mile round trip to visit all four churches by car....)
Primarily, then and now, Rogation is a time to stop and ask God to bless all that grows, both animals and crops. In a world where we no longer only plant crops in the Spring it is obviously not so applicable but it is still worthy. However, as the opposite of harvest, there is always a need to ask God's blessing on all that grows whether we live in a town or the country, and especially at a time when people are struggling to feed themselves, here and abroad, as our collections for the Foodbank in Malvern and Mission Morogoro over Lent showed. Try using this prayer over the next few days.
we ask Your blessing on all crops grown for food;
and on those who farm or fish.
We pray for all who struggle to make a living
in agriculture or fishing,
and for those like vets who seek to help them.
May we never take their struggles for granted,
but continue to pray for their welfare,
and be grateful for their work.
Note - it's Ascension Day on Thursday- a really important but sadly overlooked Christian Holy Day -it's a time to remember and give thanks for Jesus returning to this Father, our God.
Old Hills Caterpillars
Knitted Bible Exhibition 1st to 8th April
St Peter’s Church, Powick
‘Stories of the Bible brought to life through knitting!’
That is quite a sentence and a difficult concept to explain. But when Kay and I visited a church near Evesham last summer what we saw was so unexpected and unique we knew we wanted to bring the exhibition to St Peter’s. Our difficulty was to explain to people the idea and that we could fill our church building with knitted characters!
So we planned, publicised, made souvenirs, brought drinks, biscuits, and Hot X buns, produced refreshments rotas, booked groups, schools and prepared for the largest event that St Peter’s church had hosted for many years.
With over 600 items, bunting, Open The Book props, and flowers, together as a team plus friends we set up the exhibition and decorated the church.
Even though unfortunately the weather was against us, the church was full of colour, inviting and offered warmth to everyone who came and visited us. Visitors came from near and far; from the end of the church drive to Malvern and St Johns’, Malvern Priory, Worcester Cathedral to Coventry and Manchester. Over the next 8 days we had over 670 people come through the doors; as individuals, with schools, Scouting or Guiding groups, walking groups, friends or visitors just passing. With the Lady Chapel set up as a Café we kept the kettles on and served Hot X buns and biscuits.
It was a wonderful week, watching peoples delighted faces as they explored the exhibits and seeing the children chatter excitedly as they explored the knitted animals and characters, but especially excited when they found the lost sheep or saw the lion through the bars of the den or counted the multiple breeds of animals going two by two into the Ark, or counting the apples on the tree in the garden of Eden or finding a sheep (accidentally) in Zacchaeus tree, a child asking the question ‘is Jesus buried here’ and lastly but beautifully exclaimed by a child when he saw the Open The Book ladies (who for the last two years have sent videos into schools instead of being in person in assemblies), in church to read a story to the school children say ‘they are real people’!
By far the most popular exhibit that the children liked was Noah’s Ark, but I think one of the most stunning exhibits was the Last Supper on a stripped altar and the Crucifixion. Both very simple but poignant without words.
I have been in a very privileged position that over the 8 days I was in church at every session, I have welcomed nearly everyone and spent time chatting to many people. It has been quite a profound experience seeing the church full of life and Gods spirit, whether it had 1 person or 60 chattering children.
I thank every person who has been involved in this event and I thank everyone who came and visited us and the knitted creations. The exhibition is now moving onto a church in Whitehaven in Cumbria and will carry on touring Great Britain, but I am glad we welcomed it to Powick and all who came to visit.
Knitted Bible Exhibition St Peter’s Church, Powick 1st April to 9th April
The amazing Knitted Bible exhibition is coming to St Peter’s Church in Powick.
The production is from the URC St George’s in Hartlepool, best to explain in their own words - “When we started knitting at the end of February 2008, we were only intending to create the scene of 'The Last Supper', but, enthusiasm and imagination, combined to make us much more ambitious! Our hope is that in depicting some of the best-known stories in the Bible, everyone who sees them will be able to understand and enjoy them - and may discover some detail that they had forgotten or never noticed before - whilst learning more about God and his love for this world and its people. The project has involved most of our own congregation as well as friends from other churches and places, who have knitted, sewn, constructed scenery and props, made donations of materials, taken photographs, made videos, typed this script and produced the Knitted Bible Booklet.”
This exhibition has been touring Britain for the last 11 years and we are privileged to have the exhibition come to Powick where we will display the 34 individually hand created scenes from the Bible, filling our beautiful church, with refreshments available and handmade souvenirs to buy we welcome everyone to come and enjoy the experience of the Bible coming to life.
Schools and group bookings are available to book in advance, so come and visit, free entry, with all the opening hours available on our poster and keep up to date on Facebook ‘Old Hills Caterpillars.’
Lord’s Alive Report - May 2021
We hope you had a wonderful Easter and are enjoying the brighter (although not necessarily warmer!) weather as we journey towards Ascension Day and then onwards to Pentecost.
Before you broke up for the Easter holidays, we sent you the Bible Society’s ‘Seriously Surprising’ Easter trail activity which focuses on the days following Christ’s death and the amazement at his resurrection. Because of the school holidays, we decided to postpone our April online service until May when we will be looking at some of the greatest transformations ever: Jesus’ resurrection, his ascension into Heaven, the disciples being filled with the Holy Spirit and Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus.
God reveals himself through cloud, wind, fire and bright light - I wonder how well we can replicate those online?!
Zoom joining details will be available on Facebook and via the schools in due course. Please zoom in if you can!
Kay and Vicky, ALM Children and Youth Work
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
A MESSAGE FROM REVEREND GARY
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
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:
email@example.com 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!
Our Open the Book team have also been with us through Online Open The Book Worships every week during the pandemic.
Here are some photos to remind us of their live performances which we very much hope will take place again soon.