THE VICAR’S LETTER
During this month—on the 15th—Lent starts. The Prayer Book describes Lent as “Forty days "of fasting and abstinence," and abstinence is certainly the keynote of it. But it is also a season of penitence—a fact which is sometimes overlooked—and in these days, when abstinence is enforced by the high cost of living, we can the better give our minds to its other aspects.
Lent stands for repentance as much as for self— denial: and of the two, the former is certainly the more difficult, because a spiritual effort always demands more of us than a physical one. It is much harder to repent than to fast, if, by repent and we mean real, serious and definite repentance. Repentance means a change of mind, and we must all be aware that however hard we may find it to give up e.g. smoking, or curb our appetite, yet to change our minds about sins, give up a definite evil habit, or make reparations for some wrong we have done, is infinitely harder. We are all familiar with the persons who announce that "they are going to give up sugar in their tea this Lent.” when everyone knows that it would be much better for them if they gave up a bit of their selfishness at house, or mucking around with someone else’s wife or husband as the case may be. The point of a true Lent is:
“ To show a heart grief-rent.To starve thy sin-—not him.”
It is the thing that really matters that should be tackled, and it will require of us sincerity, courage and determination. Is is not enough to see what is wrong, we must do something about it.
Then Lent is not the only time when self discipline is demanded of us. To regard it as a period of self-restraint lasting forty days, and then over and done with, is to mistake its meaning completely. Rather is it a symbol of, and witness to, a necessity which is always present — the necessity of self-mastery.
And here is something about which Churchman, Nonconformist and Free thinker can all be agreed, namely, that, without self discipline of some kind, human character cannot reach its highest level. And self-discipline must be undertaken for one reason only—that we may fit ourselves the better to serve God. To find that we have lost the power to say “No” to ourselves, and to find that we have become the slaves of our desires is the most humilating thing which can happen to us.
If you are not sure what there is in you that should be disciplined
or denied or about which you need repent; ask your neighbour—he
will tell you in no uncertain terms!
Your Vicar and friend.
A GRAND WHIST DRIVE
At the C. or E. School,
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 6th, at 7.15 p.m.
Ten Prizes: Premier Prize of £1, Ladies’ and Gent’s
1st 10/-, Ladies’ and Gent’s 2nd 7/6, Ladies’ and Gent’s
3rd special prize of 5/-. and a Ladies’ and Gent’s 2/6.
Refreshments provided Admission 1/-
May I appeal to all those who came to our last Whist Drive to come to this one again.—and to bring a friend with them.
Number of Communicants and collections:
Dec. 18— 22 £4 lls. 0d.
Dec. 25—- 95 £4 l3s. 9d.
Dec. 26— 8 £2 1s. 0d.
Jan. 1— 18 £1 l7s. 0d.
Jan. 8— 12 £1 l4s. 7d.
Jan. 15— 16 £3 11s. 5d.
Dec. 26 — Karen Vaughan, Cheltenharn Road East., Gloucester.
Jan. 1— John Elliott, Rylands, Bream.
Jan. 1— Martin Cyril David Waugh, Sling, Nr. Coleford.
Dec. 26—Harold Alfred Stanley Phillips, of Woodside, and Thelma Doreen Watkins, of Woodside.
Dec. 26-—Derrick Henry Smith, of Sedbury, Chepstow, and Barbara Joan Hook, of Brockhollands.
Dec. 16-—William Henry Thomas, The Eaves, aged 84 years.
Dec. 21—George Alfred Batten, Bulwark, Chepstow, aged 62 years.
A WORD OF THANKS
As a number of you will know, we were without any heat in Church for about four or five Sundays, whilst a new heating system was being installed, But some, friends immediately came to our aid, and loaned us their paraffin heaters. Although I do not usually mention people by name in the magazine, on this occasion I feel that Mr. S. Miles must be named in this connection so must Mrs. Tye. We are very grateful indeed to you both for your kindness. And as usual, whenever we want anything brought to and from the Church, Mr. W. Jones was there with his van. We all appreciate very much indeed what the three of you did.
THE NEW BOILER
After what I gather, has been years of discussion and arguing, as to what could be done with the boiler and the stoke hole, at long last we can say goodbye to both, for a new boiler has been installed, and a new heating system put in the Church—-as everyone who was in Church on Sunday, January 15th, immediately gathered as soon as they opened the Church door. It is a good job and it has been well done, and should now last the church a number of years. It is pleasing to the eye, is economical, and easy to stoke. It is another big obstacle overcome. The first was the windows, with their rattle and draught and leaks; but the big obstacle is ahead of us in the near future— the roof of the Church.
If the good churchpeople will put their shoulders to the wheel again,
say for two or three years, we should have enough money to pay for this
too. One thing we dare not do, and that is to ease. I know that some
of you will say that I, as the Vicar, am only after money, that that
is the only thing I think about. Believe me, no Vicar likes to be nothing
but a glorified beggar. Some people have a gift of always being able
to say the right, nice, and polite thing, to the right people at the
right time—they seem to be able to "cadge" everything.
I’m sorry, but I am not like this, and for me to go begging, and
to always appeal for money is to go against the grain. So instead of
criticising one for asking for money all the time, do please spare one
a moment's sympathy. You often don’t like being appealed to, believe
me, I often don’t like appealing to you. But the money must be
got if this grand little church in Bream is to remain as we all know
it and like it and as long as I am Vicar here, it is part of my work
to see that everything possible is done to see that that money is coming
You may say, after the roof, what then? Well, the outstanding thing will he the Churchyard— and that again, is going to be a headache. Anyway more about that after the roof is in good shape.
OUR CHRISTMAS DRAW
This draw of ours was art unqualified success. Over 750 books of five tickets were sold—and this to me, speaks volumes for the real feelings people have for their church in the village. I would like on your behalf to thank most profoundly Mrs. Logan for the fur coat; Mr. C. Hancocks for the Sherry; Capt. S. Hughes for the Gin; Brig. B. L. de Robeck for the Whisky: Mrs. Colwell for the Port; and Mrs. M. Johnson for the Nylons; and Mrs. D. Price for the Chicken.
The winners were as follows:
Fur Coat, Mr. Georgie Thornpson, ticket No, 1711;
Sherry, Mr. F. J. Morgan, New Road, 3805;
Gin, Una Green, Broadwell, 1554;
Whisky, Mrs. E. E. Evans,Talybont, Cards., 2051;
Port, C. W. Worgan, Coleford 534;
Nylons, D. Brain, 43, Parkend Road, 2219;
Compact, Mrs. D. Percival, l28;
Hamper, S. Brain, 43, Parkend Road, 2218;
Chicken, Mr. A. Saturley, 649;
50 Players, L. Hooton, 51, Highbury Road, 2655.
It is only fair too that the names of th ticket sellers appear, hence
here is full Balance Sheet for the Draw:—
Miss Pearce, £1/0/6;
Miss H. Williams, £1/1/6;
Mrs. Allen, £l/2/6;
Mr. W. Jones, £1/-/-;
Mrs. Brookbanks, £1/-/-;
Mrs. Hooton, 16/6;
Mrs. L. Smith, £3/4/6;
Miss Burley, £2/l3/6;
Mrs. Saturley, £2;
Miss Johns, £8/11/-;
Mr. S. Macpherson, £3/11/6;
Mr. H. Edmunds, £5/l0/-;
Mrs. Merry, £2/4/-;
Mrs. Pegler, £1/1/6;
Mrs. Brain, £2/11/4;
Mrs. Challenger, 18/-;
Mrs. Wintour, 14/6;
Mrs. Selby, £1:
Miss D. Morgan, £l/l0/-;
Miss U. Price, £2/4/-;
Mrs. C. Bond, £1;
Miss S. C. Wildin, 17/-;
Miss J. Meek, £1/1/-;
Miss J. Voss, 5/6;
Miss Reed, 8/6;
Mrs. 3. O’Driscoll, £3/9/-;
Mrs. Bath, £1;
Mrs. Cook, 16/-;
Mrs. Johnson, £2/5/-;
Mrs. Hill, 18/6;
Mrs. Tye, £1/3/-;
Mrs. Hirst, 14/6;
Mrs. Colwell, 4/-;
Mrs. Isles, 5/-;
Mrs. Hooton, £1/1/6;
Mrs. G. Davies, £1/2/-;
Mrs. E Brain, 12/6;
Mr. C. James, £2/l0/-;
Mr. W. O. Davies. £3/18/-;
Total receipt: £72/9/-.
Expenses: Re-modelling Coat, £8/17/-.; Printing Tickets, £5/10/-;
Cigarettes, 9/2; Hamper, £1; Total: £15/16/2.
Profit on Draw: £56/12/10.
On Saturday, January 14th, I spent a most enjoyable evening at a Party for Old People, given by Mr. Skidmore., Mr. Gordon Camm and a committee at the New Inn, it was good to see the old people being taken notice of; after all we today do owe these people a debt of honour and of duty. Our heritage as young people has been paid for by the sweat and toil and tears and selfless services of these our elders, and as young people we should, bear in mind the verse "whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required." Do we the privileged do all we can for the old people—the unprivileged today? We should have a sense of obligation towards them, for we are debtors and none of. us can pay his debt save in gratitude, in kindliness, and in courtesy.
It was good on January 14th to see some friends at least thinking of their elders,
Feb. 5th and 12th; Mrs. O. Colwell.
AN EAST WAY TO HELP YOUR CHURCH FINANCES
The income is obtained by collecting the income tax refund on covenanted subscribtions. This scheme, feel, should be far better known to our Church people. If a member who pays income tax is willing to enter into a seven year agreement for the amount which he usually gives to his church every week, the value of his giving is increased by tenpence in every shilling (without any added, cost to himself) by reason of the income tax which can be recovered by the Church.
Surely there are some people in Bream who could help in this way give to their church the benefit of the tax which they are paying.
Perhaps some of you have not joined the scheme because. you thought that it only applied to those paying income tax at the full rate. (There are not many of these in this district, I’m sure.) But this is not so. Those paying reduced rate tax can enter into covenants with advantage to the Church. But the scheme is not recommended for those who pay at the lowest reduced rate, or for those whose total giving is less than 2/- a Sunday, i.e. £5 a year.
A LENTEN MESSAGE
One of the thoughts which comes to us in the season of Lent is the thought of conflict. It begins with the dramatic story of the Temptation in the desert. There is a great conflict there between Christ and Satan. The story is told in a symbolic form. It is like a poem or a dream. But it is none the less true for that.The first Christians saw the whole of history as a conflict, and that is what we see with increasing clearness today. The world does not go on nicely and quietly by itself; there are forces of evil at work in the world as well as, the forces of good; or to put it in the language of the Bible, the two realities that matter in our lives are God Almighty on the one side, and the spirit of evil on the other. When we say "I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth," we are making a great affirmation with terrific consequences for ourselves. We are on the side of God; we are on the side of righteousness and truth; we are His men.
If this is so, we cannot hope to escape conflict; and where is that conflict to be found? In our own heart; in our own flesh; its our own personal life. That is where we save our souls.
I do not mean that there are not many evils to be fought in the world, and many things that ought to be put right; the war of good against evil goes on all the time, over our heads, and all around us; but the place assigned to us is our own personal life.
The Gospel speaks to us of a strong power from God that can be ours if we want it enough; if we really believe in it, and pray for it, and expect God to give it us.
Lent calls upon us to disturb ourselves a little. The little rules
which we make for ourselves may not look much in themselves, but they
can be great means of grace. They make us take ourselves in hand. They
make us move in the direction of God. The act of self-denial; the act
of prayer; they are a start. But they are not of value in themselves.
We have to look towards God as we do them. We have to offer them to him.
We have to make up our minds that this Lent we are going to move steadily
nearer to God.
"Draw nigh unto God, and he will draw nigh unto you." How many of us have real knowledge of God’s power given to us inwardly by faith? Have we really asked for it’? Do we really want It? Or do we think we can get on quite nicely without it?
Another move forward in faith; that is what Lent calls us to.
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