Sunday, September 26th 2021
9:00am BCP Holy Communion
10:00am Holy Communion with hymns
1:00pm Christening Service
6:30pm Iona Evening Prayer
Next Saturday, 2nd October, we are looking at doing a ‘BIG Clean’ of the church, and if the weather permits the gutter too. Many hands make light work so if you can, please come along from 10:00am.
We are also looking for more volunteers to join the Sunday worship rota in helping out with our regular services. There is a plethora of opportunities, so please don’t be shy. The Church is after all not just a few but all of us.
Next Sunday, for a trial period, we will resume offering refreshments after the 10:00am Service.
YouTube and Facebook links:
If you haven’t done so yet, please view and, if you would like to, please subscribe to our YouTube channel.
Rev’d Fr. Paul Messam
Priest-in-charge of the Elstow Abbey and Elstow Team.
Assistant Area Dean of Bedford
Bedford MK42 9XT
Sunday, September 19th 2021
We will continue to live-stream to Facebook the 10:00am service and it is also uploaded later in the day to our YouTube channel.
In the sermon on the mount, Jesus says these well-known words, ‘Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin.. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own.’ It’s good advice given by today’s many practitioners of mindfulness and echoed in many faith traditions; stay in the moment, don’t be anxious about what is outside of your control, not all of life’s demands can be met by your own power.
But there’s a danger this advice leads us to put off what really needs to be done today. There’s always a balance to be struck between living for today and being responsible for the future. Successive governments have grappled for years with how to fund the NHS and social care, particularly for an ageing population. This has led to questions about the pressures this will place on different groups of people, especially the young and the low waged.
It’s a good principle that the younger generation who were cared for by their elders look after that generation in their turn, but we have to recognise that few young people today earn enough to get on the property ladder without parental support. In these circumstances one could argue that the older have an ongoing responsibility for the younger generation. (In fact) there is mutual flourishing when we take responsibly for each other.
When Jesus spoke of the kingdom of God, he wasn’t just talking about a future reality but a vision of an earthly society that has to be prepared for now in our decisions and in our actions.
This last week the PCC grappled with the question of what it means to be a Church for all people within our immediate community and beyond. In October, we will take another step forward by returning to offering refreshments after the main Sunday service. However we need more volunteers to help our church and worship function. Please see this week’s Reach Out for more information.
Sunday, September 12th 2021
This Sunday we celebrate Harvest with a 10:00am All-Age Holy Communion and a 6:30pm BCP Holy Communion. The church has been decorated beautifully for the occasion. Thank You to all those who have and will have helped. This year we will continue with our support of the Bedford Foodbank.
Last year Bedford Foodbank provided food to 5716 adults and 3238 children in our local community. This required over 123 tonnes to provide these people with emergency support. With demand growing year on year in the food bank, increasing by 5 % in the last six months alone, your help and assistance will be invaluable in providing support to people that need it.
Please see the shopping list and poster of the items that are required at the moment (adjacent tab on this website)
The PCC will meet this week (via Zoom) to discuss how we as a church continue to slowly ease our way forward with a society that is continuing to lift pandemic restrictions whilst being mindful of our Christian duty of care for all.
Sunday, September 5th 2021
Saturday, September 4th sees our final outdoor play of the year ’The Secret Garden’. The weather looks like being just perfect for an evening’s entertainment. So bring your chairs, a picnic, a drink, and maybe a blanket! Tickets are available on the door and can be paid by card. The performance starts at 7:00pm.
This Sunday our organist is on the run! – Stanley will be running his first ever half marathon as part of the Bedford Running Festival. Please hold him in prayer as Hebrews 12:1 says,
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,”
Next Sunday (12th September) we will celebrate HARVEST with an All Age Communion in the morning and a BCP Communion in the evening. Please see this weeks ‘Reach Out’ for items that the Foodbank are in need of. Fresh produce will be donated to Bedford’s ‘Dine With Us Community Larder’, there will also be a special financial collection for the Foodbank at those services.
Sunday, August 29th 2021
9:00am BCP Holy Communion
10:00am Holy Communion with hymns
6:30pm Taizé Worship
Last week it was great to celebrate to 90th Birthday of Jean Harlow in the Tea Gardens. She instructed no gifts but instead for donations to ’The Cinnamon Trust’, which we as a church did. The Cinnamon Trust is the only specialist national charity which seeks to relieve the anxieties, problems, and sometimes injustices, faced by elderly and terminally ill people and their pets. A national fostering service is provided for pets whose owners face a spell in hospital – volunteers take pets into their own homes and supply love and care in abundance until owner and pet can be reunited. The Cinnamon Trust also provides long term care for pets whose owners have died or moved to residential accommodation which will not accept pets. When a pet is in the Trust’s care either short term or long term because the owner is in care, the owner is kept in touch with visits, if possible, or regular photos and letters. https://cinnamon.org.uk/home
This week we welcome two touring theatre companies for our final two outdoor plays of the year:
On Bank Holiday Monday (August 30th) we have a matinée performance at 3:00pm of ’The Tales of Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny’ (Quantum Theatre Company) and the following Saturday (September 4th) at 7:00pm we have a performance of ’The Secret Garden’.
Hillersden Hall Phase One (archeology and ground-works built to slab) is out to competitive tender. We have permissions and finance all in place and are ready to go. Unfortunately the pandemic has not helped as a number of specialised companies are currently full with projects knocked on from last year. Please do continue to hold this in your prayers.
Sunday, August 15th 2021
6:30pm CHORAL EVENSONG with the Abbey Singers
This Sunday the Church celebrates the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, one of our two patron saints of Elstow Abbey. Sunday August 15th is also a day of remembrance for all those who were held as Japanese Prisoners of War during World War II, whatever nationality, colour or religion, whether service personnel, civilian or Romusha. FEPOW Day (Far East Prisoners Of War).
It has been wonderful to see life flowing back into the Church this past week with Memorial Services and Weddings and this Sunday evening sees the return of a Choral Evensong. However we are still taking things cautiously, we are still maintaining a rigorous cleaning of the church and we are still encouraging social distancing, hand sanitising and the wearing of masks whilst moving around the building. Hopefully once the schools return in September we may be in a position to relax more and open up more.
You will see on this week’s ‘Reach Out’ Quantum Theatre are returning on Bank Holiday Monday with a matinee performance of ’The Tales of Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny’ Tickets are selling fast and we have had to cap them with a maximum availability of 120.
Sunday, August 8th 2021
The past week I’ve been reading the biblical book of Ruth, whose theme is kindness. It begins with a couple and their two sons forced to leave home because of famine. They go to a foreign country where their two sons marry local women. Then tragedy strikes. All three men die. The woman, whose name is Naomi, is left a childless widow, the most vulnerable of all positions in the ancient world because there was no one to look after you. She goes back home but is so changed that her former neighbours hardly recognise her. Can this be Naomi? They ask. Don’t call me Naomi, she replies – the word means pleasant. Call me Mara, bitter.
That is how the book begins: with bereavement, isolation and depression. Yet it ends in joy. Naomi now has a grandson. Her daughter-in-law Ruth and relative Boaz have married and had a child. This is no mere child. In the last line of the book, we discover that he is the grandfather of David, Israel’s greatest king and author of much of the book of Psalms.
What transforms Naomi’s life from bitterness to happiness is described by the Hebrew word chessed. When, in the early 1530s, William Tyndale was translating the Bible into English for the first time, he realised that there was no English equivalent for chessed, so he invented one, the word lovingkindness. Two people’s lovingkindness, Ruth and Boaz, rescued Naomi from depression and gave her back her joy. That is the power of chessed, love as deed.
The second book I’ve read this past week is “The Madness of Grief – A Memoir of Love and Loss” by the Rev’d Richard Coles. This is a book that captures brilliantly, beautifully, bravely the comedy as well as the tragedy of bereavement. The Madness of Grief is simultaneously heart-warming and heart-breaking, painful and strangely comforting as it confronts the reality of what happens.
One of the enduring memories of the coronavirus period will be the extraordinary acts of kindness it evoked, from friends, neighbours, and strangers, those who helped us, kept in touch with us, or simply smiled at us. When fate was cruel to us, we were kind to one another. Human goodness emerged when we needed it most. Kindness redeems fate from tragedy and the wonderful thing is that it doesn’t matter whether we are the giver or the recipient. Lifting others, we ourselves are lifted.