Westwood: St Mary the Virgin

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FROM THE RECTOR…                

The most beautiful months of the year lie just ahead of us, when Westwood will look at its most glorious, and April sees us celebrating the joyful Feast of Easter and the resurrection of Christ and all the new life which that brings. So do come and join us at 11.15am on Easter Day – 17 April – and we can sing those wonderful hymns this year!    

And yet… we find ourselves in the midst (or so it feels) of an absolutely terrifying and utterly barbaric, cruel and devastating war right in the middle of Europe. It is not something we can ignore. And the crucifixion preceded the resurrection. I am reminded of the deeply poignant words of the Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel. The scene was of three condemned rebels on the gallows, one a little boy. ‘Where is God now?’ came the cry from one of the onlookers. And I heard a voice within me answer him: “Where is He? Here He is - He is hanging here on this gallows…” As we witness the atrocities of 2022, God is right there in the midst of the mess, and he is with us too.

A Prayer for Ukraine from our archbishops…  

God of peace and justice,

We pray for the people of Ukraine today.

We pray for peace and the laying down of weapons.

We pray for all those who fear for tomorrow,

that your Spirit of comfort would draw near to them.

We pray for those with power over war or peace,

for wisdom, discernment and compassion

to guide their decisions.

Above all, we pray for all your precious children, at risk and in fear,

that you would hold and protect them.

We pray in the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace

With every blessing    Joanna     The Revd Canon Joanna Abecassis             Tel: 864444

E mail: joanna.abecassis@cantab.net                     www.htboa.org 

Article published: 04 Apr 2022

  FROM THE RECTOR…                

 The days really are getting longer, the spring bulbs are beginning to shoot bringing us such joy and colour, and the sun does shine and the sky turn a deep blue… We are richly blessed, and beginning to be filled with hope. There is talk of the truly terrifying nature of a pandemic being ‘downgraded’ to a mere endemic. We have learned to live with quite a lot over the past couple of years, now as life gradually returns to some semblance of ‘normal’, we shall have something else to learn to live with, long-term. And we’ve certainly learned a lot about how to protect ourselves from viruses.

 Yet of course there is a lot more to us than our physical wellbeing. The Christian church is devoted to caring for the whole person. What really makes us tick? And what’s going on when we get all out of balance and fail to tick properly? As we look at and rejoice in the creation all around us, it’s good to turn to our creator God and be reminded just how wonderful and extraordinary is his, ongoing, creation in us. And, when things do get out of balance, he is there to love, to heal and to very gently put things back together again. Lent begins on 2 March, and we can share the opportunity with Jesus to spend 40 days reflecting upon these things. And do come and join us in your Parish Church any Sunday at 11.15am: you will find there that peace and healing grace.                               

 With every blessing    


 The Revd Canon Joanna Abecassis                Tel: 864444

E mail: joanna.abecassis@cantab.net           www.htboa.org 





Article published: 30 Jan 2022

FROM THE RECTOR…               


That feels a strange thing to say from my vantage point of writing early in March when Lent has only just begun. But come the beginning of April, the schools will be breaking up and it will be well-nigh Easter! Though there is another reason. Whilst life amidst the peace and Spring beauty of Westwood so often seems far removed from the cares of the world – and to a great extent it is – we have been reminded all too starkly in recent weeks just how small the world is, and how there are no barriers. The rapid spread of the Coronavirus across the world has affected everyone to some extent or another, and we can only re-act as the science has not been able to advance at sufficient pace for us to be pro-active. So we watch and wait, and hope and pray.

And ‘watching and waiting’ is very much a Lenten mind-set as we seek to journey to the cross with Jesus. Of course we now have the benefit of hindsight, but he was on a trajectory where his disciples at the time could do no other than to watch and wait. And so it is with the Coronavirus: we have no idea quite what is going to happen. So – whatever – Easter will give us all a chance to celebrate and to smile!  Jesus Christ, who had suffered so acutely, is risen again.  Alleluia!                    

With every blessing 

Joanna   The Revd Canon Joanna Abecassis Tel: 864444    Email: joanna.abecassis@cantab.net   www.htboa.org 

Article published: 23 Mar 2020

FROM THE RECTOR…               

As we observe the seasons unfold around us and, at this time of year, the wonder of new life appearing all around us, so we are becoming more and more aware of our immense vulnerability in the face of God’s creation.  We have undoubtedly taken huge advantage of it and, in certain parts of the world especially, it’s tragically as if creation is finding its own ways of revealing our pitiful frailty.

But then we do seasons in the church too!  They also relate to nature’s calendar – especially Feasts like Candlemas (2 February) which marks the end of the Season of the Incarnation as the baby Jesus is presented in the temple, for in the Celtic tradition in Ireland this was known as Imbolc and marked the beginning of spring – but mainly of course to major events in the life of Christ. So on 26 February this year, we mark the beginning of Lent with Ash Wednesday – a day of penitence in the church, or a recognition of our human frailty; and that will take us right through to Palm Sunday on 5 April. And the word Lent is an interesting one. It comes from the Old English ‘lencten’ meaning ‘spring’, but then there is also that French verb ‘lentir’ meaning ‘slow down’… So perhaps the combination of the two will provide us with ample food for thought as we ponder our human frailty alongside the glory of God?  

With every blessing  Joanna

The Revd Canon Joanna Abecassis                            Tel: 864444

E mail: joanna.abecassis@cantab.net                     www.htboa.org 

Article published: 25 Jan 2020

FROM THE RECTOR…                

The two months ahead are certainly going to be action-packed and momentous!  Advent, when we anticipate and prepare for the coming of Christ, Christmas, when we celebrate the tremendous joy of that coming, his birth, and then Epiphany, when we remember the coming of the three kings or magi who were to spread the good news across the Gentile world.  But then – for the first time since 1923 – in the midst of all this drama, we have a General Election!  

My hope and prayer is that we can weave it all together in our minds, and not compartmentalise.  Let’s be like foxes – who apparently pursue many unrelated ends at once, and then fling them out in all directions, so living a life of trust, trial, and transformation – as opposed to the more predictable way of certainty, comfort and clarity!  So maybe we might try and be open to the themes of these great christian seasons in our lives: concepts such as awe and wonder, holiness and anticipation (Advent), joy, hope, love, peace (Christmas), and glory, new life bursting forth, and transformation (Epiphany), and then make them our own, rather than ‘flinging them out’.  And wouldn’t it be wonderful if, as a nation, we went to the ballot box in that spirit of hope, love and transformation?  In the words of Mother Teresa: “Let peace fill our heart, our world, our universe. Peace, peace, peace”.                                

With every blessing for a wonderful Christmas and New Year!

Joanna    The Revd Canon Joanna Abecassis Tel: 864444 E mail: joanna.abecassis@cantab.net      www.htboa.org 

Article published: 23 Nov 2019

FROM THE RECTOR…               

Whatever age we may be, I think we all have a very strong natural instinct to belong.  And for that we need community, stability and, perhaps above all, to be understood and to be valued for who we are.  And so in these continuing times of enormous political and national instability and uncertainty, perhaps the local takes on an ever greater importance?  Living in a village, and in such a small and supportive community as Westwood, there is a real sense of continuity and wellbeing: somewhere to belong.     

And of course that has always been one of the great strengths of the Christian faith and of the church.  It is all about community.  We are never on our own, we belong.  And we know that we are Christ’s body on earth today – we seek to follow him and his way, and we know that he is always with us.  And that is becoming an increasingly precious gift in these uncertain times.  

So October and November are traditionally times of thanksgiving and of remembering.  And on Sunday, 6 October at 11.15am we shall be holding our Harvest Thanksgiving Family Service, where we shall be hearing about and supporting a new medical project in Kadugli Diocese, Sudan.  Do join us, and for lunch afterwards!  And then on Sunday, 10 November at 10.55am, there will be our Remembrance Sunday Service, always a very special time.             

With every blessing, Joanna

The Revd Canon Joanna Abecassis                            Tel: 864444

E mail: joanna.abecassis@cantab.net                     www.htboa.org 

Article published: 29 Sep 2019


It strikes me that the months of July and August are totally contrasting: a month traditionally of rest, and then a month of action as everything starts anew.  And so there is a real threshold between the two, wonderfully marked in Westwood by the Flower and Vegetable Show.  And I really hope that it will be as happy and sunny a community event as was the Church Fκte in July!

And I think that one of the great strengths of the life of a traditional parish church is that observation of the seasons.  So the major festivals of the church and the different seasons of the church year like Epiphany, Lent and Easter for example (all in pretty quick succession) serve to break up the year and concentrate the mind.  So we use different colours for the vestments, different readings, different hymns – all appropriate to the season – which is really helpful, and especially so when we ‘lurch’ from Advent to Christmas or Lent to Easter.  But right now, we are in the calm waters of “Ordinary Time” and green colour – the next big Festival being Harvest on 6 October. Similarly, that balance between rest and work is so important in our lives – and it is a great blessing for those of us who can enjoy both. Every single day is a gift and is special   so let’s be thankful and make the most of each one!

 with every blessing,   Joanna    The Revd Canon Joanna Abecassis                              Tel: 864444E mail: joanna.abecassis@cantab.net                    www.htboa.org 

Article published: 29 Jul 2019

FROM THE RECTOR….                

 So as we continue to bask in the sunshine, the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ is fast upon us and, if you do receive the Update in time, please come and join us for our Harvest Festival Family Service at 11.15am on Sunday, 2 October, followed by a light lunch in church.  If the Fruit and Vegetable Show was anything to go by, it will be a very joyful community event.

For that is surely what we are all about at your Parish Church.  And we have celebrated lots of weddings this year, with some amazing ‘Westwood’ flowers, and music ranging from professional classical musicians hot foot from the Proms, to electric guitar and keyboard – and so each one is unique and very special in its own right.  And there are five booked for 2017 already!  But there never seem to be very many Baptisms (Christenings) here, so it would be good to buck that trend…  It’s a very simple, but special and joyful, half-hour service.  So do get in touch…  We do things well!                  

With my very best wishes         

The Revd Joanna Abecassis   Tel: 864444

E mail: joanna.abecassis@cantab.net    www.htboa.org

Article published: 27 Sep 2016

FROM THE RECTOR….                

 So we’ve had a busy couple of months in Westwood - and our community events of the Safari Supper, the Queen’s 90th Birthday Celebration Service and the Fκte (if ‘Midsummer’ wasn’t quite the word!) were all great fun and a special opportunity to meet up with friends both old and new.             

 But we now find ourselves in challenging times, which the beauty and peace of Westwood can so easily mask.  At best, there is a lot of uncertainty in the air – at worst real, grounded fear for jobs, personal finances, and personal safety.  And so a huge amount of vulnerability.  As the broader church, working and walking alongside some of the most vulnerable in our community, and listening, we are only too aware of this.  But as the church, I think that there is so much we can offer in such a context.  There is that ’faith hope and love, but the greatest of these is love’ from the world’s favourite wedding reading – and the well-known Good Samaritan story ‘to love our neighbour as ourselves’ – whoever that neighbour might be…       

 With my very best wishes   

      The Revd Joanna Abecassis

Tel: 864444

E mail: joanna.abecassis@cantab.net


Article published: 07 Aug 2016


 Well, it’s going to be all go in and around the church this June and July…

 So we have an exciting weekend to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday on 11-12 June: the Wingfield Fκte at Trowle House on the Saturday, 2-4.30pm – then our very own delicious and fun Safari Supper that evening at 7.30pm (all in aid of Westwood Church and with huge thanks to Caroline Philpott) – and then, on the Sunday, a special informal Service of Thanksgiving at 11.15am, to give everyone the opportunity to say thank you for such a very special lady and monarch.  (Copies of a fascinating booklet ‘The Servant Queen’ will be available for a donation to the church.) Do come along and bring a picnic lunch too!   

 And then… on Saturday, 25 June at 2-4.30pm, we have the Westwood Midsummer Fκte. Come and join us in the Manor Grounds by kind permission of Jonathan & Emily Azis and the National Trust - Cream Teas, Jazz Band on the lawn, all the traditional side-shows, stalls and raffle and - a first for this year – the Maypole Dancers from Westwood School!

 See you soon! – and with my very best wishes         

 The Revd Joanna Abecassis  Tel: 864444  E mail: joanna.abecassis@cantab.net www.htboa.org   

Article published: 30 May 2016

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