Westwood: St Mary the Virgin


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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


FROM THE RECTOR…

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…               

Summer is with us, resplendent with all its magnificent colour, scents and sounds. And so it occurred to me that during the tenure of this issue, we shall be able to experience and enjoy the longest day of the year! Just as we are all so good at focussing on and spreading the bad news of the world (and let’s face it, there’s been enough of it…), so too do we love to fret about all those short, dark days of winter.    

So this is a real opportunity to celebrate! And by way of ‘book-ends’, the week before we shall have had the opportunity to enjoy Westwood at its best at the Safari Supper, and then three weeks later that great village event of the Church Summer Fκte.  But how shall we mark God’s gift to us all of the day itself? Let’s make the most of the opportunity to be outdoors, to be thankful for the riches and the joys of life, and to step back, be still, and simply wonder at the marvels of those colours, scents and sounds. And the seasons themselves are a marvel, for if we stay up too late in our joy, the birds will be singing all over again! God is good – and as a retired bishop has just written, our principal call and privilege as a church is: “to give people that liberating experience of encounter with God”.                

With every blessing    Joanna   The Revd Canon Joanna Abecassis   Tel: 864444  E mail: anna.abecassis@cantab.net   www.htboa.org
Article published: 27 May 2019

FROM THE RECTOR…               

I cherish this time of year as the days so visibly lengthen, the birds begin to sing their hearts out and the leaves and flowers begin to burst forth. We are blessed with a very beautiful and peaceful spot at your Parish Church, and care deeply about our environment.  After all, God’s creation is incredibly special and to be lovingly treasured and tended.  And so having just had a very happy and successful Fairtrade weekend, we hope to soon be a ‘Fairtrade Church’!  Next stop will be becoming an Eco Church.              

And so this is a time of real hope as we look around us.  And it is a time of real hope for the church as we contemplate during these two months the Passion of Jesus Christ, where his love for each one of us, and his commitment to following his Father’s will, is so great that his painful and lonely journey to the cross becomes all the more poignant.  But then… we have all our hopes spectacularly renewed as we celebrate his resurrection on Easter Day!  Alleluia, Christ is risen!  So do come and join us.      

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


Article published: 24 Mar 2019

FROM THE RECTOR…               

Thinking about the months of February and March launches us forward brilliantly to those longer days and the coming of spring.  But… the Update deadline comes tantalisingly the day before “the vote” in parliament and so, whereas the end of March should represent a quite extraordinary sea-change in the life of our country and a very significant new start, in practice, we just do not know what is going to happen…  And that leads to the most enormous uncertainty for us all, and a very costly uncertainty for many, whose lives and businesses hang in the balance.

But then the church and the Christian faith is all about uncertainty!  It is about spirituality, the beyond – about trust – about faith.  I am reminded of those famous words of King George VI at another great threshold in 1939: "I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year, 'Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown'. And he replied, 'Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.'"                             

With every blessing for those uncertain waters ahead.                                     

Joanna

The Revd Canon Joanna Abecassis   Tel: 864444

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


Article published: 30 Jan 2019

FROM THE RECTOR…               

Our Remembrance commemorations have way exceeded all expectations, with the fantastic array of poppies in church, the very moving School Service, the ‘standing room only’ Remembrance Sunday Service’, the Memorial Booklet, the individual named poppies, and the exhibition complete with delicious lunch.  And it seems to me that what this speaks of most of all is the power of community.  To hear the stories – to meet the descendants - to ponder life in our very own community 100 years ago – even who was living in ‘our’ house at that time… is powerful and unifying.  It draws us together.                      

And so now we come to contemplate and to celebrate the joy of the birth of the ‘Prince of Peace’ at Christmas.  There will be all the usual – and wonderful – Services, but my particular hope and prayer this year is that we can really continue that sense of community.  We are all God’s children, created and loved equal in his sight – members of one enormous family.  So let’s resist the temptation to crawl back into our bunkers, and make Christmas a fantastic opportunity for loving and sharing.   

With every blessing – and for the New Year!    Joanna The Revd Canon Joanna Abecassis    Tel: 864444

E mail: joanna.abecassis@cantab.net    www.htboa.org
Article published: 28 Nov 2018

FROM THE RECTOR…                

 As the days close in and the temperature drops, the months of October and November are the time to snuggle up, to reflect and to remember.  And this year, marking the centenary of the end of the First World War, and with Remembrance Sunday very conveniently falling on the 11th day of the 11th month, is particularly poignant.  And there will be an enormous amount of material and events out there to inform and inspire.    

 So here at your Parish Church is no exception – and we shall be adorned with a vast array of amazing knitted and crocheted poppies which Mary Needham has commissioned.  We look forward to welcoming you to a very special Service at 10.55am on Remembrance Sunday, and then please do join us for a village lunch in the Parish Rooms afterwards.  If 2014 is anything to go by, it will be an occasion to remember and standing room only.  And then in the 11 days beforehand, look out for all the ‘Countdown to Peace’ events and exhibitions in Bradford on Avon.                    

 With every blessing                                 

 Joanna

 The Revd Canon Joanna Abecassis

Tel: 864444

E mail: joanna.abecassis@cantab.net

www.htboa.org


Article published: 01 Oct 2018

FROM THE RECTOR….


Well, what an extraordinary summer!  And so we have just enjoyed a very beautiful and fun-filled Church Fκte in the hot sunshine – a far cry from the torrential thunder-storms of a few years back – and now look forward to the annual Flower & Vegetable Show on the Bank Holiday Monday.  Both wonderful village events, which just do not work in anything like the same way in a town.    

And they represent fantastic examples of team-work.  We are always hearing depressing things on the news, which often make us hark back to those ‘better days’ of mutual care and respect.  But I have just been so impressed and heart-warmed at the quite remarkable story of the rescue of those Thai boys and their coach from the caves.  We witnessed utter selflessness, courage, wisdom, patience, compassion, humility, joy and a total commitment to come together – whatever the colour or creed – to work towards the common goal or call which was driving each member of the team.  Have I heard this somewhere before?  They are of course Christian values, and precisely the way of Jesus Christ who we follow.  With every blessing     Joanna
The Revd Canon Joanna Abecassis  Tel: 864444  E mail: joanna.abecassis@cantab.net    www.htboa.org

Article published: 29 Jul 2018

FROM THE RECTOR….

Spring bursting forth so gloriously in the countryside all around us serves as a wonderful reminder of how things can change – how life can change - indeed the seasons with their ups and downs are a brilliant example of that. And it is amazing how often they affect our mood. One of my favourite Bible verses is from John’s Gospel. Jesus says, “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” So there is hope in even the darkest days – we need them! 

And on 12 May, there was a big change as the Rt Revd and Rt Hon Dame Sarah Mullally was installed as the 133rd Bishop of London at St Paul’s Cathedral.  She was formerly the government’s Chief Nursing Officer for England – and has always maintained that her nursing and priestly vocations were one and the same: to care and to serve. So she pledged herself on Day 1 to work for those ‘left behind’ by the ‘system’. What a great change that would be!                            

With every blessing                                

Joanna  The Revd Canon Joanna Abecassis  Tel: 864444  E mail: joanna.abecassis@cantab.net    www.htboa.org
Article published: 23 May 2018

FROM THE RECTOR….

First and foremost, a very happy, joyous and blessed Easter to you all! With Easter Day falling on 1 April this year, we have something of a bonus as all the Easter Bonnets and Bunnies remind us that spring is here and so it is time to come out of our metaphorical burrows and smile.  And that is precisely what the resurrection life of the Season of Easter is all about in the church: it is about hope, joy, new life, light – and not just for a couple of months, but for ever.  So that is what we are expressing in our words and our prayers, in our flowers and in our music, and in all the glorious ‘Alleluias!’ with which we pepper Eastertide!  

And what a fantastic, living, close-knit and caring community we have?  Still to have a thriving church, pub, school and shop (in alphabetical order…) is the envy of many a village today.  And if on a deeply sad occasion, it was good and very appropriate for all those strands to come together for the funeral of Rita Parsons on 2 February at the Parish Church, the heart of the community.                                                   

 With every blessing                                

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


Article published: 26 Mar 2018

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