Westwood: St Mary the Virgin

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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.                                     


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                                 


 The Revd Canon Joanna Abecassis

Tel: 864444

E mail: joanna.abecassis@cantab.net


Article published: 01 Oct 2018


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


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


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


The days are getting longer and I always think it is fun planning the year ahead. It’s strange how as the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, we have that sense of a blank canvas before us - almost like untrodden snow. And that is what this Season of the Epiphany is about in the church too. It’s all about the ‘unpacking’ of the new and very vulnerable Christ-child once again onto a blank canvas as the ‘good news’ is spread throughout the world. A very small girl came into church the other day wanting to see ‘the baby Jesus’. Mercifully he was still in his crib! But it did remind me how baby Jesus needs to grow up…

So that he has, and Ash Wednesday this year falls on St Valentine’s Day – 14 February – when there will be a Service of Holy Communion at 10am. This is the day when Lent begins, and so we remember his temptations in the wilderness and journey towards the cross. Mothering Sunday falls on 11 March when we shall have a fun Family Service – and then Easter Day is very early, on 1 April.    

With every blessing                                

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

Article published: 24 Jan 2018


We look forward to a wonderful Westwood Community Christmas this year – and it is fast approaching! The combination of our magnificent medieval church which is inspirational to so many, and the beautifully restored Parish Rooms makes for a wonderful combination for all the events which we are organising. So please do make sure that corner of the village is firmly included in all your Advent and Christmas planning. Here is a little summary…

·         ‘Follow the Star’ Nativity Set Exhibition: Friday, 15 – Saturday, 16 December.  See the exhibition – an event full of wonder - in church, and enjoy a seasonal chat and some excellent home-made refreshments in the Parish Rooms.

·         Carol Service: Sunday, 17 December at 6pm – with (yet more!) refreshments in the Parish Room

·         Midnight Mass: Christmas Eve at 11.15pm

·         Family Service with Carols: Christmas Day at 11.15am      

Some of the Nativity Sets are very tiny – and that is perhaps a good reminder of the grace of God who sent his Son to dwell amongst us, born as a mere human being in the most vulnerable and humble of circumstances.                                

With my very best wishes for a wonderfully blessed Christmas and New Year!           

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

Article published: 20 Nov 2017

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