Westwood: St Mary the Virgin

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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


‘The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ is upon us – but what a great day we all had in the Bank Holiday heatwave for the Flower and Vegetable Show…  And the new Parish Rooms and the church were both looking at their very best, creating a fantastic ambience and meaning that nobody wanted to go home!  So now we come to celebrate and give thanks for the fact that the harvest is safely gathered in. So do join us for our Harvest Family Service at 11.15am on Sunday, 1 October followed by lunch in the Parish Rooms.    

And of course we also need to give thanks more and more for the (relative) predictability of our seasons and the calm of our weather patterns.  Just how humbling – and devastating – has it been to observe the terrifying flooding which has hit the Indian sub-continent, the storms hitting Texas, and the succession of hurricanes wreaking havoc across the Caribbean islands and then Florida. God has created, and given us a large measure of control over, this quite amazing planet. We need to honour it, and treat it with immense care.                                                                 

  With my very best wishes        

The Revd Canon Joanna Abecassis

Tel: 864444 E mail: joanna.abecassis@cantab.net  www.htboa.org 

Article published: 27 Sep 2017


As the days start to draw in again, and many of us take our holidays in August and September, this is a time for reflection and a time for looking forward.  It is extraordinary how, whether we have children or not, life seems to begin again in September.  And certainly, from the point of view of the church, it is then somehow non-stop till Christmas as we celebrate first Harvest Festival, then the Feasts of All Saints and All Souls, and then Advent. 

In such a fast-moving world and amidst so much recent trauma and disaster, I become increasingly aware that the Christian faith has a lot to offer.  It sets life in context - and gives it a sense of purpose and balance - and also of continuity and a common framework.  In an age where there is increasing individualism (which is fine for the one who reaches the top of the pile!), we so need that sense of unconditional mutual love, care, compassion and justice for all.                                      

 With my very best wishes   The Revd Canon Joanna Abecassis

Tel: 864444  E mail: joanna.abecassis@cantab.net   www.htboa.org 

Article published: 02 Aug 2017


This has to be the 'summer' issue of the Update, and that means community time in Westwood. It was sad that the Safari Supper had to be postponed, as that is always a great start to the summer, but we can hopefully look forward to it happening again in the autumn. And so it's now 'all systems go' for the Church Fete on Saturday, 15 July at 2pm which is always a very special day and in such a beautiful setting, and this year there will be the added facility of the newly completed Parish Room. I think we all can't wait to see it, and then we can start planning those community events which will make the most of it and draw us together.

And then it is the 'Westwood Wedding Season'!  So we have five booked already which is exciting, and the new terrace outside the church doors will greatly enhance the experience for both couples and guests alike.

So do contact me if you'd like to chat about a wedding, a baptism or, for that matter anything else!                                  

 With my very best wishes        

 The Revd Canon Joanna Abecassis

Tel: 864444 

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

Article published: 24 May 2017


Spring is in the air - the sun is shining - and the churchyard looks stunning with its new path, walls and paving and glorious spring flowers.  And during these months of April and May, we as members of God's church in this place will follow and share in once again that poignant journey of Jesus Christ to the cross.  It is a week which begins on Palm Sunday (9 April - also the day of our Annual Meeting afterwards) and which we call 'Holy Week'.  There will be Services daily at Holy Trinity Bradford on Avon, and on Good Friday at 2pm, in Westwood.  And then we rejoice together on Easter Day (16 April) which is a celebration of new life, transformation and freedom, otherwise known as resurrection.                      

And very much against this background, we seek to come to terms with the loss of our very special old friend, Viv Hancock MBE, who died very peacefully on 10 March.  Together with Betty, Viv has served and transformed tirelessly the whole community of Westwood since (it would seem!) time immemorial.  He will leave the most enormous and irreplaceable hole in the life of the village (which of course includes the church).  We slip into this world, and this life, and we slip out of it again in a way that can only be described as sheer wonder.  We have a momentary glimpse of eternity as the two very different states of being with God glide together.  But, with Viv, we can all share that gift of eternal life.                            

 With my very best wishes     

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

Article published: 26 Mar 2017

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