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Meriel’s piece


I am starting to write this in the middle of December as we do not have a January Magazine so there are all the events to report on up to Christmas and beyond. We are fortunate that we have been able to secure the help of some very good people to take our services. Mike Crisp, the Wormingford churchwarden, and I have worked very hard to get cover for as many services as possible to keep our three little churches going during this period when we do not have anyone looking after us.


As I read this through, after Christmas, I would just add that I had a very sad message at the end of December. The Revd Tony Rose, who was to take a number of our services in the evenings and at Easter has been diagnosed with cancer which requires a long period of treatment. We shall miss him a great deal and will remember him in our prayers.


We have had one meeting with the Bishop and the Archdeacon. The churchwardens wrote to the Bishop afterwards with a number of questions. The Bishop replied early in January and we will discuss this at our PCC Meetings but I think it will be quite a while before we have any concrete information about what the future holds.


I just ask that anyone with an interest in keeping our church going supports us as much as they can in what is really a very difficult period.




We started our Advent /Christmas period, as usual, with the Advent Carol Service.  Our soloists were Brenda, Peter and Roger. I must say that Roger, who has been quite unwell, did a marvellous job. He has never been keen on singing solos but has, of late, often acted as Cantor for visiting clergy. Graham Soar, who usually sings at this service was away on holiday, and Roger agreed to cover the solos. The service was very well-attended and went off amazingly well. It was the first service that had been led for us by Mrs Phyll Wood, a layreader, and she was very pleased with it. She has agreed to take a service a month for us and we are grateful to her for that. Her husband, Fr Martin Wood has also taken a Communion Service and is helping in the future in the Benefice.   


This service is such a lovely service and, to my mind, a more meaningful service than the Christmas Carol Service.




The following Sunday was what we still term a Family Service and Brenda has agreed to lead these during the Vacancy. Her theme was St Nicholas and we were entertained by the story of him as a forerunner to Santa Claus. We had appropriate hymns, readings and prayers and then Brenda got us all making Christmas boxes. She had measured out red and green squares and, in the end, we all made quite credible items. She then gave us a luscious decorated shortbread to go in each box which she had made from a recipe in Lizzie’s Cookbook.


We are immensely grateful for the effort she puts into these services.




As usual the church looked beautiful. Our brass candle holders always enhance the look of our church from Advent until Christmas and along with the arrangements, the crib scene and the Christmas tree, it looked so lovely. Brenda added some fairy lights outside on the trees for the Carol Service which was an extra touch. Thank you all for your help.


Our Christmas tree, which was mine before I gave it to the church, and must be about 30 years old, was getting a bit the worse for wear. Our gardener, Richard, who puts it together and decorates it said it was unlikely to last another year. I went to the sales just after Christmas and bought another one so next year, hopefully, we shall start with a much more stable (good word) tree.




I was a little worried as there had been so much rain and many of the roads to the church were flooded. However, our intrepid congregation managed to get through. Before this service we laid on refreshments - mulled wine, mince pies, etc., which all seemed to be well-received and put the congregation in a happy frame of mind and in good voice. It really was a lovely service. Our augmented choir performed well, and the lesson readers were excellent.




This year we held one Benefice service at Wormingford which was led by Brenda. This was, as usual, a lovely service and there are some photos showing the children and the stable scene.


Our Crib Service Collection usually goes to the Children’s Society but as we did not have one of our own we shall send a donation of £200 anyway.




The evening communion was a Mount Bures and there must have been about 50 communicants. It was led by Sally Morris, the wife of Bishop Roger. The church looked beautiful and it was a lovely way to begin the Christmas celebrations.



The Family Communion Service on Christmas morning at our church was led by Revd Hannah Cooper from High woods, Colchester. She is a young woman with 2 small children and it was so good of her to give up some of her Christmas morning to be with us. The service had been brought forward to 10 am (at Hannah’s request) which had been advertised extensively. However a few people turned up at 11 am which was sad as it was poorly attended anyway.



As I have said before, none of these services and events just happen.  Many other people put in a lot of effort to decorate, arrange, play, practice, sing, read, shop, organise, serve refreshments and clear up.  


Thank you all.




This again tested our valiant little band of helpers to their limit. The morning service is the informal service and apart from celebrating the Baptism of Christ it is also Plough Sunday when farmers and their employees are remembered. I recall many years ago when Grandpa Brown, Duncan’s father, used to bring an old piece of plough to stand in the church. Anyway, Brenda made it her theme and as we are a rural community it was very appropriate. This is one of the prayers that she wrote.

Great Father in heaven, we thank you for the good earth and for all things that grow in fields and orchards; for farmers and busy people who work that we may eat. We remember the shepherds and herdsmen who manage livestock, for those who cut hedgerows, plant woodlands, for animals in some parts of the world that are used instead of tractors to prepare the soil. We thank you for our modern farm machinery which make soil suitable for planting and for the awesome combine harvesters which reap the wheat, oats and barley at harvest time. We thank you for all your good gifts and ask that we remember all those throughout the world who need to share the abundance of food we in the western world are able to produce.                                            


We ask this in Jesus name. Amen




After this service Sally Bramall sent me an email about Plough Sunday and Monday and you can read it on Page 8


The Evening Service proved a little more difficult. We were expecting an officiant and when he had not arrived by 6.30 we assumed he was held up by the road closure at the bottom of Beehive Hill but would be arriving soon. We therefore started the service with Brenda leading the prayers and Graham acting as cantor. However, no-one came so we carried on, with lesson readers in place and Brian leading the Intercessions. There was then the question of what to do for a sermon. I, playing the organ, and thinking very fast, first considered that maybe we would sing another hymn. Brenda thought maybe we could have a story from a book in the vestry. I then remembered that I had cut out from a newspaper an article by Frederick Forsyth entitled the Greatest Story Never Told. I had been planning to show it to our absent officiant. I gave it to Brenda who read it, beautifully, despite never having even had time to read it through. Actually, I think our very quickly assembled service was enjoyed by all although it was a little stressful for those of us trying to think on our feet (or organ stool).


MARCH 1st 


On March 1st the services will be different. There will be no 8 am Holy Communion or 11 am Morning Service at our church. Instead there will be a special Benefice Holy Communion at Wormingford at 11 am led by the Archdeacon of Colchester, the Venerable Ruth Patten.




At the time of writing this we really have not had a great many donations towards the cost of production – around 120 Magazines distributed and 16 donations to date.


The cost is £ 7.50 pa and £12 if it is sent to you. There are several ways to pay:


CASH.  This can be brought to church and given to John Sparkes.


CHEQUE. This can be sent to John Sparkes, 13 Keepers Green, Braiswick, Colchester, CO4 5UT made out to Little Horkesley PCC.


BANK TRANSFER. The bank details are as follows: HSBC plc, sort code 40-18-51, account no. 71027395. Reference – your name.









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