February Newsletter 2019
St Michael’s Anglican Congregation in the Gard
Newsletter February 2019
Thought for the month
As I am writing this it is Plough Sunday.
Plough Sunday is traditionally held on the Sunday after Epiphany, the Sunday between 7 January and 13 January. Accordingly, work in the fields did not begin until the day after Plough Sunday.
The origins of Plough Sunday go back a long way, at least into medieval times. On the first Sunday after Epiphany, the parish ploughs, bedecked with ribbons, would be dragged to church to be blessed, as the ploughing season began. On Plough Monday the teams would drag the ploughs round the village, seeking contributions for an ‘Ale’ or night of revelling at the tavern – and woe betide the cottage garden or vegetable plot of any householder who failed to stump up! Plough Tuesday would be spent, more often than not, in recovering. And then the work would begin in earnest.
In the small rural Church where (as children) our family went, like it or not, Plough Sunday was as important as harvest festival. The congregation at both services were generally equal to the Easter congregation. An old Ransomes horse plough would be taken up to the Chancel steps, the senior farmer would ask for the plough to be blessed.
So, in blessing this antique plough, we were responding to an instinct deeply felt in less sophisticated days, and still not entirely extinct, to ask God’s blessing upon a piece of human endeavour. It was the opportunity to pray for the farms and farmers of our parish.
It was a time when the first snowdrops appeared in the wood behind the Church. Some old boys in the congregation referred to them as Candle Berries referring to Candlemas. Our first Sunday service at Bagard is Candlemas. I am not sure that we can find any candle berries for our alter.
The date is traditionally the 40th day of the Christmas-Epiphany season, and marks the time that Christians in some countries take down their Christmas decorations.
Also known as the Feast of the Presentation, it is one of the oldest observances of the Christian church, and has been celebrated since the 4th Century in Jerusalem.
The festival’s origins lie in the account of the presentation of Jesus found in Luke 2:22-40.
Before the puritans took over the Anglican Church Christmas festivities continued after 12th night until Candlemas when decorations were taken down. No nonsense about dry January, “wellness” whatever that means, or clean eating. Celebrations continued. Which is not unsurprising as in a mainly agrarian society there was little to do in the fields at that time of the year. That is why if you visit the Canary Islands in January or February you will find a predominance of British farmers in the bars and hotels.
As treasurer it is not often, I welcome a letter from the Diocesan Office. This week was different. Rather than a polite request for money; in much the same way the Queen requests a few quid through HMRC, this included a great poem about Christmas:
When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.
Thank you for your support in the past, I hope to see you at Bagard on Candlemas day.
We continue to pray for all those who are sick, suffering or in need and especially for Chris Stow, David Paton, Gail Low, Michel Jas.
The revised church directory of members and friends of St Michael’s has been printed and hard copies are available in church. You may also ask Jacqui for an electronic copy. Those friends who live at a distance have been sent electronic copies.
Provision of New Electoral Roll
As you know, we revise the electoral roll annually but the Anglican Church rules are such that, every 6 years, we have to completely wipe the slate clean and re-compile it from scratch. 2019 is such a year.
Even if you were on the previous roll, you will need to re-apply to come back on the electoral roll. Equally if you are not already on the roll, you may apply to be included. Forms have been circulated to those already on the roll. They need to be returned by 14th February to John Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are not on the roll by this date, you will not be able to vote at the AGM in March though you are still encouraged to attend.
Sorry to ask you to complete yet another form. The good news is that you won’t have to do this again for another 6 years.
Electoral Roll Officer
News from Friends !
Do please let us have any news that you may receive of friends that you wish to share with others.