Letter from the Vicarage

By Revd. Neil Lambert at St Mary’s                                   

A Happy New Year to you all, and a blessing on you and yours.

As we face a new lock down and schools closing once again, I have been reflecting on what we can learn about successfully surviving a crisis. How are you coping with “Lockdown 3.0”? Have look at the ‘what’s on’ page if you are looking for opportunities to connect with like-minded locals.

Looking for best practise, my thoughts turn not only to recent times, but also to the challenges faced by past generations. You may remember Eric, one of our local heroes who shared his wisdom via a video on Remembrance Day at our carpark & zoom service. I learned so much from my visit to his doorstep last year. Here are 3 things to remember as we face the latest challenges in 2021:

1) Love your neighbour. Our community has shown itself to be a caring, generous and faithful group of amazing neighbours over the last year. What an incredible village we live in! Local people have been tireless in volunteering via the Ash, Ash Vale & Ash Green Coronavirus Support Group fetching shopping and prescriptions, and helping in many other ways. The Food Parcels project is incredible (more on that in later pages) and has been very well supported by your generosity. I have seen and heard many more examples of caring, encouraging and sharing going on informally too. Under pressure, stick together! We can get through this if we look after one another. 

2) Say Safe. Eric often tells us about London during the war, and how people took shelter in the nearest basement or designated ‘safe place’ when the sirens wailed. It was the obvious thing to do. Similarly we would be crazy not to follow the latest covid rules. Even at St Mary’s we have taken the difficult decision to move services over to ’zoom only’ on Sundays for January & February to keep eachother safe.  Keep on keeping each other safe, one day at a time, it’s the right thing to do and it will save lives.

3) Keep the long term in mind. We may just be taking one day at a time, but each step is part of a longer journey. To reach our long term goals in life, we need to look beyond today and consider what we want of the future. Whatever you dream of – ’post covid’ family reunions perhaps, planting a garden, starting a new career, ending hunger, or tackling climate change, however big or small your dreams, you need to set your compass accordingly and make sure your daily direction of travel is aligned. Let’s spend our days wisely and well, building relationships, making changes, learning skills. For Christians, this also means tapping in to what God has in store for us by deepening our faith and strengthening our relationship with Him.

More local to home, you will see that Ash Ranges, and by association defending democracy and due process is a hot topic for us in this issue of the Parishioner. You will find an Ash Ranges supplement in the centre pages, written from 3 different perspectives by locals who are at the forefront of this campaign. While we must leave the legal arguments to the experts, one thing is clear: We must ensure that we stand up for justice, give a voice to the voiceless, and hold our representatives to account.

We have all read in the history books how fragile democracy can be, and how quickly rights can be eroded. No overt attack is needed to undermine justice, merely apathy and a general reluctance to act in its defence. The recent events in the USA are a stark reminder that we get what we vote for.  Let’s hold our own representatives to account wherever they may be— Parish and County Councillors, Members of Parliament, and all those in authority. And remember to pray for them too.

With every blessing,