Springing in to the New Year

By Rev. Neil Lambert

Happy New Year! So much has happened since my Christmas letter. We hugely enjoyed welcoming you to St Mary’s to celebrate Christmas in lots of creative ways. Thank you for joining in with our (mostly outdoor) adventures and keeping one another safe throughout our Celebrations. We made 85 pizzas on Christingle night alone, it was a joy to welcome you all. What an amazing community we have here in Ash Vale.

Do you have a sense of ‘time to rebuild’ in 2022? The team here at St Mary’s was reflecting on a passage from Nehemiah recently and it really spoke to us. Nehemiah was faced with the challenge of rebuilding the crumbling walls of Jerusalem. In the message translation of chapter 4 v10 we read  “The builders are pooped, the rubbish piles up; We’re in over our heads, we can’t build this wall”. Daunting stuff! But they prayed, they got organised, and they continued to build. Like them, we are rebuilding church after covid, and we are working out the best ways to serve our community here in Ash Vale, and you know what? We are praying, we are getting organised and it’s all happening! If you have a heart for our community and want to be a part of it please come and talk to me or anyone on the team. There is always room for another volunteer whether you want to help lead worship, polish the brass, clean the Chapel, sort out our wobbly paving slabs, volunteer with the children, make cups of tea, deliver food parcels, join us in prayer… God has work for all willing helpers and we would love to hear from you.

We aren’t just going “back to normal” though (were we ever normal to begin with?!) Zoom church has been so much fun and so creative, it’s here to stay. So anyone who is ill or isolating or frail or lives a long way away can still join us from afar on Sunday mornings. The Parishioner magazine too is moving with the times. This magazine you hold in your hands (or PDF on your screen) will be the last bimonthly magazine as we know it. Going forward we are adopting more of a flexible ‘blog’ format for most of the year, and we are limiting our ‘post through the door’ to twice a year for Easter and Christmas. It’s exciting to be able to be more flexible and it means you can get in touch with your local news, heroes, quizzes, events and letters to share at any time, not just 6 times a year. Come and have a look at http://www.ash-vale.org.uk/parishioner to browse all the blog posts, or follow our Facebook page to see all the new items as they appear @TheParishioner. As always you can reach us on parishioner@ash-vale.org.uk or by post to St Mary’s Church in Ash Vale, or pop in and talk to us. We welcome budding journalists and local bloggers—contact us if you would like a regular ‘column’ it’s going to be a lot of fun!

Alex Sanderson BEM

Of course I cannot finish without acknowledging the amazing work of the local Ash, Ash Vale and Ash Green Coronavirus Support Group, and in particular the Food Parcels project, whose dedication over the past 2 years has been incredible. This has been recognised with a well deserved new years honour for our very own Alex Sanderson who received a BEM for services to the community, (and of course we mustn’t forget Neil and Lucy Sanderson who do so much behind the scenes.) Congratulations! We will be holding our very own Ash Garden Party to celebrate this incredible honour in the summer, and celebrating all the amazing work that Alex, Carla and the team have done.

Please check out our online Parishioner blog and don’t forget there’s always church at 10:30am on Sundays—live or on zoom—to keep in touch. If you’d like a chat during the week we are always around on Fridays in term time, 10am-12noon, at Community Café here at St Mary’s.

See you all soon!