- Written by Benjamin Carter
This Sunday we will worship at:
- 9am: Morning Prayer with Hymns and Reflection streamed on facebook.com/parishesbythewall
- From 10am till 12noon: Private Prayer St Cuthbert’s Haydon Bridge
- 30am: Benefice Morning Worship All Hallows’, Henshaw:It will help our planning if you could contact the Church Wardens (Adrian Storrie 344494 or Anne Galbraith 684302) if you plan to be at this service.
Everyday through the week: we will continue to offer Morning Prayer at 9am and Evening Prayer at 6pm streamed on facebook.com/parishesbythewall
- O lord our sovereign, how glorious is thy name in all the earth! Your majesty is praised high as the heavens.
- Out of the mouths of babes, of infants at the breast, you have rebuked the mighty, silencing enmity and vengeance to teach your foes a lesson.
- When I look up at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars set in their place by you,
- What is man that you should remember him, mortal man that you should care for him?
- Yet you have made him little less than a god, crownjing him with glory and honour.
- You make him master over all your creatures: you have put everything under his feet:
- All sheep and oxen, all the wild beasts,
- The birds in the air and the fish in the sea and all that moves along the paths of ocean.
- O Lord our sovereign, how glorious is your name in all the earth.
Reading: Genesis 1, 22 – 31
So he blessed them and said: “Be fruitful and increase, fill the waters of the seas; and let the birds increase on land.” Evening came, and morning came, a fifth day. God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures, according to their kind; cattle, reptiles and wild animals, all according to their kind”. So it was; God made wild animals, cattle and all reptiles, each according to its kind; and he saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let us make man in our image and likeness to rule the fish in the sea, the birds of heaven, the cattle, all wild animals on earth, and all reptiles that crawl upon the earth! So God created man in his own image; in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase, fill the earth and subdue it, rule over the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven, and every living thing that moves upon the earth.” God also said; “I give you all plants that bear seed everywhere on earth, and every tree bearing fruit which yields seed: they shall be yours for food. All green plants I give for food to the wild animals, to all the birds of heaven and to all reptiles on earth, every living creature.” So it was; and God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. Evening came, and morning came, a sixth day.
Until I left home to go to university I lived in a tiny hamlet in Devon, it may now be cast into the sepia of aging, but I remember long warm summers and just being outside all the time. My Grandfather had never left the Devon county boundary and was a genuine countryman, he laid hedges and could tell you all a bored teenager needed to know about the flowers which grew locally and their healing or otherwise properties. On these long walks with Charlie, I also learned to identify the different bird song and to this day it is a simple joy that reminds me of him.
In lockdown we travelled slowly through the emergence of spring and the dawn chorus. So often I have grumbled about the early start that this melodic activity causes, but this year was different. I had all day to nap if I wished, so allowed myself the pleasure of listening and seeing which birds I could identify, whereupon of course I went back to sleep! I set about a challenge to find a cuckoo, a bird I realised I had not heard since I moved to Haydon Bridge, 20 years ago. I was sure that as I walked around the local area I would at some point hear this scarlet pimpernel of birds.
As a child I had attended a small church school a couple of miles away from home in All Saints. This church had been part of my community for as long as I could remember, as the school and village hall were all together; I gave absolutely no thought to the name of our church, it just was All Saints. The church is small and made of local stone, which is part flint, so it often appears to glow in the sunshine, inside it is very plain and simple.
I am really a little magpie, without being quite so noisy, in that I love to collect beautiful things and where better to look for those beautiful things than in a church. Many of you have been bored by my love affair with Leon Cathedral and its glorious windows! But we don’t have to venture into these magnificent buildings as we can find a simple beauty within out parish churches
I was surprised to learn that there are only 16,500 churches in Church of England with dedications to a variety of Saints. Many great buildings take their names from saints’ remains, like Santiago de Compostela which translates as the burial place of St James, this created an entire city!
Back to the early church of England, Holy Martyrs became popular and in 1229 the Bishop of Worcester mandated that all churches display the dedication and name of a saint alongside the altar, in many instances there would also be a pictorial image. Remembering that most visitors to churches then were unable to read, this image was essential. The art historian in me is still miffed at Henry V111’s decision to destroy such a wealth of church tradition, just because of his domestic arrangements, however the whitewashing of those sacred images and the promotion of a new religion caused a backlash against the saints associated with those buildings.
Luckily for us, artists over the centuries were not so reluctant to paint the saints into their storyboard images. I say this as most visitors would be able to identify the saints because they knew their stories, in many cases they are depicted with the means of their martyrdom.
St Sebastien and his many arrows, numerous arrows were used but he was healed from those wounds only to be then beaten to death. There were some particularly gruesome images of this Saint in Spain which I saw last year.
St Jerome and the lion, or the bible which he had translated into Latin
St Catherine and her tower or wheel; the grisly cause of her death. St Catherine was a scholar and so her name is often associated with education.
St James and the scallop shell as the patron of pilgrims
St Hilde with her monastery and St Cuthbert often depicted with animals and birds.
We can only try to imagine what sort of life Cuthbert had as the reluctant leader of Northumberland into the understanding of God’s love. Cuthbert’s life is depicted in the great works of the honourable Bede and within the Lindisfarne chronicles, the most beautiful of books. If you want to find out more I read Cuthbert of Farne: A novel of Northumbria's warrior saint by Katharine Tiernan a couple of years ago, an easy read and a great insight into the man’s life.
I really like the fact that it is St Cuthbert who ties our Benefice together, three of our four churches are dedicated to St Cuthbert, the North of England’s best-loved saint. This historical link has now led to the development of the Northern Saints trails for walking or cycling. A keen walker can now follow the route from Holy island all the way to Durham and then join the coastal route to walk the Way of St Hilde to Whitby.
If, however you don’t fancy hundred of miles we are very fortunate to have the most beautiful countryside on our doorstep. I have and I am sure so have many of you made the most of the sunshine in April and May and got out and looked at our beautiful part of the world.
When through the woods and forest glades I wonder
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze.
When we sing in the hymn’ How great thou art’ it seems to me that over the past few months we have been given permission to slow down and we have been able to experience nature and all its glory. Globally we have seen reports of the Himalayas being seen from cities in India for the first time in 30 years, whilst in Venice, Cormorants have returned, and the fish are visible in the canals.
Here, we have had the gift of getting closer to nature, in Haydon Bridge we now have a thriving goose and duck pack, as they brought up their young on the riverside, families came out to watch and wonder.
On social media there were pictures of deer coming into gardens, hedgehogs and wild birds coming further into cities. I follow one of the tour guide boats out of Seahouses on Twitter and was able to see the images of Farne throughout the hectic time of nesting puffins.
Like St Cuthbert we live in an uncertain age but If we follow the way of St Cuthbert in more than just walking the route laid out, we can see the importance of stillness, solitude, and calm to work issues out. Reluctantly we take on tasks that challenge us but being outside our comfort zone is where we learn most, Cuthbert certainly developed skills far removed from soldiering, but most important of all he gives us guidance on how to support our fellow man alongside the amazing gift of nature given to us as guardians.
I recently read an article about a reluctant runner who now completes one marathon a week!, He is not built like a runner being stocky and shorter in stature and when asked why he runs so often and how he avoids injury, He replied
With each step I touch the earth lightly to do her no harm and she in turn does me no harm.
Like many of you who have enjoyed wandering our lanes and bridleways over the past few months, I have logged in my mind butterflies, flowers, even bee orchids, I have had conversations in the garden with chaffinches and watched as our geese brought up their very noisy brood. It has made me realise that I do not need to be on the top of a Spanish mountain to feel the presence of God. He is with us all the time we just have to slow down and let his light in for there is not one of us broken it is how his light gets in.
It is with this in mind that I try to ready myself for whatever it is that comes next in this uncertain time and I am looking forward to next spring when I will renew my search for the elusive cuckoo.
Collect for eighth Sunday of Trinity
Lord God, your Son left the riches of heaven and became poor for our sake: when we prosper save us from pride, when we are needy, save us from despair, that we may trust in you alone; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Please keep in your prayers: Those in need… Lesley Tower, Dorothy Hartley, Sheila Spence, Margaret McAllister, Allan Munns.
Those who have died….Barry Chambers, Stuart Sim
Sermons and occasional musings of the Vicar and Curate of all the best bits of Hadrian's Wall.
If you have any comments on any content on this part of the website please contact one of:
The Vicar: Benjamin Carter
The Curate: Gill Alexander
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