From The Rectory

From the Rectory
Once more the summer months bring us into the season of “Epilogues” at Countisbury Church (8.30pm on Sundays through the summer until the 2nd of September). Each week this short service is led by a different person, exploring something that is meaningful to them and there is the opportunity for a convivial gathering at the Blue Ball afterwards. The services were the inspiration of John and Pauline Pedder as a way to keep Countisbury Church in use as a place of worship. I think the small group of us who make the pilgrimage up the church path each week during the summer would agree, these services offer a real gift, a way to end the day peacefully, surrounded by the stunning beauty of the moor and coastland of Countisbury Hill, watched over by the swallows who return to the nest in the porch and held by the ancient walls of the church itself. During the remarkable weather of late June and early July, our journey home was graced by spectacular sunsets too.

In the service I led, I took as my inspiration the church of St John the Evangelist, Countisbury, itself. For me it’s a church which inspires worship of the Creator on behalf of all creation as it sits so comfortably in its land; it is a place of memory, holding the history of so many local families in the churchyard and in the remembering of all who have celebrated baptisms, marriages and kept the sabbath within, reminding us we we do not walk this way alone, but in the companionship of all who go before and come after us; and now it is a place of shelter for today’s pilgrims, stepping asidefrom the coast path, out of the elements, to take a deep breath and find a bit of peace, a space to encounter God, however that be, for each visitor.

Each of the church buildings of our Mission Community has its own particular character, its own relationship with its land and people, its own offering of space to encounter God. Each congregation has taken the decision to make sure they are open during the day. Our Visitor Books are full of appreciation from those on holiday in the area who have discovered beauty, stillness and peace in these holy places, and in Lynton the prayer board holds safely the prayers that a church visit prompts.

It is worth remembering that you do not have to be on holiday to step through the open door of a quiet church. Might this summer be a time to be curious about the churches across the Mission Community that you don’t know well – to spend some time St Mary’s Lynton, St Bartholomew’s Barbrook, St John the Baptist’s Lynmouth, St John the Evangelist’s Countisbury, St Brendan’s Brendon, Christchuch Parracombe, St Martin’s Martinhoe or St Peter’s Trentishoe (or if away from the Lyn Valley, in a local church that is new to you)? Might you take with you someone who would like to visit but cannot get there themselves? I wonder what you might find, what might touch your soul, while you are there.

God bless, Samantha



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