Benefice Newsletter



You are the light of the world.
(Matthew 5.14)

After the relentless pressure of consumerism, pandering to our tastes

and emotions, maybe its time to use our senses in a different way and


God is not to be found in the stepping aside from the flow of daily life or by looking away from creation to a spiritual realm but by entering attentively into the depths of the present moment. Our times of religious practice are not alternatives to encountering God in everyday life, but moments of preparation for meeting him wherever we are. In every created thing the light of God is shining.

The poet Kenneth White writes:“I open the book and the words fly off the page”; the book being creation. A celtic poet with a celtic spirituality looking at  God’s creation. Celtic spirituality put less emphasis on the sanctuary of the church and far more on the sanctity of earth, sky and sea.  

To be aware of creation with all our being is, as Philip Newell says, in his book of that name, “to listen to the heartbeat of God”  John Scotus Eriugena says of the creatures, “they are endowed with the five senses”.With the birth of the creatures comes   seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, smelling.

 When God created  creatures he endowed them with five senses,  and, in humans at least, something the late Brother Ramon called an intuitive knowledge, a faculty for discovering spiritual truth.

All things come from God and creation is a showing of the mystery of God.

If you wish to know the creator, come to know his creatures -  see with the eyes of the heart.  God is in his world, in his creation and without the use of our  senses - and this inner sense,   we are cut off from the heart of life. This inner sense sometimes comes with music, or art, or reading and quite often with the contemplation of the created world around us.

All things come from him. It is not the gift of the senses that leads us away from God but our misuse of them - they can become disordered.  It is by the senses that we are often led into a greater awareness and relationship  with God .It isn’t a romantic exercise, being aware of creation, fully aware means being aware of the destructiveness -the choice that is in all creation, being other worldly and naïve is not of service to Our Lord. But sometimes we are the opposite of naïve- so sophisticated that we forget we are not the only pebbles on the beach so to speak -we are part of the whole.  Be aware of our senses  -the gift of God that is physical and spiritual, and spend some time listening to that  heartbeat.. Go outside and see, hear, touch, smell - stay seated and watch from the window, we can sit and see with the eyes of our mind  Take a while to feel that you are part of the whole.Kenneth White describes being aware of the essence of life as: “taking off the clothes of the mind and making love to the body of reality”

The book of Job tells us “Ask the animals and they will teach you, the birds of the air and they will tell you”  St. Benedict quoted that to his followers.

One thing we can learn from the creatures is -stillness. See a wounded creature - In its suffering it is still. In that stillness it waits for healing. We have many wounds on our hearts and bodies let us spend  time in stillness waiting for God’s healing touch.

Eriguena says God still walks in the garden of our souls searching for us.

Be still and know that I am God and listen to my heartbeat. (Penelope TSSF)

(Some of you, Peter especially, will know that these themes and quotes come from the books 'Listening to the Heartbeat of God' and 'The Book of Creation' by Philip Newell.  Like Peter, the books inspired me to read the letters of Pelagius.As a countrywoman born and bred I strongly identify with finding God and his healing in creation)


It’s that time of year when another (at times annoying) favourite question comes to many people’s lips, “Have you made any New Year resolutions?”

Personally, I haven’t. I tend to deal with things in small bites day by day.  I’m very comfortable standing by “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring enough troubles of its own, todays trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:34.

Travelling between Churches, I heard a religious commentator answering the same question and he said that rather than make resolutions, he sets goals. Unfortunately, I got to my next service before I heard him explain the difference. If your resolution were to lose a stone in weight, isn’t that also a goal I ask myself? If you know the difference, do please tell me sometime.

I think January is an odd time to make resolutions anyway. We’ve had many dark, gloomy damp days, which can affect our way of thinking. Much better I say to think about these things in springtime, with lengthening days and new life all around us. Any resolution will surely have a much more positive feel. Get the caravan kitted out for your first trip this year – now there’s a heart-warming thought.

It all set me thinking whether the great names in the Bible made resolutions and set goals? Moses certainly had a challenge on his hands, leading his people to the promised land. Jesus set the disciples the challenge to go and make disciples of all nations. Whilst goals of sorts, they are shared with others who take on areas of responsibility and lighten the load.

Resolutions, goals vision, whichever term you wish to use, all look forward positively to the future. As a Church, its right that we do the same, to do otherwise is to risk standing still. A couple of quotes to help us with these things …. From Michelangelo: “The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high, and we miss it,  but that it is too low and we reach it”

And from St Catherine of Sienna and one of my personal favourites: “Be what God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire”

Above all else, on the other side of much festivity and celebration,  I wish you all a very happy and healthy 2020 and may your vision be Holy Spirit inspired.  With very best wishes, Rev’d Tim



commenced at Enborne on ADVENT SUNDAY with the Advent Carol Service once again led by the ENBORNE CONSORT. Every year we are inspired by the beautiful singing to enter into the  spirit of Advent especially when joining with them in singing some of the great Advent Hymns.  The singing was supplemented by readings from the Bible telling
how the birth of the Messaiah was foretold by Israel's great Prophets.The evening ended with Refreshments during which old friendships were renewed and grateful thanks were extended to Jevanne Johnson Booth and the Consort. Advent continued at Enborne on the following Sunday when Jenny Veasey informed the congregation of the Advent Ring and lit the 2nd of the four candles. Each Candle signifies a different part of the Advent Message. Jenny told us that the second Candle is the one which represents the Ancient Prophets who kept reminding the Jews of God's Covenant culminating in the coming of Jesus Christ.  On the Third Sunday of Advent Mark Wilson led a wonderful Communion Service. He told us that the third candle stood for John the Baptist, the bridge between the Old and New Testaments. We learnt of his life and his message. This Candle also stands for Joy which Mark told us is the mood which all Christian people should experience as Christmas draws closer. John King

Kintbury Carols in the Square:Given the lashing rain of the night before and the gusty winds of the night after, we were (quite literally!) blessed from above with a beautiful starry night for our annual outdoor carol service in December. A merry group gathered outside the church gates and sang classic carols to the accompaniment of the Hungerford town band, mulled wine and warm mince pies. Our thanks to the band, to Kintbury Eco Group (who inspired us to order recyclable / compostable cups this year), and to all who took part, served and otherwise helped out to make this annual Kintbury tradition another wonderful village occasion. Leila Cox.  


Our knitted figures of Mary, Joseph and their donkey had a wonderful trip around Kintbury, staying over at many homes and being welcomed by various different families every night of their journey towards Bethlehem during Advent. They began at the Christmas fair on 1stDec and ended up arriving at their stable at the church Crib Service on Christmas Eve, with stops also at Notrees, the local schools/preschools and Tweasles. Our thanks to all their hosts and especially the children who took such good care of them! Leila Cox


At ENBORNE.On a beautiful frosty morning in a church lovingly decorated by PHIL and her helpers the REV GRAHAM FOULIS BROWN in an inspirational Service led a congregation of 35 in a moving celebration of the HOLY COMMUNION .The Christmas hymns were sung with enthusiasm ,the readings from JOHN and HEBREWS were read with sincerity and Graham's Sermon interestly contained reference to 1st century BETHLEHEM and 21st century Canada in stressing the meaning of the Christmas message. The congregation left expressing their enjoyment of such an uplifting Service and their thanks to Roger POPE whose hard work had made the Service possible.  John King

The West Woodhay crib service was held as usual on Christmas Eve, brilliantly directed by Davina Parkhouse and attended by around 80 people. As usual the performing children held us all spell bound by their enthusiasm and natural performing talents. On Christmas Day we had our normal 11.15am communion service. Tim conducted a wonderful service with a short form communion and having administrating communion to over 60 communicates had the congregation away by 12pm for their Christmas lunch. The general consensus is that it was the perfect service for Christmas Day. Harry Henderson

A full church, glorious new organ , the wonderful Opus 2 choir, Thomas Kerley's trumpet fanfare and Ben Goad singing the solo verse, St. Mary's KIntbury began Christmas celebrations with a truly magnificent carol service.  A 'new' event also happened this year. St.Mary's Primary School asked if they could hold a candlelit carol service in the church rather than their usual daytime service. This was well attended by families, who appreciated the decoration and support of the church.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day saw our usual four services and large congregations.  Even a church mouse could not have found a space at the Crib Service as 200 adults and children came to hear the nativity told by children with a few adult helpers. The singing of carols must have been heard throughout the village. Thank you Jenny and the 'Team' This service has become an essential part of Christmas for many Kintbury people, as is the traditional First Communion of Christmas which took place at 11.30pm. 8.00am on Christmas morning saw the early communion service at Avington Church. The church was filled again for the 9.45 Family Communion and Jenny led us to see the nativity from the perspective of the shepherds.  It has been a very busy time for all members of the clergy, as we alo had a wedding and two funerals in the ten days preceding Christmas. All services were much appreciated. It was good to see the number of people who came through the church doors for at least one of the Christmas services. (Pauline Pettitt & Penny Fletcher)


The Orthodox Church emphasises the Baptism of Christ at this feast of the Magi.Often celebrated on a river bank they have the Great Blessing of the Water. In line with the above thoughts on creation, this has  cosmic significance. Christ enters the Jordan, cleansing the waters and imparting grace and redemption to the entire material creation. “At thine Epiphany the whole creation sang thy praises”. (Readings Through the Christian Year)


A month for new beginnings. There are however several anniversaries in the month, two of which had effect upon the Anglican Communion.On the 25th, 1533, Henry 8th married Anne Boleyn causing the English Church to separate from Rome.(Although Christianity existed  in the four kingdoms long before Whitby). In 1649, Charles 1st was executed and Puritanism reigned supreme. This led to a ban upon the celebrations of Christmas, Easter and Whitsun. In the secular world, 1st January was adopted as the New Year in 1662. It had previously been 25th March.  Lord Nelson was buried on 9th January. (Have you all read that wonderful biography by Edgar Vincent?) 3rd January, 1895 saw the birth of the Labour Party. Quite an eventful month January.


Once again at 11.40am we will be gathering in St. Mary 's churchyard, Kintbury to remember William Winterbourne.The Tollpuddle Martyrs are part of English history although none of them suffered the death penalty, but the Kintbury rioters seemed to have been ignored despite the fact that William was hanged.Members of Reading Rural Museum will be joining us. Coffee will be served in St. Mary's Room beforehand. The Swing Riots greatly affected this area, not just Kintbury, but all the surrounding villages.


We have already mentioned Edgar Vincent and his Life of Nelson and here in Kintbury

Edward Brooke-Hitching, son  of Emma has just published:' The Sky Atlas'. ('A beautiful new book. There are endless brilliant unforgettable stories in the Sky Atlas. So poetic… full of maps and illustrations.'   -- Cerys Matthews, BBC Radio 6 Music). Gill Hornby's new book, 'Miss Austen', is released in January


EXPLORATION AND DISCOVERY : The title for the Service With a Difference has changed. Since its implementation some 15 years ago we have tried to offer a service that was different with a range of speakers and styles, and they have been interesting. However, what the service lacked was a central purpose and a pattern to make it work.  So now in 2020 we want it to be different! We hope that this will be the year in which we look again, perhaps with new eyes, and explore some of the central features of Christian Belief. And as we do, perhaps we may have that eureka moment of discovery that really makes us think again regardless of how much, how little or even no experience 'in the faith' we have.

So where do we start? It can only be with the force that we call God which in total is unknowable. But with the insight that science is now giving us we are beginning to see that far from chance, our world was designed for a purpose.  To see how this might be we are showing three films over the next three months the first of which is in Inkpen Church at 9.45am on January 25th. It is called (topically enough) 'The Privileged Planet' and it takes us on a journey from the most remote galaxies to the planet we call home. On the way we are shown how the Universe and the Earth are both finely tuned for life the discoveries that science makes to enable us to understand it. This will then be followed by two others, one on February 23rd called 'Unlocking the Mystery of Life' and the other on March 22nd with the title 'The Case for a Creator'. The films are not part of a service. There will be no hymns, no prayers and no creed or liturgy - just the opportunity for you to come and see for yourself whether for you 'Exploration' has led to 'Discovery'. As you might gather this more critical yet more exciting approach is not just for us here in Inkpen but also wider afield. We would therefore very much value not only your support but also your own evaluation. Coffee will be available afterwards.Gerald  Atkinson


Inkpen and Combe Bulletin has a new editor, Tim des Forges. Tim writes.'We don't intend to make sweeping changes to the layout and of course, the content is only as good as the information we are sent. We intend to return to a monthly publication which will allow for more spontaneous events and information to be reported. We would welcome any constructive ideas of what you would like to see more or less of so that we can encourage the former. 'Copy Date. Please could we have copy for February's issue by 24th January 2020 to or ring us on 01488 668496."

Inkpen owes a large debt to Gerald and Elsa for their tireless work for the past 30 years

We will shortly be seeing snowdrops I our woods and churchyards. Snowdrops (galanthas nivalis) are known as Candlemas Bells because they bloom early in the year, even before Candlemas. According to folklore, an angel helped these Candlemas bells to bloom and gave them as a sign of hope to Eve, who wept in despair over the cold and death that had entered the world. Many Christians see the flower as a symbol of Jesus Christ being the hope for the world. 


11th January, 11.40, St.Mary's Kintbury,

Annual remembrance of William Winterbourn


 Wednesday 22nd January. St. Mary's Hamstead Marshall, 7.30pm

SPEAKERS CORNER: Alistair Mills: Robert Burns, National Bard, Lad O Pairts.

£5 (includes wine and nibbles)


Sunday  2nd February 10.30am. Candlemas - Benefice Service at Enborne







as the late Alfred Martyn-Johns often said,



Items please to:   Penny at ian_fletcher43@btinternet; or Phil at

Contacts: Benefice: Priest-in-charge: Rev Mark Wilson,

'phone: (01488) 491105 or .

Office: email Deborah at & for the Beacon by email.