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Dear Friends,

November has always been, for me, the herald of winter. The clocks have changed and the mornings are colder and the days much shorter. The winter clothing takes the place of the summer outfits in the wardrobe and the hat, gloves and scarf sit alongside the thick winter coat ready for an outside walk in the crisp, frosty morning.

In many ways, I look forward to this time of year because of the change of season but it also makes me think of those who find being out in the dark difficult or who struggle to keep warm. Often staying indoors wrapped up is the best choice, although this can create loneliness. The hospitality that we can show our neighbours and friends comes to the fore at this time and if someone is in need, do get in touch with the churches to find out how we may offer or guide the right support.

The month of November can also seem like a sombre month as we look to remembering the past. In our benefice church calendar, we will be holding our annual All Soul’s Service in each of the three churches on Saturday 5th November. This is a service for anyone who has felt the pain of grief to spend a short time in reflection and remembering those who continue to live in our hearts after they have died and with us no more.

November is also the time to remember those who died in service for their country. Remembrance Day on 11thNovember and Remembrance Sunday, this year on 13th November, remains important to a great many people. It is not about glorifying war but honouring those who stood up to oppression and fought for freedom. It is about remembering those who did not come back and giving thanks for those who did, often with scars that run much deeper than is visible on the outside.

We cannot forget the other event on 5th November either, when the story of the Gunpowder Plot is remembered with bonfires and fireworks. The glorious colours of the fireworks have changed the emphasis from what it originally meant into a gathering together of friends and family; a happy occasion with warm drinks, hot food and sparklers!

Remembering happens all the time. We do not choose just one day a year to remember; there are lots of moments when we do. Do we only hold onto to sad memories? One of the most enjoyable parts of my role is to be able to spend some time with people and finding out what memories they have of the things they have done, the places they’ve been, the family stories and the things that are held in great importance. Some memories are naturally sad, but many are very joyous and heart-warming. Even in times of sadness, we can usually share an anecdote about someone who has played a key part in our lives.

So, is there anything hopeful to look forward to in November? Yes, I believe there is. This month brings us closer to the season of Advent, when we shall prepare, with anticipation, for the arrival of the birth of a very special baby called Jesus. Even as the darkness of winter wraps its arms around us, we can, if we choose, see beyond and know that there is light; there is life and there is hope because he came to earth for us. We need to know this more than ever this year when we are uncertain about the future. War is in Europe; we do not know what is to come next and the cost-of-living crisis in this country is creating greater harm to those already in great need.

As the season of winter begins to envelop us, I pray that our hearts remain warm and that we can find time for those who need a listening ear, a warm cup of tea and a space to be able to share memories of days gone by and the hopes for a brighter future.

With every blessing


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