Vicar Craig Groocock

 

December 2019.

Slow down this Advent

A vicar decided that a visual demonstration would add emphasis to his Sunday sermon. Four worms were placed into four separate jars. The first worm was put into a jar of alcohol. The second worm was put into a jar of cigarette smoke. The third worm was put into a jar of chocolate syrup. The fourth worm was put into a jar of good clean soil. At the conclusion of the Sermon, the vicar reported the following results: The first worm in alcohol - Dead. The second worm in cigarette smoke - Dead. Third worm in chocolate syrup - Dead.  Fourth worm in good clean soil - Alive. So, the Minister asked the congregation, what can you learn from this demonstration? A little old woman in the back quickly raised her hand and said, "As long as you drink, smoke and eat chocolate, you won't have worms!" There’s always a different way of looking at things and that’s the only justification for that story!

However, Advent does offers us all a different way of looking at things. It is a wonderful season and part of our consideration during these four weeks is about the role of time and waiting. We live in a world which doesn’t like to wait - an instant world where waiting is seen as a negative thing. We have  instant credit, instant gratification, we even have TV shows on the internet without the bother of having to wait for a particular day or time, we have instant coffee and instant tea (what is that about?) because we can’t wait to brew it! Waiting has become countercultural. People often say, “The waiting is the hardest bit” and I’m sure that’s true which is why maybe we need to sit with the difficult, to inhabit that space and to re-gain God’s perspective.

Advent traditionally has been a season of the year where we take a step back and reflect on what God’s coming to us in the baby of Bethlehem really means. Sure, during this season all of us are preparing for Christmas - buying and wrapping the presents, decorating the house, wringing the turkey’s neck (unless you’re vegetarian!), even arranging the family visits! But Advent is about much more than this. It invites all of us to take some time out to think about Jesus’ coming, not just as an event in history, but his coming to each of  us every day of the week.

So, take some time out this Advent to stop, think and reflect. Enjoy the gift of this season, slow down a bit, watch and wait and then be truly prepared to celebrate the greatest event the world has ever known.

God bless you,

Reverend Craig.

 

 

 

November 2019.

Every year at Remembrance time those famous,    immortal words of Laurence Binyon always touch me very deeply;

‘They shall not grow old, as we who are left grow old;

age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,

           we will remember them’.

The image of time standing still for those lost in war is a powerful one. An image every year we are reminded of as we rightly remember and give thanks to God to those who gave their lives in war for our freedom and liberty. 

And what a great loss of life it was. In the Great War alone of 1914-18 the estimated loss of some ten to thirteen million young service men and women is unimaginable.

When l was growing up during the 70’s, remembering those lost in war was something irrelevant to me. The world wars were simply distant events that l studied during my history lessons at school. l guess for many young people today the feeling is the same. Remembrance time, in my opinion, was really for the elderly and those who had been personally affected and certainly not for children!, and the enormity of the task in which he was involved in that day. A young man then, all of twenty-two who watched in horror as he hit Sword Beach running in fear for his life as he witnessed many of his friends being mowed down by gunfire and then of feeling guilty for being alive. As l heard the stories l began to understand that Remembrance time is just as much for me and for now as it was for him.

Stories are powerful things. They enable us to get in touch with the human and the real and we must listen to them for they change our lives and perspectives for without them we can so easily become anaesthetised to the experiences of others. Without stories life (and war) has the danger of simply becoming an academic exercise where we no longer see the human face or empathise with human pain.

So, as we remember again this November and give thanks to God for the   sacrifice of so many for our freedom and future, let us be open to hear the stories of people’s lives and allow them to touch, change and transform us for then we begin to see the human face amidst the suffering.

God bless you,

Reverend Craig.

 

 

 

  September 2019

Do nothing to change your life!

Have you had a holiday this summer? Do you have a holiday planned for later in the year? I guess that most people have probably taken their holiday by now. Su and I enjoyed just over a week in Stockholm during July – it was lovely, made better by the fact that we didn’t need our waterproofs once!  Holiday are great times and important occasions; a chance to recharge the batteries and take some rest and relaxation. Someone asked me the other day what I like to do on holiday to which I replied, ‘loads of nothing!’ which to me is about right!

This reminds me of a small but wonderful little book written a few years ago by the Bishop of Reading entitled ‘Do nothing to change your life’, a book I highly recommended. It is only a small book but it’s about the joy of discovering what happens when you stop. Let’s be honest, we don’t stop very  often do we? We’ve lost the art of stillness, silence and simply being in the moment – we’ve become ‘human doings’ rather than human beings.

One of the chapters in the book is entitled ‘Plumbing the depths of a single moment’. It invites and encourages us to enjoy the ‘moment’ rather than dwelling in the past or worrying and fretting about the future. The moment - the here and now - is a gift from God that we would all do well to redis-cover.

We are so easily  preoccupied and stressed out with stuff we’ve got to do, the deadlines we have to meet, the people we need to see etc. that wecan miss the present moment for what it is. The more l talk with people the more I see this longing just simply to be and find this sense of stillness within. At the beginning of Advent we will be having a Quiet Day at church where we will provide the opportunity for you to come and have some    quiet and stillness in God’s presence as part of our preparations for Christmas. There is of course the opportunity to visit the Charlecote Quiet Garden for one of their Quiet days this Autumn. Do talk with Joan Wyman for more details about these.

Whatever you are doing this coming month take some time to stop, to be still and allow God to meet with you in the moment. Enjoy the moment for the gift it is and do nothing to change your lives!

 

It's all in the preparation.

As I write this I notice that I still have paint on my hands! Su and I have been spending every available hour at the vicarage decorating and getting the house ready for our move.  But . . there is light at the end of the tunnel (and it’s not a train coming the other way – I hope!).  Prepar-ation is important and it’s what we all do whether it’s preparing a new home, organising an event or even something far more simple like preparing a meal. Of course you have all been preparing to welcome Su and I amongst you and the wait is almost over. Preparing can, and should be, a positive time even though it can feel daunting and frustrating. During Advent for example we are encouraged to use the season spiritually and prayerfully as we wait and prepare for the coming of the Christ child. Likewise in Lent, preparation is very much a part of our journey as we fast and exercise some form of self-discipline. I hope and pray that this period of waiting has been fruitful for you. It has certainly been so for us as we have been reminded of our need to trust in God, to lean on Him and to accept His call on our lives.

We are looking forward to being with you, living and journeying with you and discovering something more about this great big, amazing God we follow.  In my preparation over recent weeks I have been drawn to Philippians 4.6; ‘ Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanks-giving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God will guard your hearts in Christ Jesus’.  God has called all of us to this next stage. We will feel  excited, joyful, hopeful as well as a little apprehensive too. However, where God calls remember that He also equips. Let us continue to be made ready for all that God has for us and all He will do through us in the months and years ahead.

I look forward to seeing you and meeting you all.                                                        

With every blessings in Christ,       

 Reverend Craig.

 PS  A huge thanks from Su and I to everyone for their welcome, love and hospitality.