Magazine January 2021
A message from the church wardens.
As we all know this has been a year like no other and we have all been aware of all the Covid-19 restrictions that have been put upon us. Despite all of this there has been much that we should be grateful for. Fr. Mark has been outstanding enabling our church to be open for worship when this has been permitted and even having daily services. The Sunday services, and special ones including the Remembrance Day service, have also been available online for those of us unable to attend. Prior to this he relayed Sunday services from his dining room. Not only that many extra things have been available such as the journey of Mary and Joseph travelling around Littlehampton, the Lessons and Carols and the Crib Service. He has also made sure devotional material has been online, or delivered, for Advent and Christmas. Above all he has been ensuring that we are kept safe when we are in the Church Building by rearranging chairs, removing kneelers, establishing a one-way system and making sure the 2 m rule can be adhered to. We have been so fortunate to be able to take advantage of all these opportunities as so many churches in the local area remained closed. So thank you Fr Mark and your family for everything and we look forward to a Peaceful New year.
Val and Eva.
The Editor writes.
The extract from the Church magazine 100 years ago is very appropriate – just change the date to 2020 and ‘war’ to Covid- 19; an inspiration never-the- less from the right Rev. M .B . Furse, the then bishop of St Albans.
A poem by Mary Bradford Whitting links us to the Christmas season.
There is an article about customs and superstitions linked to January and another quiz to tax your memory with the answers at the end.
There is a copy of the letter from Marius with news of Amara House. This is the house we have been supporting over the past year and will be doing so again in 2021.
A poem by Carol Winner seems appropriate for the New Year as does the 10 commandments for a motorist.
Charlie writes about his special day.
As we are now in Tier 4 some Covid humour is included.
Wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year. Stay safe.
Confidence and hope; a message for 1921.
“Ring out the old, ring in the new.”
That is the message of the New Year bells; the old year has run out, the New Year breaks full of hope. Of course it does, for it means a fresh start. The unwritten page lies before us with as yet no smudges, no ink blots, no false entries that have to be scratched out. The past has gone, the future lies clear before us; we – – set out again on our journey.
“Yes,” you say,”that sounds all right, but is it real? Is the future ‘full of hope,’ either for myself, for our country, for the world or for the Church? and if so, why? Or is all this talk of fresh starts and progress just so much talk and nothing else? Are there any grounds for hope and confidence? Or is 1921 going to be just as difficult and just as apparently futile as poor old 1920 was?”
Well, the answer to those questions depends upon what you believe about God and life. – – For those of us who believe in Him our grounds for confidence and hope are sure. It is not all “talk”: it is real: 1921 is not going to be as 1920 has been: we are going on to be and not going back, that is, if we really mean it.
1920 was difficult, we made lots of mistakes, we met lots of failures, but we learnt something from them and we are not going back. That’s the way God teaches us. He treats us a free men, as responsible creatures, and lets us make mistakes. He won’t do anything for us which we can do for ourselves, but He will do the rest. And what was the root cause of all our mistakes and failures. – – We thought we could live on our “capital” (the natural gifts of the heart and will and mind and body with which God has endowed us) instead of handing it over, investing that capital with Him, and living on the “income” or the in-coming of His life and spirit and power and light and love.
How stupid we are? We know we cannot do a good days work without ‘stocking up’ with physical food; we know are minds go to seed unless we are day by day feeding them with the right ideas; but somehow we will go on thinking that that part of us which is ‘ourselves’ can get along without taking in.
The real Gospel, or good news, which our Lord brought us is that God is Love, therefore we need never be afraid of anything, except cutting ourselves off from that Love which is life. And because God is Love, His love, His life, which is Himself, is continually going out to every one of us in one continual stream of light, love and power. If we only keep our faces turned towards the light we shall get the light on our faces, we can’t help it; if we keep our faces turned towards CHRIST, and our hearts and wills and minds and thoughts directed Christwards; if we only take trouble morning by morning to – – turn ‘on the switch’ and switch on to the Power Station up above us, the power will come in and we shall get it; the power equal to each and every task that can possibly come our way.
Some of you have learnt that – – your whole outlook is changed. You can face up to the future. – – You know God will see you through every time as long as you are doing your little bit. It is not the load that matters, it is you capacity for carrying it.
Do you know the robin’s song? Here it is and I do not know the author, though I am grateful to him, or is it her?
“Cheer up! Cheer up! Cheer up!
If you ever feel blue,
Find something to do
For somebody else
Who is sadder than you:
Cheer up! Cheer up! Cheer up!
That’s the secret of peace and power; get out of yourself, and keep ‘switched on’ to the Power Station, and in 1921 we are going to do it, more than we did in 1920, so don’t worry! So self is all right, or can be if we go about it the right way.
Customs and superstitions associated with January.
In the past, and occasionally today, the new year began by welcoming a dark haired visitor. This ‘first footing’ occurred just after 12p.m. and was seen as bringing good luck to the family. The visitor would arrive with a piece of coal, some bread, some money and some greenery. This was a sign that the house would always be warm, the occupants would have plenty of food and enough money and have long life. The visitor would leave with some dust or ashes signifying that the old year had passed and that the new had arrived.
In the Middle Ages the 1st was significant as it could reveal how the following year would turn out. A flat cake would be placed on a horn of a cow and the farmer and his labourers would sing and dance round the cow. The cake would be thrown off and where it fell signified whether it would be a prosperous year or not. Falling in front of the cow signified good luck and fallen behind indicated the opposite.
The Saxons regarded the 2nd to be the unluckiest day of the year. Anyone born on that day would die an unpleasant death.
St Hilary’s feast day on the 13th, or the days around it, ia considered to be the coldest time of the year. This is based on the fact that the Thames in London has frozen over strong enough to walk on. In 1205, when this occurred, ale and wine froze solid and was sold by weight.
Frost fairs were held and during the ‘Little Ice Age’ (1550 – 1750) many took place. The first recorded one in London was in 1608 and the last in 1814. More recently fairs, dancing and skating have taken place on the upper stretches of the Thames. I remember my grandmother (who died in 1949) telling me about fairs on the Thames in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, when she was a girl.
On the 20th, St Agnes’ Eve, unmarried women and girls who wanted to dream about future husbands would preform certain rituals before going to bed. These include fasting all day, transferring pins one by one from a pin cushion to their sleeve while reciting the Lord’s Prayer, walking backwards upstairs at bed time and eating a portion of the dumb cake before lying down to sleep. This cake had been prepared with friends in total silence and containing an unpleasant amount of salt.
The first new moon of the year was also used to learn about ones marriage. The new moon was viewed through a new silk scarf and the number of moons seen foretold how many years would pass before one married.
To dream of your future husbands one had to lean over the spars of a gate looking at the new moon reciting these words;
All hail to thee, all hail to thee
I prythee, good moon, reveal to me,
This night who my husband shall be.
The Dawn of Joy.
Down through the gleaming starlight With a sound like a mighty sea, Comes a flood of angel music, A marvellous melody: “Glory to God in the highest, Peace and goodwill on earth!” The bright-winged armies of heaven Herald the Saviour’s birth.
Out through the desert darkness
The wondering shepherds go,
Seeking the Child of promise
Where He lies in His cradle low;
Till all in the dewy dawnlight
They came to that manger bare,
And fall on their knees in worship,
For the King of Kings lies there.
And still through the circling ages We follow the shepherd’s way, Through the dark, dark night of the desert Till we come to the dawn of Day; Till we come where the Da-star shineth, The Light and the Life of men, And the joy of that first sweet Christmas Flows over the world again. Mary Bradford Whiting.
A copy of the letter from Romania. Dear friend and supporter of Fundatia.
Another year is getting to the end therefore it is time for s to come before you and share with you some of the things that happened in 2020. I think you agree if I say that it is a year that not many of us want to remember! I think the whole world has changed so much and things will never be the same for many of us.
Over the year, we had some difficult moments at the house. When the virus hit Romania in the spring, we had to take some drastic measures, in order to protect the boys. One of these measures was to put the staff on 14 days shift. This was not easy for them but it was the right thing to do at the time.
Another problem that we had to deal with over the year was getting the medical treatment for the boys. It became more and more difficult to get a doctor for their regular medical problems, as access to the hospitals services was limited to a minimum due to Covid 19 situation.
Despite all of this, the life at Amara had to continue. Like we do every year, in the spring we planted seeds in the garden hoping for a good harvest. Unfortunately, the summer was very dry and then, when we needed it most, the water pump broke and left us without the possibility to water the plants for some time until we found the money to replace it (which we have now done).
During summer, as I had more time, I was able to do some work around the house or to make changes to improve the living conditions. The Quality of life for our boys has always been a priority for our charity. As they get older, their needs are different and we all have to adapt all the time. Talking to the staff, we all agreed that it is time to replace the old laminated floor with ceramic tiles as they are more durable and easier to clean. We started with one of the bedrooms where Fanel sleeps as he has to permanently wear a urine bag! And sometimes, accidents happen.
Fanel’s bedroom is just one of three. The other two need attention but it does cost about 500 pounds each to have the same job done.
2020 has been a very difficult year and the next could be even worse. We don’t know what to expect. For the moment I just enjoy every moment when I am with the boys.
Last night we decorated the Christmas tree at the house. There is no other picture that fills my heart with joy but to see the boys getting around it. It is the moment when you forget about all your problems, about Covid and just enjoy. Fanel comes to me and asks: “Marius is Santa still coming this year? How will he come if the town is in lockdown?” “He will come, Fanel! He will come!”
So now we do have something to look forward to, and even with the restrictions we know it will be possible in the House to create an atmosphere all the boys will enjoy. The staff, who have worked so hard during the year, continue to do everything they can to make this environment a happy place for every one of the boys and at the same time make sure they are safe and protected from the virus which still threatens so many communities here in Romania.
As Christmas approaches we do think of you all wherever you are and hope that, despite the lockdowns that may well apply in your communities, you will be able to meet at least some of your friends or family to celebrate the joys of Christmas together. And you can be sure that as the Amara family celebrate their Christmas they will be remembering your kindness in helping to maintain the Amara House!
Blessings to you all. Marius Istrate.
A Quiz about January.
In which year did these events occur?
1) The BBC first broad cast programs on the 1st in —.
2) Traffic police were introduced on the 1st in —-.
3) On the 10th the London Underground began operating in –.
4) The first televised weather forecast was transmitted from the BBC’s Lime Grove Studios in —.
5) Charing Cross Station in London opened on 11th —-.
6) On the 14th in —- motorists were required to wear seat belts.
7) On the 17th in —- Scott and his party reached the South Pole.
8) On the 21st in —-the BBC made the first world broadcast.
9) On the 28th in — London’s All Mall was the first street in the world to be lit by gas lights.
10) The Victoria Cross originated on the 29th in —- being made from guns captured in the Crimea.
Select from the following dates.
1807; 1856; 1863; 1864; 1912;
1927; 1930; 1931; 1954; 1986.
Answers at the end.
A special day.
Epiphany is a special day for me. It was my first full day in Littlehampton and a strange new experience. In the evening, when it was almost dark, I was taken into a huge building where something told me I had to behave. That’s not my usual way as I am known as being mad!
I have been taken there regularly since and made many friends although I have upset some – I did not think anyone could be frightened of little, gentle me. Now I know there are services there and until recently singing and many more people around. I am not sure, even after a number of years why people get up and down. I just settle down for a snooze and plan what to do next, or sort out problems where I am not disturbed.
The day before is my official birthday. Doesn’t that sound posh? It’s sad really as I do not know when or where I was born. That does not worry me now. I am happy, accepted and loved. I get food regularly – I no longer have to search for it or go hungry. For that I am truly thankful and try to show my thanks and love when ever I can. This past year has been difficult for you all and for me too. I still get walks, chase in the garden (I’ve wrecked the lawn) and play with my toys. I do meet my friends but somehow its not the same – I can only greet them if I am on a long lead.
Like you all, I hope things will soon return to normal. That is my wish for you all this coming year. I will be waiting to greet you all and hopefully add something to your time in this magnificent building, which I now know is a church where someone special is worshipped. I have one question which puzzles me – you all get ‘food’ and sometimes a ‘drink’ but I get nothing. Why?
I wish you all a happy and healthy new year. Charlie.
Ten Commandments for the road.
1. Begin with a prayer.
2. If you start late, arrive late.
3. Alcohol is for the radiator, not for the operator.
4. If entry into the flow of traffic is facilitated by the courtesy of another driver, wave in appreciation.
5. If you have inadvertently endangered the safe passage of another driver, wave as an apology.
6. Make it easy for aggressive opportunity snatchers to get to get ahead of you – far ahead.
7. Drive so that a sudden appearance of a police car is a pleasant sight.
8. Give plenty of space to cars marked with dents.
9. Never accelerate, and decelerate if advisable, when another car wishes to enter your lane.
10. End every trip with a prayer of thanksgiving.
When I say.
When I say, ‘I am a Christian,’ I’m not shouting, I’ve been saved!’ I’m whispering, ‘I get lost! That’s why I chose this way.’ When I say, ‘I am a Christian,’ I don’t speak with human pride, I’m confessing that I stumble - needing God to be my guide. When I say, ‘I am a Christian,’ I’m not trying to be strong. I’m professing that I’m weak and pray for strength to carry on. When I say, ‘I am a Christian,’ I’m not bragging of success. I’m admitting that I’ve failed and cannot ever pay the debt. When I say, ‘I am a Christian,’ I don’t think I know it all. I submit to my confusion, asking humbly to be taught. When I say, ‘I am a Christian,’ I’m not claiming to be perfect. My flaws are too visible, but God believes I’m worth it. When I say, ‘I am a Christian,’ I still feel the sting of pain. I have my share of heartache, which is why I seek his name. When I say, ‘I am a Christian,’ I do not wish to judge. I have no authority . . . I only know I’m loved.
Just wait a second – so what you are telling me is that my chance of surviving all this is directly linked to the common sense of others? Is that right?
People are scarred of getting fined or arrested for congregating in crowds, as if catching a deadly disease and dying a horrible death wasn’t enough of a deterrent.
Another Saturday night at home and I just realised the bin goes out more often than me.
The spread of Covid-19 is based on two factors: 1. How dense the population is and 2. How dense the population is.
Remember all those times when you wished the weekend would last forever? Well, wish granted. Happy now?
Answer to the quiz on January.