Remembering the Flax Bourton fallen

November 12, 2017

Four men of Flax Bourton.
Hamlyn Horwood Perham, Stanley Norley, Herbert Chidgey, George Onslow Master.

Before the First War, they lived in a radius of 400 yards from this church. In death, they lie far apart. Four men from very different backgrounds.

Herbert Chidgey lived across the road from Flax Bourton Church at the Angel Inn, where his father was the publican. Herbert is listed in the 1911 census as an Insurance Agent; he was quick to join up, he volunteered in August 1914 and joined the Gloucestershire Regiment. They shipped out to France via Boulogne as part of the BEF in 1915; he will have seen action around Albert and in the second week of the Battle of the Somme. He was killed, or died of wounds, on the 23rd of July 1916 at the age of 27; his body is buried in Puchvilliers military cemetery.

Stanley Norley lived in Lawn Cottage, just down Post Office Lane here. He was one of 9 children of William and Sophia; William was a Coachman, born and brought up in Huntworth, Bridgwater. Stanley himself was born in Berkley, Gloucestershire; at the time of the 1911 census, aged 15, he was working as an under-gardener. He signed up on the 2nd of September and although initially destined for the Hussars, he found himself in the Royal Irish Regiment. There is a sad little trail of letters from a young woman in Cork, asking for his service address and then, once she knew he had died, asking for his mother’s address here in Flax Bourton. He died in the Military Hospital in Rouen on the 4th of December 1915 from pneumonia and gastroenteritis from his wounds and is buried in St Sever Military cemetery there.

George Onslow Master was born not in Flax Burton, but in Burgherstorp in South Africa. His father, Charles, was a true “son of the Empire” and had been a Forest officer in South Africa, moving there from his birthplace of Madras, South India.
George’s mother, Wilhelmina, was listed as Dutch in the census of 1911, although she was born in Grahamstown, South Africa. George was schooled at Eton, leaving in 1910, the family lived in the Grange, also just across the road from church. He died two days after Herbert Chidgey, in the Somme on the 25th of July 1916, aged 23. His body is buried in Bouzincourt cemetery extension, almost within sight of the Thiepval memorial. In the 1911 Flax Bourton census he is listed as a student; a school-friend of his was recorded as visiting that night. This friend also served but survived the war.

An under-gardener; the son of a Landlord; an Old Etonian from South Africa…

Hamlyn Perham was as different again. Aged 43 at the time of his death in February 1915, he was a bachelor who lived with his parents and his spinster sister at Bourton Court – now Bourton House – at the bottom of Bourton Combe. He was a solicitor, in practice in Bristol with his father, and joined one of the “Sportsmen’s” Battalions in 1914. These battalions were recruited with an upper age exemption and rapidly attracted a wide cross-section of fit men “of a certain age” – from boxers to oarsmen to gamekeepers to famous shots. But by the February of 1915 the Battalion was still in Hornchurch, feeling somewhat spurned by the Regular Army. These were men who had already achieved much in their civilian lives and who felt that they were being put off from joining what everyone said would be a short war. Hamlyn Perham did not die in battle, but he did die under orders.  It’s possible that this notice has something to tell us:

February 19th, 1915.

The funeral took place at Bromley on Friday of Pt. Edward A. Willett, of B Company, 1st Sportsman’s Battalion. Deceased was a solicitor who had enlisted. His death took place on Feb. 10 from cerebral-spinal meningitis, with which he was taken ill while in camp at Grey Towers, Hornchurch.

It may be that Hamlyn, also being a Solicitor, had been a friend of Edward, who knows. It’s possible that Hamlyn, too, died of meningitis. What we do know is that his mother died within the week of him. Both of them are buried not 20 yards from this spot.

Four men, four stories, four families in grief.

Last week, we went to visit the graves of Stanley, Herbert and George. It was perfect French November weather and the upkeep of the cemeteries was, as ever, impeccable. I think that many of us find the scale of the slaughter of the First War more inspiring of our anger than anything else; but there, among the quiet and the careful rows of Portland headstones, I this time found some sense of contact with what they might have felt. Perhaps it was because we didn’t go to “visit” the cemeteries, but to find “our own”; perhaps it was because of some of the inscriptions.  On one stone; “You chose your wife’s birthday to die; to give up your life for me”.  On many, the family had recorded sentiments of “duty done”.  Herbert Chidgey’s sister wrote on behalf of their mother, thanking the officer for his “all his kindness” in letting them know about her brother and expressing the belief that he had “Done his duty for his country”.

And I felt, we felt, that we could not judge by the perhaps cynical standards of a favoured generation whose safety has been preserved by the deaths of so many with motivation we can never know. All that we can do is be grateful for their bravery and sacrifices. So, George, Hamlyn, Herbert, Stanley; we salute your memory and the memory of your families.

“Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”FB War Memorial

Sermon preached by Peter Crawford at the Service of Remembrance, Flax Bourton Parish Church, Sunday 12 November 2017. Peter, and his wife Alison, visited the graves of Herbert, Stanley and George in France earlier in November 2017.



Thy Kingdom Come

May 20, 2017


Thy Kingdom Come – 25 May to 4 June 2017

Join the global wave of prayer: Praying that people come to know Jesus Christ

The Archbishop of Canterbury is calling Christians to join a wave of prayer across the UK and around the world – praying between Ascension and Pentecost, that people might know Jesus.

The hope is that, as Christians pray together, we will:

  • be transformed through prayer
  • be given new confidence and encouragement by the Holy Spirit
  • be effective witnesses to Jesus Christ.

Set out below there are two different ways to pray:

A short form of prayer based on Common Worship: Prayer During the Day, which can be used daily. To use this you will need a Bible for the Psalm and for the Reading.

A meditative form based around the Lord’s Prayer. This can be used on its own or in place of the Prayers and Conclusion on pages 4-6 in the first form of prayer.


Prayer from Ascension Day to Pentecost

Days of prayer and preparation for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit


O God, make speed to save us.
O Lord, make haste to help us.

Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.                           Psalm 86.4


Blessed are you, the God of our ancestors,
worthy to be praised and exalted for ever

Blessed is your holy and glorious name,
worthy to be praised and exalted for ever.

Blessed are you, in your holy and glorious temple,
worthy to be praised and exalted for ever.

Blessed are you who look into the depths,
worthy to be praised and exalted for ever.

Blessed are you, enthroned on the cherubim,
worthy to be praised and exalted for ever.

Blessed are you on the throne of your kingdom,
worthy to be praised and exalted for ever.

Blessed are you in the heights of heaven,
worthy to be praised and exalted for ever.                  The Song of the Three 29-34

The Word of God


Ascension Day:      Psalm 47

Friday                   Psalm 146

Saturday                Psalm121

Sunday                  Psalm104.24-30  (Common Worship vv 26-32)

Monday                 Psalm 21.1-7

Tuesday                Psalm 29

Wednesday           Psalm 46

Thursday               Psalm 84

Friday                   Psalm 93

Saturday                Psalm 98

Pentecost              Psalm 67

Each psalm ends with

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now: and shall be for ever. Amen.


Ascension Day       Hebrews 9.24

Friday                   Hebrews 2.8b-10

Saturday                Romans 8.38-39

Sunday                  John 7.37-39a

Monday                 Isaiah 40.28-end

Tuesday                1 Corinthians 12.4-7

Wednesday           Joel 2.28-29

Thursday               Luke 11.9-13

Friday                   2 Corinthians 1.20-22

Saturday                2 Corinthians 3.17-18

Pentecost              John 20.21-22


Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink.


Prayers may include these concerns:

¶ God’s church, that it may be empowered by the Spirit
¶ Those who wait on God, that they may find renewal
¶ All people, that they may acknowledge the kingdom
of the ascended Christ
¶ The earth, for productivity and for fruitful harvests
¶ All who are struggling with broken relationships

 Or one of the following litanies may be used:

God of our salvation, hope of all the ends of the earth, we pray: Thy kingdom come.

That the world may know Jesus Christ as the Prince of Peace, we pray: Thy kingdom come.

That we may be bold to speak the word of God while you stretch out your hand to save, we pray: Thy kingdom come.

That the Church may be generous in giving, faithful in serving, bold in proclaiming, we pray: Thy kingdom come.

That the day may come when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, we pray: Thy kingdom come.                                               or

Through Christ, who ever lives to make intercession for us, let us pray to the Lord.

Lift up our hearts to the heavenly places and inspire us to serve you as a royal priesthood:

R: Lord, hear us. Lord graciously hear us.

Let all peoples acknowledge your kingdom and grant on earth the blessing of peace: R

Send down upon us the gift of the Spirit and renew your Church with power from on high: R

May peace abound and righteousness flourish, that we may vanquish injustice and wrong: R

Help us to proclaim the good news of salvation, and grant us the needful gifts of your grace: R

Let us commend the world, for which Christ prays, to the mercy and protection of God. Amen.

The prayer for Thy Kingdom Come may be used or one of those below.

Almighty God
Your ascended Son has sent us into the world
to preach the Good News of your kingdom:
inspire us with your Spirit
and fill our hearts with the fire of your love
that all who hear your word
may be drawn to you
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.                                          or

O King enthroned on high,
Comforter and Spirit of truth,
you that are in all places and fill all things,
the treasury of blessings and the giver of life,
come and dwell with us,
cleanse us from every stain
and save our souls, O gracious one. Amen.                     or

Almighty God
who called your Church to witness
that you were in Christ reconciling
the world to yourself:
help us to proclaim the good news of your love,
that all who hear it may be drawn to you;
through him who was lifted up on the cross,
and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.  Amen.

The Conclusion

We are sent out to seek the Spirit in our lives.
May the grace of the Holy Spirit enlighten our hearts and minds. Amen.


Prayer Based Around the Lord’s Prayer

So I say to you: ask and it will be given to you; search and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Luke 11:9-10

Our Father in heaven…

Father, hear the prayer we offer:
not for ease that prayer shall be,
but for strength that we may ever
live our lives courageously.

Be our strength in hours of weakness,
in our wonderings be our guide;
through endeavour, failure, danger,
Father, be thou at our side.

Hallowed be your name…
Give thanks for who God is and what He gives us. And praise him for his faithfulness.

Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Pray for God’s love to direct all of our relationships and conversations where we live and work so that many will encounter Jesus. Ask for our homes and churches to become places where more people of all ages discover God’s love and mercy.

Give us today our daily bread.
Pray for those who are vulnerable in our parish to be reached by God’s love. Ask for God’s provision for all those working to bring in His kingdom in our parish.

Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Say sorry for the times when you have not reached out with love; when your heart has been fearful. Ask for new boldness to talk about the difference Jesus has made in your life.

Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil
Pray for some of the needs of the parish. Ask God to show you five people to pray for so they may encounter Jesus.

For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and for ever.
Pray for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit on His church this Pentecost season. Pray that many people will discover the truth about Jesus across our nation. Pray for God’s blessing on our congregation, and on every household in our parish:

May the Lord bless you and keep you, The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.         Numbers 6:24-26


The Benefice of Long Ashton, Flax Bourton and Barrow Gurney will be praying with other Christians around the country

Mon 22 May   Justice          7.30pm, All Saints, Long Ashton

Tues 23 May   Healing        7.30pm, All Saints, Long Ashton

Weds 24 May Pilgrimage   7.30pm, All Saints, Long Ashton

Thurs 25 May Ascension Day – Holy Communion
7.30 pm, Keedwell Church, Long Ashton
7.30 pm, St Mary and St Edward, Barrow Gurney

Sun 28 May     Seventh Sunday of Easter – Holy Communion
8.00am, All Saints, Long Ashton
10.00am, All Saints, Long Ashton
10.00am, St Mary and St Edward, Barrow Gurney

Tues 30 May   Stations of the Resurrection
7.30pm, St Michael and All Angels, Flax Bourton

Sun 4 June      Pentecost – Holy Communion
8.00am, All Saints, Long Ashton
10.00am, All Saints, Long Ashton
10.00am, St Mary and St Edward, Barrow Gurney
2.30pm – 4.30pm, Fayre at Wells Cathedral
5.00pm, Pentecost Service, Wells Cathedral
(See Cathedral Web Site for details)

All events are open to everyone







Holy Week 2017

April 9, 2017

Holy Week 4Holy Week – Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday – is the most intense period of the Church year. In many churches there will be services every day as the story of  Jesus reaches its climax, leading from the triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday through to Jesus in the Temple, the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday then the  horror of state   sponsored murder on Good Friday; the empty waiting time of Holy Saturday and the transformation of death that came with Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday.

From the beginnings of the Church this was a very special time. The earliest record of the liturgical events of Holy Week – known as the ‘Great Week’ – was written by Egeria, a Spanish nun who visited Jerusalem sometime between 381 and 384AD. She records the worship as taking place on the site and at the time of day that it was believed the actual events occurred.

This booklet tells a little about that early Christian worship, sometimes using Egeria’s own writing. It also explains what we do today to remember and re-immerse ourselves into those momentous days. Our worship incorporates some of the layers of symbol and meaning that have been added to those early services over the centuries and sometimes we have added fresh expressions that help us to explore the meaning of these events in a world much changed since the days when Jesus carried his Cross to the hill of killing.

Holy Week is the pivot on which the Christian faith turns. Without the Cross and the empty tomb, the nativity, the Sermon on the Mount, the healings and teachings of Jesus would have had no lasting significance. As it is, this Great Week changes the whole relationship between God, the Creator and the entire universe.

Palm Sunday 2


Read:        Matthew 21:1-11                      Psalm 118:19-24

From Egeria’s Travels:

“Sunday is the beginning of the Easter Week, or as they call it here ‘The Great Week’. On this Sunday they do everything as usual. Then at one o’clock all the people go up to the   Eleona Church on the Mount of Olives. The bishop takes his seat, and they have hymns and antiphons suitable to the place and day, and readings too. When three o’clock comes, they go up and sit down at the Imbomon (the place from which the Lord ascended into heaven). At five o’clock the passage is read from the Gospel about the children who met the Lord with palm branches saying, ‘Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.’

At this the bishop and all the people rise from their places, and start off on foot down from the summit of the Mount of Olives. All the people go before him with psalms and      antiphons, all the time repeating ‘Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.’ The babies and the ones too young to walk are carried on their parents’ shoulders. Everyone is carrying branches, either palm or olive and they accompany the bishop in the very way the people did when once they went down the hill with the Lord. They go on foot all the way down the Mount to the city, and all through the city.”

What we do today

We begin our service outside Flax Bourton church at 10.00am and, ocassionally accompanied by a donkey, we carry palm leaves twisted into the shape of a cross as we sing joyful songs and process into the building. During the service we hear one of the Gospel accounts of what is called ‘the Passion narrative’, that is the story of the events of this Great Week until the burial of the broken body of Jesus.

Lent 2


Read:       John 12:1-11                                    Psalm 36:5-11

The practice of the early Church was to remember the events of the Great Week as they happened, at the sites where they originally took place. In the late fourteenth century the   Franciscans were given responsibility for these holy places and erected tableaux to aid devotion. During the Crusades, when the holy sites were not accessible to pilgrims, these tableaux were adopted by churches as an alternative means of walking the Way of the Cross. The number and selection of events and images have varied over the centuries from five to thirty-six but settled into a more regular pattern of fourteen or fifteen.

What we do today

Christians from all over Nailsea, Backwell, Long Ashton, Barrow Gurney and Flax Bourton gather together at 7.00pm in St Francis Roman Catholic Church in Nailsea to walk the Way of the Cross together, united in following Jesus and in praying for the world as we remember all those who suffer as Jesus did.


Read:      John 12:20-36                               Psalm 71:1-8

In Egeria’s time there were services throughout each day of Holy Week. On Tuesday, she explains that late at night everyone travels to the church on Mount Eleona.

“When they are inside the church the bishop enters the cave where the Lord used to teach his disciples, and taking the Gospel book, he stands and reads the passage from the Gospel according to Matthew where the Lord says ‘See that no man leads you astray.’ The bishop reads the whole of that discourse (Matthew 24:1-26:2), and, when he finishes it, there is a prayer. Everyone goes home very late indeed.”

What we do today

There are many pieces of music written as meditations on the events of Holy Week. This year we have an opportunity to hear one of them, the popular late Victorian oratorio, ‘The Crucifixion’, written by John Stainer. There will be a performance at All Saints’ Church, Long Ashton, at 8.00pm.


Read:       John 13:21-32                                    Psalm 70

According to Egeria, the services continue all day as for Monday and Tuesday, but then at night a presbyter “takes the Gospel book, and reads the passage about Judas Iscariot going to the Jews and fixing that they must pay him to betray the Lord. The people groan and lament at this reading in a way that would make you weep to hear them.”

What we do today

We rest on this evening to prepare ourselves for the next part of the week.

Holy Thursday 6


Read:      John 13:1-17, 31b-35                         Psalm 116:9-19

On Maundy Thursday, Egeria records, that there are again services all day. At about 4.00pm an announcement is made: “‘Let us meet tonight at seven o’clock in the church on the Eleona. There is a great effort ahead of us tonight!’ Then the bishop makes the Offering and everyone receives Communion. Then everyone hurries home to have a meal, so that as soon as they have finished it, they can go to the church on Eleona which contains the cave which on this very day the Lord visited with the apostles. They read the passages from the Gospel about what the Lord said to his disciples when he sat in the very cave which is in the church (John 13:16-18:1).” The people then continue praying all night.

What we do today

This is the start of what is known as the Paschal Triduum, worship which begins this night and doesn’t finish until the blessing at the end of the service on Easter morning. We gather in Flax Bourton church at 8.00pm for a service where we hear the Gospel reading about Jesus at the Last Supper washing his disciples feet and giving them the new commandment to love one another. One of our ministers then washes the feet of members of the congregation (who wish to do this), a sign of our taking on board the humility and servanthood of Christ.

We then celebrate Holy Communion together, remembering that first time, with Jesus in the upper room offering his body and blood to his disciples as a sign that he is about to give up his life out of love for us all.

After we have received the bread and wine together the    service does not end. Instead the lights go out, all the communion ware and altar linen is stripped from the building and we hear the Gospel reading about Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane with his worn out disciples. Those who want to leave quietly. The rest remain watching and praying until midnight.

The high altar will have been decorated with spring flowers as a reminder of the garden where Jesus went with his disciples to pray. The traditional name for this is ‘an altar of repose’. As we leave the church any consecrated bread and wine is removed from the building, a symbol of the emptiness of the world on Good Friday when Jesus had died.

Crown of thorns 2


Read:       John 18:1-19:42                          Psalm 22:1-11

Egeria’s report for Good Friday is the longest section of her description of the Great Week in Jerusalem. The people, who have been praying all night, move to each of the places   mentioned in the Gospels where Jesus prayed and spoke with his disciples before his arrest. Because they are all very tired from praying and fasting through the night they move around Gethsemane carefully looking after each other. By the time they hear the Gospel reading of the Lord’s arrest everyone is groaning and weeping loudly. Next, they walk to the city,  arriving as daylight allows them to recognise each other. On this day no one breaks their vigil, everyone gathering at the place of the Cross, where they hear the Gospel reading about Jesus being led before Pilate. “The bishop’s chair is placed on Golgotha behind the Cross, where he now stands and takes his seat. A table is place before him with a cloth on it, the deacons stand round and there is brought to him a gold and silver box containing the holy Wood of the Cross. It is opened, and the Wood of the Cross and the Title are taken out and placed on the table.”

The Wood of the Cross and the Title are parts of the relics of the Crucifixion found by Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine, some fifty years earlier. The faithful are encouraged to come forward and kiss the Wood on the table. From noon until 3.00pm there are readings about all the things that Jesus suffered. “It is impressive to see the way all the people are moved by these readings, and how they mourn.”

The readings finish with the verse from John’s Gospel when Jesus says “‘It is finished.’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” The people are dismissed, but many stay right through the night reading the passages about Joseph of Arimathea asking Pilate for Jesus’s body and then laying it in a newly cut tomb.

What we do today

In the morning, at 10.00am, in Flax Bourton church there is an opportunity for young children to explore, as gently as possible, the story of Jesus’ journey to the Cross. This is in direct line with the worship of Egeria’s time where every person, young or old, participated equally in the events of the Great Week.

At 2.00pm we gather in the Court Chapel of Barrow Gurney church for a simple service of readings, prayers and meditations centred around a set of responses traditionally known as ‘The Reproaches’. Our focus is the Cross, an image of which stands before us, on the wall behind the Court Chapel altar. In question and answer form the Reproaches articulate our responses to Christ’s sacrifice while meditations help us to contemplate the seriousness of his action as well as ours.

Lent 2


Read:       Matthew 27:57-66                     Psalm 31:1-5

Egeria talks a great deal less about worship on Holy Saturday and Easter Day. This is partly because she only describes  ritual that is different from that of her home church. It also needs to be remembered that the new day started at sunset. So, when Egeria tells us that in Jerusalem they stop keeping Saturday at three because they are preparing for the Paschal vigil in the Great Church, then the day is only ending a few hours earlier than usual.

Holy Saturday was the one day of the year when the Eucharist was not celebrated. Instead the Paschal, or Easter, vigil began at 4.00pm. The tradition at this time was for all baptisms to   occur at Easter. The candidates would finish their schooling, listening along with the rest of the congregation to the vigil readings, drawn from across the Bible, that tell the whole story of God’s continuing engagement with creation. Then they would be baptised by the bishop and receive their first Communion. They would remain watching while the rest of the congregation went home. Everyone would then gather together to celebrate the Eucharist again at dawn.

In essence Holy Saturday is an empty time, a bereavement, when we are processing the events of Good Friday while waiting for what is going to happen next.

What we do today

We gather at Barrow Gurney Church at 8.00pm, as dark is falling, taking us back to the early Church and Jewish  pattern of the new day beginning after sunset. There are no lights on in church except those to read by. A selection from the set vigil readings, psalms and prayers is read. The congregation then gathers outside around a bonfire. This is the ‘New Fire’, the introductory rite in a ceremony first   documented in the sixteenth century, which brings a new large candle – the Paschal or Easter Candle – into church. As we bring this candle through the church we recognise it as a symbol of Christ, the Light of the world, resurrected and coming back into this world. Light spreads through the church flowing from the one candle, hymns are sung and a great joyous noise is made with bells. In remembrance of the early Church’s practice we then gather round the font and renew the vows we made at our baptisms, after which we are sent out with a reminder that the service is only half over and that we are to gather again for our Easter Holy Communion in the morning.

Easter, Alleluia 10


Read:       Matthew 28:1-10                      Psalm 118:14-24

For Egeria the vigil on Holy Saturday and the Eucharist on Easter Day were all of one piece, with worship continuing right through the night until that first Eucharist at dawn. Later the newly baptised were taken up the Mount of Olives for special instruction and services. These occurred right through Easter Week and there were special services and celebrations for the whole period of Easter time, the fifty days that run from Easter Day to Pentecost. This was the only season when there was no fasting at all.

What we do today

We gather at Barrow Gurney church for 10.00am to celebrate with joy the resurrection of Jesus. The Paschal Candle is lit, ‘alleluias’ are sung, we hear how the disciples discovered that Jesus is risen, we share Holy Communion together and celebrate both the new life that Jesus brings us and also the fresh hope that comes with the Spring.

That Easter hope is our theme for our worship over the next fifty days: ‘alleluias’ continue to be sung and we step out in the Light of Christ with joy in our hearts.

Easter 10








Beer Tasting Evening – come to church to sample fine craft beers and save wildlife

August 23, 2015

beer poster2a


Stations of the Cross Installation

April 21, 2014

Good Friday 2014, Flax Bourton Parish Church

The Stations of the Cross follow the practice of the Early Church annually to experience the events of Holy Week in the places in Jerusalem where they originally took place. During the Crusades, when pilgrims could not access the Holy City, Franciscan monks created the traditional fourteen Stations of the Cross in local churches as a means to allow everyone to walk with Jesus on his final journey. Today artists and communities re-vision the traditional stations to bring home the visceral and transformative nature of that journey for a new generation.

In 2014 four members of the worshipping community of Barrow Gurney and Flax Bourton created twelve stations (the maximum the building would contain) which included a reading from the Bible, a meditation and an action. The church was left open for the morning of Good Friday and people came and went in their own time.

I001 Tree of Lifen the centre of the room was a tree surrounded by chairs. The tree was young, forked and in fresh green leaf. There were blossoms and an apple nestling in its fork. There was new life here – life breaking forth despite the odour of death that hangs over this journey. There was the apple, held up, a sign of the Fall, the falling out between humanity and God, the great rend in the relationship that Christ through the Cross came to bridge and heal.








004 1) Jesus is Condemned1. Jesus condemned to death

Reading: Matthew 27:20-26
Meanwhile, the high priests and religious leaders had talked the crowd into asking for the pardon of Barabbas and the execution of Jesus. The governor asked, “Which of the two do you want me to pardon?” They said, “Barabbas!” “Then what do I do with Jesus, the so-called Christ?” They all shouted, “Nail him to a cross!” He objected, “But for what crime?” But they yelled all the louder, “Nail him to a cross!” When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere and that a riot was imminent, he took a basin of water and washed his hands in full sight of the crowd, saying, “I’m washing my hands of responsibility for this man’s death. From now on, it’s in your hands. You’re judge and jury.” The crowd answered, “We’ll take the blame, we and our children after us.” Then he pardoned Barabbas. But he had Jesus whipped, and then handed over for crucifixion.

Most things in life can be used for good or bad and hands are no exception.003 1) Jesus is Condemned
Hands can create and destroy, build walls and knock them down, wound and heal.

As you wash your hands here, you may like to pray:
For the times I have washed my hands of my responsibilities,
Lord, have mercy.
For the times I fail to have the courage to do what I know is right,
Christ, have mercy.
For the times I blame others for my actions,
Lord, have mercy.

005 2) Jesus takes up his Cross2. Jesus takes up his cross

Reading: Matthew 27: 27-31
The soldiers assigned to the governor took Jesus into the governor’s palace and got the entire brigade together for some fun. They stripped him and dressed him in a red toga. They plaited a crown from branches of a thornbush and set it on his head. They put a stick in his right hand for a sceptre. Then they knelt before him in mocking reverence: “Bravo, King of the Jews!” they said. “Bravo!” Then they spit on him and hit him on the head with the stick. When they had had their fun, they took off the toga and put his own clothes back on him. Then they proceeded out to the crucifixion.

Take one of the Holding Crosses and feel its smoothness in your hand.
How comfortably its sits there, how light and easy to hold.

Now look at the rough-hewn wood propped here.
Consider its weight, how it feels against your skin as you lift it up, how it dragss you down.

Are we willing to carry a burden, no matter the discomfort, for a neighbor during their time of need? We are called to be Jesus to all, doing as He did in all things. While some burdens are great, often our neighbors simply need someone who will give of themselves in the smallest of ways.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 (ESV)

God, help me to be like Jesus, never afraid to help another. Amen.

007 3) Jesus meets his mother3. Jesus meets his mother

Luke 1:30-33
“Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus.
He will be great, be called ‘Son of the Highest.’ The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David; He will rule Jacob’s house forever—no end, ever, to his kingdom.”

Look through the Baby Book, reminding yourself of some of the text, but try to see it as a real record of a young family. What would you have in Baby Books for your family?
Let yourself see Jesus as his Mum did; at first surprised, then excited, frightened, supported, delighted, proud, astounded, puzzled, but always “Mum”.
Now bury your face in the scarf; breathe in the scent of this man as if it was the most familiar scent in the world, rich with the smells of workshop, souk and desert.

Whether you are male or female, as Mary, try to connect to this man as a parent; fearful, confused, frightened, numb.

As Jesus, what does seeing this woman do to you?

In this moment;
What could they say to each other?
As Jesus, do you think that your mother understands that this is your destiny; has she always understood that?
Even if the answer is “yes”, how do they now let go?
In our own relationships with those whom we love,
do we have difficulty letting go?
Does Mary have to forgive Jesus for the human hurt that he brings?

009 4) Simon helps Jesus carry the Cross4. Simon helps Jesus carry the cross

Mark 15:21
There was a man walking by, coming from work, Simon from Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. They made him carry Jesus’ cross.

Truth on earth is not, nor can it aspire to be, the whole truth…
God is greater than religion…
Can I recognise God’s image in someone who is not in my image,
whose language, faith, ideals are different from mine?
If I cannot, then I have made God in my image
instead of allowing him to remake me in his.                        Jonathan Sacks The Dignity of Difference

Why was Simon chosen to carry the cross with Jesus? Some say the colour of his skin made him stand out from the crowd. Simon was chosen because he was different.
But what if the soldiers picked on him because he was lame, or on crutches, or blind? What if they chose him because he couldn’t hold the cross, hadn’t got the strength to take the weight? Perhaps he was the one they grabbed simply because he couldn’t do the job – would make it harder for Jesus. Perhaps he was chosen to humiliate him and Jesus. Jesus was different, Simon was different – difference was a threat, a challenge to the system and it had to be neutralised.

Sit in the wheelchair.
What might it feel like to permanently see the world from this angle and position?
Has anything changed about the way you see the church?
How might people perceive you differently?
How might you perceive yourself differently?
How might others treat you differently?
How might you behave differently?

Take a moment to give thanks to God for someone who gives you a fresh way of seeing the world.

Take a moment to say sorry to God for the times you have hurt or dismissed someone because their nationality, appearance, abilities or views are different from yours.

Take a moment to pray for tolerance and compassion for all who are mistreated because of their gender, nationality, sexuality, health, appearance or capabilities.
Now stand up.

010 5) Veronica wipes the face of Jesus5. Veronica wipes Jesus’ face

Matthew 25:35-36
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me . . .”

As Christ faltered under the weight of the cross, it is said that Veronica came out of the crowd lining the Via Dolorosa and wiped his brow. The image of Christ’s face was left on the cloth and over time became a sacred relic.

‘St Veronica’s Academy’ – a kind of school commemorative tea-towel – a cheap domestic item (popular in nativity plays), shows the faces of forty-two brave and compassionate women, symbolising how kindness can be small and simple as well as large scale.

Take some time to ponder . . . the impact of small acts of bravery (defiance even); how hands can be stretched out to the other in acts of soothing, comforting, healing and reconciliation. If you want to please draw a woman who’s compassion and kindness has stood out for you.



013 6) Jesus falls6. Jesus falls

Isaiah 53:5-6
He took the punishment, and that made us whole.
Through his bruises we get healed.
We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost.
We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way.
And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on him, on him.

We all fall during times in our lives. The fall could be due to sin, mistakes made, or the unbearable pain we must often confront from outside forces. Regardless of cause, all God desires is that we stand again and continue on our journey. He does not rejoice over our fall but rather reaches out to grab us, as all good shepherds do.

Were you there when a friend, neighbour or enemy stumbled in life?
Did you gaze on with ridicule or lend a hand of love?

Down! Down! Down! Down! Down!
What they had wanted
was degradation and desperation.
So when the Lord fell, did not the slaves cheer?
Did not their cheering seem to raise them up in their own blind eyes?
And when others fall, are we not up-raised?
Do we not gladly cheer at their descent?
Down! Down! Down! Down! Down!

But Jesus stood His ground,
regained his feet, and lifted his burden
and walked from those who cheered…

Forgive me for the times I ignored another’s pain or even added to it by speaking against them instead of loving them.
I often make mistakes and stumble from fear or lack of trust. Help me to always get up again and continue in a life journey of love. Amen.

015 7) Women of Jerusalem meet Jesus7. Women of Jerusalem

Luke 23:27, 28
A huge crowd of people followed, along with women weeping and carrying on. At one point Jesus turned to the women and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, don’t cry for me. Cry for yourselves and for your children.

What a strange translation! We use “carrying on” in this context to indicate “making an unnecessary fuss”; were these professional mourners perhaps, come to wail for Jesus even before he’s been killed? Is he telling them “Save your tears for someone who will need them (the City of Jerusalem was to be sacked, and the Temple destroyed by the Romans forty years later……)?

The faces of women are some of the most vivid images of bereavement, disaster and conflict.
In some sense, the “women of Jerusalem” are constantly with us.

In these images are women from Kiev, from Iran, from Argentina, from Kashmir, from Israel, from Palestine, from England.

You might like to take an opportunity to pray for these latter day “women of Jerusalem”.
If you find it hard to pray for people you don’t know, perhaps simply touching the image will enable you to pray,; God will know who they are, what their present need is or, if they are now dead, what the need of the situation still is.

Use your own words, or perhaps,
Lord God, I pray for this daughter of yours, known to you. I ask that you be very close to her today, or to those who love or loved her. Let her and them know of your loving presence, for I ask this in the name of your Son who commanded us to pray for others. Amen.

017 8) Jesus is stripped8. Jesus is stripped

John 19:23-24
When they crucified him, the Roman soldiers took his clothes and divided them up four ways, to each soldier a fourth. But his robe was seamless, a single piece of weaving, so they said to each other, “Let’s not tear it up. Let’s throw dice to see who gets it.” This confirmed the Scripture that said, “They divided up my clothes among them and threw dice for my coat.”
In this stark word ‘sin’ our Lord brought to my mind all things in general that are not good –
and the shame, the despising, the utter stripping he accepted for us in this life – and his dying.
He also brought to mind all the bodily spiritual pains and passions of his fellow creatures…
For we are all stripped in part – and shall be – while we follow our master Jesus, until we are made pure… And at this time our Lord showed me a part of his homely loving. I saw that he is everything that is good and comforting to us. He is our clothing. In his love he wraps and holds us. He enfolds us in love and he will never let us go.                                                                          Julian of Norwich

To be stripped naked, to be laid bare in front of the crowd, in front of strangers, friends and family, is a terrible humiliation, all respect is gone, all your faults and blemishes are exposed.

Slowly unwind the cloths from the body of the cross. As you strip it bare remember all the times you have felt humiliated, exposed to the prying eyes of others, exposed to the perceptive eyes of others, who see through the many layers of your disguises.

Remember the times you have humiliated others, exposed their faults to ridicule, diminished them, left them uncomfortable, hurt and afraid. Ask God, who sees all that you are, all that you have been and all that you can be, to forgive you.018 8) Jesus is stripped

The naked cross stands like a body with its arms outstretched. Being stripped can be a degradation. Stripping bare can be a liberation. Stripping off the layers down to the essential you is the essence of God’s love.

Now carefully reclothe the cross. As you cover up its nakedness you might like to pray
one of the traditional prayers said by the priest on putting on the vestments – they are on the framed panel of calligraphy. Think of how you want God to clothe you – where do you need his love and support in your life?

9. Jesus is nailed to the cross

Luke 23:33-34
When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing”.

First They Came

First they cam019 9) Jesus is nailed to the Crosse for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me.

Pastor Martin Niemoller

Please take a candle.
Each one bears the name of a prisoner of conscience.
Let us pray for them and for the thousands of people incarcerated and tortured for standing up to be counted, speaking out for the oppressed, rallying against bullying political regimes.
Please feel free to take your candle away and discover more about the named prisoner.

020 10) Jesus dies on the Cross10. Jesus dies on the cross

Luke 23:44-46
By now it was noon. The whole earth became dark, the darkness lasting three hours—a total blackout. The Temple curtain split right down the middle. Jesus called loudly, “Father, I place my life in your hands!” Then he breathed his last.


Look at the stained glass window set into the chancel wall above you
What are these people thinking as they gaze at Jesus body?
Their son, their friend, the one they love so much….

What do you see?
What does the world see?

The dark nails pierce him and the sky turns black021 10) Jesus dies on the Cross
We watch him as he labours to draw breath
He takes our breath away to give it back,
Return it to it’s birth through his slow death.
We hear him struggle breathing through the pain
Who once breathed out his spirit on the deep,
Who formed us when he mixed the dust with rain
And drew us into consciousness from sleep.
His spirit and his life he breathes in all
Mantles his world in his one atmosphere
And now he comes to breathe beneath the pall
Of our pollutions, draw our injured air
To cleanse it and renew. His final breath
Breathes us, and bears us through the gates of death.

022 11) Jesus is removed from the Cross11. Jesus is removed from the cross

Mark 15:42-45
Late in the afternoon, since it was the Day of Preparation (that is, Sabbath eve), Joseph of Arimathea, a highly respected member of the Jewish Council, came. He was one who lived expectantly, on the lookout for the kingdom of God. Working up his courage, he went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Pilate questioned whether he could be dead that soon and called for the captain to verify that he was really dead. Assured by the captain, he gave Joseph the corpse.

I think that this is meeting with Pilate marks a really significant point in Joseph’s journey of faith. A successful merchant, not one to upset the rulers of the state, he allies himself with an executed criminal and presents himself at the very foot of imperial power, presumably pulling in all the favours he can in order to be heard. Joseph is then doubted publicly by Pilate and belittled. Eventually Pilate hands over this body, this corpse like a piece of soiled meat.

What I suggest you might do:

Put on the mask, pick up the scrap book. Staring at the first three images, one at a time, and seeing your masked face in the mirror, try to imagine yourself:
Working up your courage to approach Pilate;
Hearing Pilate call for the captain as he doubts your truthfulness;
Waiting for the captain’s answer;
Hurrying away to claim Jesus’ body.

What do you do if or when you feel belittled? Does hiding behind the mask protect you from raw emotions? What would it feel like to face the mirror without the mask?

023 12) Jesus is buried12. Jesus is buried

John 19:40-42
They took Jesus’ body and, following the Jewish burial custom, wrapped it in linen with the spices. There was a garden near the place he was crucified, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been placed. So, because it was Sabbath preparation for the Jews and the tomb was convenient, they placed Jesus in it.

Now the green blade riseth from the buried grain,
Wheat that in dark earth many days has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.

In the grave they laid him, Love whom men had slain,
Thinking that never would he wake again,
Laid in the earth like grain that sleeps unseen:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.

Forth he came at Easter, like the risen grain,
He that for three days in the grave had lain,
Quick from the dead, my risen Lord is seen:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.

When our hearts are wintry, grieving or in pain,
Thy touch can call us back to life again,
Fields of our hearts, that dead and bare have been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.

The font and the tomb are one and the same. In the font we die to sin and rise again to new life, cleansed, refreshed, made whole.

In the tomb Jesus breaks through the barrier of death, rising renewed, with a fresh energy and a new vision.

The font and the tomb are both hewn out of cool stone. They are both rock solid containers
and porous boundaries, places where the Spirit of God flows through all barriers, breathing, inspiring, animating, enervating, stirring up.

In Britain we bury the dead rather than entomb them. Plunge your hands into the soil. What might it be like to be buried there? It is dark, damp, cool. It is a blank space. Now take a seed.
Plant it in the soil. A sunflower seed – both food and beauty and a sign of the Son who will come again. Hold before God anything in your life which you would like to be buried and put to rest. Hold before God anything in your life which you would like to grow afresh.

Remember that both the tomb and the font remind us that death is not the end but a transition,
a boundary to be passed through on an eternal journey.

This route you have travelled today is a story that has no ending.

024 12) Jesus is buried


St Michael’s Art Group Exhibiton Photos (Part 1)

June 25, 2012





























St Michael’s Art Group Exhibition

May 25, 2012


This beautiful parish church will become an art gallery for the weekend as a group of local artists from within our villages exhibit their work.

Artists will include:

Tom Campbell, Peter Crawford, Richard Greatrex, Shirley Gyles, Adrienne Hughes, Deb Nicholson, Ann Sargent

Entrance is FREE

Refreshments will be available

and there will be the opportunity to explore this ancient church –

from its Saxon foundations

through the medieval additions

to the Victorian side aisle

and the 21st Century WC.

St Michael’s Church, Main Road, Flax Bourton, North Somerset