Weekly Pastoral Letter - 17 November 2023

from Revd Catherine Bowstead

Dear Friends,

I was pleased to be able to represent Churches Together in Wokingham at our Civic Service for Remembrance at All Saints Church last Sunday.  The congregation included various civic dignitaries including our Town and Borough Mayors, the Members of our Town Council, our MP and a large number of young people from various uninformed organisations.  My role was to lead the congregation in a commitment to peace.

On Wednesday our Open the Book team at Westende School, told the final part of our series about Joseph.  We recalled how Joseph was reunited with his brothers, how he decided to forgive them for his mistreatment of him and so be reconciled to them.  The children told us that this week is “Anti – bullying week” and that the challenge that they had been set for the day was to “be kind”.  We reflected together on the importance of forgiveness and being kind.

How good it would be if our national and international leaders could reflect on that simple message to forgive and be kind.  How much better our world would be if we could have the courage to be reconciled with each other.

As we approach the beginning of Advent, our lectionary readings give us an increasing sense of urgency about the need for us to be ready for when Jesus returns.  We have an interesting mix in the lectionary this week; our readings are from Judges 4: 1-7 (some tribal warfare and the story of Deborah) and from Matthew 25: 14-30, the Parable of the Talents.  Kim Tame is leading our worship and is using the readings to help us reflect about the different occasions when the question might be put, “And that’s the best you could do?”

I hope that you have a good week,

With every blessing


Weekly Pastoral Letter - 10 November 2023

A Reflection from Malcolm Ray-Smith

When Paul wrote to the saints in Ephesus he invited them in chapter 5 to be imitators of God and the later part of the chapter concentrates on husbands and wives.

There are two reasons why I have been thinking about that passage this week.  On Sunday 5th a thanksgiving service celebrated the life of David Trapnell who for some years has been sending me a short pithy Christian message every week, always based on scripture.  David died earlier this year but he had prepared message for future transmission which he asked his son Simon to continue to send.  I met David through our mutual interest in postal history.  The message for this week referred to this part of Paul’s letter.

The second reason was that on Monday we celebrated our Wedding Anniversary and it reminded me of a phrase used by an old friend who in the early days of our marriage we had the privilege to take to church every Sunday until ill health prevented this.  He had outlived his wife by more than a decade but on many occasions, whenever he talked of his memories, he told us that his wedding day had been “The Best Day's Work I Ever Did”.  I agree!

Paul commented that in marriage the union of man and woman becoming one flesh illustrates the profound mystery of Christ and the Church.  He encourages wives to submit to their husbands but asks husbands to love their wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy.  David suggested that Christ, the head of the church, died to make her a holy church, cleansing her by the washing of water through the word and to present himself a radiant church.  Because the church is a group of individuals, before we bemoan the fact that too often the church has been neither holy or radiant, I must ensure that my life sets an example of both.

Weekly Pastoral Letter - 3 November 2023

from Revd Catherine Bowstead

Dear Friends,

November is the month for remembering.  This week has seen All Saints Day (1st November) and All Souls Day (2nd November).  On these two holiest of days, we remember the saints of God who have gone before, and we thank God for their example and influence.  Maybe you have a favourite saint whose life and faith has inspired you, perhaps your favourite saint is one who shares your Christian name.  And we can all be thankful for people who have had a godly influence on our lives and who we might want to consider as our “saints”.  This Sunday is Bonfire Night a time of “Gunpowder, Treason and Plot”, when we remember Guy Fawkes who sought to bring about a change of leadership by violent action. 

The news this week has been dominated by stories of struggles for power.  Each day we hear of the on-going humanitarian crisis in Israel/Palestine.  We pray for the release of those held hostage and a peaceful solution to the conflict.  Closer to home, the Covid inquiry has given disturbing details about the dysfunction in our government as they dealt with the pandemic.

Our Bible readings this Sunday, (1 Thessalonians 2: 9-13 and Matthew 23: 1-12) guide us to think about leadership and how we might be a good example to others by living lives that are worthy of God.

At this season of Remembering, we remember God’s Saints and give thanks for their example, we pray that our leaders might lead with integrity and honesty, and we ask God to help us lead holy lives.

With every blessing


Weekly Pastoral Letter - 27 October 2023

A Reflection from Chris Rooke-Matthews

Turn back time?

As the clocks are turned back this weekend, do you often wish you could ‘turn back time’ and do things differently?  Perhaps it would be to wipe the slate clean, ask for forgiveness, or forgive others.

How will you use the ‘extra time’ this Sunday?  Perhaps it’s an opportunity to take time to recognise how God has guided and blessed you in all seasons of your life.  I am continually thankful for the realisation that even in the darkest moments of my life I have always been held closely by God – as doors closed on one pathway,  I realised that he was still there alongside me, and ready to guide me in a different direction.  New pathways and opportunities opened to me, and my life has been richer for that.

While writing this, I was reminded of this hymn, written by John Keble: StF 137

New every morning is the love
Our waking and uprising prove:
Through sleep and darkness safely brought,
restored to life and power and thought.

May you take time, and use it wisely, in the days ahead.

Chris Rooke-Matthews