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#Lockdown Pilgrimage - Mothering Sunday

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No chance of going anywhere today! I  am socially isolating in advance of a small op' scheduled for tomorrow! So here I go - pilgrimaging on the internet! Sauntering ( Sainte terre ing )! I had planned to go to Hautbois Church, drawn there by a host of wild daffodils and a church dedicated to Jesus' mum. I was there at a similar time last year  - see Annunciation Pilgrimage .  But I wanted, more than anything, to pick up where I left off last Sunday, with that Roman brick in the wall of my mother church, St. John's; and to reflect on earlier generations of Mother Church. I am imagining the generations like so many Russian dolls one inside the other! We owe the life we live to them!  Norfolk has no Roman or Post Roman church buildings, no great Constantinian brick built churches as in Trier and only the hint of their existence in the place names of villages.  Norfolk has two Eccles , a name derived from the British word eclesia meaning church . Suffolk has one Roman church s

#Lockdown Pilgrimage - 3rd Sunday in Lent

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Last Sunday's pilgrimage  had left me with a nasty taste in my mouth.  Could the fate of St. Michael's Sco Ruston be the writing on the wall for other rural churches?  For my local church, St. John's in  Coltishall? Today's pilgrimage brought me to St. John's and a particular length of wall. The oldest part of my parish church, dating from 11th Century.  Just to the east of the North Porch there areseveral pieces of  re-used Roman brick and tile built into the fabric.  It is possible, but by no means certain, there was a wooden building on the site that predated this wall, but we can be certain the brick was made before the end of Roman occupation. No later than the 4th Century. Among the haphazard assortment of broken pieces there is small section of complete bricks laid in a herring-bone arrangement. These complete bricks are a standard  15" square by 1 1/2"  Bricks like these were used to build the cathedral church in the Emperor Constatine's northe

#Lockdown Pilgrimage - 2nd Sunday in Lent

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  From Lockdown to Locked Out Today's destination church was St. Michael's Sco Ruston of what's left of it.  Ruined in the 1980's  An ivy clad dangerous ruin.  Thoughts turn to the future of the Cof E in the country. Is this the future for many rural churches?  The answer to the question is clearly yes, unless someone takes responsibility for preserving these buildings that are the treasure chests of  their community. But need that be a problem for the future ministry of our national church? My answer is a definite, No! Give or take a bit of local difficulty with invading Mercians and Vikings the Church in East Anglia used central places for their mission. Often adopting the existing central places. See -  Ritual Landscape in Pagan and Early Christian England    . It was only in the 11th century that there was an explosion of church building and a division of once large parishes. Centering the Church's Mission on central places should work well in the post-pandemic

#Lockdown Pilgrimage - 1st Sunday After Lent

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 Today's destination? St. John's Church Coltishall. The doors remain shut. We are left out in the wilderness  Not a bad place to be on a Sunday on which the Gospel leads us to reflect on Jesus’ Temptation in the Wilderness’.  Wandering among the graves I was suddenly with Jesus in a lonely place, on the other side of the Sea of Galilee! Remember the pigs running down into the sea and drowning ( Matthew 8) ?  Jesus had come apart to find some space for himself. There he meets a seriously deranged person living naked among the graves. Cut a long story short, and the bloke is healed and ends up,”clothed and in his right mind!” What got me into the Gadereane Swine story as coming across the grave of pig farming friends of mine. It was not Geoff’s favorite story! I remember a time we had joked about it on the occasion of his pigs being spooked by a hot-air balloon. It was at least ten days before he herded them all up again!   Geoff  loved his pigs and all other living creatures!  W

#Lockdown Pilgrimage - Sunday before Lent

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The pavements are a skating rink this morning. If we were walking to church, it had to be St. Peter's, Belaugh across the frozen meadows and into the face of a bitter wind. Not the snow here that there was in 1947!  Noel Chambers, organist, late of this parish,  was apt to tell all and sundry of snow drifts up to his armpits as he struggled through to play at St. Peter's in that hard winter.  With  population of 134 in 2011 Census, Belaugh was never a large parish. None-the-less, it is rich agricultural land as the large Rectory, with lawns running down to the river, suggests. Belaugh, Old Rectory is the cream building below the church In 1947 it still had its own rector! Now it belongs in a group with 5 others. The church architecture gives some further  clues about the history. Those are a 15th Century tower and windows, but the ghost of something older can be seen a the blocked up 12th century lancet window. Time moves on. No regular services nor congregation here now,  not

#Lockdown Pilgrimage - 2nd Sunday before Lent

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 The Beast from the East Mk.2 was promised, so we decided to stay local and make for Coltishall's St. John's Church. It sits on a hummock of a hill above the River Bure. Its good to join the unknown thousands who, over the ages,  made the same journey to worship the one eternal God.  The architecture of the building suggests that people have been saying their prayers on this hill for a thousand years. The little circular windows, originally unglazed,  gave light with a minimum of draft, to the small single cell building that subsequent generations enlarged. They added glazed windows that flood the building with light. The small unglazed circular windows are typical of Saxon architecture and give us the English word "wind eyes" or "windows",  if you like! That is another week with the church empty, the ringing chamber empty, the bells silent and the plinths on the west front still lacking images of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist.  But the ch

#Lockdown Pilgrimage - Candlemas

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  Candlemas Bells, Fair Maids of February, Purification Flowers, Galanthus nivalis - by whatever name  Snowdrops are a promise of spring, the hope of things to come. They match the mood of  the Church's  Candlemas celebration, in which candles are blessed and we recall Jesus' first visit to the Temple in Jerusalem.  The little babe in arms was recognised by the elderly Simeon and Anna as something big! God's special one! The one who would bring healing and peace.  As Simeon says, " A light to lighten everybody - all nations and the glory of  God's  People, Israel."  Luke 2.21 and following. Imagine flame from a lone candle, passing on the fire to other candles, in an ever widening pool of light, across national and cultural boundaries, from one generation to another, across the world, down through the ages, bringing light;  and even now in our own darkness bringing light and setting us aflame to bring that light to the darkness round us. But I digress, it  wa