12th August 2021

I am watching the closing ceremony of the Olympics in Tokyo as I type this. I have to confess to being somewhat square eyed from catching up with all the sport that has been taking place over the last two weeks – usually whilst we slept. When I woke up in the mornings the first thing I would do would be to check what had happened overnight, and whether the Great Britain team had won any more medals. It struck me that what the athletes have all been experiencing in Tokyo is like life in microcosm – we have witnessed the joy of the winners, the pain of the losers, the suffering through injuries; the amazing feats (I am thinking BMX bikes and skateboarding here); the disqualifications; the stamina of the long distance athletes;, the camaraderie amongst the teams. The Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect were on display for all the world to see. We heard the back stories of the competitors, the time and energy they had to devote to enable them to compete – all the more difficult this year due to the pandemic. In the lead up to the Games we heard that people were divided as to whether they should take place at all, whether it would be safe, whether it was worth the risk of perhaps spreading the virus. Go ahead they did and we were able to marvel at all the vast variety of sports, and disciplines and the dedication of all the competitors. Human endeavour at its best. 

I was reminded of St Paul’s letter to the Philippians when he says “ Like a man running a race, I try hard to reach the line so that I will receive the prize of being called to heaven”. Something we can all aspire to as Christians. In his closing remarks at the Games Thomas Bach told the athletes “You were faster, you went higher, you were stronger, because we all stood together in solidarity”. He finished by stating “In these difficult times you gave to the world the most precious of gifts. Hope. “

Hope is of course a wonderful thing to be offered – and as Christians we have that hope of an eternal life with God. So let’s all remember how much those Olympian competitors achieved together and let us, as the family of St John’s, work together as we move forward out of the pandemic and onto new challenges. Carol



5th August 2021

As I write this, it's raining! And the forecast is for more rain, although I'm hoping the long term forecast is for the return of better weather and even sunshine! Yes, it's summertime!

This weather reminds me of camping holidays when our children were younger. I miss those times in the tent with our girls, as the rain poured down outside, and whilst we were keeping dry inside, playing games and doing puzzles. One of our favourites was a word challenge, where you see how many words you can make out of a longer word. 

This summer, even though we have the familiar rain, we have a summer of different challenges. There are still covid challenges and the challenges since 'Freedom Day' happened! Challenges about how we are feeling, is it safe yet to go anywhere, can we travel, and whether 'to mask or not to mask'? We are unsure what lies ahead; will there be more restrictions again? Our holiday plans might be different. For those travelling abroad, there are challenges with quarantine rules and the changing traffic light colour travel lists. Meanwhile, to escape these challenges, many people are having staycations or holidays in the UK. These give new opportunities to explore the local area or another part of the UK, and hopefully opportunities to see family and friends. 

But however we spend our time this summer and whatever the challenges, it is important to try to find time to 'holiday'; to find time to rest, to relax and to be refreshed. 

The word 'holiday' comes from ‘haliday’ and from the Old English ‘haligdaeg’, meaning 'a holy day', a consecrated day. These were days set aside from the 'everyday' days. They were a day that was consecrated, holy and set aside to spend with Jesus and to rest. 

Whatever you are doing this summertime, the challenge is to set aside some time to spend with Jesus, and to try to find some time to rest and to relax, to be refreshed ready for the new season ahead. 
And if you're wanting another challenge, see how many 3 or more letter words you can make out of SUMMERTIME.

Happy Summertime! 
Anne xx