Comprising St Cattwg’s, Port Eynon; St Mary’s, Rhossili;
St David’s, Llanddewi; St Illtyd’s, Oxwich; St George’s, Reynoldston; and St Andrew’s, Penrice.
Facebook: Parish of Southwest Gower
DECEMBER CHURCH and ZOOM WORSHIP
The October two-week lockdown prevented two of the planned services in church but after this was lifted on 9th November it was very good to resume the Holy Communion Service in one church each Sunday. Below are the dates and places for Advent Sunday and December live worship. All Services will be at 9.00am.
St David’s Llanddewi Advent Sunday
St Mary’s Rhossili Living Advent Calendar
December 6th St George’s Reynoldston
December 13th St Cattwg’s Port Eynon
December 20th St Illtyd’s Oxwich
Christmas Week Services
December 20th St George’s Reynoldston Evening Prayer at 4pm and
Lighting the Tree on the Green at 5pm
December 23rd St Cattwg‘s Family Service at 3.30pm
December 24th St Mary’s Rhossili at 10am. Church and Chapel will combine for family worship.
December 24th At 4pm there is a possibility of holding a Parish Christmas Eve Carol Service (with advance booking etc.) in the Marquee at the Oxwich Bay Hotel.
Further details of all of the above will be available from the Sub-Wardens of the relevant church.
Weekly Zoom Worship and meeting times will continue as follows:
Sundays 10.15am Worship with hymns
Wednesdays 9.30am Holy Communion
2.30pm Advent Study Group
Thursdays 10.00am Methodist Chapel Prayer Meeting
Fridays 10.30am Coffee Morning
Christmas Day 9.30am Special Zoom Worship
The Remembrance Services on Sunday 8 November on Reynoldston Lower Green and on Wednesday 11 November at the Memorial stone in Scurlage are described in the St David’s and St George’s entries.
The Christmas and New Year season is the time for lights of all kinds to reflect celebration and above all hope. This year, for the first time in the memory of most of us, the need for brightness and faith has never been greater. With these thoughts come greetings and good wishes from the Parish of South West Gower to everyone in the Ministry Area for as much happiness as will be possible this Christmas and that our prayers for a better year in 2021 will be answered.
REPORTS FROM THE CHURCHES
St David’s, Llanddewi
On Wednesday 11 November, church, chapel and the wider community gathered at the Memorial stone in Scurlage for a Remembrance service, honouring those who gave their lives defending justice, freedom and peace. We are aware that many continue to give their lives in current conflicts, including the battle against covid-19.
St David’s will have had its first indoor service on 29 November, a glad, if different gathering.
As November approaches December, the prospect of dark, cold winter holds uncertainty and worry. But at this time of year we are reminded that the darkness will never overcome the light, and that there is hope for a better future. We can look forward to Christmas.
The well-known evangelist, J. John, wrote, ‘In the isolation of a cold stable, Jesus was born. ‘’Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord’’. No one would ever have suspected that God coming to earth would be so helpless. And that is precisely why so many fail to find him. God, who could have chosen anywhere, chose the lowliest place on earth. From the moment of his birth, Jesus identified with poverty and pain.
‘Christmas is the answer to our questions: Where is God? Who is God?
The stable – there lay all the hopes of 4,000 years of recorded history. Christmas is the time and place where God pulls back the curtain so that we can see his face. Jesus dealt with life. He cared for others, he healed. In the person Jesus, God got involved with the battle against evil, which stood between us and God. We were created in God’s likeness to enjoy a personal relationship with him. This is the meaning of Christmas - the coming among us of God himself, to restore the world that we have messed up.’
Jesus, Light of the world, is with us.
Peace, hope and love be yours this Christmas.
St Illtyd’s, Oxwich
Lighten our Darkness.
We all experience times of sadness, worry and depression in our lives and long for these to pass. We are fortunate to be able to turn to God in these situations and ask for his comfort and support knowing that he is always with us, no matter what we are enduring. This darkness may be caused by death, sadness or long-term illness or even national and international catastrophes. This is physical darkness.
We might be experiencing theological darkness when our faith, which we had always considered secure and reliable, becomes doubtful and questioned. This is when we appeal to God through prayer, to give us reassurance and to return us to a situation of light, peace and certainty in our faith.
One of our best-loved hymn tunes was written by John Henry Newman in 1833, when he was recovering from a serious illness and was far from home. ‘Lead kindly light amidst the encircling gloom, lead thou me on.’ There have been numerous horrendous occasions when this hymn has been sung as an appeal to God to bring comfort to many finding themselves in dire situations. It was sung during a mining disaster on the Durham Coalfield in 1909. Miners were trapped by gas but thankfully 26 men and boys were rescued after 14 hours underground, sustained by this hymn. ‘Lead kindly light’ was sung by women being marched to Ravensbrück Concentration Camp, fearing what awaited them, and was being sung on the Titanic as the iceberg struck and again in lifeboats which were rescuing survivors.
We are enduring a time of darkness right now while the corona virus still rages throughout the world. Only a year ago we were living, in this country at least, in a time of light and peace. We pray for all those tending the sick and combating this disease in their search for a vaccine.
Happily, Christmas approaches and although it may be slightly different this year it will still bring a feeling of hope and light. Our Lord’s birth was a wondrous happening and the joy still endures after 2000 years. We know we are never alone, however bereft we may feel in times of darkness. With Jesus at our side we have comfort and support in the darkest of times and we can look forward to times of light, leaving behind the angst and sadness.
A prayer from the service of Evensong:
Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord; and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of thy only Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
St Andrew’s, Penrice
The Zoom service on Remembrance Sunday was a thoughtful and suitably moving reflection of the occasion. Thank you to the organizers and to all those who took part in making it such a special and poignant event under very difficult circumstances.
Phyllis Edwards’ funeral took place at Llanelli Crematorium on October 29th. The funeral procession started from St. Andrew’s, went past Pound Close, Phyllis’ home, and then slowly through the lanes to Oxwich. Phyllis would have been very touched to see so many people lining the route and particularly proud that the Coastguards were there, as she and George had a long association with them. The route then went through Reynoldston where there were still people to see her go by and then up Cefn Bryn and on to Llanelli. The Service was conducted by Rev Justin Davies and the opening prayers were given by Canon Joe Griffin. It was a service full of beautiful music and thanks for a long and happy life well lived.
By the time this is read Phyllis’s ashes will have been interred with those of her husband, George, in the Churchyard at St. Andrew’s. Rest in peace, dear Phyllis.
As time progresses thoughts turn to the joys of Christmas. It will be different this year and as yet we do not know if the Church will be open but it will, as always, be a time to rejoice and be thankful after such a difficult year.
The Penrice calendar 2021 is selling well and can be obtained from any member of the congregation or by ringing 01792 390338. It is £7.50 and contains some superb photos of Penrice and the surrounding area. Angela Barnett
St Cattwg’s, Port Eynon
It was a pleasure to be able to attend a (socially-distanced) Communion service in St. Cattwg’s on October 18th and we looked forward to a repeat on November 15th, when we expected to be out of the latest lockdown restrictions. The church was looking spruce after a thorough clean, and plastering and painting completed months ago, which few of us had been able to admire till now.
The funeral took place on October 31st of long-time village resident Pat Davies. Thanks to Covid restrictions there were far fewer mourners than would normally have attended, but the service was touching, with amusing and interesting reminiscences about Pat’s life.
It’s time to think about putting your Christmas greetings to fellow villagers on the board in the church porch. Any contributions to church funds that you feel like making at the same time will be gratefully received, though it’s possible the alms box won’t be accessible. In this case please could you give donations to Madeleine, our Treasurer.
We are asked this month to consider the prayer ‘Lighten our darkness’; this prayer continues ‘from all perils and dangers of this night’. The pandemic year has made many of us feel that the perils are not confined to the night and we seek comfort day and night from brightly lit computer, smartphone and television screens.
Usually it is no problem at Christmas time to feel cheerful and connected, as we celebrate the coming into the world of the Christ Child. The whole Christmas period has become a hugely popular family festival, accompanied by candles and electric light installations enough to dim the stars, but this year it may be that scattered family members will not be able to come together and those left alone may not feel cheerful enough to decorate their homes. Many will be mourning a bereavement as well. Undoubtedly, electronic connections will be a sort of solace but we should not overlook the comfort derived from meditation and prayer, the remembrance of happier times and the sure and certain hope of Christ’s return in a blaze of light. An Advent candle, lit daily, is a lovely means of reminding ourselves of that certainty. In the meantime, we know that God is always present, maybe hidden from sight like the sun on cloudy days or when it is visiting the far side of the world, but daylight always returns, and we can trust in that as we trust in God.
St George’s Reynoldston
The Remembrance Sunday Service brought members of St George’s and also from the Methodist Chapel to the Lower Green at Reynoldston. We gathered at the Millennium Stone, kindly given in 2000 by the Johns family from one of the Hills Farm fields. The Service was led by the Rev Justin with Rev Mick Ellor and a wreath was laid by the Fire Station Manager, Adam Cowley, on behalf of the Fire Service, alongside those commemorating the men named in the two tablets for WW1 and WW2 in the Church. The gathering much appreciated that it was possible to have a moving Remembrance Service together.
The final result for the Salvation Army food collection was tremendous.
Several helpers were needed to load the result into the vehicle of the Army Bandmaster, Chris Smith, who was delighted. Thank you again for such generosity.
St George’s is delighted that a Faculty and a grant have been obtained to remove some pews at the rear of the church to create a multi-purpose gathering area.
St Mary the Virgin, Rhossili
In Advent we typically look forward with expectation and excitement to Christmas. This time we may instead be thinking poignantly about years past: family togetherness, gatherings with friends, gift shopping, greeting faraway companions; carol singing, concerts, children, journeys, and the run up to Christmas celebrations. This time a certain bleakness pervades while the pandemic rages, and we are caught at home and alone.
Yet the year has shown that we can be together even when we are apart. Many community initiatives have spread love and care to those in our own village; Sundays on Zoom at St Taurin’s have lifted our spirits and brought us together across South West Gower and beyond; extra effort has sustained contacts and friendships, and we have recognized the true value and importance of keeping in touch. Probably we shall never again experience the profound silence of total lockdown, the birdsong, the clear skies, the empty roads, the solitary beaches, so these are unique memories to wonder at as we reflect.
Christmas will still happen of course, just as it has for 2000 years, though it may be a little different, perhaps even better for some. Take it as an opportunity to ponder, to think about the real meaning of God, Christmas, Church and our attitudes to those around us and our world, and the outlook for future generations. Why not look for that ‘aha’ moment when you discover something special that has never happened in your Christmas before, and celebrate that.
Rhossili community is bringing together an inspiring Living Advent Calendar involving the whole village throughout December, with St Mary’s playing its part. All being well we hope St Mary’s Church can hold a family Christmas service, with limited capacity, probably on Christmas Eve morning 24th December at 10am. There will also be a separate church service of quiet Communion during the Christmas period.
We particularly remember in our prayers the family and friends of Olive Beynon who passed away recently and is now buried at St Mary’s with her husband, Len. Also remember Jack Brewer in Wakefield whose wife Muriel died recently. Daughter of Rhossili Station Officer Coastguard Derrick ‘Sydney’ Dorling, Muriel is going to be buried in the family grave at St Mary’s.
The Ministry Area Magazine continues next year – subscriptions are due now and will be £12 for the year. Please contact Gill Wales, our long-standing and long-suffering sub-warden, on 390575, to start or renew your subscription now.
Wishing you all a truly amazing Christmas.
Rev Justin Davies
©The Parish of South West Gower is part of the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon in the Church in Wales