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Girton Parish News - August 2001
One more step along the road..............
But to our joy, it had been a perfect June day, warm and sunny. Rob Mackintosh was celebrating his last Holy Communion at 10am in a crowded St Andrew's Church. Children of the Sunday Club joined us part way through the service to present Rob with their gift; in great excitement he was presented with a place mat of their own design. A fitting opening to a memorable day.
After the service, during which Rob reminded the congregation of the wealth of people skills available within this parish, not the least of which was an enjoyable Bring and Share lunch laid out in the North Room. Soon, fruit punch, food and conversation were the main occupations as everyone spilled out into the sunshine. Old friends mingled with new and lots of memories were exchanged until it was time to assemble in the church for the presentation.
Amid much laughter and affection, the 'presentation team' moved into action. On behalf of the Parish, a cheque was presented to Rob and Wendy. Catriona Wilson, member of the Sunday Club, then handed Wendy a basket of summer flowers, followed by Alison Meek, our organist with a framed compilation of photographs by Joelle ?, of some of the highlights of the past twelve years, both old and new. Finally a Father and Son double act. Rob and Peter Stone entertained us with a commentary of the impact Rob's ministry had had on them during the last twelve years. They then gave to Rob and Wendy, not one, but two albums containing thoughtful messages and yet more memories and photographs, from many, many parishioners. To many of us in Girton, an evening knock on the door during these past two weeks meant that there was a Stone on your doorstep complete with album, requesting 'just a few words'! We were making sure that Rob and Wendy took away lots of reminders of their life in Girton. It was also fitting that part of these celebrations took place in the North Room, a very visible aspect of one of the achievements in Rob's ministry.
In his address, Rob spoke of his many happy memories and appreciation in having been the Rector of this parish. No other parish could ever take its place. Instead, he was now looking forward to joining the Cambridge Leadership Institute as Director for the development of clergy leadership in the Church of England.
However, this was farewell but not good-bye, as together we had reached a fork in the road and would now follow our separate ways. But, he isn't going too far away! The Churchwardens had climbed a very steep learning curve on being presented with his departure and might still need help the higher it climbed.
And so, as we sang during that Evensong on 24 June 'One more step along the road....' we now look to the future by putting our energies into firstly, maintaining our current services with the willing help of our Readers, David Perril and Dugald Wilson plus The Venerable John Long, together with several retired clergy who are willing to be included in our rotas. So do come along and enjoy our varied services. And secondly, into the vital task of finding a new Rector for the Parish of St Andrew's. We welcome your support and prayers.
Nora Rutherford, Churchwarden.
Wars and rumours of warsOne of my recurring dreams is to be at a committee meeting, where two groups are in conflict, posturing in self-importance and entrenched in their own righteousness. I am condemned in my dream to trying to reconcile the warring parties - without success. It must be something to do with the fact that as I'm a Libran I like balance and harmony. I'm still seeking them, having survived war and peace, illness and good health, failure and success - always fighting against the odds. So, even in my dreams I'm seeking equilibrium and trying to be the peace-maker.
The simple task of trying to describe this shows how the imagery of conflict pervades our language. Look in a dictionary and see how many expressions derive from fighting: I've already mentioned fighting against the odds. We can also fight back, fight shy of people, fight for a cause, or fight the good fight (I've always enjoyed the well known hymn starting with those last words, and after delving into various hymn books I have discovered that the tune I prefer is the one composed by J. Hatton, so he wins on points over the Rev.W. Boyd, who composed the second tune.) Wins on points... get it? Nearly every conversation brings in the metaphors of conflict: conflict itself is a fact of life, with war as the extreme form, leading us to decide some important questions. How can we channel aggression in children? What should we teach children about war? What are we to make of the present obsession for television programmes in which the contestants fight one another for survival and an ultimate huge prize? In the real world of international tension, does the analysis of conflict remove the causes, or does it intensify the hostility? That is a constant dilemma for the peace keepers.
Talking of conflict and hostility reminds me of some of my experiences in the 1970s and 1980s. As a visiting inspector to certain colleges I was often aware that in advance of the inspection there had been a clarion call to arms. Sometimes the college strategy would be to be quietly obstructive, and the defensive barriers would be reinforced. I had some sympathy for this attitude, recalling my early army days when extra whitewash really enlivened the environment. In the best colleges, both inspectors and inspected would learn from the experience, remembering that what was at issue was the education and training of the nation's youngsters, not the promotion of individual egos or the raising of positions in an academic league table. In the worst colleges, however, when the inspection had ended there was a determination to get back to the usual ways, with no change of attitude or individual egos or the raising of positions in an academic league table. In the worst colleges, however, when the inspection had ended there was a determination to get back to the usual ways, with no change of attitude or approach. It doesn't need much thought to apply this experience to two warring tribes or nations. Both are convinced of their rightness. Both are on the defensive. Conflict ensues. Then a cease-fire may be achieved. Sometimes the opposing parties can be reconciled; at other times, they cannot; the fanaticism continues; the killing goes on.
Repeated outrages in Tel Aviv bring back my own memories of serving out there in the last phase of the British Mandate, which ended in 1948. Over the years I have tried to exorcise my remembrance of terrorism and the sense of despair induced by death and destruction. Every time I think I have at last rationalised the behaviour of those in conflict, and dared to believe there really are ways of achieving permanent reconciliation in the Holy Land, yet another atrocity is reported - only to remind us all that fanaticism and hatred persist, that terrorism can reach anywhere. The three great faiths of Jews, Moslems and Christians have yet to come to terms with one another.
Our whole attitude to war is inevitably shaped by family, nation, religion and the culture of the age. The older generation no longer enjoys the imperialistic glory that sustained this country for so many centuries; the younger generation has developed different values that reflect a consumer society and a technological world. Children no longer march about like miniature soldiers with wooden sticks as rifles - they have sophisticated imitation toy weapons that make fearsome noises, and they have computer games that symbolise destruction and annihilation. It remains a matter for argument as to whether such play channels aggression or merely inflames it, rather like the fears aroused in the early days of children's television. Despite everything we have all managed to survive, and when today's children grow up and are faced with the moral and material dilemmas that are bound to confront them, I don't think they will be found wanting.
Ken Hastings's autobiography, In a Right State, published by The Book Guild Ltd, is on sale at Girton Post Office at a special price of £6.50. Ken is donating £1 to Friends of St Andrews for each copy sold locally.
OVERSTEPPING THE MARK
I try not to speed through a built up area, yet like most of us, I have on occasions, exceeded a speed limit. It might have been intentional or, more likely, accidental, but the limit has been broken and, if caught, a price has to be paid.
A few people do manage to always stay within the limit, but they are not necessarily good drivers. Years ago I worked with a lady who never exceeded the statutory speed, in fact she rarely approached it. Her pace was, at best, sedate, and those of us who knew her wondered if she had ever actually discovered top gear. In retirement she took up caravaning. Goodness knows how many holiday hold-ups were due to her, for although she was a good motorist in the sense that she never went fast, she did have a tendency to drive in the middle of the road.
As with driving, most people try to live a decent life, but none of us is perfect. Yet perfection is the standard that God built into the world and against his measure none of us ever come up to scratch. For God is a holy, matchless God, and alongside his goodness, our failings, small though they may be, are only too evident and when we overstep the mark a price has to be paid. But as God is perfect, he is also realistic and loving. Which is why he sent his son Jesus into the world to die for us in our place. If we ask him, God will forgive us, not because we ourselves are good, but because he loves us and through Jesus the price has already been paid.
Mrs Bird is so much fun
She took us on some fab school trips
Thank you to the Senior Citizens for the donations you made to the school at the end of your Holiday at Home afternoon. You were all very generous. We will buy some things for the children to enjoy at lunchtimes.
Hope you all have a good August
Susan Baker, Headteacher