When children are learning to speak, one of the first things they are taught to say is “Thank you.” They forget, of course. Frequently. But one hopes that eventually, expressions of gratitude will come quickly and freely. In life, there are countless situations in which other people will do or say something kind to us; honouring those precious gifts with thanks is the very least we can do.

This year for our “Patronal Festival”*, we are saying, “Thank you”. As a community, we benefit from the extraordinary gift made centuries ago to the village of the church building. As a community, we benefit from the time and talents, finances and labour of our neighbours who maintain it, its grounds and its ministry in many different ways. Not long ago, it was estimated that almost 20% of village residents were giving time each year to support this beautiful place and to ensure it would remain beautiful into the next generation.

So we are saying, “Thank you.” To those who unlock the church door each day so visitors can enter (and who lock it again at night for safekeeping). To those who sweep and dust and clean and polish, especially in light of the extra work they did in the pandemic’s worst period. To those whose creativity with flowers brings additional beauty week by week but especially at festival celebrations. To those who provide music for our worship – organists, choir and bellringers – and at other times for concerts and special occasions. To those who prepare refreshments Sunday by Sunday, and more food and drink at Christmas, Harvest and, of course, the Safari Supper. To the contractors and volunteers who tend the churchyards, their grassed areas, hedges and trees. To the organisers, administrators and trustees who manage the events and ensure the premises are safe and accessible. To all the people who attend our services and events, building relationships with one another and nurturing community spirit. To all those who have made financial donations which enable the PCC to maintain the premises and proclaim the good news of Jesus afresh to every generation. And to God, who has given us the hope of eternal life, even though we so often let him down.

Our service is on 25th June and starts at 4pm. Everyone is welcome, including children. It will include some well known hymns so we can have a really good sing together (a great, if somewhat neglected community activity). We will praise God for the blessings he has given us and pray to God that he would bless all of our wonderful volunteers and our community as a whole. (And worry not – nobody will be asked to stand at the front or speak!) There will be a short talk helping us to consider what Jesus said about service. Afterwards, we will share refreshments and conversation. We do hope that many people would come so that together we can say the biggest “Thank you!”

* Patronal Festival: Our church bears the name of St John the Baptist.
We celebrate each year on the Sunday nearest his feast day – 24th June.

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