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The United Benefice of Withington, Sevenhampton with Charlton Abbots, Hawling, Whittington, Dowdeswell and Andoversford, Shipton and Cold Salperton

This month's letter from the clergy

Festival Time!

Dear friends,

It is festival time in our villages. On 15th July Andoversford are having their Village Fete and Shipton are holding Shipton Fest. Last month Withington had their village fete and on the horizon are the Whittington and Brockhampton Shows. These are a very traditional aspect of village life and also great fun with things for all ages. They strengthen community life which is so important at the present time. Festivals were a great time of celebration and entertainment in times before mass entertainment came along and people enjoyed a respite from the drudgery of the daily grind.

All religions have festivals as part of their dynamic. Christians have major festivals at Christmas, Easter, Ascension and Pentecost and over the last 150 years Harvest has become very popular. In Bible times the Jewish had regular festivals as well. Religious festivals usually focus on an important part of their beliefs. Nowadays our village fetes are usually ends in themselves, simply drawing people together. But that is very important at a time when many people are saddened by a loss of a sense of community.

It has been encouraging to see that even in our cities community life can still be significant and there are events like the Notting Hill Carnival which are full of colour, music and vitality. Sometimes it seems that community spirit most comes alive when there is tragedy and we have seen that recently as part of the response to the recent terrorist attacks.

The Church itself is called to be a community. I know for many people ‘religion is a private thing’, but Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered together, there I am in the midst of them”. Coming together then, whether for religious or general reasons is a good thing to do. It is great that there will be several such opportunities over the coming months and I encourage you strongly to join in.