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Living God's Love...

.is an invitation to journey

It's an opportunity to discover new things about God, ourselves and the world, to look with fresh eyes and explore new ways.

In particular, it is a call to the parishes, schools and people of the Diocese of St Albans to Go Deeper into God,Transform Communities and Make New Disciples.

Click here for current Mission Action Plan (MAP)

The wood is green.....

You may be aware that if you walk through the Churchyard just before 9pm on Easter Eve, there will be a small fire, which we use to light our Faster candle. It was a poignant occasion last year as we used for kindling part of the horse chestnut tree which fell into the churchyard during Storm Doris on 23rd February 2017. The fallen tree thus became a source of light and a symbol of hope.

Shortly before Easter this year, something lovely happened. Nick Bright, a member of our congregation who has been a wood turner for 25 years, revealed his latest creation. It had been almost a year in the making. Not all of the tree had disappeared or perished in the fire. Nick had made something from part of the trunk. I asked him for the story:

Nick, when did you hear about the tree?

I was in one of the shops in Bell Street when someone told me the tree had come down. I went straight to the churchyard.

What was your response to the news?

I was very sad. I have lived in Sawbridgeworth for 57 years and the horse chestnut tree has always been at the west end of the churchyard. We kept a careful eye on the trees and there was no reason to expect that this one would not survive.

How much of the trunk did you take home?

 Many from Sawbridgeworth and further afieldcdame to take pieces of the trunk away. I took large slices from the base of the tree, with the intention of making a substantial artefact to represent the tree and the churchyard.

However, the wood was green and I wanted to leave it to allow the sap to dry. But while it was drying the wood cracked badly, so I had to re-think

How did you decide what to make?

I had to think about what to make out of the small pieces. I thought first of candle sticks, then I thought of an offertory set. These are the vessels for the offering at the Holy Communion service: the cup & plate (chalice and paten) for the bread and wine and the `battles' (cruets) for storing the wine and water.

Why did you turn an offertory set?

Our offertory sets are made of silver and I wanted to make something that people could touch. It is particularly useful for children who are learning about what happens at a communion service. When they handle the chalice, paten and cruets, the tree lives on. Those who knew the tree will remember it and the offertory set will remain in the church for years to come.

Cruet set made by Nick Bright

Thank you Nick for this amazing gift to great St Mary's. Me have already had a request from Spellbrook school to use the offertory set to learn about worship. How will others get a chance to see it?

At Discovery Day (the day of the May Fayre, Sunday 6th May), Great St Mary's church is open and the ornamental offertory set is one of the items on display.

Nick also said that, unusually, he had had to work with green wood rather than seasoned. So this particular communion set reminds us not only of the Last Supper and of Holy Communion, but also of some words of Jesus on the way to the cross. St Luke tells us that Jesus was accompanied by many women, weeping and lamenting. He said, `Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children ... For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?' Jesus' concern was not for himself, but for them. He was concerned not for his own, individual, crucifixion. He was concerned for the future sufferings of the whole city.

But beyond suffering this cup speaks to us of resurrection: the tree had been felled by a violent storm, but some at least of its wood has been raised to new life and new usefulness. In this way, too, it is a sign of hope, pointing the way through the rest of Eastertide to Ascension and Whitsun.

Signature Frances Arnold

Details of the dates are in the calendar of events ("This Week") here on the website and in Church & Town. If you would like to know more about what is available for children or adults at Great Mary's, then do please contact us. Our contact details are HERE.