By Martin Gibson. Contact

Services this weekend: Saturday 8th January at 4:30pm REFRESH. The laidback approach to church for parents and children of all ages. Food and drinks. Sunday 9th January: 9:30am Morning Worship with Rev David Moss. 6pm Holy Communion

Good news: Coffee in church after the morning service is being resumed from this Sunday. Please try to socially distance. The Thursday coffee shop is open from 9am as usual.

It was reported a few months back that the Monday Movie Club committee had noticed that their audiences wanted more upbeat films – possibly a reaction to the depression of lockdowns. So the first film shown in the Winter programme last Monday, was the 1980 comedy film AIRPORT. This was something of a gamble as much of the humour is now politically incorrect. It paid off however, with lots of laughter and a sustained round of applause at the end – and that is VERY rare.

Also of interest was the attendance numbers. The film due to be shown immediately before Christmas had to be cancelled due to a lack of support. AIRPORT however, drew a large audience and over £110 was raised for church funds.

The closure of hundreds of parish churches over the past decade was highlighted in a national newspaper this week. Obviously some smaller churches just aren’t viable when congregation numbers drop below a critical level. There are other reasons, and not all are palatable – if you believe in the “parish system”. Throughout the land Dioceses are reducing the amount of money they spend on clergy. Where a group of churches is served by just one minister, it is inevitable that congregations will decline.

But there is also a school of thought amongst high ranking church officials that the Christian faith does not need to be practiced in a conventional church. They argue that any building will do, even your home, my home.

Personally, I have long accepted that our “style” of worship has to change if we are to encourage younger families to join our faith. And perhaps, it would be OK for them to gather in a parish hall, or a scout building, whatever. However, at the end of the day, and if we are to protect the parish system, the final destination point has to be our parish church.

An unusual and interesting book about South Gloucestershire was published last year. The Gloucestershire Court of Sewers (1583-1642) might sound uninviting until one remembers that “sewers” used to refer to land drainage – the “rhynes” of our locality. People have been trying to stop incursions of the Severn onto the low lying land here since Roman times and this book researches many aspects of politics, protection and drainage centered around the 16th and 17th centuries. We should not forget the Terrible Flood of January 1607 when a “tsunami! swept up the Bristol Channel and devastated land on both sides of the river. It is estimated that 2,000 people probably drowned. Interestingly, this happened less than only a month or two after the rebuilding of our church tower.

And finally:

One hot Summer’s day, a tramp walks into the local hardware store. He goes up to the shopkeeper and asks for a bottle of meths.

“I’m not serving you with meths.” says the shopkeeper. The tramp replies “But I’ve turned over a new leaf in my life,” He then opens his coat to reveal a T shirt emblazoned with “JESUS SAVES!. “And” he says “I’ve got a new flat and I want to redecorate it.”

The shopkeeper pauses for a moment, then says “Well, OK this time.” He points at the shelf holding all the meths and white spirits. “Which one do you want?” he says.

The tramp replies “You don’t happen to have a cold one in the fridge do you?”

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