Genesis 18 b (2)Yesterday’s first reading at Mass was from Genesis and dealt with the visit to Abraham by Yahweh and two companions (minders?). Abraham plays the part of the unreformed man, calling for his wife Sarah to make loaves from three bushels of flour (that’s a lot of bread, unless bushels were a lot smaller in those days), the servant has to kill and prepare the calf and when all is ready Abraham serves everything to his guests. The reading ends with “Then his guest said, ‘I shall come back to you next year, and then your wife Sarah will have a son.’”
But Genesis continues with:
“Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent behind him. So Sarah laughed to herself, thinking, ‘Now that I am past the age of childbearing, and my husband is an old man, is pleasure to come my way again?’ But Yahweh asked Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh and say, “Am I really going to have a child now that I am old?” Nothing is impossible for Yahweh. I shall come back to you at the same time next year and Sarah will have a son.’  Sarah said, ‘I did not laugh,’ lying because she was afraid. But he replied, ‘Oh yes, you did laugh.’ “
Paul Johnson in his book “Humorists” describes this episode as the first joke in the Bible and points out that it is also a smutty one (is pleasure to come my way again?).

The Row Chapel, Hadleigh

One of Hadleigh’s less well known treasures is the Row Chapel which holds an important place in Hadleigh’s history.
Originally the chapel was intended for those who lived in the alms houses, but now the congregation comes from all parts of Hadleigh with occasional tourists from further afield.
On the first Tuesday in the month a celebration of the Eucharist, Holy Communion, is held using the Book of Common Prayer and including a sermon and hymns sung with enthusiasm. On the other three Tuesdays the service is Matins, Morning Prayer, again from the BCP, again with sermon and hymns. The Chapel predates the reformation and witnessed the journey of Rowland Taylor’s martyrdom in 1555. He gave his last coins to the folk in the alms houses as he was led up George Street to Aldham Common.
The chapel is a spiritual resource to the people of Hadleigh in general and the residents of the almshouses (to the rear of the Chapel) in particular. It is also a focus for visiting tourists.
It’s governing committee is committed to show casing local suppliers, artisans and craftsmen. The committee hope to raise sufficient funds to re-paint the internal plasterwork, install custom made cushions and replace the old carpet.
Funds are raised from the congregation via the after service coffee and biscuits and from donations. So far over £600 has been raised.
I have committed £550 from my Community Locality Budget to assist their efforts
The ambition is to restore the 500+ year old Chapel back to its former important place in Hadleigh’s history.

Tools With A Mission

TWAMOn Wednesday evening I dropped into the Churches Together in Hadleigh group. I am a trustee and my duties are not onerous and it’s possible that CTiH will deregister as a charity, in which case I and my three fellow trustees will become redundant.
The various representatives directing CTiH are an interesting group of people and one of the items  of business was “What will be the group charity this year?” The answer was Tools With A Mission (TWAM).
TWAM started twenty seven years ago, and has since then provided help by collecting and refurbishing tools and equipment no longer required in the UK and sending them overseas. Tools with a Mission enables people to earn a living and to support themselves.
So it’s not just a case of sending money, it’s a good opportunity to clear out the shed(s) and pass on the duplicate tools and those tools no longer required. The web address is and their location is  2 Bailey Close, Ipswich, Suffolk IP2 0UD.

Habemus Papam (soon)

St Peter's BasilicaReuters today cited Christopher Bellitto, a Church historian at Kean University in New Jersey, who said that by citing health reasons for his decision, Benedict has also helped the Church by setting a modern precedent for resigning at a time when medical progress means the elderly can live far beyond their active years. Whilst the rules for election of a new Pope are continually under review, according to Morris West (Shoes of a Fisherman) nomination and election can also take place by acclamation. But one doesn’t have to be in the Conclave to be appointed to the triple crown. The precedent is set by Pope Fabian, who  was in Rome (236) immediately after the death of the forty day Pope Anterus. Whilst the names of several illustrious and noble persons were being considered, a dove suddenly descended upon the head of Fabian, who was not, at that time, being considered as a candidate. To the assembled brethren the sight recalled the Gospel scene of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Saviour, and so, divinely inspired, as it were, they chose Fabian with joyous unanimity and placed him in the Chair of Peter. Little is known of Fabian’s pontificate but during his reign of fourteen years there was a lull in the storm of persecutions.
Now I’m wondering that if I went to Rome and sprinkled bird seed on my head, could I organise a valid nomination to the ultimate job?
On the other hand it might be better to focus on the county election in May.

Looking for a Home

This week’s The Tablet contains an interesting discussion on the possible discovery of Richard III’s bones under a car park in Leicestershire and their subsequent reinterring. One would have thought that finding and authenticating the bones would be the end of things. But No! The Tablet highlights the arguments as to where to re-inter the bones. In Westminster Abbey (because he was a king), in Westminster Cathedral because he was Catholic (the national religion at the time), Leicester Cathedral because the current location of the bones is within its diocesan boundaries or a Franciscan friary in Nottingham because that is the nearest to the excavation.
Meanwhile the country is still split three ways as to the appropriateness of Richard’s reputation.
Some think that it is well deserved. Others feel that he was traduced by supporters of the Tudor usurpers (i.e. Shakespeare) and other (of course) are not bothered either way.
During Richard’s reign, the historian John Rous praised him as a “good lord” who punished “oppressors of the commons”. After his death, Richard’s image was blackened by his Tudor successors, culminating in the famous portrayal of him in Shakespeare’s play Richard III as a physically deformed Machiavellian villain who cheerfully commits numerous murders in order to claw his way to power. I’m beginning to understand why I once was a member of the Richard III Society.
The Society’s home page (  includes the following quotation “”… the purpose and indeed the strength of the Richard III Society derive from the belief that the truth is more powerful than lies – a faith that even after all these centuries the truth is important. It is proof of our sense of civilised values that something as esoteric and as fragile as reputation is worth campaigning for.” – HRH Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester, KG GCVO


The Fair Haired One

We have been in Paris for a week’s break. I decided one day to visit the church of St. Sulpice in Saint Germain des Prés. Overall the visit to St. Sulpice was not as fulfilling as I would have liked. I had been impressed by books recommending the Delacroix murals. It may have been that the paintings needed cleaning or that the lighting was inappropriate (it was a cloudy morning) or that I couldn’t stand back far enough to take in the mural of Jacob Wrestling with the Angel as a whole. St. Sulpice remarkably seemed to have found its pastoral role quite early and includes in its alumni St. John Baptist de la Salle (founder of the Christian Brothers) and St. Vincent de Paul. Surrounding shops are famous for containing religious medals and other devotional items (of varying quality). I declined to purchase an icon apparently showing St. Raphael. I thought it a bit so what-ish especially as this angel did not have wings nor did it show a dog. The morning was saved.  My footsteps were guided by a caring angel (possibly St. Raphael – the patron saint of travellers) to The Coolin (The Fair Haired One) – an Irish pub. The steak sandwich was cooked nicely rare.. The waitress was a young Irish lady  and the red wine eminently passable. My mood had mellowed by the time coffee was finished as can be seen by the photo of yours truly. Is this a vision of heaven? – Just look at the background!Overall I recommend the Coolin and it was quite well patronised by local people.