St Peter & St Paul
South Petherton, with the Seavingtons
and the Lambrooks
The Rector’s Letter for August
Lots of festivals! Last month (as I write) we held the Folk Festival at Petherton and what a great day it was. We seem to have been surrounded by various festivals and celebrations over the last few months. Patronal merriments at St. James with a compulsory bread, cheese and cider fayre; a splendid church flower festival at Seavington St. Mary which someone, again, mentioned to me only a couple of days ago; an assortment of wonderful weddings and baptisms which are set to continue rolling in over the summer – all festivals in their own right. Besides all of this there have been some ‘significant’ anniversaries, wedding and birthdays (I won’t name any names for fear of embarrassment), renewals of vows, even special ‘once in a lifetime’ holidays.
What has been great is how well much of this has been ‘done’. The quite undisguised root of ‘festival’ is a ‘feast day’ and feasting is a time when things are well done. It is also significant that, going back a bit (Middle Ages ‘back a bit’), festivals were church holidays. Faith was a sphere of life which encompassed and provided community rest, enjoyment and celebration. It still can be – should be- and it is wonderful to see that in many cases it still is.
Festivals, or festivities, may lead us, though, to remember a couple of things. Firstly, there is the potential for feasting within the holy. Sometimes we believe for ourselves the stereotype that the practice of faith is tight-lipped, solemn faced, duty-fed medicine. Embracing the ample opportunity to feast releases us from this, helping us to take the delight contained within faith seriously, whilst taking ourselves less so.
Secondly, we may be encouraged to realise that there is the potential for holiness within the feasting. Whether this be the anniversary, the birthday, the new job or retirement, whatever! Remember that a common criticism of Jesus was that he liked to party just a bit too much (Matt 11.19). Both of these angles require intention, questioning and a certain degree of practical prayerfulness but allow us to meet more fully with a God who met with us through joyous sharing.
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