1. November has been called ‘the month of remembrance’, and so it is – not least today, Remembrance Sunday. At the Abbey, the 9.30 am Parish Eucharist takes the form of a Requiem for the Fallen in War. This finishes in time for all who wish to do so to gather at the War Memorial in the Close for the Parade, and the laying of wreaths at 10.25 am. The Service of Remembrance begins at 10.50 am. The preacher is Major General John Stokoe CB, CBE, a former Commander, UK Field Army. Amongst many other things he now chairs the Board of Trustees of the Dorset Historic Churches Trust, The Lord-Lieutenant of Dorset, Angus Campbell Esq, will be in attendance as HM The Queen’s Representative. Armistice Day, 11 November, is on Monday. We will have our usual Last Post, Two Minutes’ Silence and Reveille at 11.00 am in the Abbey. Some short prayers will be offered by The Reverend Canon Charles Mitchell-Innes. He is kindly deputising for me as, in my capacity as a Deputy Lieutenant of Dorset, I am representing the Lord-Lieutenant at a Veterans’ Service in Bournemouth.
2. The Short Abbey Service (SAS) will be held next Sunday, 17 November, at 11.15 am. A child-friendly service for everyone, it lasts for just half an hour. It has proved particularly popular with older parishioners who find the Abbey’s 9.30 am service both too early and too long! That’s great, but we need more families with children! The best form of recruiting is by personal invitation. Do please do what you can.
3. Meanwhile, Sunday 24 November is what I always think of as Toy Sunday. This is held throughout the Benefice on the last Sunday of Advent, known officially as the Feast of Christ the King. This is the day on which all five of our churches welcome gifts of toys, books and games for children and young people who would otherwise have a lean time of it at Christmas. The recipients will be the same as last year: the Mother & Toddler Group at the RendezVous here in Sherborne; the North Dorset Women’s Refuge and the West Dorset Women’s Refuge. Everything now depends on gathering a wonderful array of gifts. All toys, books and games must be new and also unwrapped (except for their original packaging, of course). Please may we have a broad spread of gifts, ranging from those suitable for very young children through to teenagers? If you are unable to be at church on 24 November, please bring your gifts to the Parish Office at any time. Very many thanks.
4. There is a variety of Advent reading now available from the Abbey Shop in the Close, and the bookstall in the Abbey. Do browse to find one which would suit you. My personal favourite is Freedom is Coming, by the Bishop of Leeds, Nick Baines. He is exactly the sort of polymath I love to hate (only joking!). Fluent in German, French and Russian, he was for four years a Russian linguist at GCHQ before ordination, He has a keen interest in art, film, music, literature, theatre and Liverpool FC. He is a regular broadcaster and prolific author. When does he have time to be a Bishop? But time he has for all his many roles and responsibilities, not least in the House of Lords. And I have to admit that this book is superb. It takes us from Advent to Epiphany with the prophet Isaiah, and I cannot recommend it too highly. It is available at the Abbey Shop in the Close at the discounted price of £8.95. Meanwhile, for sheer value for money, try the latest edition of Daily Reflections for Advent & Christmas, written this year by Daniel Groody. It offers a daily reading, reflection, meditation and prayer from Advent Sunday to Sunday 12 January (the Feast of the Baptism of Christ) – and all for just £1.50! You can’t get better value than that! The Shop also has a great selection of candles, Nativity sets and Christmas cards.
5. Looking further ahead, the Christmas Day Lunch in the Digby Memorial Church Hall will be held again this year under the auspices of Sherborne Churches Together (SCT). The Lunch has been extremely popular in recent years, with many people accepting the invitation to be guests and others to be volunteer helpers. Registration forms are now available in the Parish Office on which both guests and helpers can indicate their particular requirements and also find contact details for the organisers. This means that the Parish Office, as last year, is simply the source of forms and the receiver of completed forms. The latter will go straight to the organisers. Potential guests and volunteers are warmly invited to collect a form soon. The Lunch will be held on Christmas Day from 1.00 pm to 3.30 pm.
6. Finally, the Gift Day total has broken the £24k barrier, and is now £24,196. Very many thanks to all who have contributed.